News In Brief

The US

President Clinton will ask Congress to defer action on a national tobacco settlement until next year, White House aides said. The president may call for tobacco-industry payments that could boost the price of cigarettes by as much as $1.50 a pack over 10 years, The Wall Street Journal reported. The increased payments would reportedly more than double what tobacco firms would have to pay under the proposed $368.5 billion settlement before Congress.

Clinton was scheduled to brief key House Democrats on his free-trade bill. Administration sources said he had agreed to Republican demands not to seek enforceable treaty provisions to keep countries from exploiting their workers or environments to gain a trade advantage. In return, Clinton wants GOP support for "fast track" authority to negotiate deals, and then get up-or-down votes on them in Congress without amendments. He is expected to offer Congress a bigger consultative role in negotiating trade pacts.

The US shifted its position on an international land-mine treaty, but not enough to satisfy many of its critics. The State Department said the US would sign a global land-mine treaty being considered in Oslo, if it allowed use of land mines on the Korean peninsula for another nine years. Participants in the Oslo conference agreed to a US request for a 24-hour voting delay while the US seeks support on the issue. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont referred to the US policy shift as "the same old exceptions wrapped in new packaging."

In about 12 million US households, people worry about getting enough to eat - and in sightly more than a third of those homes people experience moderate to severe hunger, the Agriculture Department said. The statistics were released in conjunc- tion with a National Food Recovery and Gleaning conference in Washington. The report said 4 million children under the age of 18 have to cope with moderate or intense hunger.

The US and others nations must set aside politics and step up food aid to North Korea, a Christian group said. Andrew Natsios, vice president of World Vision, said famine in North Korea has already killed as many as 2 million people - and the toll is likely to rise steadily until November, when shipments from the latest harvest begin to reach urban areas. Natsios headed the US disaster-assistance office during the Bush administration.

Consumer prices edged up a moderate 0.2 percent last month, despite soaring gasoline prices, the Labor Department reported. The August increase in its consumer price index match-ed a 0.2 percent rise in July. For the first eight months of the year, inflation at the consumer level has been rising at an annual rate of just 1.6 percent, less than half the 3.3 percent increase recorded in 1996.

New-car production helped drive US industrial output up 0.7 percent last month, nearly double July's 0.4 percent gain, the Federal Reserve said. Factories ran at 83.9 percent of capacity - the highest operating rate since September 1995.

New satellite evidence of a powerful, weather-disrupting El Nino shows a mass of warm water 1-1/2 times the size of the continental US off South America's Pacific Coast, space agency officials said. In May, the warm pool was only two-thirds that size. Satellite water-vapor tests reportedly indicate the southwestern US may be pounded this winter by storms crossing the Pacific from Hawaii. An El Nio occurs when westward-blowing trade winds weaken, allowing warm water off Australia to relocate off South America.

The US agreed to allow a commercial reactor to test-produce tritium, which is used in nuclear bombs. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission amended the Tennessee Valley Authority license for its Watts Bar nuclear plant to allow the test.

The Clinton administration revised its cost estimate of repairing or replacing US computers that may experience glitches in the year 2000 from $2.8 billion to $3.8 billion.

THe World

Aides to Prime Minister Netanyahu were trying to negotiate a voluntary withdrawal by Jewish settlers from the two houses they seized in an Arab neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority accused Israel of having a hand in the takeover and demanded the settlers' eviction "within the coming few hours."

Coup leader Hun Sen was dealt his first political setback since seizing control of Cambodia. The National Assembly in Phnom Penh rejected four of his choices for Cabinet posts to replace ministers loyal to his oust-ed rival, Norodom Ranariddh. Analysts said the move was less a show of support for Ranariddh than an attempt by legislators to look out for their own interests.

Mir's repair crew successfully turned the troubled Russian space station back to face the sun after a second failure of its main computer. Mission controllers in Moscow said Mir's batteries again were fully charged. But the crew was forced to take refuge in their escape capsule because of a passing US satellite, which came within 500 yards, the Russian space officials said.

Senior diplomats from India and Pakistan opened a new round of peace talks in New Delhi despite the second gun battle along their disputed border in Kashmir in less than a week.

Hours after Daniel arap Moi received his party's endorsement to seek a fifth term as president of Kenya, opposition leaders vowed to make the country "ungovernable" unless he enacts major political reforms. They said these must include repeal of Moi's appointed Electoral Commission and fair access to the state-owned news media.

Despite pledges to cooperate with investigations of alleged refugee massacres, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) denied a UN team permission to leave the capital, Kinshasa. A UN spokesman said President Laurent Kabila's government "maintained objections" for a trip to Mbandaka in northwestern Congo, where many Rwandan Hutu refugees reportedly were killed May 13 as the country's civil war wound down.

Saying "I don't scare easily," former Philippines President Corazon Aquino called for a huge turnout Sunday, when opponents of constitutional change plan a rally in Manila despite warnings by the military that it could turn violent. Meanwhile, the Roman Catholic Church issued its own warning: that backers of current President Fidel Ramos should drop efforts to keep him in power by trying to amend the Constitution so he can seek reelection.

Following through on a campaign promise, Prime Minister Thorbjoern Jagland announced he would step down because his ruling Labor Party did not win 37 percent of the vote in Norway's elections. Analysts said the next government was likely to be formed by an alliance of rightist, centrist, and liberal parties.

The lone survivor of the automobile crash in which Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed finally is able to speak, physicians in Paris said. Bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones was hurt in the accident Aug. 31 and remains hospitalized. Police hope he can offer missing details in their investigation of the crash, but it was not known whether he had yet provided any information.

New ethnic violence erupted in Indonesia after three Muslims were attacked by a Chinese believed to be mentally ill. One young girl died of her injuries. Muslims then stoned or burned hundreds of Chinese-owned houses, businesses, and cars in Ujung Pandang, capital of South Sulawesi Province. The Chinese attacker was beaten to death. Indonesia has been the scene of numerous ethnic riots in the past year, most of them targeting Chinese or Christians.

"This is a ... step which is not as innocent as the Israeli government would like to show."

- Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, accusing Israel of complicity in Jewish settlers' takeover of two houses in Arab eastern Jerusalem.

Etceteras

When summer vacation ended, 11 sets of twins enrolled at Dixon Elementary School in Jacksonville, N.C. To ensure that teachers weren't always seeing double, vice principal James Lanier separated each set of siblings into different classes. Lanier, as it turns out, already had some background in how to deal with the matter. He has an identical twin brother. And - yes - both attended the Dixon school.

New York's attorney general thinks an Albany dating service should stop in the name of love. Dennis Vacco alleged in state Supreme Court that Introductions Inc. scammed hundreds of clients and should be made to pay $350,000 in restitution and penalties. Far from finding the partners of their dreams, many customers complained they were matched with inappropriate dates: in one case an animal-rights activist with a hunter.

When finally pinned down on the issue, California lawmakers voted 73 to 2 to impose penalties for anyone piercing the body parts of minors without parental permission. The size of the victory margin would indicate that no legislator had to be needled into voting for the measure. The maximum penalty for each offense: $250.

The Day's List

'The Game' Debuts as a Winner at the Box Office

"The Game," a Michael Douglas thriller about a bored millionaire whose life changes because of a bizarre birthday gift, was the top player at the box office in its weekend debut. Estimated revenues for the top-grossing films over the Sept. 12-14 weekend (in millions of dollars):

1. "The Game" $14.3

2. "G.I. Jane" $3.4

3. "The Full Monty" $3.3

4. "Money Talks" $3.2

5. "Fire Down Below" $3.1

6. "Air Force One" $3.0

7. "Hoodlum" $2.6

8. "Conspiracy Theory" $2.3

9. "Excess Baggage" $2.0

10. "George of the Jungle" $1.7

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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