News In Brief

By , Cynthia Hanson, and Vic Roberts

The US

The White House gave a showing of 100 hours of recently released videotapes to a roomful of reporters. It was the first of several screenings scheduled in coming days that show President Clinton fraternizing with Democratic donors. Meanwhile, investigators also scoured the tapes for evidence of fund-raising wrong-doings. One clip filmed in the White House showed Clinton giving a veiled pitch for continued support.

GTE Corp. offered to buy MCI Communications, the second-largest long-distance phone company, for $28 billion in cash. If accepted, it would be the big-gest all-cash deal. WorldCom Inc. offered $30 billion in stock for MCI about two weeks ago.

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The CIA revealed a long-held secret: The nation's annual spying budget is $26.6 billion. The announcement came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington-based watchdog group. The figure covers, among other agencies, the CIA, National Reconnaissance Office, and Defense Intelligence Agency.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney was arraigned on 20 charges of sexual misconduct at Fort Belvoir, Va. He said he was willing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement with military prosecutors over charges related to accusations by six women, but said he would not admit guilt to something he didn't do.

The Cleveland Indians headed to the World Series for the second time in three years after an 11th inning home run by Tony Fernandez gave the tribe a 1-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball's new American League Pennant-winners will face the National League's Florida Marlins.

The Justice Department asked Congress to reverse itself and decide to pay for a court-ordered re-run of a troubled 1996 teamsters election. But majority Republican members of the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee were unsympathetic. Rep. Cass Ballenger (R) of North Carolina characterized the court-supervised election as "stupidly and sloppily run."

Declines in vegetable and pork prices and auto financing charges helped hold September's overall increase in consumer prices to a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent, the Labor Department said. Easing inflation means social security recipients will receive a scant 2.1 percent increase in benefits next year, the smallest since 1987.

The federal deficit for fiscal 1997 will be below $30 billion, White House budget chief Frank-lin Raines said. Final figures are to be released by Oct. 25.

The US Bureau of Land Management agreed to tighten the reigns on its wild horse adoption program. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in June by two animal-rights organizations. It won't stop the slaughter of wild horses, but should reduce the number killed each year.

A British jet-powered car broke the world land speed record after blasting through the sound barrier twice near Gerlach, Nev. To qualify, the Thrust SSC had to cross the desert floor twice in an hour at an average speed of 763.035 mph. The massive vehicle weighs 10.2 tons and is powered by two 110,000-horsepower Rolls-Royce engines.

The Boston Herald said it gave paint chips purportedly from a stolen Rembrandt masterpiece to the FBI. If genuine, the chips would support claims by jailed art thief Myles Connor Jr. and his accomplice that they have access to the $300 million in art works stolen from Boston's Gardner museum seven years ago. The two have offered to return the paintings in exchange for immunity from prosecution, Connor's early release from prison, and the $5-million dollar reward offered by the museum.

Five Greenpeace members were arrested for trespassing after unfurling a giant banner across the Atlantic Richfield Co. headquarters in Los Angeles. The group scaled 15 floors of the building with hooks and suction cups to display their message "Arctic Oil - Global Warming, Chill the Drills." It was the latest in a series of protests against Arco's Arctic oil development.

The World

Communists in Russia's lower house of parliament called for budgetary concessions from President Yeltsin after postponing a no-confidence vote in his government. Opposition parties in the Duma are opposed to his 1998 budget plan, which sharply curtails spending on welfare programs, the military, and agriculture. The vote was put off after Yeltsin made a last-minute plea and offered to meet regularly with parliamentary leaders.

At a ceremony in Buenos Aires, President Clinton praised Argentina for partcipating in more than a dozen UN peacekeeping missions in this decade. He said they are why he wants Argentina to become a non-NATO military ally. Such a designation would make the nation eligible for economic and other aid programs.

From hiding, Pascal Lissouba declared himself still president of the Congo Republic, despite his rival's proclamation of victory. Former leftist dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso said his forces had "total control" of the country's political and economic capitals. In neighboring Gabon, France put hundreds of its troops on alert but downplayed talk of evacuating foreign nationals since no violence was being directed at civilians.

NATO forces air-dropped thousands of leaflets over a key town in northern Bosnia, urging voters to defeat candidates who support indicted war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic. Brcko is in a narrow corridor connecting the eastern and western parts of the Serb sub-state. Its future is to be decided by international arbitration, but elections for a new Serb assembly and president are scheduled for next month and December. Karadzic and his supporters are struggling for power with Western-backed leader Biljana Plavsic.

Sri Lanka's government tightened security and launched a probe into how Tamil rebels managed to get through at least three checkpoints and explode a truck bomb into the heart of the capital, Colombo. The blast and subsequent gun battles killed 18 people and injured 105 others.

Another Muslim extremist group in Algeria has declared a cease-fire, according to news reports. The Armed Jihad Islamic Front (FIDA) joined the Islamic Salvation Army, whose truce began Oct. 1. FIDA had targeted mostly the intellectual elite but also claimed responsibility for the death of the nation's top union leader. A rival fundamentalist organization, the Armed Islamic Group, remains active and is blamed for thousands of civilian deaths in the last 12 months.

Dozens of unidentified gunmen attacked Tajikistan's presidential guard headquarters in the capital, Dushanbe, leaving 14 dead and 20 others wounded, a senior official said. The assault was blamed on small rebel groups that refuse to recognize a peace deal signed in June. The former Soviet republic is trying to emerge from a civil war that began shortly after it gained independence in 1991.

In an about-face, Panama's government granted its OK for a controversial foreign journalist to remain in the country and continue working. Gustavo Gorriti, a Peruvian, was ordered to leave in August on grounds that he held a job reserved for a Panamanian. He appealed, claiming he was being punished for writing exposs of governmental corruption and money-laundering by powerful banks.

Three months after expressing national outrage over the execution of a young politician by Basque separatists, Spaniards planned more protests at the murder of a policeman in Bilbao. Tens of thousands of people were expected for a march there, with similar rallies in other cities. The policeman was shot by guerrillas outside a museum whose opening ceremony was to be attended by Spain's king and queen.

"The popcorn stand is still open."

- White House counsel Lanny Davis, joking with reporters at the beginning of a marathon screening of 100 hours of recently released videotapes showing President Clinton talking with major donors.

Etceteras

Have you noticed the comical lengths to which companies go to caution customers about their products? Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch has. The consumer advocacy group announced the winner of its "Wacky Warning Labels" contest. First prize went to a maker of hair dryers whose label cautions: "Do not use while sleeping." It beat out a cardboard windshield sunscreen that advised motorists not to drive with it in place and a beach towel not intended for protection during a hurricane.

In a classic confrontation between man and machine, here's one that man is destined to win. England's Reading University is entering a robot named Rogerr in a half-marathon - a 13.1-mile race to be held Oct. 26 in nearby Bracknell. Rogerr is expected to finish in about two hours, but will set a world record no matter what its time because no robot is believed to have run such a race before. And, since Rogerr is a heat-seeking robot, it must follow rather than lead.

The Day's List

Nominees for Prestigious National Book Awards

The National Book Awards will be announced by the National Book Foundation Nov. 18 in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. Here are the finalists in two of those categories:

Fiction

"Underworld," by Don DeLillo (Scribner)

"Cold Mountain," by Charles Frazier (Atlantic Monthly Press)

"Le Divorce," by Diane Johnson (Dutton)

"Echo House," by Ward Just (Houghton Mifflin)

"The Puttermesser Papers," by Cynthia Ozick (Alfred A. Knopf)

Nonfiction

"American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson," by Joseph Ellis (Alfred A. Knopf)

"The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara," by David Kertzer (Alfred A. Knopf)

"My Brother," by Jamaica Kincaid (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

"The Undertaking: Life Studies from the Dismal Trade," by Thomas Lynch (W. W. Norton)

"Whittaker Chambers," by Sam Tanenhaus (Random House)

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