News In Brief

The US

In an effort to clear its slate before the holiday recess, the Senate was expected to pass a $12.8 billion foreign aid bill. The compromise bill drops Republican restrictions on overseas family planning opposed by President Clinton. But it also axes his request for $3.5 billion for the International Monetary Fund and $926 million for US back dues to the United Nations. The UN and IMF funding could be revived in separate legislation.

The House passed a $9.7 billion stop-gap highway bill to provide states with essential transportation funds. The measure, already approved by the Senate, includes about $5.5 billion in new contract authority and continued funding for safety and transit programs. The House also approved a District of Columbia spending bill, but excluded its controversial pilot plan to provide federally funded vouchers for private schools. The bill includes a provision for thousands of Cubans and Nicaraguans to become residents of the US. Remaining on the House's slate: the final spending bill for the State, Justice, and Commerce Departments.

Clinton and Mexico's President Ernesto Zedillo planned to sign a multinational measure aimed at curbing cross-border gun smuggling throughout the hemisphere. The ceremony is to be held today in Washington by the Organization of American States. A key feature of the convention is a provision that bars the transfer of weapons from one country to another unless they are marked or licensed.

Attorney General Reno was to begin a more extensive inquiry to determine if an independent counsel should be named to probe Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt's motives for killing an Indian casino project in Wisconsin. After he rejected the plan in 1995, other tribes opposed to the casino contributed more than $270,000 to the Democratic Party.

The State Department warned US citizens abroad of potential retaliation after Ramzi Ahmed Yousef was convicted of masterminding the World Trade Center bombing. After deliberating for three days, the New York jury also convicted Eyad Ismoil, who allegedly drove the van carrying the bomb.

Fifty-four percent of Americans polled by ABC News believe the US should bomb Iraq if it continues to block US experts from taking part in UN arms inspections. Some 84 percent said Washington should bomb the country if it tries to attack US spy planes. And 60 percent approve of the way Clinton is handling the situation.

ITT Corp. shareholders rejected a $10 billion hostile takeover bid by Hilton Hotels and instead voted to accept a $10.6 billion offer from Starwood Lodging. Starwood would become the world's largest hotel and casino company if it succeeds in acquiring ITT's Sheraton and Caesar's chains. Starwood already owns or manages hotels bearing the Westin, Marriott, and Doubletree names.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the House Banking Committee the Southeast Asia financial crisis would have only a modest impact on the US economy. But he and Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers agreed the US must support international rescue packages to stabilize Thailand, Indonesia, and several other Asian countries rocked by the crisis. In another development, the Fed decided not to raise interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 26 points as the Monitor went to press after dropping 157 points Wednesday in response to plunging markets overseas. The Tokyo Stock Exchange's Nikkei index fell 2.7 percent, its lowest level in more than two years.

The FBI told the families of victims killed in the crash of TWA Flight 800 it found "absolutely no evidence" that a criminal act caused the downing of the plane off Long Island, New York, The New York Times reported. The agency also suspended its investigation of the crash, which killed 230 people. The FBI has said repeatedly that it has found no evidence that a bomb or missile downed the Boeing 747.

The World

Iraq ordered all American weapons inspectors out of the country immediately. In Washington, President Clinton called the order "unacceptable" and said he would pursue the matter "in a very determined way." At UN headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Annan met with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz but issued no immediate statement. In London, a report by Jane's Intelligence Review said Iraq still has the materials, industrial base, and scientific talent to build nuclear weapons.

A group calling itself the Aimal Secret Committee claimed responsibility for the deaths of four American oil-company employees in Karachi, Pakistan. Police said they had no previous knowledge of the organization but suspected the attack was in retaliation for the conviction in the US of Pakistani Mir Aimal Kasi for the 1993 murders of two CIA employees in Virginia. The Aimal group threatened more attacks on Americans if he is sentenced to death.

The State Department advised Americans in Malaysia to take all possible security precautions after the US Embassy there received threatening phone calls. Anti-US sentiment in Malaysia has grown because of calls in Congress for Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to resign and because of moves to investigate oil deals with Iran. Mahathir is accused of making anti-Jewish statements.

Secretary of State Albright was to began an around-the-world trip with a stop in London for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today. Analysts said the meeting was likely to center on her unhappiness that he had rejected US calls for a "timeout" in the building of Jewish settlements. She also is due to meet Palestinian Authority President Arafat Saturday in Switzerland.

Prospects for a sufficient turnout appeared bright in Hungary's nationwide referendum on joining NATO. Eight million people are eligible to participate in the vote Sunday, but pro-NATO activists have worried that too few will cast ballots to make the outcome binding. Opponents say the country cannot afford membership. Hungary is the only one of the three former Warsaw Pact countries invited to join the alliance that has chosen to put the question to a vote.

A congressional committee in Colombia OK'd and sent to the full House of Representatives a constitutional amendment reinstating the extradition of criminal suspects. But it did not include language ensuring that extradition would apply retro-actively - meaning that jailed members of the Cal cocaine cartel could not be sent to the US for trial as demanded by Washington. Colombia's Senate also has endorsed extradition without retroactivity.

Despite heavy US diplomatic pressure, only a few Arab states were expected to attend the Middle East/North Africa trade conference opening Sunday in Qatar. Boycotting the three-day session on grounds that Israel is blocking progress in regional peace negotiations are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain, and the Arab League. Other countries planned to send only low-level delegations, although Secretary of State Albright was scheduled to represent the US.

Tens of thousands of Lebanese staged a general strike, demanding pay increases of up to 100 percent, plus other benefits. The action was called by the 350,000-member General Confederation of Labor Trade Unions, which said it intended to reinforce its demands with a follow-up walkout Nov. 25-26. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's government has rejected wage hikes, calling instead for broad social-policy discussions with unions and employers.

"The time for their departure is today - the 13th of November."

- Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, on Iraq's order expelling six American weapons inspectors immediately.

Etceteras

Every day, New Englanders are bombarded by TV and radio ads for auto-glass replacement companies - one of them featuring an "installer" whose own windshield is smashed by a batted baseball. Barry Hayes can relate to that. He was watching his son's team play in St. Johnsbury, Vt., when a foul ball from an adjacent field landed you-know-where. Hayes went to small-claims court, seeking reimbursement or at least an apology from the batter. No way, said the arbiter, ruling that - well - stuff happens.

Speaking of cars, a Los Angeles resident wasn't expecting much when police telephoned to report that his stolen 1979 Buick Riviera had been found and could be claimed at an impoundment lot. So imagine his surprise when he arrived and discovered that the thief, or thieves, had spent hundreds of dollars on pin-striping and outfitting it with gleaming chrome bumpers and wheel covers, a custom steering wheel, plush sheepskin seat covers, and - best of all - an antitheft device.

The Day's List

Magazine Names Its '97 US 'Women of the Year'

Glamour magazine honored its 10 choices at a gala in the New York Public Library - its seventh annual recognition of those who have had "the greatest impact on the nation and on women's issues." Among past selections: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Madonna, and gun-control advocate Sarah Brady. The 1997 list, in alphabetical order:

Bobbi Brown, cosmetics industry executive

Carol Browner, Environmental Protection Agency head

Emme, professional model

Denyce Graves, opera star

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, actor

Adrienne Bak Ortolano, Connecticut rape victim

Mary Schiavo, federal whistleblower

Donna Shirley, director of NASA's Mars landing program

US Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize-winner

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