News In Brief

The US

President Clinton is expected to announce more Cabinet appointments today. Earlier, incoming chief of staff Erskine Bowles announced that John Podesta will return to the White House as a deputy chief of staff and Treasury Department aide Sylvia Mathews will assume similar duties. Among other announcements: Longtime Clinton adviser Rahm Emanuel will succeed George Stephanopoulos as senior counselor to the president. Stephanopoulos plans to teach at New York's Columbia University and to write a book on the Clinton presidency.

The television industry unveiled a controversial program rating system geared to enable parents to better control their children's viewing habits. The six-category system is similar to that used by the motion-picture industry. It will apply to all shows, except news and sports programs. Networks and distributors will rate their shows, unlike the movie-industry system in which an independent panel rate the films.

Clinton was to meet with China's national security chief, Liu Huaqiu, in the White House. The meeting was scheduled one day after a Chinese journalist and a human-rights activist testified before Congress that they saw people crushed by tanks during the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Clinton has been criticized for meeting with Liu, since the defense minister denied anyone died in the uprising.

FBI agent Edwin Pitts was charged with espionage and accused of working as a mole for the Soviet Union and later Russia from 1987 to 1992. Investigators claim he sold $224,000 in US secrets.

The 1994 NAFTA trade pact with Mexico and Canada hasn't impacted US workers significantly, an analysis by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles showed. The study found it has not taken many jobs from US workers, but hasn't created many new ones either.

The US trade deficit narrowed substantially in October, falling to $7.99 billion - the lowest level in seven months. A big rise in sales of commercial jetliners boosted exports to an all-time high of $71.74 billion. The deficit with Japan rose by 30.9 percent to $4.96 billion - the worst in 14 months - because of a big rise in imports of autos and auto parts.

Federal agents arrested the reputed new boss of the Gambino organized crime family as he relaxed on a beach in Key Biscayne, Fla. Nicholas "Little Nick" Corozzo was indicted along with seven other members and associates of the Gambino family for attempted murder, loan sharking, and arson.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich's lawyer quit just as a ethics investigation of the Republican leader intensified. Gingrich hired a malpractice attorney and alleged his former lawyer made misstatements to the House Ethics panel.

Civil rights leaders cancelled a nationwide boycott against Texaco after the oil giant pledged to treat women and minorities better. The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for the boycott after company executives were secretly recorded making racist statements about employees.

The Big Three automakers said they are teaming up to develop "smart" air bags. Their goal: to create bags that automatically determine the weight, size, and position of people seated in front of air-bag compartments and adjust how fast they deploy, The Detroit News said.

A US district court judge in San Francisco ruled that encryption programs constitute speech and are protected by the First Amendment. The programs scramble computer messages so that they can be read only by the sender and receiver. The case was brought by a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago who was barred by the State Department from posting his program on the Internet.

The World

A Red Cross physician described the scene inside the Japanese Embassy in Peru as "very tranquil" as armed leftist rebels continued to hold hundreds of hostages there. The doctor was admitted to the embassy to help deliver food and water. Crisis experts from Japan, Britain, Germany, and the US were sent to Lima to aid in assessing the situation. Negotiations over the rebels' demand that their colleagues be freed from prison were due to resume late yesterday.

Israel's Cabinet vowed to proceed with plans to expand Jewish settlements in Arab areas even if doing so meant the loss of $2.7 billion in US loan guarantees. The Clinton administration has called settlement expansion an obstacle to peace in the region, and a 1992 deal between the two countries calls for US housing aid to be suspended if any of it was used for settlement construction.

President Mobutu of Zaire said a "crisis government" is needed in the country by midday tomorrow. Earlier, Mobutu fired his Army chief in the first of a series of moves to shore up his regime. Observers said the actions showed the president had no intention of negotiating with Tutsi-led forces, who are waging a rebellion in eastern Zaire.

Swiss citizens were not repaid for World War II financial losses from the bank accounts of Holocaust victims, a government report said. But the report - prepared in answer to criticism from international Jewish organizations - recommended "concrete measures" to compensate for mistakes in handling unclaimed bank accounts that may have been opened by European Jews later killed by Nazi Germany.

A German court threw out Monica Seles's $15.7 million lawsuit against the country's tennis federation. Seles was stabbed by a spectator during a 1993 match against German star Steffi Graf in Hamburg. At the time, Seles was the top-ranked woman in professional tennis. The suit claimed security at the Hamburg tournament was not adequate.

Hong Kong shipped more than 700 Vietnamese asylum-seekers home - its largest one-day deportation to date. UN officials attributed the move to a stepped-up effort to empty the colony's detention camps before the Chinese government assumes control in July. Fewer than 6,500 Vietnamese remain in Hong Kong camps, which at their peak in 1991 held 58,000 people.

Leftist rebels and government troops may be pardoned for civil-war atrocities under a bill approved by Guatemala's legislature. The measure - protested only by about 50 demonstrators in Guatemala City - is one of the final pieces in the country's formula for ending 36 years of conflict. At least 140,000 people died in the struggle.

Six Russian civilians were murdered in Chechnya, one day after unidentified assailants there killed the same number of Red Cross workers. The latest attacks took place in the victims' homes. Chechen and Russian leaders say both incidents were attempts to destroy the peace process in the volatile region.

An estimated 7,000 striking Greek farmers descended on Athens to demand a face-to-face meeting with Prime Minister Costas Simitis. The farmers have blocked highways throughout the country for three weeks to press for cheaper fuel and higher subsidies for their products - demands that Simitis said his government cannot afford to meet. The strike has cost the Greek economy more than $100 million in lost productivity.

Etceteras

"It is our duty ... to protect the citizens and give them normal life in the city."

- A statement by Serbia's ruling Socialist Party, threatening police action

against the daily anti-government street protests in Belgrade.

Young Jonathan Teken paid attention when his Ayer, Mass., school participated in a fire-awareness program. Last month, flames engulfed his own home. Remembering what he'd learned, Jonathan put a neighbor's infant on his shoulder, grabbed his little sister by the hand, and took them and his brother outside to safety. He was honored for heroism at the State House in Boston.

Speaking of Massachusetts schools, some Norton High students now know how sweet victory can be. For a class project on the legislative process, they filed a bill to make Boston cream pie the official state dessert. It passed (beating out Indian pudding and the Toll House cookie), and Gov. William Weld has signed it into law.

Yes, another Dennis Rodman story. Yesterday, this space reported the controversial basketball star's purchase of a rare coin at auction. Now, the Domino's Pizza chain has announced that his name leads the list of aliases used by its customers when ordering home deliveries this year. And you never knew that pizza shops keep track of such things, right?

The Day's List

Rating the World's Most Repressive Countries

New York-based Freedom House, a pro-democracy group, has released its annual human rights report. On its list:

Lowest Rankings

Iraq

North Korea

Cuba

Sudan

Other countries cited

Afghanistan

Bhutan

Burma

Burundi

China

Equatorial Guinea

Libya

Saudi Arabia

Somalia

Syria

Tajikistan

Turkmenistan

Vietnam

- Associated Press

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