News In Brief

The US

America Online reached a deal to take over its main competitor, CompuServe, The Washington Post reported. It said CompuServe, with 2.6 million customers, would continue as a separate service, to be fully controlled by AOL, which has more than three times as many subscribers. The complex deal, worth more than $1 billion, must be OK'd by federal regulators.

Vice President Gore could stabilize his political standing by volunteering to testify before the Senate committee investigating campaign funding violations, a key member of the panel said. US Sen. Arlen Specter (R) of Pennsylvania told CBS's "Face the Nation" that Gore has told "conflicting stories" about his involvement in a fund-raising appearance at a California Buddhist temple in April 1996. Nuns from the temple told the Governmental Affairs Committee last week they had been reimbursed from temple funds for checks they were asked to write to the Democratic Party. Gore has said he did not believe that the event was intended to raise money.

Parents of Washington children scrambled to make alternative work and day-care arrangements as 42 of the city's public schools remained closed for critical repairs. Judge Kaye Christian, supervising the court-ordered repair project, imposed fines of $1,000 a day for each building on which work is not finished by Sept. 11, calling the progress to date "extremely unacceptable." School officials say all the work will be complete by Sept. 22.

Retired pathologist Jack Kevorkian reportedly attended the suicide of a chronically ill woman, his third such involvement in 10 days. The Oakland Press, near Detroit, identified the woman as Deborah Sickels of Arlington, Texas. Her death would be the 49th Kevorkian has acknowledged attending. A mistrial was declared in June, the latest attempt to try him for assisted suicides.

Calling Whitewater special investigator Kenneth Starr "lower than a worm," relatives and friends of Susan McDougal demanded her release from a contempt citation that has kept her in jail for the past year. They gathered outside the federal courthouse in Little Rock, Ark., where President and Mrs. Clinton's former business partner was cited for contempt for refusing to answer Starr's questions about the Whitewater affair. She has said she won't testify because her version of developments conflicts with Starr's and could cause her to be charged with perjury.

Beleaguered National Baptist Convention president Henry Lyons asked parishioners of his home church in St. Petersburg, Fla., for forgiveness after surviving an attempt last week to oust him from the post for admitted "mistakes." Lyons has been in the national spotlight since July 6 over the purchase of a $700,000 house that later caught fire and use of convention funds to buy a diamond ring for a woman who was not his wife. His bank records have been subpoenaed for a state investigation.

Commuters to San Francisco who use the Bay Area Rapid Transit system were forced to find alternatives as a strike by 2,600 train operators, station agents, mechanics, and other workers entered its second day. They seek a 17 percent pay raise over three years and have rejected the system's 9 percent offer. BART officials say operating the system without the strikers is not an option.

Five candidates were to square off against each other today in a primary election in New York for the city's Democratic mayoral nomination. The winner will oppose popular incumbent Rudolph Giuliani (R) in November. Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger leads opponents Brooklyn City Councilman Sal Albanese, black activist the Rev. Al Sharpton, and two long-shot candidates, Roland Rogers and Eric Ruano-Melendez, in late popularity polls.

Swiss teenager Martina Hingis won the women's singles title at the US Open tennis championships in New York. Hingis, the top seed, defeated American Venus Williams 6-0, 6-4, adding the tournament to her Wimbledon and Australian Open victories on the Grand Slam circuit. Australian Patrick Rafter won the men's singles, 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, over Greg Rusedski of Britain. Rafter was seeded 13th Rusedski was unseeded.

The World

Mir's main computer failed again, causing the space station to become disoriented and forcing the crew to shut down all systems except life-support equipment, a Russian space official said. It was the third time the Mir's computer system has failed since July. Officials estimate it would take one to three days to fix the problem.

Palestinian security forces detained 35 suspected Muslim militants in the West Bank - their first arrests since a suicide bombing in Jerusalem last week. The blast by the Islamic movement Hamas killed eight people. Meanwhile, Israel put police on high alert ahead of Secretary of State Albright's visit to the Middle East beginning tomorrow. Above, a Palestinian vendor pours carob juice for Israeli border police outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Ousted Zairean leader Mobu-tu Sese Seko, who died in exile in Morocco, was one of Africa's longest-serving dictators. He took power in a 1965 military coup, five years after Zaire gained independence from Belgium. Backed by the West, Mobutu promised democracy. Instead, he became a dictator and banned all other political parties. He fled Zaire in May after rival forces led by Laurent Kabila took over the capital, Kinshasa, ending a seven-month civil war.

Armed residents patrolled their neighborhoods in the Algerian capital following two weekend massacres that left more than 100 people dead. No group claimed responsibility for the attacks in the western suburb of Beni Messous, but such attacks usually are blamed on the Armed Islamic Group which seeks to overthrow the military-led government. Meanwhile, Algerian security forces reportedly killed 69 rebels in an operation that began last week south of Algiers.

A ferry sank off of Haiti's northern coast, killing at least 300 people, the US Coast Guard said. Sixty other passengers reportedly swam to shore. According to local residents, as many as 800 people were on the boat when it left the northern port of Montrouis bound for the island of La Gonave. The largest ferries operating in the area have a capacity of about 300 people.

Some 1,600 Bosnian Serb police patrolled Banja Luka ahead of a rally planned by supporters of war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. Buses carrying dozens of Karadzic backers left Pale, his headquarters, for Banja Luka despite an official ban on public meetings until Saturday. Serb sub-state President Biljana Plavsic met with a leading Karadzic ally, Momcilo Krajisnik, hours before the demonstration was to begin. The Karadzic-Plavsic rivalry threatens to divide the Serb-held half of Bosnia.

Iraq will send officials to Iran to discuss prisoners of war held since the two sides ended their eight-year war in 1988, an Iraqi newspaper said. Iran denies Baghdad's claim that it has held 20,000 Iraqi POWs. Iran also accuses Iraq of holding at least 5,000 Iranian prisoners.

Ryutaro Hashimoto was guaranteed his tenure as Japanese prime minister until the next general election after no one challenged him to head the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. On Thursday, the LDP will formally elect Hashimoto, who is expected to organize his next cabinet. General elections need not be held for another two years.

Police in Vietnam arrested 2,578 people and seized millions of dollars worth of drugs last month in a nationwide crackdown on illegal narcotics, the country's official news agency said. The government set up a national committee in August to boost its drive against the trafficking of opium, heroin, and marijuana. Analysts say Vietnam's long land border and coastline make the country an easy transit route for traffickers from the opium poppy-growing areas of Laos and Burma.

"This has gone from the ridiculous to the absurd."

- District of Columbia Judge Kaye Christian, on the delay in completing court-ordered repairs to Washington public schools.

Etceteras

The state of Florida has a Massachusetts company over a barrel because of a monkey-breeding program in the Keys. Charles River Laboratories was supplying the primates for medical research, but thousands of them now are devouring the mangrove habitat on two of the islands. Last week a judge threw a wrench into the works, ordering the company to end the monkey business and get its specimens out of the Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Some Warwick, R.I., men literally laughed all the way to the bank after duping customers into dropping their cash into a phony night-deposit box. An official-looking sign said the bank's regular box was out of order over Labor Day weekend and directed after-hours users to a temporary replacement in the foyer. Before the bank reopened, the crooks took away the phony box - and what police say was a "substantial amount" of money.

Ever had a craving for pizza but just didn't have the dough? Pizza Hut, the industry's largest chain, says all of its company-owned outlets will accept major credit cards from customers by Monday. And by next month, 85 percent of its franchisee-owned outlets will, too.

The Days List

McDonald's 'Drive-Thru' Rated No. 1 for Service

An Ohio-based market research firm ranks McDonald's above the competition in a survey of window service at national fast-food restaurant chains. Spara-gowski & Associates researchers made more than 9,300 drive-through visits at 22 chains in every state except Hawaii. The firm's top 10 chains, based on speed, accuracy, speaker-system clarity, and menuboard appearance:

1. McDonald's

2. Del Taco

3. Hardee's

4. Burger King

5. Wendy's

6. Long John Silver's

7. Carl's Jr.

8. El Pollo Loco

9. Jack in the Box

10. Taco Bell

- PRNewswire

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