News In Brief

The US

Attorney General Janet Reno met with FBI Director Louis Freeh before announcing her decision on whether to appoint an independent counsel to investigate telephone fund-raising by President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Freeh wrote a lengthy memo advocating an independent counsel and saying Reno isn't in a position to make the decision because she owes her position to Clinton. Aides to Reno said her review of recommendations by a special Justice Department task force suggested she would not appoint the counsel.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of irradiation to kill bacteria such as E. coli in beef. The process is already used for poultry, fruits, vegetables, and spices. Interest in using the process for beef intensified after Hudson Foods Co. recalled a record 25 million pounds of hamburger in August contaminated by the E. coli virus.

The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.2 percent in October, its sixth straight monthly increase, New York's Conference Board said. It designs the index to forecast economic activity six to nine months in advance. Also, the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke the 8000 mark Monday for the first time since its plunge Oct. 27, and jumped 189 points - its fourth biggest point gain.

Clinton was expected to announce his choice of Army Secretary Togo West as acting secretary of the Veterans Affairs Department. West will retain his current position until his nomination is approved by the Senate.

The administration organized AIDS-related events at several government agencies as part of the worldwide observance of AIDS Day. Clinton told America's youth "only you have the power to keep yourselves safe." Meanwhile, Hillary Rodham Clinton joined movie stars to urge that AIDS drugs be tested on children and made more widely available to them.

The US Supreme Court unanimously struck down part of Louisiana's primary elections practice, ruling that states cannot elect members of Congress before the national election day in November.

The infant mortality rate in the US has fallen to an all-time low, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The 1996 rate of 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births was 5 percent lower than the 1995 rate, its summary of data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Census Bureau shows. Yet, despite a steady decline in infant mortality rates, America continues to rank poorly compared with other industrialized countries because of the number of underweight babies born in the US.

Gore announced initiatives to educate parents and children to the dangers of pornography on the Internet. He said the government would issue a parents' guide to the Internet, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children would set up an emergency hotline where parents could report suspicious or illegal Internet activity.

The prosecution rested its case and the defense prepared to take the stand for Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case. After four weeks of testimony in a Denver courtroom, the government produced hundreds of pieces of evidence and put more than 90 witnesses on the stand to try to connect Nichols to the bombing on April 19, 1995.

Hotel real-estate investment trust Patriot American Hospitality Inc. agreed to acquire Interstate Hotels Corp., a management company, in a cash-and- stock transaction valued at $2.1 billion. The deal includes the assumption of $875 million of Interstate's debt. Interstate's portfolio includes 40 hotels and resorts.

The World

South Korea and the International Monetary Fund will sign a multibillion-dollar bailout deal today in Seoul, the Finance Ministry announced. A spokesman said final terms still were being negotiated but would not require liquidation of the country's banks or the breakup of big-business alliances. South Korea's foreign debt has grown to $120 billion, $20 billion of which is payable by year's end.

India's Parliament adjourned indefinitely as the nation await-ed word on whether President K.R. Narayanan would call new elections. Narayanan (with outgoing Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral in New Delhi) was meeting with senior leaders to determine whether a new government could be formed from elements of Gujral's coalition. Meanwhile, Gujral's former United Front partners and the powerful Congress Party held last-ditch negotiations on coming up with enough votes in Parliament to govern.

Pakistan's political crisis deepened as President Farooq Leghari resigned and the chief justice of the Supreme Court was suspended by his own colleagues. Leghari said he could not comply with a demand by Prime Minister Sharif that he dismiss Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, with whom Sharif is feuding. But a majority of the court's justices, siding with Sharif, voted to remove Shah, pending a hearing on whether he was wrongly promoted.

Day 2 of the global-warming conference in Japan produced an amendment strengthening the 1992 treaty on lowering the emissions of "greenhouse gases" by industrial nations. But the US appeared stalled in its efforts to extend the new limits to developing countries, despite a warning by visiting congressional leaders that any such exclusion would ensure rejection by the Senate.

Tensions rose another notch in the Middle East as Israel announced it would annex much of the West Bank if the Palestinians unilaterally declared statehood, while their leader insisted that statehood already exists. Yasser Arafat has vowed to issue a formal statehood declaration if the two sides fail to agree on final peace terms by May 1999.

A treaty aimed at ending 25 years of rebel insurgency was signed in Bangladesh. The ceremony ended intensive negotiations between the government and the political wing of the Shanti Bahini, a group seeking autonomy for a 14,000-square-mile region bordering India and Burma. Fighting between the two sides caused more than 8,500 deaths and 50,000 refugees to seek safety in India.

"Out of respect to the families of those who died," Japan canceled the annual Dec. 17 birthday party for Emperor Akihito at its embassy in Peru. Armed leftist rebels forced their way into last year's event, taking 500 hostages and causing a standoff with police. It ended four months later when commandos stormed the ambassador's residence, killing all of the guerrillas. Two commandos and one hostage also died.

The rebel commander accused of responsibility for hostage-takings and a bombing campaign in Tajikistan died in a raid on his stronghold by government troops, reports from the capital, Dushanbe, said. Rezvon Sadirov had refused to abide by terms of last summer's peace deal between the government and Muslim opposition groups. Two of his brothers eluded capture, but 15 others surrendered in the raid, the reports said.

A powerful explosion in Russia's main coal-producing region left at least 61 miners dead, 8 missing, and 4 others hospitalized. A special commission was being formed to investigate the cause of the blast at Novo-kuznetsk in southern Siberia and provide aid to the families of the casualties.

Etceteras

"Just get used to it, because the president is going to have to do a lot more of it

unless we secure campaign-finance reform."

- White House spokesman Mike McCurry, on President Clinton's continuing appearances at political fund-raisers.

It was one of the most-anticipated events in recent history. But after witnessing the handover of Hong Kong to China after 156 years of British rule, few people seem to want the souvenir video. Four local TV stations pooled their coverage of the July 1 transfer and rushed almost 150,000 copies to market, hoping to raise at least $1 million for charity. At last check, more than 122,000 of them were gathering dust on store shelves.

Not yet assured, either, are sales prospects for the world's first electric motorcycle. Aimed at the commuter and retiree markets, the Lectra has a top speed of 45 m.p.h. and sounds more like a golf cart than a Harley. Electric Motorbike Inc. says it has 200 orders so far. But seasoned bikers didn't exactly go hog wild at a display last weekend in Glendale, Calif. Said one: "Those are sissy bikes."

You have to believe a Gaza Strip man who says he reveres the president of the Palestinian Authority. When he welcomed quad-ruplets to his family last week, the boys were named Yasser and Arafat and the girls Suha and Zahwa - for Arafat's wife and daughter.

The Day's LIst

'Flubber' Was No. 1 With Thanksgiving Filmgoers

In its debut, "Flubber," the Robin Williams remake of "The Absent Minded Professor," a 1961 Disney film about rubbery green goo, bounced right to the top of the earnings list over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The top 10 movies and their estimated box-office revenues (in millions) for Nov. 26-30:

1. "Flubber" $36.4

2. "Alien Resurrection" 27.2

3."Anastasia" 16.7

4. "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" 14.5

5."The Jackal" 10.3

6. "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" 9.25

7. "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" 7.3

8. "The Little Mermaid" 4.7

9."Bean" 4.1

10. "Starship Troopers" 4.0

- Exhibitor Relations, Inc./AP

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