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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Abraham McLaughlin / September 18, 1997

The US

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President Clinton dictated his terms for a tobacco settlement. Focusing on the lowering of teen smoking rates, they included: nontax-deductible penalties for cigarette firms if they fail to lower teen rates, raising pack prices as much as $1.50 over 10 years to encourage teens to quit, and allowing the government free reign over tobacco regulation. He also insisted on full disclosure of documents by cigarette firms, but called for protect- ion for tobacco farmers.

Construction of new homes unexpectedly fell in August to the lowest level this year, the Commerce Department said. The surprise news confirmed the view of many analysts that the economy, while robust, isn't racing at too fast a pace. Stock markets see this as good news, as it hints that the Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates.

Now that 100 nations have approved a draft of the treaty banning landmines, analysts say the US faces a dilemma: sign a pact it has opposed or risk world censure. The US had sought changes to the treaty, including an exception for wartime and postponing the implementation date for nine years. The draft is likely to be ratified today in Oslo. The final treaty could be signed this year.

The furor over a University of Texas professor's criticism of affirmative action entered another day in Austin. The Rev. Jesse Jackson led a march of 4,000 students Tuesday, calling on them to make Prof. Lino Graglia a "social pariah." The debate appeared to hint that future university admissions and hiring policies will combine merit-based and race- or class-based evaluations.

In the fifth military airplane crash since Saturday, two New Jersey Air National Guard jets collided over the Atlantic Ocean. Neither of the pilots was severely injured. On Saturday, an Air Force F-117A nose-dived at a Maryland air show, prompting questions in Congress about why the $2 billion planes are allowed at such events. But a Pentagon spokes-man said, "This is something the American public enjoys and expects."

The federal government filed a sexual harassment suit against the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Normal, Ill., alleging management allowed an atmosphere to flourish in which women were physically and verbally harassed. Plant officials admit some harassment took place, but say 15 offenders were fired.

The Los Angeles Police Department acquired 600 M-16 assault rifles to better defend officers against heavily armed criminals. They will be carried in patrol cars and be used at the discretion of sergeants on the force. In February, police responding to an armed robbery at a bank had to rush to a gun store to buy more powerful weapons in the midst of a shootout with heavily armed bank suspects.

In what analysts said were signs of uncertainty at Apple Computer, its executive vice president for marketing resigned, citing personal reasons. Earlier, company founder Steve Jobs was named interim chief executive officer, raising expectations that he would eventually be named CEO, despite saying he didn't want the job. Apple said it may not fill the post until the end of the year.

Clinton threatened Canada with retaliation if it allows more "illegal" acts in the dispute over dividing the salmon catch with US fishermen. In a letter to Alaskan senators, Clinton said if incidents such as the blockading of an Alaskan ferry by Canadian fishermen in July occur again, the US will take "appropriate countermeasures." Talks broke down in July. Both sides have appointed envoys, but they haven't met yet.

A Montana dispute over ownership of a dinosaur fossil continues. The bones could be the largest Tyrannosaurus rex ever found - or an entirely new species. The government, the landowners, and scientists all claim control of the bones. Federal agents had to stop unauthorized digging last weekend, apparently by the landowners. These kind of bones have great scientific and monetary value: A similar fossil that will be auctioned next month could fetch $1 million.

The World

Yasser Arafat warned of a "very negative reaction" if Israel does not swiftly resolve the latest obstacle to the Middle East peace process: the takeover by Jewish settlers of two houses in an Arab neighborhood of Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed that the four families leave the disputed buildings in exchange for a recognition of their right to settle there. But his proposal was rejected by the settlers and was condemned as "deceitful" by Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Northern Ireland's largest Protestant political party will join peace talks with the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, its leader announced. But David Trimble said only that his Ulster Unionists would take part in the negotiations to counter the presence of Sinn Fein, not when that would happen. Trimble accused the IRA of involvement in the bombing of a police station at Markethill, although the group has denied responsibility.