News In Brief

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The US

The Clinton administration's release of videotapes of 44 finance-related coffees held in the White House sparked a firestorm among Republicans. Questions were raised about why the tapes didn't surface when the White House was first asked for all records related to fund-raising for the 1996 elections. Witnesses have differed in testimony before the Senate committee over whether Huang made a fund-raising pitch at the coffee.

The White House said Clinton would use his new line-item veto powers to axe 38 projects worth $287 million from the $9.2 billion military construction bill. Historically, lawmakers have attached pork-barrel pet projects to the military bill. It would be the second time he has used the line-item veto, but the first time for a spending bill.

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The seven-member crew of the space shuttle Atlantis was expected to touch down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today after poor weather conditions delayed plans for an earlier landing. But heavy cloud cover didn't delay the launch of a unmanned rocket carrying a communications satellite.

Stanley Prusiner, a biochemistry professor at the University of California in San Francisco, won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The prize, worth $1 million, is awarded by Sweden's renowned Karolinska Institute.

The Supreme Court refused to order the public release of Clinton's videotaped testimony in the 1996 criminal trial of his former Whitewater partners. A conservative group, Citizens United, made the request. The court also rejected a challenge to Indiana University's custom of having a clergy member offer two prayers at the school's graduation ceremony. Opponents had argued the state-supported school's custom violates the constitutionally required separation of religion and government. In other decisions, the court left intact a ruling that lets newspapers in Washington state bar their reporters from political activism even though a state law prohibits such censorship by most other employers.

The Department of Energy said it would sell the Elk Hills Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Occidental Petroleum Corp. for $3.65 billion. Sale of the reserve, near Bakersfield, Calif., would result in the largest privatization in US history.

Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney announced plans to enlist foreign nationals to take his ministry worldwide. The former University of Colorado football coach also said he would replicate last weekend's Washington gathering with rallies in every state capital Jan. 1, 2000.

Digital Equipment is negotiating the sale of its Alpha chip technology unit to Intel Corp. for more than $1.5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. A settlement would end a patent lawsuit in which Digital claims Intel stole technology, the Journal said.

H.F. Ahmanson & Co. announced it will acquire Coast Savings Financial Inc. in a $901 million stock deal that will create the second largest savings and loan in the country. Ahmanson, the parent company of Home Savings of America, said the purchase of its smaller rival will create a financial institution with more than $39.2 billion in deposits and $56.6 billion in assets.

President Lyndon Johnson expressed serious doubts about US involvement in Vietnam as early as May 1964, according to tapes of his personal White House talks. A discussion with National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy appears in "Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964," published by Simon & Schuster this week. Johnson called the war effort the biggest mess he'd ever seen. Partial transcripts appear in the Oct. 13 issue of News-week.

Authorities searched for an armored car company employee after discovering as much as $15 million missing from a Loomis, Fargo & Co. warehouse in Charlotte, N. C. Loomis was stung last March by one of the largest armored car robberies in US history, with the disappearance of $18 million. Most of that money was returned last month.

The World

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to hold a news conference as the Monitor went to press, apparently to discuss the return of two Israelis from custody in Jordan. The men, believed to be intelligence agents, were arrested after an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Hamas leader Khaled Meshal. Israel agreed to free 22 Palestinians and return them to Jordan in exchange. Meanwhile, Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, released last week by Israel, left Jordan for his home in Gaza, where he received a tumultuous welcome.

Long-awaited peace negotiations in Northern Ireland were to open today, but with no outward softening by rival republicans and loyalists of their positions. Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble reiterated his commitment not to surrender the province's union with Britain. Speaking for Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, party representative Martin McGuinness said, "We are going to smash the union."

Nationalist leaders in Serbia were claiming victory in Sunday's presidential runoff election, but there were doubts about whether enough voters had gone to the polls to make the outcome valid. Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj held a 3 percent lead over ruling Socialist Party opponent Zoran Lilic, an ally of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. But it appeared the voter turnout might not reach the required 50 percent. A parallel election in Montenegro appeared headed for a runoff. Both elections were seen as a test of Milosevic's grip on power.

A "war council" of Colombia's top military officials was convened by President Ernesto Samper following the weekend deaths of 28 policemen and judicial officers in separate incidents. One attack was blamed on gunmen protecting a cocaine shipment, the other on leftist rebels. It was not clear what measures would be discussed at the meeting since Samper has rejected calls for a state of emergency.

Hearings were scheduled for Monday on whether the International Court of Justice in The Hague has any jurisdiction in the case of two Libyans accused of blowing up a Pan Am jetliner over Scotland in 1988. Libya ask-ed the court to rule that the US and Britain have no right to demand that the men be extradited for trial, maintaining it is entitled to try them in its own courts. The London and Washington governments reject that position.

Amid tight security, 23 leaders of Spain's radical Basque political party, Herri Batasuna, arrived for a court appearance in Madrid on charges of cooperating with the ETA separatist group. The trial was ordered to proceed after their lawyers argued unsuccessfully that one of the judges assigned to the case be disqualified because his daughter works in Spain's Security Ministry. ETA is blamed for more than 800 deaths in its campaign for Basque independence.

Founders of Kenya's newest opposition party were notified that it will not be legalized on grounds of "undesirability." Safina, whose leader is renowned paleontologist Richard Leakey, was formed in 1995 but quickly condemned by President Daniel arap Moi. Moi has called Leakey, who is white, a "neocolonialist" in league with foreign interests. The ruling, which can be appealed to Kenya's attorney general, means Safina may not field candidates in national elections.

The fourth new government in less than three years was expected to be sworn in today in Nepal. The kingdom's Communist-dominated coalition lost a no-confidence vote in Congress last weekend. The new government was likely to be headed by former Prime Minister Surya Bahadur Thapa, who would share power with a centrist party. It's last national poll, in 1994, ended inconclusively. Voters don't return to the polls until 1999.

"I would address the whole world and say that we are peace-seekers. We love peace."

- Sheik Ahmed Yassin, founder of the militant Hamas movement, on leaving Jordan for his return home to Gaza.

Etceteras

If you live in Glendale, Calif., be aware: The fence police are on the prowl. A city ordinance makes fences taller than 18 inches illegal, and at least eight people have been cited for violating it. Nobody has gone to the stockade for the offense yet. Neither have any pickets turned up outside city hall. But officials say higher fences can be eyesores and lead to crime.

Public relations-wise, the FBI took another hit to its dented image last week - and right in the heart of small-town America, to boot. Dozens of trainee agents - armed and in bulletproof vests - forced an unsuspecting group of Elizabethtown, Pa., youths to the ground and handcuffed them in a mock hostage drill before realizing they had the wrong party. The bureau apologized profusely. The quiet college town has about 12,000 people.

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is getting extra exposure in his bid for reelection next year - and at his rivals' expense. The Social Democrats rented 100 billboards in Leipzig and plan to put Kohl's picture on all of them, along with a message claiming he lacks new ideas for solving current problems.

The Day's List

States Rated Best at Meeting the Public Good

Need to get a community project done? Ask a Vermonter. Vermont scored highest among the 50 states for "civic culture" - the ability to work together for the public good, according to a study by Iowa State University political science professor Tom Rice. He says civic culture has four characteristics: participation in public affairs, a strong belief in equality, a willingness to trust, and a willingness to join community groups. The states rated 10 best in his study:

1. Vermont

2. Massachusetts

3. Wyoming

4. Maine

5. North Dakota

6. New Hampshire

7. Nebraska

8. Montana

9. Connecticut

10. Minnesota

- Associated Press

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