News In Brief

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The US

Nuclear watchdog groups slammed the National Cancer Institute for taking too long to tell millions of Americans they were exposed to radiation from nuclear-weapons testing. Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Military Production Network said the NCI took 13 years to conduct and release a report on fallout from 90 nuclear tests in the 1950s and '60s that says tests in Nevada could have affected 10,000 to 75,000 people who were children at the time. The NCI, which had made general findings public in August and was to release its full study today, reportedly had warned Kodak and other film manufacturers in the 1950s about nuclear fallout that could damage their products.

Senate GOP leader Trent Lott offered a campaign-finance reform amendment that would rein in union spending on political activities. President Clinton called it a "killer amendment," and said Republicans - particularly House Speaker Newt Gingrich - were trying to divert attention away from congressional failure to pass new campaign rules.

Recommended: Default

The Senate was expected to pass a stopgap bill that would fund federal programs through Oct 23, preventing a government shutdown. The House passed the measure Monday. Congress needed to complete work on the bill before Oct 1, when the new fiscal year begins. The House bill also would extend a provision allowing undocumented immigrants to remain in the US past Oct. 1 if applying for legal residence. Thousands of immigrants have panicked over possible loss of a right to file for legal status here, rather than at consulates abroad, if they pay a $1,000 fine.

The Supreme Court agreed to to clarify when jurors in capital cases must be allowed to consider convicting someone of a lesser crime not punishable by death. The court said it will study a Nebraska ruling that, if upheld, would require giving convicted killer Randolph Reeves a new sentencing trial or changing his death sentence to life in prison. Reeves was convicted of first-degree murder after a judge refused to let jurors be told they could convict him of second-degree murder or manslaughter.

A lawyer for victims of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos told a judge some $13 billion belonging to the late Philippine leader's estate had been found in a Swiss bank. US district judge Manuel Real imposed a temporary injunction on the Union Bank of Switzerland, ordering it not to move the money. The victims are fighting for ownership of Marcos assets in Switzerland.

US Airways passenger service workers voted to unionize, handing the Communications Workers of America the labor movement's biggest nongovernment organizing victory since the International Association of Machinists organized some 14,000 Northwest Airlines ground workers in 1987.

A federal judge ordered government overseer Kenneth Conboy to decide whether Teamsters leader Ron Carey should be disqualified from new elections early next year. US district judge David Edelstein said a declaration of candidacy of previously nominated candidates will occur Oct. 24. He set Jan. 9 for mailing ballots to 1.4 million Teamsters members and ordered that ballots be returned and the rerun count begun on Feb. 6.

The House approved a bill enabling young foreigners to work as au pair live-in baby sitters for American families. The bill, which went to Clinton for signing, makes permanent a US Information Agency program that allows girls to come to the US to live with families and perform domestic work for $115 a week, plus food and lodging.

California Gov. Pete Wilson signed a bill allowing individual smokers to sue tobacco firms. The law removes tobacco from the state's list of "inherently unsafe" products whose manufacturers are shielded from product liability actions under a 1987 law.

Roy Lichtenstein, who died Monday in New York, reacted against the seriousness of so-called high art, wittily parodying modern America - from comic books to abstract expressionism. Many of his paintings have the in-your-face effect of posters.

The World

Despite agreeing to discuss a "time out" with the Palestinians, Israel intends to continue expanding Jewish settlements on occupied territory, Prime Minister Netanyahu said. His announcement followed the meeting in New York in which Palestinian and Israeli representatives agreed with Secretary of State Albright to resume their stalled peace talks in two weeks. Netanyahu said what Israel had committed to do was talk about the "concept" of a time out in housing construction but that its "definition" and "duration" had yet to be decided.

Less than a year after winning the mayor's race in Belgrade, leading Serbian opposition politician Zoran Djindjic was ousted by a vote of the city council. Djindjic's Democratic Party was a member of the Zajedno coalition that embarras-sed President Slobodan Milosevic last November by capturing control of the Serb capital and 13 other cities, then leading months of street demonstrations when Milosevic wouldn't yield power. Djindjic's dismissal was initiated by his opposition rival, Vuk Dras-kovic, on grounds of incompetence and ignoring civic duties.

The French government will rethink its tough policy on issuing visas to Algerians who may be targets of Islamic extremists, Prime Minister Jospin said. The policy is aimed in part at keeping a lid on terrorism caused by immigrants from former French colonies. Jospin's announcement came amid reports of five new massacres of civilians in Algeria by suspected fundamentalist rebels. They came only hours before the more moderate of two Muslim rebel groups was to begin a unilateral ceasefire.

Taliban forces said they were "at the gates" of the last major town in northern Afghanistan still in opposition hands. Taliban troops briefly held Mazaar-e-Sharif last May, but were driven out when ally Abdul Malik defect-ed to the opposition side. They regained control of the city's airport early last month - only to have to retreat again. Reports of the city's imminent fall could not be independently confirmed.

South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission was looking for ways to compel ex-President P. W. Botha to testify on the use of the armed forces and state security council in enforcing apartheid during the 1980s. Botha responded to a subpoena by providing a medical certificate declaring him unable to attend commission hearings later this month for health reasons.

The deadline expired for Australians to get market value for firearms turned in to the government under an amnesty program. Attorney General Daryl Williams said more than 600,000 weapons were returned under a plan that guarantees exemption from prosecution for illegal ownership. It began after a gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania last year. Critics say the program endangers lives by leaving homes across the country unprotected.

Powerful political parties in Chile vowed they would try to thwart former dictator Augusto Pinochet's plan to become a senator-for-life when he retires as Army chief next year. The Party for Democracy, Socialists, and Christian Democrats - members of the center-left coalition government - said they'd push for a constitutional amendment ending the power of the armed forces, police, and Supreme Court to designate their own choices for unelected Senate seats. Pinochet ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990.

Jews and Roman Catholics scheduled two days of ceremonies at Oswiecim, Poland, to mark the opening of a new church honoring those who died at the World War II Auschwitz death camp. The chapel of the Church of St. Joseph is built of the same materials used for the furnaces at Auschwitz. Its opening was timed to coincide with the first week of the Jewish New Year. Jews have long accused the Catholic Church of making little effort to resist the Holocaust.

"You know, we are ... enabling natural growth of the settlements, and I don't intend to change our policy."

- Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, on expanding Jewish West Bank housing while discussing a "time out" with Palestinians.

Etceteras

Among the implements used by chefs in Key West, Fla., to prepare a massive Key lime pie: measuring cups, spatulas, egg beaters, and a blow torch. The pie, seven feet across, took the juice of 1,152 limes and 20 pounds of sugar. It fed guests at the opening ceremony for a sculpture garden. Oh, the blow torch? It was used to brown the meringue on top.

Given the opportunity to dress down for the first "casual Friday" at the New York Stock Exchange, traders showed up in jackets and ties - the same as their attire any other workday. But this was a special promotion for a clothing company, which supplied the duds. The one deviation from the norm: khaki trousers. Said an official: "We do stuff within boundaries. We relaxed the pants."

Memo to parents who school their children at home: Don't be surprised if they're ruled ineligible for varsity sports, no matter how much you pay in local taxes. That happened to Clint Holcomb, who hoped to win an athletic scholarship to college by playing on the high-school soccer team in Clifton Springs, N.Y. But officials headed off his bid, citing state regulations that require four periods of classroom instruction, plus gym.

The Day's List

New Box-Office Record Set by Trio of Movies

"The Peacemaker," "Soul Food," and "The Edge" took in a combined $32 million last weekend - a record for the fall season, according to Robert Bucksbaum of the Reel Source newsletter. Overall receipts were 30 percent above the same weekend last year. Estimated revenues of top-grossing films for Sept. 26-28 (in millions of dollars):

1. "The Peacemaker" $12.5

2. "Soul Food" 11.4

3. "In and Out" 11.3

4. "The Edge" 8.2

5. "The Game" 5.1

6. "L.A. Confidential" 4.5

7. "Wes Craven's Wishmaster" 3.3

8. "The Full Monty" 2.6

9. "A Thousand Acres" 1.5

10. "G.I. Jane" 1.4

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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