News In Brief

The US

President Clinton defended his fund-raising activities and tried to blunt GOP pressure for a special prosecutor. The White House said a law barring campaign fund-raising in government buildings does not apply to phone calls made to donors off US property - and that Attorney General Janet Reno was "being badgered" into requesting a special prosecutor to investigate Clinton and Vice President Gore. Clinton also threatened to call Congress into special session if Republicans don't allow debate on campaign-finance reform. Senate majority leader Trent Lott promised to schedule debate on the issue.

The US space agency was to review two independent reports before deciding whether to send astronaut David Wolf to the Russian space station Mir for four months. The shuttle Atlantis was scheduled to blast off from Florida today to collect NASA astronaut Mike Foale from Mir and drop off his replacement. But NASA chief Daniel Goldin was under pressure not to replace Foale. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R) of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Science Committee, said Wolf should not be sent to the troubled station. Golding was to study reports from former astronaut Tom Stafford and retired aerospace executive Tom Young before making his decision.

The court-appointed officer investigating the recent Teamsters election removed herself from the case. Citing potential conflicts of interest for herself and a member of her staff, Barbara Zack Quindel told a US district court judge in New York she could not make a decision on whether Teamsters president Ron Carey should be disqualified from participating in new union elections because of alleged fund-raising abuses in his campaign. Last month Quindel nullified an election in which Carey narrowly defeated James Hoffa Jr.'s bid to replace him as president.

A former co-chairman of Northwest Airlines made his bid to be governor of California official. Alfred Checchi, a multimillionaire businessman who resigned from Northwest in April to explore electoral possibilities, seeks the Democratic nomination. He faces stiff competition from Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and two potential - but so far undeclared - candidates: US Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Clinton's ex-chief of staff, Leon Panetta. Two-term Gov. Pete Wilson (R) is ineligible for reelection.

Clinton will convene a conference on climate change and global warming Oct. 6, the White House announced. Vice President Gore, other Cabinet members, members of Congress, scientists, corporate executives, and labor leaders are among those scheduled to attend. The meeting precedes an international global-warming conference scheduled for December in Kyoto, Japan.

Travelers Group Inc. said it had agreed to acquire the parent of Salomon Brothers for more than $9 billion in stock, creating one of the nation's biggest investment houses. Travelers said it will combine Salomon with Smith Barney Holdings, the investment bank and brokerage it already owns, to form Salomon Smith Barney Holdings Inc.

IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer will not face off again with Garry Kasparov, the company said. Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster and world champion since 1985, had challenged IBM to another match after his defeat in New York in May. Melinda McMullen, spokeswoman for IBM Research, said Deep Blue had been retired. A less powerful machine, Deep Blue Jr., will continue to play demonstration games.

The vast lake formed by the Glen Canyon Dam should not be drained, a spokesman for the Clinton administration said. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Eluid Martinez told a House subcommittee that draining Lake Powell on the Utah-Ariizona line would be a mistake, even though many supporters of reclamation projects - including former US Sen. Barry Goldwater - now consider construction of the dam a mistake. The Sierra Club wants to remove the dam and drain the 186-mile-long lake, in part because it has an allegedly harmful effect on the Colorado River and Grand Canyon.

The World

Under heavy Western pressure, Serbian President Milosevic mediated in the struggle for power in next-door neighbor Bosnia's Serb sub-state. He met in Belgrade with sub-state President Biljana Plavsic, who is opposed by her predecessor, indict-ed war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. Karadzic's senior ally, Momcilo Krajisnik, was to join the talks later. Analysts said Milosevic's move indicated weakening support for hardliners allied with Karadzic.

Calling recent massacres of civilians "abominable," Algeria's rebel Islamic Salvation Army (AIS) said it would ask its forces to begin a unilateral ceasefire Oct. 1. A statement signed by the group's top leader said the move was made to expose the rival Armed Islamic Group as the cause of most of the many violent deaths in Algeria. AIS is the armed wing of the banned Islamic Salvation Front, whose certain victory in 1992 was short-circuited when authorities canceled elections. Analysts doubted whether the truce call would reduce violence.

The first official Chinese reaction to the new US-Japanese regional security agreement was a warning to leave Taiwan outside its scope. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said any attempt to include the island or the Taiwan Strait that separates it from the mainland "is unacceptable." The deal, announced earlier this week, spells out terms of cooperation between the US and Japan in the event of a future Asian military conflict.

Declaring communism dead in Russia, President Yeltsin said the state now must enshrine private ownership of land - a policy unseen there since the collectivization period began in the 1930s. But less than an hour after Yeltsin addressed the upper house of Parliament, the communist-dominated lower house overturned his veto of legislation that rules out the sale of land to private owners.

India's and Pakistan's prime ministers met behind closed doors at the United Nations in a further attempt to put the dialogue between their countries back on track. Informed sources said they agreed that disputed Kashmir was the key to peace, but that there was a "divergence on approach." They pledged to try to stop armed clashes along the confrontation line in Kashmir.

Powerful winds, waves, and rains driven by hurricane Nora shut down popular resorts at Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas on Mexico's west coast before the storm veered north toward the Baja California peninsula and the US Southwest.

Prime Minister Chavalit of Thailand and his two immediate predecessors traded blame for the country's worst economic crisis in decades. Chuan Leekpai and Banharn Silpa-archa opened three days of debate in Parliament on censuring Chavalit by ripping his government for causing Thailand to seek a $17 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Chavalit accused them of starting the mess and leaving him to clean it up.

Joint ventures in Cuba with foreign investors have multiplied six times in the past five years - to 300, the Castro government announced. It did not make public the combined value of the ventures, most of which are in the tourism and mining sectors. The communist-ruled island has been striving to show that such investment is growing despite the US's 1996 Helms-Burton law, which aims to discourage it.

Hundreds of activists for democracy converged on Rangoon, Burma, for the ninth anniversary of the founding of Nobel Peace Prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi's political party. As many as 700 members of the National League for Democracy were expected in the capital by Saturday, although the ruling junta had not said whether the gathering would be permitted.

The government still has a massive amount of work to do.... This is not the end,

but the beginning."

- Prime Minister Hashimoro, acknowledging that Japan's new defense pact with the US may be a tough sell in Parliament.

Etceteras

A new move by Atlanta's Emory University may help to keep newspapers more alert. The medium could stand to be reminded, one journalism professor said, of its "foibles . . . self-importance and self-indulgence." So in April, shortly before the coveted Pulitzer Prizes are announced, the school will present its own awards - for newspaper blunders in 20 categories - such as factual errors and photos of questionable taste. It's calling the innovation Pullet Surprises.

A monk whose order requires a vow of silence wouldn't break it, even to defend himself in a Beersheba, Israel, court against a traffic violation. His driver's license was suspended for 60 days. No argument there, either. But when it wasn't returned afterward because of a computer problem, that was too much. He broke down and pleaded his case, got the license back, and then resumed his silence.

If you'll be in Polk City, Fla., Saturday, watch out for things falling from the sky. No, not rain or hail. A brewer plans to drop a pickup truck 1,000 feet from a helicopter onto a grid - via parachute. The stunt is part of a contest whose winners get new pickups. And you thought trucks were for driving.

The Day's List

Where Day-Care Cost Is Highest, Lowest in US

Working parents with preschool children can pay the equivalent of a month's rent for day care at a for-profit center, a new study by Runzheimer International says. The Rochester, Wis., consulting firm's five costliest and five cheapest metropolitan areas for day care and their average monthly fees based on eight hours a day, five days a week:

Most expensive

1. Minneapolis $640

2. Boston $631

3. New York $622

4. Washington $570

5. Philadelphia $515

Least expensive

1. Tampa, Fla. $241

2. Jackson, Miss. $260

3. Mobile, Ala. $279

4. Billings, Mont. $287

5. New Orleans $300

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