News In Brief

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The US

There are more videotapes of White House finance-related coffees than those recently handed over to congressional investigators, the White House said. President Clinton called it "just an accident" that the videotapes weren't handed over sooner. But Sen. Fred Thompson (R) of Tennessee said he wants to question White House officials under oath to determine why they falsely assured investigators in September that such tapes didn't exist.

Portions of those videotapes were likely to be played during scheduled testimony by former White House aide Harold Ickes at a Senate hearing. Ickes, who oversaw Clinton's reelection campaign as deputy White House chief of staff, was likely to face tough questioning about notes he took during meetings with AFL-CIO leaders. The Governmental Affairs Committee is looking for proof that Democrats and organized labor illegally coordinated their campaign forces in 1996.

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House Democrats planned to unveil a six-point education agenda that, among other things, will focus on early childhood development, teacher training, aid to rebuild older public schools, and support for public choice. One day earlier, Republicans unveiled an education agenda emphasizing private school vouchers, improved teacher training, and new reading programs.

The FBI leveled spying charges against three Marxist Americans. The spy ring stole documents for East Germany, investigators said.

The Senate planned to vote on an amendment to campaign finance-reform legislation that Democrats call a "poison pill" designed to kill the McCain-Feingold bill. It would force unions to seek approval from rank-and-file members before their dues are applied to political causes they may not support - a move Democrats say would put them at a disadvantage in raising money. Unions have traditionally been strong supporters of Democratic candidates. Depending on the outcome of the amendment, the Senate also may vote on McCain-Feingold, which would ban "soft money" donations.

At a Washington conference on global warming, Clinton said the US would seek realistic reductions in carbon emissions at international climate talks in December. But he provided no timetable or emissions target. Environmentalists have criticized the administration for not being more specific, noting that Europeans for months have said they would seek to freeze emissions at 15 percent below 1990 levels. Such levels would be unrealistic for the US, the White House said.

Jury selection began in Sacramento, Calif., for the trial of Theodore Kaczynski. The accused Unabomber faces 10 felony counts related to two fatal bombings there and two other blasts that seriously injured professors. The trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 12.

The Clinton administration criticized Japan and China for not removing trade barriers fast enough. US and Japanese negotiators began three days of talks in San Francisco to discuss implementation of a 1995 agreement in which Japan pledged to lower barriers to the sale of US-made cars and car parts. And Commerce Secretary William Daley, on his way to Beijing, said China hasn't opened its markets enough to qualify for World Trade Organization membership.

The Clinton administration asked the Supreme Court to reinstate a government policy allowing federal credit unions to enroll new members not in their traditional membership pool. A 1934 law is ambiguous and can be interpreted to let them expand memberships, acting Solicitor General Seth Waxman argued. But a lawyer for banks that successfully challenged the policy in a lower court said the government's position would allow unlimited groups of people to join a single credit union.

Chrysler Corp. announced it's recalling several makes of cars and minivans because of potentially serious seatbelt and steering problems. The recall affects 1995 Dodge and Plymouth Neon models and 1991-1993 minivans.

The World

A senior security official said Israel doubted the sincerity of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin's offer of a possible ceasefire that would end suicide bombings. The offer - accompanied by demands for a full Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands - came as lower-level peace talks resumed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the mediation of US envoy Dennis Ross.

Signs of compromise emerg-ed from talks between Russian President Yeltsin and the Communist Speaker of Parliament over their budget impasse. Gennady Seleznyov said Yeltsin told him he didn't want to dissolve Parliament and was open to a proposal for "round table" talks on Russia's most vexing problems. Communists have threatened to veto Yeltsin's 1998 budget and have called for a no- con- fidence vote in his government.

Rejecting heavy international criticism, the Japanese government said it would not change its proposal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations. The plan, developed for a high-profile international conference on climate change in Kyoto in December, calls for a 5 percent reduction in emissions "in principle" by 2012. Opponents, led by environmentalists and the European Union, say the plan is "life-threatening" and full of loopholes.

The UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague ordered a Bosnian Croat defendant to enter a new plea on charges that he participated in a 1995 massacre of Muslims. It said Drazen Erdemovic did not understand the implications of his guilty plea last November to one charge of crimes against humanity. Erdemovic, now serving a 10-year prison sentence, said he may repeat his original plea to spare his family the ordeal of a trial.

Tight security precautions were in force in Bordeaux for the arrival of Maurice Papon, the highest-ranking official of France's former Vichy government to stand trial for World War II crimes against humanity. Papon is accused of participating in the systematic persecution and deportation of Jews. The trial is due to begin today.

The ball is in Prime Minister Prodi's court, Communists in Italy's Parliament said after the two sides failed to reach an 11th-hour compromise on their budget dispute. Prodi was to address lawmakers in an appeal for passage of his 1998 spending proposals. The Communists say they cut too deeply into the social welfare system and have vowed to vote against them. Prodi says the cuts are needed to qualify Italy for membership in the European monetary union. His government is considered likely to fall if the budget does not pass.

The Taliban religious Army appeared to lose more ground in its struggle for control of northern Afghanistan. Unconfirmed reports said Taliban troops had pulled out of Hairatan, an entry point on the border with Uzbekistan, after a battle with opposition forces. Earlier this week, the Taliban admitted abandoning key positions around Mazar-e-Sharif, the regional capital.

Some of the heaviest fighting to date in Sri Lanka's civil war resulted in the deaths of 414 Tamil rebels and government troops, the Defense Ministry said. It erupted as the Army advanced toward the last major rebel-held town in northern Sri Lanka. Army units are trying to open a highway to the Jaffna peninsula, where the Tamils seek an independent homeland.

Invitations went out from Qatar for next month's regional economic conference despite the latest setbacks to the Arab-Israeli peace process. Some Arab governments say they will boycott the Nov. 16-18 session. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said there were no plans to grant the requests of other Arab countries for cancellation of the conference - or at least a delay.

"[Clinton] aides were led by the hand right into the middle of the evidence,

and they still didn't see it."

- Sen. Fred Thompson (R) of Tennessee, on "accidental" discovery of tapes sought in the probe of political fund-raising.

Etceteras

Something is bugging pest-control professionals in Rhode Island, and it isn't the insects they exterminate. It seems the state lottery commission reproduced a competitor's mascot on 1.2 million scratch tickets for its latest game. The original is one of the state's best-known landmarks - a nine-foot-high blue fiberglass bug that stands beside I-95 in Providence. Rival exterminators say the act is worth $25,000 in free advertising for New England Pest Control and they want lottery tickets with their mascots on them, too.

The flag of China is red with a large gold star in the upper left corner inside an arc of smaller stars. Pretty hard to fly it upside down, right? Apparently not. Police in Hong Kong are undergoing special training in how to fold and hoist it correctly after somebody goofed last week on National Day, only three months after the former British colony reverted to Chinese control.

What type of house do you suppose a vinyl-siding contractor would live in? If you mean Barry Ford of Lancaster, S.C., it's a house built of straw - 600 bales of it. The 1,940-square-foot dwel-ling cost $7,000, plus $130 to heat during the winter. No vinyl on the outside, though. It has a stucco finish - to keep the family horses from snacking on the walls.

The Day's List

Top 10 Movies for the Weekend of Oct. 3-5

Half of the movies in last weekend's Top 10 are thrillers, among them a new release, "Kiss the Girls," which bumped "The Peacemaker" from the No. 1 slot all the way to third. The box-office leaders for the weekend and their estimated gross revenues (in millions of dollars):

1. "Kiss the Girls" $13.4

2. "Soul Food" 8.5

3. "The Peacemaker" 8.4

4. "In and Out" 8.0

5. "The Edge" 5.2

6. "L.A. Confidential" 5.0

7. "The Game" 2.9

8 "The Full Monty" 2.8

9. "U-Turn" 2.7

10. "The Matchmaker" 1.5

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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