News In Brief

The US

The nation's space agency wants to buy $100 million worth of Russian space vehicles as a means of salvaging plans to build an international space station with the Russians, The Washington Post reported. The Post said key administration and congressional officials have decided that - to prevent further costly delays - it will be cheaper to shore up a financially strapped Russian space program than to have Russia drop out of the project for lack of money. Construction of the station is scheduled to start in orbit in November.

Most Americans think the House Judiciary Committee wanted to embarrass the president with its release of the videotape of President Clinton's grand-jury testimony, a new poll indicated. In the CBS News survey, 59 percent of respondents said the panel voted to disseminate the tape to embarrass and damage Clinton. Another 35 percent said the tapes were made public so Americans could judge whether Clinton had committed perjury. The poll also found 57 percent saying they didn't feel the committee needed to hold impeachment hearings and 37 percent saying that it should.

Jury selection was to begin today in Washington State's $3.3 billion lawsuit against the tobacco industry. The state is seeking $3.3 billion in damages for the state's share of the cost of medical treatment for smokers. State Attorney General Christine Gregoire, who brought the case in June 1996, has been leading sporadic talks in New York aimed at reaching a multistate settlement. But prospects appeared dim for reaching such an accord before the trial's opening arguments, set to begin Sept. 28 in Seattle.

More than a quarter of non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught in south Texas are allowed to stay because the Border Patrol doesn't have enough detention space to hold them, the Houston Chronicle reported. Of 12,084 non-Mexican illegal immigrants caught in the area between October 1997 and August 1998, more than 3,122 were released, the newspaper said. The vast majority of those returned to the street were from Central America. A Border Patrol official was quoted a saying it is more difficult to deport those who come from far away.

American Airlines and British Airways formed a global alliance with three other carriers, saying they will seek more partners to help them compete with a group led by United Airlines and Germany's Lufthansa. Members of the new alliance, called "oneworld," will coordinate flight schedules and ticketing, as well as their frequent-flier programs. Also joining the new group were Kong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways, Canadian Airlines, and Australia's Qantas. Both Canadian and Qantas already had marketing partnerships with American Airlines and British Airways. The Finnish national carrier Finnair said it would also become a member of the new alliance.

Lockheed Martin Corp. announced plans to buy Comsat Corp. in a two-phase cash and stock deal that values Comsat at $2.7 billion. The plan, which must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and Comsat shareholders, is expected to be completed by the end of 1999. Lockheed and Comsat are both based in Bethesda, Md.

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken ended his record streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive major-league baseball games - one of the most imposing marks in the history of the game. Ripken took himself out of the lineup in a Baltimore home loss to the New York Yankees. After nearly 16 years, Ripken said after the game he had decided it was time to end the streak, which began on May 30, 1982. Meanwhile, St. Louis first-baseman Mark McGwire hit his 65th home run of the season to pull two ahead of Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa in their competition for a new major-league home-run record.

The World

A last-minute compromise that Japanese political leaders hoped would rescue the country's debt-ridden banking system was near collapse as Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi prepared to meet President Clinton in New York today. The deal was threatened by disputes over what had been agreed to, causing a new 12-year low in stock prices on the Tokyo exchange. Meanwhile, a London credit-rating agency, Fitch IBCA, dropped Japanese government bonds from the AAA class - considered the world's safest investments.

Thousands of antigovernment protesters regrouped in Malaysia's capital after being tear-gassed by police as opposition to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad grew. They converged on a courthouse where they believed ex-Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim would be arraigned after his arrest for disturbing the public order. But Anwar was taken instead to a maximum-security prison. His wife, Azizah, took his place at the head of the democratic-reform movement that seeks to end Mahathir's 17-year rule, accusing the prime minister of "cutting himself off from reality."

Almost $70 million of new rubles were printed by the Russian government as one of several measures to get cash flowing through the country's frozen banking system. But the move also brought concerns that it would fuel a new round of inflation and further devalue the ruble, which was trading as low as 16 to the US dollar. Against that backdrop, President Yeltsin and Prime Minister Primakov were at work to complete their new Cabinet, which still lacks a finance minister.

Criticism of the US for using missiles against targets in Sudan and Afghanistan to combat terrorism - and for failing to pay $1.6 billion in back dues - was expected from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as he opened the 53rd session of the General Assembly in New York. Annan planned to call terrorism "a global menace" that cannot be solved "by individual actions by member states." His speech was to be followed by those of President Clinton and other leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Japan's Obuchi, and South African President Nelson Mandela.

Pressure against Afghanistan's Taliban movement increased on three fronts as more opposition rockets exploded in the capital, Kabul, increasing the weekend's casualties to at least 65 deaths and 200 injuries. Meanwhile, Iran reinforced its 270,000 troops massed on the border with a "very large" number of attack helicopters. And, in New York, Iranian President Mohamad Khatami was expected to appeal to the UN to demand an end to the killing of rival Shiite Muslims by Taliban forces.

There were mounting calls for Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson to resign after his Social Democratic Party slid to its lowest level of support in a national election in 78 years. The SDP won just 36 percent of the vote - almost 9 pecent below its total in 1994, the last previous election. To govern, it will need the support of other parties, most likely the ex-Communist Leftists, who seek to pull Sweden out of the European Union.

At a hearing in Tanzania attended by FBI agents, two suspects were charged with murder in the Aug. 7 bombing of the US embassy at Dar es Salaam. The two, a Tanzanian from the island of Zanzibar and an Egyptian, were denied bail. If convicted, both will be subject to the death penalty. Eleven people were killed in the explosion. In neighboring Kenya, another casualty of the US embassy bombing there on the same day died, the 248th.

Etceteras

" I thought it was time to change the subject." - Baltimore Orioles third-baseman Cal Ripken Jr., on why he decided to take a day off and end his record-setting streak of playing in 2,632 consecutive major-league baseball games.

In the mail, when a Kelowna, British Columbia, resident picked it up the other day, was a letter from his mother. There was no doubt about that; in her handwriting on the envelope was his name: Mr. Christopher Berry. However, that's all that was written on it. No street address. No city, province, country, or postal code. All the more remarkable is the fact that Berry's mother lives in England. How could her correspondence find its way through the sorting systems of two countries and reach him in only one week? One theory: Since she writes as often as four days in every seven, the mail handlers all along the way must have recognized this one as another of her letters and known just how to route it.

Speaking of mail, the US Postal Service suggests it's time to think in terms of starting your Christmas shopping if you're planning to send packages overseas. For example, parcels traveling by ship to addressees in Africa should be postmarked by Oct. 26 if they're to arrive on time.

The Day's List

New Cop Caper Proves To Be Surprise Attraction

"Rush Hour," a comedy starring Asian superstar Jackie Chan and rising black comic Chris Tucker as mismatched cops in Los Angeles, defied all expectations at the box office last weekend - far surpassing the competition and grossing $31 million. That set a new record for a September opening, surpassing the $18.9 million recorded in 1996 for "The First Wives Club," according New Line Cinema, which released "Rush Hour." Estimated grosses for top films at North American theaters Sept. 18-20 (in millions):

1. "Rush Hour" $31.0

2. "One True Thing" 6.6

3. "There's Something

About Mary" 6.0

4. "Rounders" 4.8

5. "Simon Birch" 3.9

6. "Saving Private Ryan" 3.4

7. "Blade" 3.3

8. "Ever After" 1.7

9. "Armageddon" 1.2

10. "Snake Eyes" 1.0

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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