News In Brief

The US

The jury reconvened in a Denver courtroom for the sentencing phase in the trial of Terry Nichols, who was convicted of conspiracy in the Oklahoma City bombing. About 60 government witnesses are expected to take the stand. Nichols isn't likely to receive the death penalty, experts say, but he still faces trial on state charges of murder, bombing, and conspiracy in Oklahoma - a state that has the death penalty.

A United Airlines jumbo jet bound for Honolulu from Tokyo plunged 300 yards in massive air turbulence, killing one woman and injuring 83 people. The "Fasten Seat Belt" sign was on, but preliminary reports indicated some people were moving around the cabin, a Federal Aviation Authority spokesman in Washington said. The plane was two hours into its journey when it flew into the turbulence. It returned to Tokyo's Narita Airport.

Major US lenders planned to meet in New York to discuss details of their decision to roll over some loans to South Korean banks, The Wall Street Journal reported. The talks were also expected to address the possibility of US banks underwriting a series of big new loans to South Korea, whose economy has been devastated by large corporate bankruptcies and steep drops in stock and currency values, the newspaper said.

A green crescent and star - the symbol of Islam - on display for the first time was vandalized in an apparent hate crime, Washington park police said. Vandals painted a swastika on the crescent and threw it in a trash can. The symbol was erected in a fenced enclosure south of the White House, beside the national Christmas tree and a Hanukkah menorah.

President Clinton plans to order federal and state agencies to locate and enroll 3 million children eligible for Medicaid who aren't signed up, The New York Times quoted White House officials as saying. He also will ask states to simplify the application process, it said. There presently are 10 million uninsured children in the US.

Clinton has plans to target cuts for the middle class in his budget rather than across-the-board cuts, senior White House advisor Rahm Emanuel said on NBC's "Meet the Press." He said Clinton would propose a tax credit for child-care costs while continuing to drive down the federal deficit in fiscal 1999. Some Wall Street analysts have forecast a surplus of as much as $40 billion in the current fiscal year.

Attorney General Janet Reno's death-penalty review committee rejected an offer from Theodore Kaczynski to plead guilty to Unabomber charges in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, The New York Times reported. Kaczynski also began working with his lawyers again after a bitter fight over their plan to depict him as mentally ill, the Times said.

The Senate plans to release a study on environmental risks from the spread of large-scale livestock operations. The amount of animal manure produced in the US is 130 times greater than that of human waste, and no national standards exist to deal with animal waste, the study found. A single 50,000-acre hog farm being built in Utah could produce more waste than the city of Los Angeles, it says.

California will become the first state in the US to ban smoking in most bars and gambling casinos, beginning New Year's Day. The only exempt businesses will be bars and casinos on Indian reservations and small family businesses that have no employees. But questions remain on how to enforce the law.

Bad weather including a tornado that ripped through central Florida caused at least $6 million in damages, local experts said. The tornado was one more example of unseasonal weather in Florida during what is normally a dry month. In Orlando, nearly 13 inches of rain have fallen in December, more than twice the 57-year-old record for the month, the National Weather Service said.

The World

South Korea's National Assembly passed 19 bills designed to restructure the country's financial system by giving regulators more autonomy. But lawmakers failed to adopt a bill backed by the International Monetary Fund that would make it easier for the country's troubled banks to lay off its workers. The IMF organized an almost $60 billion plan to revive the Korean economy, which has been ravaged by a series of corporate bankruptcies.

After a disorganized start, Kenyans voted in presidential and parliamentary elections. Voting was delayed at many of Kenya's 12,700 polling stations when some ballots were delivered to the wrong locations while others never arrived. As a result, election officials extended voting in affected areas by 24 hours. President Daniel arap Moi is expected to win, but may face a runoff against one of a dozen challengers. He is seeking a fifth five-year term.

A massive operation to eliminate the so-called "bird flu" got underway in Hong Kong. Workers began killing more than 1.2 million chickens and an unknown number of ducks, geese, and other poultry that may be carrying the disease. The virus is blamed for four deaths in the territory.

Some 1,855 Cambodians fled into Thailand after fighting broke out south of Poipet between Cambodian government troops and forces loyal to ousted co-Premier Norodom Ranariddh. A de facto cease-fire had been in effect in the government-controlled town for the past five months. About 60,000 Cambodians have sought refuge in Thailand since July, when Cambodian strongman Hun Sen seized power in a coup.

Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam held emergency talks in Belfast with security and prison chiefs to assess how to stem the recent bloodshed in the province. Some leaders of Northern Ireland's Protestant pro-British majority are demanding that Mowlam and others resign after the murder of a Protestant guerrilla leader inside a high-security prison. Three members of a Catholic splinter group were charged in the killing.

Attackers killed at least 38 civilians in three Algerian provinces, Algerian newspapers said. Fourteen of the victims were villagers praying in a mosque in Safsaf hamlet, 200 miles west of the capital, Algiers. No one claimed responsibility for the killings, but similar attacks have been blamed on Muslim guerrillas attempting to overthrow the military-led government.

The newly elected president of Serbia was sworn in before parliament in Belgrade. Milan Multinovic succeeds Slobodan Milosevic, who is now president of Yugoslavia, for a five-year term. Multinovic's nationalist foes walked out of the ceremony to protest alleged fraud during last week's runoff election.

China plans to shut down hundreds of small oil- and coal-burning power stations beginning next year, state-run media reported. The announcement came as Russian officials signed a $3 billion deal in Beijing to build a nuclear power plant in eastern China. Construction in the port city of Lianyungang will begin in June 1999. In recent years, China has been on a drive to boost production of atomic and hydroelectric power.

The presidents of Turkmenistan and Iran opened a pipeline to pump natural gas to Iran from the former Soviet Republic. Turkmenistan officials hope the 125-mile long pipeline will soon be part of a much larger regional network sending gas to Europe.

Etceteras

"It will be 'Happy New Year,' put out your cigarettes."

- Bob McNeil, manager of Plainfield Station, a bar and grill outside Davis, Calif., on America's first smoking ban in bars and gambling casinos, which goes into effect Jan. 1 in the state.

Part of the new blockbuster movie "Titanic" just doesn't hold water as far as folks in Chippewa Falls, Wis., are concerned. That would be the glowing description in the film by actor Leonardo DiCaprio's character of days spent ice fishing on Lake Wissota just outside town. But the man-made lake wasn't filled until 1917 as the final stage of a hydroelectric project. As for the Titanic, it had already sunk five years before - in April 1912.

This isn't an attempt to tempt anyone who's supposed to be engaged in other duties to surf the Web. But it's worth considering the American Journalism Review's online collection of clever or poorly constructed newspaper headlines. Some examples: "Chick Blasts Sexism on City Council" (a Los Angeles Daily News reference to Councillor Laura Chick); Ewe Look A Little Familiar" (from the Chattanooga, Tenn., Times, above a story on sheep-cloning). The site can be accessed at: www. newslink.org/ajrtake.html

The Day's List

Associated Press's Top Sports Stories of 1997

Tiger Woods's victory in the US Masters, which broke records and shook social barriers, was voted top American sports story of 1997 by members of The Associated Press. AP's top 10:

1. Tiger Woods's 12-stroke victory at the US Masters

2. Mike Tyson wins the heavyweight title in boxing

3. Florida Marlins win the World Series

4. Dean Smith retires as University of North Carolina basketball coach

5. Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl

6. Accident involving three Detroit Red Wings players after a party celebrating their Stanley Cup win

7. Chicago Bulls win fifth national Basketball Association championship

8. Ken Griffey Jr. and Mark McGwire chase Roger Maris's Major League Baseball home-run record

9. Interleague play in MLB

10. Sex scandal involving sportscaster Marv Albert

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