News In Brief

The US

President Clinton is scheduled today to become the first sitting president to give sworn testimony to a criminal grand jury probing his actions. The president spent much of the weekend deciding what to say during an appearance due to begin at 1 p.m EDT in the Map Room of the White House. Aides said it was likely Clinton would make a TV appearance after his secret testimony in an effort to blunt any political damage from possible leaks.

Some 34,000 telephone workers walked off their jobs at U S West after two days of talks with a federal mediator failed to resolve differences over a performance-pay plan. The company said there would be some delays in repairs, installation, and directory-assistance calls, but little effect on automated phone service. It was the first strike at U S West since it was created in the 1984 breakup of AT&T.

The rapid growth of legalized gambling in the US and Canada has drawn more and more teenagers into games of chance - with many finding it more addictive than smoking, alcohol, or drugs, researchers said. A set of studies presented at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Psychological Association indicates 5 to 8 percent of young Americans and Canadians report a "serious" gambling problem. The serious-problem percentage among teenagers is reportedly almost twice that of US and Canadian adults, researchers said.

Israel's destruction of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 spurred Saddam Hussein to accelerate plans to build a nuclear bomb, an Iraqi defector told The New York Times. Khidhir Abdul Abas Hamza, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist, said that after Israel's bombing of a reactor in Osirak, Iraq, Saddam moved the program and increased its staff from 400 to 7,000. Hamza said he was amazed Iraqi nuclear-weapons sites were not bombed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

The Justice Department said it would appeal a court ruling that the Food and Drug Administration has no jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products. A three-judge panel of the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. - with one judge dissenting - said the US agency had overstepped its authority in issuing regulations in August 1996 that restricted the sale of tobacco products to minors and limited advertising and marketing by tobacco companies.

The latest airline bid to raise leisure fares may have a better chance of succeeding than previous attempts this year because some of the increases exclude cities where Northwest is the primary airline, analysts said. Four percent advance-fare increases by Delta, US Airways, and Continental late last week followed a similar hike by American Airlines. Northwest, which faces a possible pilots' strike at the end of the month, has already forced its rivals to rescind five fare hikes this year by refusing to match their increases. The latest price increases do not affect travel to Detroit, Memphis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul, which are Northwest hubs.

Steve Fossett was expected to leave Australia behind in his bid to be the first to balloon nonstop around the world. Saturday, the Chicago financier broke his own balloon distance record of 10,480 miles. Ironically, Fossett's earlier record for sailing across the Pacific appeared in jeopardy Sunday. French adventurer Bruno Peyron and crew were poised to sail a catamaran into San Francisco Bay at the end of a trip that began in Yokohama, Japan, Aug. 2. They were running about two days ahead of Fossett's record of 16 days, 17 hours, and 21 minutes, set in 1995.

Correction: An item in this space Friday, Aug. 14, put the estimated cost of a rerun of the Teamsters Union presidential election at $8.6 billion. The correct figure is $8.6 million.

The World

British politicians promised Northern Ireland's fragile peace process would not be shattered after the biggest bomb attack in the province in 30 years killed 28 people and injured 220 others. The "real" IRA, a dissident republican group opposed to the peace efforts, claimed responsibility for the car bombing Saturday in the town of Omagh, 60 miles west of Belfast.

In a devastating blow to Kosovo's embattled ethnic-Albanian fighters, Serb forces reportedly seized their organizational and weapons distribution center. Serb police said the town of Junik was now under its control. Junik was one of the last bastions of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which is fighting for independence from Yugoslavia. Despite the continued violence, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic invited a moderate coalition of ethnic-Albanian leaders to begin peace talks.

Congo authorities stopped the evacuation of some foreigners fleeing the country's escalating civil war, the French Foreign Ministry said. French diplomats were talking to aides of Congo President Laurent Kabila in an effort to revive the evacuation process. Hundreds of foreign nationals tried to leave over the weekend while the US flew 150 people out of the country. Kabila said he was "perplexed" by the exodus.

UN envoy Prakash Shah signalled that he intended to remain in Iraq as long as was needed to try to resolve a standoff over weapons inspections. A UN spokesman said Shah had been holding talks with Iraqi officials since he arrived Thursday, attempting to convince them to renew cooperation with UN inspectors searching for evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

Afghanistan's Taliban militia prevented hundreds of ethnic Uzbeks and other minority groups from fleeing a northern city and opposition stronghold it captured Aug. 8, aid workers and others said. They accused the Islamic militia of harassing and killing minorities from Mazar-e-Sharif. Meanwhile, neighboring Uzbekistan's president ended an Afghan visit, affirming his people were "ready to defend ourselves" if the conflict spilled across the border.

Burma's military government faced mounting international calls for democratic reforms as opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi finished a fifth day of protesting against travel restrictions imposed on her. It is the second time in two months that Suu Kyi has staged a protest against a government refusal to allow her to attend a political meeting. Meanwhile, 18 foreign activists left Burma, also known as Myanmar, after serving six days in detention there for "inciting unrest."

Pakistan said it deported a man to Kenya for questioning about the US Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Tanzania Aug. 7. Pakistan's foreign ministry said Mohammad Sadik Howaida was arrested as he was on his way to Afghanistan. Kenyan police have made five arrests in connection with the Nairobi blast that killed 247 people. In Tanzania, where 10 people were killed in the attack, police said they had released 12 of 14 people arrested last week. The remaining two people are not prime suspects, a Tanzanian investigator said.

The Palestinian Authority has launched an investigation into the escape of a top militant from its Jericho jail, a senior security official said. He said Palestinian prison officers possibly aided Imad Awadallah, of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, to break free after serving four months in jail. Hamas has reportedly killed dozens of Israelis to try to prevent Mideast peace deals.

Etceteras

"Some kids are now seeing gambling as a rite of passage." - University of Minnesota researcher Randy Stinchfield, commenting on the effects of widespread exposure to gambling and its media advertising.

Fifty European sculptors have converged on the Belgian coast at Zeebrugges to build sand-castle replicas of various national monuments as part of a three-week festival.

Meanwhile, British tradition seems to be dissolving in a tidal wave of modernity. Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Lord Chancellor, was graciously informed in May that for his comfort and safety it was no longer necessary to walk backward in front of the Queen at the opening of Parliament. Now, of all things, Lord Irvine wants to trade in 17th-century breeches, silk stockings, and buckled shoes for contemporary trousers and shoes on ordinary working days. A House of Lords panel is considering the request.

The Day's List

KLM Is Best-Managed Major Airline - Survey

For its world survey, Aviation Week & Space Technology divided the industry into major, national, and regional airlines. The magazine then published rankings for each sector, based on a study of 1997 performance in such areas as asset utilization, operating efficiency, and financial stability. KLM Dutch Airlines is No. 1 in the major category. The journal's list of best-managed major airlines and their survey scores:

1. KLM Dutch Airlines 77.5

2. Lufthansa 73.3

3. Cathay Pacific Airways 72.2

4. Scandinavian Airlines 70.0

5. Swiss Air 69.9

6. British Airways 68.0

7. Continental Airlines 67.8

8. China Airlines 67.3

9. Air New Zealand 66.9

10. US Airways 66.7

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