News In Brief
The USSkip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Progress toward peace in the Mideast seemed to hinge on the outcome of talks in New York, hosted by Secretary of State Albright. After a breakfast with five Gulf foreign ministers, she met with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy in anticipation of a three-way session later in the day with Levy and Mahmoud Abbas, a senior adviser to Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. The State Department said Albright hoped to reestablish negotiations between the two parties "very soon." Talks were halted in March after Israel broke ground on a Jewish housing project in southeastern Jerusalem.
Jury selection began in Denver for the trial of Terry Nichols, the second man accused of the Oklahoma City bombing two years ago. Timothy McVeigh, a co-defendant and former Army buddy of Nichols, was found guilty in June for his part in the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 people. Nichols has pleaded not guilty. Late last week Congress authorized $5 million to help build and maintain a $24 million memorial at the site of the bombing, run by the National Park Service. The federal funds are to be matched by $5 million from the state of Oklahoma and $14 million from private sources.
Bolstered by growing minority involvement, a national homebuying boom continues, a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University said. It said the number of homeowners increased by 3.4 million, or 5.5 percent, over the past three years, pushing the rate of home ownership to 65.4 percent. After a record-setting year in 1996, when 4.1 million units were sold, home sales are likely to exceed 4 million units again in 1997, the study found.
Calmer weather helped crews battle a fierce wildfire in northern California. Officials said the blaze had destroyed 20 homes and forced 1,000 people to evacuate residences in Dobbins and the nearby town of Oregon House, about 150 miles northeast of San Francisco. The wind-whipped 5,743-acre blaze in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas was said to be 50 percent contained at the end of the weekend - and officials expected it to be fully contained by today. A short in a generator was said to have started the fire.
Americans' real income went up last year for the second year in a row, even as the poverty rate remained about the same, the Census Bureau said. The real median income of households rose by 1.2 percent from $35,082 to $35,492. The number of poor Americans in 1996 totaled 36.5 million, about 13.7 percent of the population. The previous year's figures were 36.4 million and 13.8 percent.
US consumers curbed their spending in August despite a healthy income gain, the Commerce Department said. Personal incomes rose 0.6 percent last month, tripling the 0.2 percent July gain. Wages and salaries, the most-watched component of personal income, rose 0.8 percent. Personal consumption increased 0.3 percent, following a 1 percent spurt in July.
The Federal Reserve was expected to hold interest rates steady at a meeting today in Washington. Reports show the economy growing vigorously with remarkably low inflation, which does not justify raising rates now, analysts said.
Senate confirmation hearings were to begin today on four new FCC commissioners. The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is to consider the White House choice for chairman, Federal Communications Commission general counsel William Kennard, as well as Gloria Tristani, Michael Powell, and Harold Furchtgott-Roth. Susan Ness is the only commissioner staying on.
Thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered in New York and other cities around the world to celebrate the end of a 7-1/2- year reading of the Talmud, the early religious writings that make up Jewish civil and religious law. It was the tenth cycle completed since the program known as Daf Yomi began in Vienna in 1923. A crowd estimated at 26,000 turned out at Madison Square Garden. Another 20,000 people were expected at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
Eight thousand more Palestinians were permitted to return to their jobs in Israel as the region awaited word on whether peace negotiations between the two sides would resume. An estimated 29,000 Palestinians now are free to get to their jobs, about half the number who usually hold work permits. But an aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu said it was "inconceivable" that Israel would consider handing over any additional West Bank land until the Palestinian Authority had made a serious effort to crush Islamic militant groups.
Heavy rains and winds clear-ed the air over much of eastern Malaysia, one of the areas most affected by smoke from out-of-control fires in neighboring Indonesia. But the joint US-Indonesian oil company, Caltex, said it had evacuated hundreds of employees' dependents from the island of Sumatra because of the fires. The smoke is blamed for the deaths of 234 people in last week's crash of a passenger plane on Sumatra. Another 29 people are missing in the collision of two ships in the Strait of Malacca because of the haze.