News In Brief

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The US

Federal Reserve policymakers met to consider interest-rate strategy amid a shaky opening on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 40 points after two hours of trading on news of another decline in Asian financial markets. There were widespread expectations that the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee would decide to keep borrowing costs steady.

Theodore Kaczynski's trial was scheduled to begin with the questioning of prospective jurors in Sacramento, Calif. Kaczynski, the accused Una-bomber, faces a 10-count federal indictment and could be sentenced to execution if convicted. He is alleged to have mailed or placed 16 explosive devices between 1978 and 1995, but has pleaded innocent to all charges.

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US Justice Department investigators questioned President Clinton and Vice President Gore separately about their roles in soliciting contributions to the Democratic Party by telephone, the White House announced. It was not known whether the interviews were conducted under oath. Attorney General Reno is determining whether there is sufficient evidence to request an independent prosecutor to probe Democratic fund-raising.

Attorneys for Clinton were to take a deposition in Little Rock, Ark., from Paula Jones in her sexual harassment lawsuit. A day earlier, the same lawyers took statements from Arkansas state troopers Larry Patterson and Roger Perry, who claim they helped to arrange sexual liaisons for Clinton when he was governor and then helped to hide them from his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Eastman Kodak joined a growing list of US employers announcing worker layoffs. Kodak said it would furlough 10,000 employees. The announcement, along with similar moves by Fruit of the Loom, Waste Management, and two other companies, came less than a month after the American Management Association reported that corporate downsizing was at its lowest level in this decade.

Despite Clinton's plan to issue a directive suspending the import of military-style assault weapons, federal regulators have OK'd 600,000 of them, the Los Angeles Times reported. It said manufacturers had "eluded restrictions" by making minor modifications that still leave the guns able to accept ammunition magazines of up to 100 rounds.

A $500 million federal program to reduce infant mortality may not be meeting its goals, but the release of a report detailing that finding was blocked by government officials, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. In 1994, the first year to be assessed under the Healthy Start program, preliminary data showed little or no impact in targeted poor communities, the Inquirer said. It said a presentation of the report to a meeting of the American Public Health Association was cancelled on grounds that the data were from only nine of 15 sites.

ITT Corp. was urging the reelection of its current board of directors as shareholders met in New York to decide the future course of a takeover battle. The hotel/casino company wanted the directors returned so they can auction it off to the highest bidder. Hilton Hotels Corp. has been engaged in a fight for control of ITT with Starwood Lodging, the US's largest real estate investment trust. Starwood has bid $10.6 billion; Hilton $10 billion.

In her first public statement since being freed from prison in the death of an infant in her care, British au pair Louise Woodward said she "prayed" that further investigation would convince the baby's family that she did him no harm. She thanked Massachusetts Judge Hiller Zobel for "giving me back my liberty" and denied reports she had sold her story to the news media. Prosecutors have up to 30 days to file for a review of Zobel's ruling.

The World

The UN Security Council was expected to pass a resolution imposing a travel ban on Iraqi officials responsible for disrupting weapons inspectors. Baghdad's official el-Thawra newspaper vowed the resolution would not force Iraq to retreat from its decision to expel Americans serving on inspection teams. For the ninth time in 10 days, Baghdad turned back American experts attempting to leave the UN compound in Baghdad.

Gunmen killed four American oil workers and their Pakistani driver on a downtown Karachi street. Police said the motive for the attack was unknown but raised the possibility of it being linked to Monday's conviction of Mir Aimal Kasi by a US court. Kasi, a Pakistani, faces a possible death sentence for killing two CIA employees outside the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va., in 1993.

Kenya will hold presidential and parliamentary elections Dec. 29, the electoral commission said. The announcement came two days after President Daniel arap Moi dissolved Parliament after the passage of three measures that opponents said were needed to level the electoral playing field. Moi is seeking a fifth five-year term.

Japan and North Korea agreed to resume normalization talks stalled since 1992, according to reports. The agreement came after senior officials from both sides met in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. The reports didn't say when of where the talks would be held. The Korean peninsula was under harsh Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945. Tokyo has since normalized relations with South Korea.

French President Jacques Chirac broached the thorny issue of human rights during a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Tran Duc Long, French officials said. Chirac's five-day visit to Vietnam culminates with a weekend summit of leaders from French-speaking countries. Human-rights groups are pressuring Francophone nations to urge Hanoi to release political and religious prisoners. France maintains close relations with its former colony, providing Vietnam with millions of dollars worth of aid.

The United Arab Emirates joined a growing list of Arab countries announcing they will boycott a controversial regional economic meeting due to the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process. Backed by the US, the annual conference, which opens in Qatar Sunday, was launched four years ago with the aim of integrating Israel into Arab economies. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Algeria also say they will not attend.

A Sarajevo magazine accused Bosnian Muslim officials of covering up alleged atrocities by Muslim forces during the country's civil war. The independent publication, Dani, said "the highest military, and civilian authorities" kept secret court records that told how Muslim soldiers loyal to local warlord Musan Topalovic killed dozens of Serb civilians in the capital. Diplomats say the alleged war crimes don't come close to the scale of the atrocities perpetrated by Serb and Croat armies during the 1992-95 conflict.

Three weeks of rain and flooding along Somalia's Juba river have left at least 130 people dead and displaced some 300,000 others, aid workers said. The faction leader in the south, Gen. Said Morgan, said assistance was desperately needed and blamed the lack of a central government for making aid deliveries more difficult. A wide area of eastern Africa is dealing with heavy rains and floods.

"This resolution is moving like a freight train."

- US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, as the Security Council prepared to vote on new sanctions against Iraq for noncompliance with required weapons inspections.

Etceteras

Mary Schroeder was forewoman of a jury in Mesa, Ariz., that awarded $20,000 in damages to the plaintiff in a personal-injury trial. Nothing unusual about that, you say? Well, perhaps - except for the fact that she was seated on the jury in the first place. She is a federal judge.

Sign of the times: New Hampshire has abandoned a two-year pilot program aimed at encouraging carpools. Rather than riding three to a vehicle and paying no toll on the Everett Turnpike, it seems commuters preferred to go solo and pay 75 cents per trip.

In a dispute that perhaps should go to binding arbitration, Japanese officials and the international group that governs competitive skiing are at odds over next February's Winter Olympics at Nagano. The skiing group says the proposed starting gate for the men's downhill course is too low to provide a challenging race. But raising the gate to where the skiers want it would mean encroaching on a national park used by - guess who? - recreational skiers.

The Day's List

'Bean' Is a Surprise Hit With US Movie-goers

The British comedy "Bean" was the talk of the film industry last weekend because of its strong second-place finish at box offices across the US. The science fiction movie "Starship Troopers" debuted in first place, ending the three-week run of "I Know What You Did Last Summer." But analysts said "Starship" did less well than anticipated because of its R rating for violence. The top 10 grossing films Nov. 7-9, with revenues in millions of dollars.

1. "Starship Troopers" $22.0

2. "Bean" 13.0

3. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" 6.5

4. "Devil's Advocate" 5.1

5. "Red Corner" 4.9

6. "Mad City" 4.6

7. "Boogie Nights" 3.9

8. "Eve's Bayou" 3.3

9. "Kiss the Girls" 2.5

10. "Fairy Tale: A True Story" 2.1

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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