News In Brief

The US

Southeast Asia's spreading financial turmoil won't impact the US economy much. That's the consensus of 39 economic forecasters polled by the National Association for Business Economics in Washington. The forecasters are also predicting moderate growth and low inflation in the US at least through 2003. The outlook was echoed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which in an annual review called the US economy "extremely well-balanced."

Serious crime declined in every section of the US during the first half of 1997, the FBI said, citing preliminary figures from its Uniform Crime Reporting Program. The Northeast had a 6 percent drop, the Midwest and West 5 percent each, and the South 3 percent. The figures were compiled from reports of local law-enforcement agencies.

Residents of Atlanta head for the polls today in a fiery mayoral runoff election peppered with accusations of racial campaign tactics. The challenger, City Council president Marvin Arrington, has accused incumbent Bill Campbell of using racially divisive radio spots. Campbell called the accusation "outrageous." Both men are black, as are two-thirds of Atlanta residents. Neither man won 50 percent of the vote in the first election Nov. 4.

President Clinton may create a health-care blueprint for 3 million uninsured Americans in the 55 to 64 age bracket, The New York Times reported. The proposal for insurance aid for the "near elderly" could be included in the 1999 budget, administration officials were quoted as saying. The "near elderly" aren't poor enough to receive Medicaid and are too young for Medicare. Many lost their jobs and health benefits through corporate downsizing. Others have never had insurance because they are self-employed, the report said.

US efforts to halt the flow of smuggled narcotics across the Southwest border are highly ineffective, The Arizona Republic reported, citing a memorandum by Francis Kinney, director of strategic planning for the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Kinney said the US would be overrun by drug traffic at the border unless it emphasized improved intelligence and high-tech screening equipment. Of the 900,000 US-bound trucks inspected last year - about a quarter of the those crossing the border - only 16 were found to contain cocaine. Yet up to 70 percent of the cocaine entering the US crosses the 2,000-mile stretch, the memo stated.

Harvard University planned to announce the establishment of the Institute on the Arts and Civic Dialogue. The combination think tank/artist colony will be led by actress Anna Deavere Smith and will explore pressing social issues through music, dance, visual arts, theater, film, and video. A joint venture between the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research and the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard, it will be funded by a $1.5 million seed grant from New York's Ford Foundation.

The US tracked a Russian nuclear-powered attack submarine as it maneuvered in international waters near aircraft carriers off the coast of Washington State in September, a senior military official said on condition of anonymity. The sub also practiced attack operations against a US carrier's training mission, The Washington Times reported. US Rep. Norm Dicks (D) of Washington, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Times he would call for congressional oversight hearings on the incident.

Cuban exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa, who died in Miami, influenced US policy on Cuba for years. He fled Cuba in 1960 to avoid arrest for opposing President Fidel Castro. Mas Canosa organized a Cuban political action committee in the US and helped to deliver thousands of Cuban exile votes to Republican political candidates.

The WorldA U-2 spy plane made a new pass over central Iraq without incident, and UN inspectors carried out a third consecutive day of unhindered searches for banned weapons. But American and Iraqi officials were locked in a new dispute over whether inspectors should have access to 47 compounds used by President Saddam Hussein. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz called the US position "intransigent."

Financial authorities in Japan appealed for calm as Yamaichi Securities became the third institution of its type to fail this month. Yamaichi, a top corporate underwriter, also closed its US operations. It leaves debts of $23.6 billion. The announcement had no immediate impact on Japanese financial markets since it came on a national holiday.

Against the backdrop of the Yamaichi collapse, leaders of 18 Asian Rim countries opened their summit meetings in Vancouver, Canada. Chinese President Jiang Zemin, in a keynote address, said "prudent" economic management would protect his country from the wide Asian economic turmoil.

The composite stock index in South Korea fell to its lowest level in 10 years as International Monetary Fund delegates and government representatives opened negotiations in Seoul on terms for a $20 billion bailout of the country's troubled economy. Meanwhile, late opinion polls showed opposition leader Kim Dae Jung has lost all but 1-1/2 points of his once-comfortable lead in the campaign for the country's Dec. 18 presidential election.

Amid extremely tight security, 39 alleged Muslim militants went on trial in Paris for what prosecutors say were their roles in a rash of 1995 terrorist bombings. In bringing Algeria's violent Muslim insurgency to French soil, the attacks took the lives of nine people and injured more than 200 others. Sixteen of the defendants are of Algerian nationality.

The backlash in Iran against critics of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei widened as thousands of merchants closed their stores and joined demonstrations in Tehran. Nationwide marches also were scheduled for Friday in protest against ayatollahs Hossein Ali Montazeri and Ahmad Azari Qomi, who question Khamen-ei's absolute authority. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who attacked their offices late last week in the Shiite holy city, Qom.

International election monitors disputed reports that allies of war-crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic had won the struggle for power in the Bosnian Serb sub-state's parliament. Karadzic's Serb Democratic Party claimed victory across much of the region, with his rival, Biljana Plavsic, apparently winning only in Banja Luka and one other key town. But final results were not expected until Dec. 10, the election organizers said, holding out the possibility that the outcome "could be very close."

Milan Kucan easily won a third term as president of Slovenia, but faced an immediate political challenge that could force him to step down. Parliament is scheduled to debate a measure as soon as today that would ban ex-Communists from holding public office. Kucan is a former Communist.

The UN and Afghanistan's Taliban movement agreed to virtual eradication of opium-poppy cultivation and unhindered passage of international food donations to the Bamyan region, whose 600,000 people are virtually cut off when snows close mountain passes. It was estimated that ending poppy cultivation, the source of half the world's heroin supply, would take five years and hundreds of millions of dollars to complete.

"One of the things they looked at is that we don't ghettoize ourselves."

- Henry Louis Gates Jr. of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute, on Harvard University's new center for exploring pressing social issues through the visual and performing arts.

Etceteras

It's hard to know what to make of an incident that has focused national attention on Colorado Springs. School administrators there defend their actions in summoning an ambulance and the fire department after a student was found to be sharing a tin of lemon drops with classmates. It was confiscated, and Seamus Morris was suspended half a day out of concern that his candy, which was brownish instead of yellow and came from a health-food store, might be a drug.

In Boston last week, a special sale offered uncut sheets of $1, $2, and $5 bills that the Federal Reserve Bank advertised as suitable for holiday gift-giving. The markup per sheet: 300 percent. Who says inflation is under control?

The Day's List

College Football Top 10 Heading Into Final Week

Michigan's 20-14 win over Ohio State last weekend, coupled with Florida's 32-29 upset of Florida State, all but ensured the Wolverines would hold the inside track for the Division I-A national championship as major college teams wind up the regular season and prepare for bowl games. In the Associated Press poll, Michigan held a 90-point lead over No. 2 Nebraska, which has one regular-season game to play. The AP's top 10 teams, their records, and points awarded by poll voters:

1. Michigan, 11-0 1,749

2. Nebraska, 10-0 1,679

3. Tennessee, 9-1 1,570

4. Penn State, 9-1, 1,497

5. Florida State, 10-1,470

6. UCLA, 9-2 1,311

7. Florida, 9-2 1,285

8. North Carolina, 10-1 1,236

9. Ohio State, 10-2 1,206

10. Washington State, 10-1 1,178

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