News In Brief

The US

Despite its public rhetoric, Iraq is quietly acceding to the demands of UN arms monitors, a senior US official in Washington said. His comment came as the UN Security Council demanded that Iraq allow UN inspection teams unconditional access to all suspected weapons sites. Baghdad has said it will never allow inspectors into presidential palaces and certain other sites. At the insistence of Russia, the UN statement did not condemn Iraq.

President Clinton returned to Washington after a one-day visit to Bosnia during which he thanked US troops serving with NATO. Bad weather forced cancellation of a speech to troops at a base in Aviano, Italy.

Clinton will not offer a plan to overhaul income taxes in his State of the Union speech next month, said Gene Sperling, National Economic Council chairman. But in an interview on CNN, Sperling did not rule out the possibility that Clinton may suggest some type of major tax reform later.

Republicans favor offering immunity from prosecution to a swelling number of uncooperative potential witnesses, the chairman of the House panel investigating campaign fund-raising abuses said. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana said 46 potential witnesses have asserted Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, 12 others have fled the US, and another dozen are foreign nationals who refuse to be interviewed. The Justice Department has said immunity grants could jeopardize its probe of fund-raising violations.

Nine women and three men were chosen as jurors in the trial of the so-called Una-bomber. Judge Garland Burrell has ruled that the jurors will serve anonymously. He set the opening of the trial for Jan. 5, one week later than originally scheduled, to give attorneys time to settle pending legal issues and prepare cases. Theodore Kaczynski, who pleaded not guilty, is accused of using letter and package bombs to kill three people and injure 29.

The president of a T-shirt company was charged with smuggling Mexican workers into the US. Fred Parrish and nine others were indicted for hiring illegal immigrants and providing bogus identity documents so they could work at an Atlantic Finishing Inc. plant in Trenton, Ga. A US attorney said it was the first time the Immigration and Naturalization Service had charged a American-owned company with smuggling Mexican nationals.

Orders for costly US manufactured goods rose to a record level in November, with durable goods showing the biggest rise in five years, the Commerce Department said. After a revised 0.1 percent fall in October, durable goods orders rose 4.8 percent in November from the month before, to a seasonally adjusted $195 billion - far more than the 0.6 percent gain forecast by Wall Street analysts. Also, the department said, the economy grew with slightly less vigor in the third quarter than previously thought. Gross domestic product grew at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the period, rather than the 3.3 percent rate reported a month ago.

The US space agency said it would lay off 600 workers because of a $100 million budget shortfall. The layoffs will affect 10 percent of 6,000 employees of the United Space Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that will gradually assume space-shuttle operations over a six-year period.

The US set off more than two dozen atomic blasts from 1961 to 1973 to study the possibility of using such explosives for building harbors, tunnels, and canals, newly declassified documents showed. The most destructive test - at the Nevada Test Site on July 6, 1962 - was six times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, displacing 12 million tons of earth. Energy Secretary Federico Pea previewed films of what was known as Project Sedan with reporters as part of an evolving Energy Department policy of openness.

The World

South Korea's main stock index and its currency, the won, both took record plunges after what analysts said was new concern that the country could default on its debts. The Korean Composite Stock Index lost 7.5 percent of its value, the steepest one-day decline in history. The won hit an all-time low of 1,995 against the US dollar. But spokesmen for President-elect Kim Dae Jung said he had been misquoted when he claimed to be "totally flabbergasted" after being briefed about the dimensions of the country's economic problems.

The UN General Assembly agreed to consider a US bid to lower its dues - but only after payment of a substantial percentage of the $1.3 billion already owed. The accord met with a bitter reaction from the European Union, which said the dues of its member governments had been keeping the UN alive. The EU said it would agree to reopening discussion of the US obligation only after "arrears [are cleared] in full."

One day after being warned by President Clinton not to obstruct the Bosnian peace process, defiant Serb hardliners said they won't convene their sub-state's new parliament until Jan. 12 - two weeks beyond the deadline set by the international community. On his visit to Bosnia Monday, Clinton said those who do not help move the peace process forward "will isolate themselves."

The runoff election that gave Milan Milutinovic the presidency of Serbia was "fundamentally flawed," international monitors said in a formal report. Milutinovic drew 59 percent of the vote, the state elections commission said in proclaiming him as the winner. Ultranationalist Vojislav Seselj was credited with 38 percent. But poll-watchers reported seeing multiple voting by the same people, voting taking place outside polling stations, and Seselj's observers being harassed by police.

In an election for half the delegates to a convention on Australia's future legal status, voters gave republicans almost a 2 to 1 edge over those who favor continuing with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. They chose 46 delegates who want an Australian as president; 27 "monarchists" were elected. Three other seats went to "undeclared" candidates. The remaining delegates will be appointed by the government. A constitutional convention, meeting in February, will produce options for a national plebiscite on the issue.

Sentencing was scheduled for March in the case of the first physician in Canada to be convicted of helping a patient to commit suicide. Dr. Maurice Genereaux could receive 14 years in prison after pleading guilty to assisting in the 1996 death of a man diagnosed as having AIDS. The case was tried in Toronto. Genereaux was freed on bail and may continue treating patients until the sentencing.

In eight years since the fall of communism, Romania has lost almost 1 million children to disease, infant mortality, and other causes, President Emil Constantinescu told a national TV audience. He said tens of thousands of other children are illiterate, abandoned by parents, or have fled abuse in the home. Calling the situation "a sad reality," he said "our duty is to change that . . . . We must all assume responsibility."

Etceteras

"Clearly, it has cost us credibility."

- American Ambassador Bill Richardson, noting the lack of sympathy for US positions at the UN because of Washington's failure to pay $1.3 billion in back dues.

Members of Broadacres United Methodist Church in Columbus, Miss., could hardly believe it when the offering plates were passed around a second time at the same pre-Christmas service. "Take one of the envelopes from the plate and pass it on," the Rev. J. W. Chatham said, telling his flock to go out, find a need, and apply the $10 inside each one to it. This Sunday, the parishioners are to tell each other what they did with the money.

Speaking of envelopes, Jonesville, Mich., resident Greg Lonk is going airborne over one left anonymously on the front seat of the town finance manager's car. An accompanying note directed that all town employees, volunteer firefighters, and committee or council members should take part in a drawing for a free five-day trip for two to Acapulco, Mexico, that the envelope contained. Lonk, a 10-year volunteer fireman, won the drawing at the town's Christmas party.

The Days' List

News Professionals Rank '97's Top Foreign Stories.

Britain or its subjects were involved in four of the year's 10 most important international news stories, as rated by a poll of subscribers to the services of the Associated Press:

l. Diana, Princess of Wales, dies in Paris auto accident

2. Britain returns Hong Kong to Chinese control

3. Currency crisis in Asia

4. Death of Mother Teresa

5. Labour Party returns to power in Britain

6. Nov. 17 massacre of foreign tourists at Luxor, Egypt

7. Death of China's senior leader, Deng Xiaopeng

8. Middle East peace process bogs down

9. Four-month hostage stand off ends violently in Peru

10. Scottish scientists clone a sheep

To Our Readers:

The Christian Science Monitor will not be published Christmas Day, Thursday, Dec. 25, a legal holiday in the United States.

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