News In Brief

The US

Terry Nichols was to attend a special hearing in Denver Wednesday on his conviction of taking part in a conspiracy to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building. After the jury convicted Nichols of conspiracy and manslaughter - but cleared him of murder charges - US Judge Richard Matsch granted a defense request to hear defense arguments that the verdict was inconsistent. Nichols could be sentenced to death for conspiracy in the next phase of the trial, scheduled to begin Monday.

President Clinton said he had decided to postpone by one year the deportation of some 40,000 Haitians who were paroled into the US or who applied for asylum by the end of 1995. The president said the decision was designed to protect Haitians who might be deported while Congress discusses legislation that would address their situation permanently. Earlier this year Congress passed a law that allowed thousands of Central Americans who had fled their homelands to stay in the US, but the measure did not affect Haitians.

Episcopalians opposed to the ordination of women announced a formal split with the mainstream US branch of their church. Episcopal conservatives, including several bishops, said they had set up the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America Inc. They disputed the credentials and authority of the mainstream US Episcopal or Anglican Church, based in New York. Recent press reports indicate conservatives leaders may have about 23,000 followers among a total of some 2.5 million Episcopalians.

Icy weather kept an accused US spy in Russia despite Moscow's decision to let him make a two-week holiday visit to the US. Richard Bliss gained permission to leave Russia under an agreement between his employer, San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc., and the Russian secret services, officials in Washington and Moscow said. A chartered plane was reportedly sent to pick up Bliss in Rostov-on-Don, 600 miles south of Moscow, but an icy runway caused the plane to remain grounded temporarily.

Consumers boosted spending last month as personal income rose at the fastest rate in nearly 1-1/2 years, the Commerce Department said. Spending rose 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $5.587 trillion after a 0.5 percent rise in October. Incomes climbed 0.8 percent to a $7.028 trillion rate -- the biggest rise since a 1 percent jump in June 1996. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said new unemployment claims fell 4.1 percent in mid-December, showing continued strength in the job market.

Many merchants said they were not experiencing expected holiday sales gains. Sales at 2,500 stores in 49 malls across the country rose just 2 percent in the first three weeks of the season ended Sunday, compared with the same period a year ago, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported. Many analysts had forecast a 3 or 4 percent rise in sales during the Christmas season.

Domestic airline luggage will be subject to increased security checks in 1998, the Federal Aviation Administration and major airlines said. Passenger screening techniques will be used to select people who will be "matched" to their bags or have their luggage screened by an explosives-detection device. Bag matching means a passenger's bags will not be transported unless the passenger is on the flight. Some passengers selected at random will also experience increased security measures, officials said.

Cash-strapped Miami is facing new charges of misspending, The Miami Herald reported. Federal auditors have found the city mismanaged some $20 million in US funds intended for community development - and may have to return $5.6 million, the Herald said. Miami is trying to overcome a $68 million deficit and a series of corruption scandals.

The World

A new package of emergency loans to South Korea in the amount of $10 billion was announced by the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Seven industrialized nations. But the new stimulus failed to keep the main index on the Seoul stock exchange from a steep drop for the second consecutive day. The index closed down 4.07 percent, following a 7.5 percent drop on Tuesday.

Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo ordered his attorney general to take personal command of the investigation into the murders of 45 villagers in the southern state of Chiapas. But analysts said the incident posed a serious challenge for Zedillo, whose Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is indirectly blamed for involvement in the attack. PRI supporters have been struggling for local dominance in Chiapas with sympathizers of the rebel Zapatista National Liberation Front.

Voters in Kenya go to the polls Monday for presidential and parliamentary elections tainted by violence despite a code of conduct signed by all participating parties. At least 54 people have died, mostly in incidents blamed on ethnic provocations by candidates of rival parties. President Daniel arap Moi is considered likely to win a fifth consecutive five-year term against 14 opponents.

Defense lawyers for Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias "Carlos the Jackal," said they would appeal his conviction in Paris for the 1975 murders of two French intelligence agents and a Lebanese believed to be their informant. The self-described leftist revolutionary was sentenced to life imprisonment. Ramirez also is suspected of involvement in the terrorist deaths of more than 80 others around the world.

Fraud marred Jamaica's elections, but "the will of the people was represented" in their outcome, former US president Jimmy Carter said. Carter led a team of 60 international monitors who questioned claims that 100 percent of registered voters in some districts had cast their ballots by mid-afternoon. Final results were expected to give the governing People's Progressive Party at least 50 seats in Parliament to perhaps 9 for the opposition Labor Party. The latter called for a commission of inquiry.

The Okinawan city of Nago will accept construction of a new US military helicopter base despite a referendum in which a majority of voters rejected the plan, its mayor said. Tetsuya Higa's announcement was seen as a key step in helping to work out agreement with the Japanese government for the heliport. In a nonbinding vote last Sunday, 54 percent opposed the base. Higa said he accepted responsibility for dividing the city and would retire from political life.

Ten days after Iran's relatively moderate President, Mohamad Khatami, called for a dialogue with the US, senior cleric Ayatollah Ali Khemenei blasted Washington for being "under the spell of Zionists." Analysts said the difference in their remarks showed the intensity of a struggle for power between the two men.

Rank-and-file Haitians were criticizing the country's parliament for new delay in the process of democratic development after it rejected President Rene Preval's latest nominee for prime minister. Economics professor Herve Denis won only 34 of the needed 37 votes in the Chamber of Deputies. Preval's first nominee was rejected in August. The next candidate must undergo an eligibility check and separate votes of confidence in both houses of parliament - a process that takes months to complete.

Etceteras

"It's been strange .... Sales are up one day and down the next."

- Helena, Mont., store manager Mike Marlow, one of many US retailers reflecting on disappointing

holiday business volume.

No, you're not seeing things: This picture isn't upside down. When Judy Deist and her husband, Dick, of Casa Grande, Ariz., discussed where to put their Christmas tree this year, she made the mistake of telling him: "I don't care if you hang it from the ceiling." He took her words literally - although the project required four times as long to finish as it would've if he had set it up and trimmed it on the floor.

The Day's List

Rating the Top Women Role Models for 1997

The Ms. Foundation for Women, a national fund and activist organization based in New York, has announced the first of what it says will be an annual list of leading role models for young females. Its top 10 choices, in alphabetical order:

Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State

Phile Chionesu, public-housing activist and organizer of the Million Woman March

Kira Colvin, who earned a perfect score in the Grade 4 National Science Olympiad

Ellen DeGeneres, actress

Christy Haubbeger, founder/publisher, Latina magazine

Dee Kantner and Violet Palmer, National Basketball Association's first female referees

Claudia Kennedy, the Army's first female three-star general

Irene Ng, Harvard student and star of the TV series, "The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo"

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize-winner for her work in banning land mines

Oprah Winfrey, TV and film star

- Associated Press

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