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News In Brief

(Page 2 of 2)



Britain's new Labour government will make its intentions known on joining the European economic and monetary union (EMU) "about the turn of the year," Finance Minister Gordon Brown said. He denied news reports that the government soon would call a national referendum on the issue. Meanwhile, results of a new public opinion poll showed 93 percent of respondents approved of Prime Minister Tony Blair's performance since his election May 1.

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Early exit polls indicated Swiss voters - by an overwhelming majority - would approve continuation of the nation's liberal policy on narcotics. A key feature of that policy is distribution by the state of heroin to addicts, which opponents say helps to make Switzerland the "drug island of Europe." A referendum on a more restrictive antidrug strategy was opposed by mainstream religious groups, unions, police, and most younger voters.

A motion of no confidence in the government of Thai Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh failed in Parliament. But analysts said Chavalit now was under increased pressure to revive the sagging economy. A shuffling of Chavalit's Cabinet is expected before he leaves for a visit to Japan Oct. 6. New economic reforms are expected to be announced Oct. 15. Parliament also approved a new draft Constitution aimed at ending political patronage.

The pro-democracy forces of Nobel Peace Prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi held their largest gathering in years in Burma, calling again for dialogue with the military government. But the National League for Democracy demanded the right to name its own delegation to such a meeting. The party gathering, at Suu Kyi's home in Rangoon, was limited to an estimated 700 delegates by police.

Two days after India's and Pakistan's prime ministers met and pledged to try to stop armed clashes along their common border, the New Delhi government announced it had begun production of a medium-range ballistic missile that Pakistan regards as a threat to peace. Defense Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav also said Pakistan "is not true to its words" in wanting improved relations with India and warned of retaliation "if Pakistani troops continue to shell our areas." At least 15 people died in artillery fire across the border last month.

Nine candidates for president of Cameroon kicked off their allotted two weeks of campaigning even though only incumbent Paul Biya is expected to attract a significant share of the vote. Three main opposition parties have announced plans to boycott the Oct. 12 balloting because Biya refuses to allow independent monitors to oversee the election. Biya has held the office since 1982. Earlier this month, the National Assembly, dominated by his party, extended the presidential term from five years to seven.

"I'm going to like this place."

- US astronaut David Wolf, on taking a quick look around the orbiting Russian space station, Mir, after his arrival.

Etceteras

Quick, what's on the front of the new $50 bill? Answer: President Ulysses S. Grant's portrait - and a tiny printing flaw. The boo-boo, a break in the concentric lines behind the portrait, would cost 4.8 cents per note to correct. But since 30 million bills have it, that adds up to $1.44 million, so federal officials are taking their time deciding whether to destroy or circulate them.

What must have been one of the most colorful memorial services ever seen in London took place last week as descendants of a native American chief prepared to take his remains back to the US for reburial. Long Wolf of the Lakota Sioux died while with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1892. His casket was exhumed, draped with a Sioux flag, and carried to a church for departure ceremonies, followed by the descendants and a shaman - all dressed in feather bonnets and blankets and accompanied by a drum and chants in the Sioux language.

Londoners had literally tons of things to deal with that day. It seems a delivery truck overturned at rush hour, spilling 10,000 pounds of packaged Yorkshire pudding on a busy highway. Traffic backed up for 10 miles. The mess didn't include roast beef. Nor did emergency crews clean it up with forks.

The Day's List

Biggest Mergers in the US Securities Industry

When Travelers Group Inc. said last week it had agreed to acquire the parent of Salomon Brothers, it was in effect attempting the second-largest merger in the nation's securities sector. The top five US securities-industry mergers, when they occurred, and figures (in billions of dollars) for their estimated combined assets and liabilities:

1. Morgan Stanley Group- Dean Witter, Discover & Co.

February 1997 $10.6

2. Salomon Inc.-Travelers Group,

September 1997 $9.0

3. Bankers Trust-Alex. Brown & Sons Inc,

April 1997 $2.1

4. Mellon Bank-Dreyfus Corp.,

December 1993 $1.8

5. Scudder, Stevens & Clark-The Zurich Group,

June 1997 $1.7

- Securities Data Corp./Associated Press