News In Brief

The US

The New York Stock Exchange reacted to the plunge in stock trading in Hong Kong with an almost immediate 150.54-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow stood at 7884.11 after one hour of trading as the Monitor went to press. Analysts said the drop raised concerns about US companies that depend on Asia for major portions of their profits.

In the final weeks of Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign, the Republican National Committee steered more than $1 million from donors to such groups as Americans for Tax Reform and the American Defense Institute, The Washington Post reported. The groups are known for their involvement in voter-education and -turnout programs. The Post quoted a Republican committee official as saying it had no input into how the funds were spent. Congress is investigating the diversion of so-called "soft money" donations by the Democratic National Committee to aid President Clinton's 1996 reelection bid.

The US will not change its policy on Taiwan or improve relations with China at Taiwan's expense, a senior adviser on Asian affairs said. Jeff Bader of the National Security Council said Clinton would sign no new communiques on Chinese territorial status during his summit with visiting President Jiang Zemin next week.

Members of the armed forces are being obliged to turn in their weapons under a new Defense Department directive, Pentagon officials said. The directive requires the branches of service to comply with a 1995 law that prohibits gun ownership by people convicted of domestic abuse. Estimates of the number of men and women who may need to be reassigned to desk jobs under the policy ranged as high as the thousands, one senior officer said.

More Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week than at any time since Aug. 30, the Labor Department said. It put the number of new claims at 315,000. Texas led in new filings with 3,825, largely due to layoffs in the machinery and electrical equipment industries.

Owners of the 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline are choking competition for development of North Slope deposits, a watchdog group complained. In a 180-page report, Oilwatch Alaska said it found a pattern of overcharging for shipments through the pipeline, causing smaller oil companies to sell their North Slope holdings because they can't make a profit. It called for an independent state panel to examine pipeline management practices and consider filing an antitrust lawsuit. The major owners, led by British Petroleum, denied the allegations.

The average recent college graduate owes $18,800 in education loans - more than twice the amount at the beginning of the decade, a new study found. Nellie Mae, the nation's largest nonprofit provider of student loans, said the added debt is caused by an average tuition increase of 25 percent at private colleges in the past six years and because students now receive more of their financial aid in the form of loans rather than grants.

A Washington State Indian tribe won approval to resume its ancient tradition of hunting gray whales. Meeting in Monaco, the International Whaling Commission alloted the 2,000-member Makah tribe an average of four whales a year for the next five years. The tribe voluntarily stopped whaling 70 years ago because of concerns that overhunting was threatening the whales' existence.

Live coverage of Game 5 of the World Series was to be provided free to Cuba under an agreement between Major League Baseball and Radio and TV Mart. The game was especially attractive to Cubans because high-salaried defector Livan Hernandez was the scheduled starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins.

The World

Hong Kong's main stock index fell 16 percent before recovering slightly at the close. Analysts blamed the drop on Hong Kong central bank measures that pushed short-term interbank rates from 7 percent to 150 percent. China said it would not intervene to prop up the market, which has lost 40 percent of its value since hitting a record high Aug. 7.

Delegates at a UN conference on climate change in Bonn expressed disappointment with a US plan to combat global warming. President Clinton announced Wednesday the US intention to reduce its output of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels over the next 15 years. European Union nations sharply criticized the plan as insufficient, while Japan welcomed it as a basis for further talks. Negotiators in Bonn are working on a resolution setting firm limits on emissions to take to an international conference on climate control in Kyoto, Japan in December.

Turnout was light as Algeria held its first local elections since 1990. The government tightened security at the polls, hoping to avert possible attacks by Muslim rebels who have fought for nearly six years to set up an Islamic state. More than 80,000 candidates from 37 parties and groups were competing to fill 15,000 seats in local councils and provincial offices.

South African President Nelson Mandela called for an end to UN sanctions against Libya. He spoke before meeting in Tripoli with Libyan leader Muammar Quadaffi, who described Mandela as a "saint." The sanctions were imposed under US pressure in 1992 because of Qadaffi's refusal to extradite two Libyans wanted for the bombing of a Pan Am jet over Scotland.

The UN Security Council was to vote on a resolution expressing its "firm intention" to impose new travel bans on Iraq, if weapons inspectors determine Baghdad has failed to eliminate its mass-destruction weapons. Russia and France, which are negotiating lucrative oil-exploration deals with Iraq, refused to support an earlier measure backed by the US and Britain that would have imposed the sanctions immediately.

Congo Republic's civil war victor, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, arrived in the capital, Brazzaville, and vilified ousted president Pascal Lissouba as a "criminal and enemy of the people." The country's former colonial power, France, said looting continued in the oil and economic capital, Pointe Noire, where Sassou-Nguesso's forces were holding more than a dozen foreign nationals on suspicion of helping Lissouba in the four-month conflict. Sassou-Nguesso first ruled the country as a dictator from 1979 to 1991.

Russian President Yeltsin said his country is to blame for allowing conflicts that erupted following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 to drag on. He spoke at the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit in Chisinau, Moldova. Yeltsin accepted responsibility for allowing the CIS to run "irrationally and ineffectively." in dealing with disputes in Dnester, Abkhazia, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Leaders from 11 of the 12 former Soviet republics that make up the CIS attended the summit.

India's Cabinet reversed its decision to dismiss the Hindu nationalist BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. It had chosen to sack the state's BJP leader after violence broke out in the state assembly over a confidence vote, and allegations that lawmakers were bribed to pass the motion. Since India became independent 50 years ago, the federal government has taken over the administration of several states, usually due to violence, corruption, or the state's inability to form a government.

"The content of the US suggestions [is] disappointing and insufficient."

- German Environment Minister Angela Merkel, on President Clinton's proposal for reducing the output of "greenhouse" gases.

Etceteras

New York police gave new meaning to the term breaking up a demonstration when they were called to the offices of Mitsubishi Corp. Between the entrance doors environmental protesters, claiming the company is a major destroyer of rain forests, had encased their arms and legs in barrels filled with quick-drying cement and painted to look like tree stumps. After shielding their other body parts with heavy canvas, the cops freed the protesters with jackhammers. Yes, there were arrests.

Saying, "We find this case extremely hard to digest," a panel of judges in Maryland dismissed a suit against an olive oil bottler. Keith Maydak claimed he drained a 10-ounce bottle of the product to test whether it really yielded 128 tablespoon servings, as the label advertised. He said his bottle came up 107 tablespoons short. If you were wondering, Maydak had time to measure out all that olive oil because he's serving a prison sentence for fraud.

Nebraska treasury officials, going over a list of people who were owed unclaim-ed funds, didn't have to work very hard in tracking down a certain E.B. Nelson of McCook. Why was he so easy to locate? Because he is the state's governor. Nelson was presented with a check for $11.35, The money was from some of his late grandfather's business dealings.

The Day's List

Destination Saturn; Expected Arrival, 2004

The Cassini space probe launch-ed by NASA last week will take nearly seven years to reach Saturn. During the 2.2 billion-mile journey, the spacecraft will swing past Venus twice, plus Earth and Jupiter to gain the gravity-assisted speed needed to reach the ringed planet. Cassini's schedule:

Launch: Oct. 15

Venus flybys: April 1998 and June 1999

Earth flyby: August 1999

Jupiter flyby: December 2000

Saturn arrival: July 2004

Titan moon landing: November 2004

End of mission: July 2008

- Associated Press

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