News In Brief

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The US

Republicans intend to bring the issue of a formal impeachment inquiry to the House floor within the next two weeks, GOP sources said. Democrats were suggesting a lesser punishment for President Clinton, perhaps censure along with a financial penalty. House Speaker Newt Gingrich rejected such talk, and Judiciary Committee chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois said he hoped his panel would vote on whether to hold an impeachment inquiry by early next month, with hearings possibly starting after the November elections. (Related story, Page 4; related opinion, Page 11.)

Former President Jimmy Carter predicted the GOP majority in the House would vote to impeach Clinton, but that the Senate would not be able to marshall a two-thirds vote to remove him. Carter made the comment in discussion with students at Emory University in Atlanta. Meanwhile, Clinton received a ringing endorsement from South African President Nelson Mandela, who called the him the friend of the great mass of black people and minorities and the disabled of the United States. Mandela spoke at a White House reception for African-American religious and education leaders.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

A plan to raise the minimum wage to $6.15 an hour from $5.15 by 2000 was rejected by the Senate, disappointing the White House but pleasing business leaders and key Republicans. On a 55-to-44 vote, the Senate indefinitely postponed debate of an increase, which proponents tried to attach to a bankruptcy-reform bill.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark said the US wanted an excuse to strike Sudan last month and the decision to bomb a pharmaceutical plant there was strictly political. He made the accusation to reporters after returning from Sudan, where he led an International Action Center fact-finding mission to the factory destroyed by cruise missiles Aug. 20.

The months-old slide in farm prices has pretty much bottomed out, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said. An updated forecast by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri indicated crop and livestock prices will improve slightly next year and farm income will return to strong levels in 2000. Farm income was forecast to plunge 12 percent this year. Earlier this week the Clinton administration proposed $7.3 billion in aid to farmers, chiefly through larger crop supports. Last week, Republicans offered $3.9 billion, half in bonus payments to offset a drop in farm exports. Both packages earmark about $2 billion for disaster relief. (Related story, Page 1.)

Up to 100,000 people were ordered to evacuate the Florida Keys, and forecasters issued a hurricane watch for the southern part of the state. As hurricane Georges moved northwest in the Caribbean, Gov. Lawton Chiles (D) declared an emergency to allow for use of National Guard troops and lift tolls along evacuation routes. The storm had already killed more than 20 people in the Caribbean, 12 of them in the Dominican Republic. Damage estimates in Puerto Rico were in excess of $1 billion. Georges was said to threaten both Cuba and Florida and could reach the latter as early as tonight.

Clinton wants an immediate increase in military spending and is asking advisers to make a case for a bigger long-term budget, published reports indicated. In a letter made available to The Washington Post and The New York Times, the president suggested an immediate boost in outlays to address parts shortages and asked the Pentagon to help develop a revised budget for fiscal 2000 to take care of longer-range needs.

The Pentagon has approved a proposed sale of $5 billion worth of warplanes to Israel, Defense Department officials said. The purchase is expected to include 60 F-16C/Ds and 30 F-15Is, many with low-altitude navigation and night-targeting capabilities. The Pentagon also said it had approved the sale of $245 million worth of rocket and missile systems to Greece.

The World

An estimated 20,000 new refugees were fleeing Albanian towns in central Kosovo as Serbian forces pressed their offensive for a second straight day. As fighting continued, NATO defense ministers meeting in Portugal were discussing a new series of punitive air strikes against targets important to Yugoslav President Milosevic, who unleashed the Kosovo crackdown. In New York, the UN Security Council was preparing to vote on a resolution on the use of force unless Milosevic agreed to serious negotiations with the Albanian majority in Kosovo.

Foreign diplomats looked for a way to put the best possible face on Bosnias national elections, whose outcome was due to be announced by weeks end. But it was widely expected to produce a victory for ultranationalist Nikola Poplasen over the more moderate and Western-backed Biljana Plavsic for the presidency of the Serb sub-state. Senior US officials made no attempt to hide their hopes that another Serb hard-liner, Momcilo Krajisnik, would lose his seat on Bosnias three-man collective state presidency.

Comprehensive discussions on all issues were authorized by the leaders of India and Pakistan, four months after their respective nuclear-weapons tests upset the fragile peace of South Asia. Indias Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were due to meet for lunch at the UN in New York, their second get-together since the nuclear tests in May. Their earlier meeting was unproductive and resulted in angry accusations of intransigence by their governments and heavy new fighting over disputed Kashmir.

Hundreds of Army troops patrolled the streets of Patna and other cities as the Indian government imposed emergency rule on the state of Bihar. The situation was tense but peaceful, with a general strike closing shops, schools, and offices. Bihars government, led by a bitter opponent of Prime Minister Vajpayee, was expected to be dismissed on grounds that it had lost control of law and order. More than 300 people have died there in two years of inter-caste fighting, and a separatist movement wants to form a new state from Bihars mineral-rich south.

Dissident Lesotho soldiers were putting up stubborn resistance against a joint force of South African and Botswanan troops sent to crush their two-day-old mutiny. Reports from the capital, Maseru, said heavy mortar and rifle fire could still be heard in the morning after all-night fighting. The clashes had already killed 49 people, with another 100 Lesotho dissidents surrendering.

Western governments sought clarification of Irans declaration that its death sentence against controversial author Salman Rushdie is completely finished. That came following a speech to the UN General Assembly by President Mohamad Khatami. But diplomats said it appeared to represent no substantive change in the 1989 edict by revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini that any Muslim able to kill Rushdie for insulting Islam in his book The Satanic Verses had a duty to do so. A Iranian foundation continues to offer a $2.5 million bounty on Rushdie.

The cause of Islamic fundamentalism took another hit in Turkey, where a national appeals court upheld the prison sentence of Istanbuls mayor, apparently ending his political career. A lower court in April ordered Recep Tayyip Erdogan to serve 10 months for provoking hatred in speeches considered likely to encourage Islamic extremism against the secular order. He would be banned for life from holding public office unless a last-minute appeal succeeds.

Etceteras

A Connecticut man who thought he might get a thank you from his local police department could instead find himself $100 poorer all for trying to be a good citizen. Larry Tarducci of Branford was concerned about the safety of the youngsters in his neighborhood among them his own because of speeding motorists. He asked the town to post diamond-shaped Slow, Children Playing signs. Answer: No. So Tarducci bought and posted two of the signs himself. He was ordered to take them down or pay a fine. The warnings, said the traffic-control commission, arent enforceable. It would, however, be OK to relocate the signs to his front lawn, 10 feet from the street.

On the subject of traffic control, motorists in Charleston, W.Va., were inconvenienced by what you might call a chocolate drop. A truck carrying 25 tons of pudding cups overturned on I-64, spilling them onto the pavement. No injuries, but the goo took seven hours to clean up. Yes, some in the crew admitted it was the sweetest job theyd ever had.

The Day's List

Least Corrupt Nation? Survey Says Its Denmark

Transparency International includes 85 countries in its 1998 index of corruption, based on surveys of experts and the general public. A ranking of 10 indicates a country is perceived to be highly clean; a 0 indicates it is viewed as highly corrupt. Cameroon is ranked last, with a score of 1.4. Russia is No. 76, with a score of 2.4. The US and Austria, each with a score of 7.5, share 17th place. The 10 nations rated as least corrupt and their scores:

1. Denmark 10.0

2. Finland 9.6

3. Sweden 9.5

4. New Zealand 9.4

5. Iceland 9.3

6. Canada 9.2

7. Singapore 9.1

8. Netherlands 9.0

(tie) Norway 9.0

10. Switzerland 8.9

Reuters

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