News In Brief

The US

The House ethics committee met in closed session to consider a punishment for Speaker Newt Gingrich's admitted violations of House rules. The meeting came a day after the 105th Congress was sworn in and Gingrich was reelected on a 216-to-205 roll-call vote. Nine Republicans broke ranks, depriving Gingrich of the support of a clear majority of the 435 House members. The House also rejected the unanimous recommendation of its ethics committee and outside counsel to extend a Jan. 21 deadline for deciding how to punish Gingrich.

The Senate allowed Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana to be sworn in as senator, pending results of an investigation into allegations of voter fraud in her election. The Senate rules committee will look into allegations filed by her Republican opponent, Woody Jenkins.

President Clinton named Charles Ruff as his fifth White House counsel. Ruff is a former Watergate special prosecutor. He will replace Jack Quinn, who said last month he planned to resign as top White House lawyer in order to spend more time with his family.

The Supreme Court took up the emotional issue of assisted suicide. The justices will have to decide whether prohibitions against assisted suicide in the states of New York and Washington are constitutional. A decision is expected from the court by July.

Flood damage will almost certainly set a record for California, state officials said. The cost of flooding in 1995 reached $1.8 billion.

The Interior Department ordered an investigation into allegations that government employees profited from a federal wild-horse protection program that allows people to adopt wild horses that roam federal range land. At least 57 adopted horses have reportedly been sold to slaughterhouses since September and more than 200 current Bureau of Land Management employees have adopted 600 animals under the program.

Chrysler Corp. is voluntarily recalling 620,000 minivans and cars made in 1991-92 to correct a defect that causes steering wheels to crack and come loose. The recall covers Dodge Caravans and Grand Caravans, Plymouth Voyager and Grand Voyager minivans, and Dodge Shadow and Plymouth Sundance cars with 4-cylinder engines. No accidents have been reported as a result of the problem, a spokeswoman said.

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, a producer and songwriter, earned 12 Grammy Award nominations, tying a record set by Michael Jackson. Edmonds worked on hits by Whitney Houston, Eric Clapton, and Toni Braxton this year. Smashing Pumpkins, whose "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" album was a critical and commercial smash, received seven nominations. Jackson was nominated for 12 awards and won eight in 1983.

Imax Corporation won the year's first Academy Award for its development of large-format movies. Thirteen awards for scientific and technical achievement were announced to recognize devices or inventions of value to the motion picture industry. The 69th Academy Awards ceremony is scheduled for March 24.

US corporate job cuts announced in 1996 totaled 477,147 - up 8.5 percent from the year before, a consulting firm said. The report by Challenger, Gray, and Christmas Inc. noted that in December the number of announced job cuts totaled 37,402 - down 32 percent from December 1995, but up 26.6 percent from November 1996.

A US appeals court rejected California Gov. Pete Wilson's lawsuit seeking $2.4 billion from the federal government to cover the costs of illegal immigration. California had accused the US of failing to control the nation's borders and leaving states to foot the bill. In 1994, California sued to recover education, health-care, and prison costs associated with illegal immigrants. The court called the dispute political.

The District of Columbia cut top jobless benefits from $359 to $309 a week to trim large annual deficits and keep companies from moving to the suburbs.

The World

Hectic negotiations failed to clinch a self-rule accord for the West Bank city of Hebron. Also, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat spurned an Israeli compromise proposal to complete troop redeployment from rural areas of the West Bank next year, a year earlier than the previous offer. The tough Hebron talks, analysts say, would pale in comparison to future talks on the fate of the 130,000 Jews who live in rural settlements. Some 400 Jews live in Hebron.

Elderly Japanese women ignored biting winds and teamed with other volunteers and government workers to clean up a huge oil slick that hit their coastline. The women removed the oil one bucket at a time, even as authorities said bucket removal might be useless. They were helped by the first break in the weather since a Russian tanker split in two and started leaking oil on Jan. 2.

Peru and Japan criticized reporters for jeopardizing efforts to end a standoff in which Marxist rebels are holding 74 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru. The criticism came after a Japanese reporter and an interpreter sneaked into the ambassador's residence for a two-hour interview. Both were arrested and their notebooks confiscated.

Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi pledged to participate in a reconciliation government that will be named within 15 days in an effort to end Africa's longest civil war. Savimbi's offer came after a meeting with South African President Nelson Mandela in Umtata, South Africa. Mandela has been mediating between Savimbi and Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

For the first time, Switzerland agreed to set up a fund to compensate Jews who lost assets during World War II. The funds, however, would come from unclaimed bank accounts of Jews killed by the Nazis and not government coffers, as some Jewish groups have insisted.

A new burst of IRA attacks have sparked fresh demands for beefed-up security in Northern Ireland. Protestant leaders made the demand after an bomb detonated as two police cars drove by in the largest Catholic district of Londonderry. There were no injuries or damage.

Richard Branson's effort to circle the globe in a hot-air balloon crashed in the Algerian wilderness, after some frightening moments as well as some heroics. An unidentified technical problem sent the balloon plunging - twice as fast as an express elevator - before co-pilot Alex Ritchie climbed out onto the roof of the capsule and released two tanks to lighten the load. The three man crew was safe.

South Korean strikers offered free services in a bid for public support. Mechanics provided free tuneups and nurses gave free checkups. Meanwhile, union leaders gave the government a week to scrap a controversial labor law that allows employers to lay off workers - or face a public-sector shutdown. The government said it would not budge.

Former French police officer Alain Le Caro denied reports that he was in eastern Zaire assembling several hundred European and African mercenaries to fight rebels in Zaire.

The monarchy must stay, a majority of an estimated 2.6 million callers told Britain's largest-ever televised debate. An overwhelming part of a 3,000-strong audience, attending the debate, said Prince William, Prince Charles's son, was the preferred choice to succeed the Queen.

Etceteras

"We must be more than an audience, more even than actors.

We must be the authors of the history of our age."

- Secretary of State designee Madeleine Albright, laying out her views to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Is there a silver lining for hostages in the Peru hostage crisis? Well, perhaps. The hostages and their guerrilla captors have helped fill idle time at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima with lessons in Peruvian and Japanese cooking, said a former chef after being released from the residence.

An 800-year-old musical will be performed at the Washington Cathedral tomorrow and Saturday. Twelfth- century composer St. Hildegard of Bingen, the "Sibyl of the Rhine," was known for her radical ideas about religion and other subjects. Her reputation as a composer dates only from the 1960s. She wrote 82 melodies for this first of medieval morality plays.

The Day's List

Top 10 Movies in the US And Canada, Jan. 3-5

Movies ranked by weekend gross receipts, followed by total gross and weeks in release.

1. "Michael"; $12.1 million; $52.7 million; two

2. "Jerry Maguire"; $12 million; $83 million; four.

3. "Scream"; $10 million; $39.1 million; three.

4. "101 Dalmatians"; $7.3 million; $121.8 million; six.

5. "One Fine Day"; $6.2 million; $32.2 million; three.

6. "Beavis and Butt-head Do America"; $5.8 million; $54.1 million; three.

7. "Ghosts of Mississippi"; $5 million; $5.8 million; three.

8. "The Preacher's Wife"; $4.9 million; $38.7million; three.

9. "Mars Attacks!"; $3.4 million; $33.8 million; four.

10. "My Fellow Americans"; $3.3 million; $18 million; three.

- Exhibitor Relations/AP

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