News In Brief

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The US

The next step toward impeachment hearings was scheduled to take place today before the House Judiciary Committee, with lawyers representing the panel's majority Republicans and minority Democrats giving different assessments of the case against President Clinton and how to proceed. In the end, a Republican majority was expected to vote for an open-ended inquiry, based on Watergate precedents, to begin after the midterm elections. The number of Democratic votes for such an inquiry will indicate the extent, if any, of bipartisan support.

Former President Gerald Ford called for a public rebuke of Clinton, rather than a monetary fine or impeachment. Ford, who took over as president in 1974 after Richard Nixon's resignation, later pardoned his fellow Republican for any federal crimes he might have committed as president. Ford's statement was part of an essay in The New York Times.

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The number of credible threats to the US involving weapons of mass destruction increased significantly this year said Robert Blitzer, the FBI's chief of domestic-terrorism and counterterrorism planning. Through September, the FBI had opened more than 85 inquiries related to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats, he told a House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee. Last year, there were only 68 such probes, Blitzer said.

Canada and the US took steps to head off a potential trade war. The Ottawa government agreed to suspend complaints recently filed with the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement after US governors in Northern states said they would stop blocking shipments of Canadian livestock and grain. The two nations also agreed to launch talks to resolve Canada's agricultural-import restrictions and other farm-related disputes.

Congress voted to delay a law requiring new, stricter checks at border crossings. Lawmakers from states bordering Canada said the change could create a traffic "nightmare." Legislation to delay implementation of the law until Oct. 15 passed the House by voice vote and sailed through the Senate without dissent an hour later. Clinton is expected to sign it.

The nation's unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent and job growth slumped to its lowest level in nearly three years in September, the Labor Department reported. The unemployment rate, up from 4.5 percent during the three previous months, was the highest in six months. It hit a 28-year low of 4.3 percent in April and May.

Explosive devices were found outside two North Carolina abortion clinics previously targeted by arsonists. A device consisting of several sticks of dynamite, a detonator, and a timer was found near the front door of the Carolina Women's Clinic in Fayetteville, and another explosive device was discovered outside the Hallmark Women's Clinic three miles away. A spokesman for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms called the devices "serious bombs."

Martin Luther King Jr.'s family is suing a man who once claimed he hired King's assassin - someone other than the late convicted killer, James Earl Ray. The state lawsuit, filed in Memphis, Tenn., seeks unspecified damages from Lloyd Jowers and "unknown co-conspirators." The lawsuit also seeks a jury trial in hopes of bringing out new facts about the tragic death of the late civil-rights leader.

Gene Autry, who died in Los Angeles, was Hollywood's first singing cowboy. He cut 635 records, including "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"; made 95 films; and starred in a TV show from 1950 to 1956. Autry, who also made a fortune in broadcasting, was the original owner of the California Angels baseball team. His death comes less than three months after that of his great Hollywood rival, Roy Rogers.

The World

Air defenses in Yugoslavia went on high alert as Western alliances awaited a crucial report on whether the Belgrade government was complying with a UN resolution demanding a peaceful settlement of the Kosovo crisis. NATO leaders were to meet in Brussels and the European Union in Luxembourg today on military intervention in Kosovo. Meanwhile, a new "interim" government was seated in Kosovo, minus any Albanian separatist leaders. In London, the British government refused comment on published reports that it would send thousands of ground troops to the embattled province following NATO air strikes.

High-profile weekend meetings of the Group of Seven finance and central bank officials arrived at no concrete plan for addressing the financial crisis affecting Asia and other emerging markets. Meeting in Washington, the G7 leaders agreed to no coordinated actions, such as interest-rate cuts. At a follow-up news conference, US Treasury Secretary Rubin said each nation would have to pull its own weight to help restore global economic growth.

Lower-level talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials were to be held on details still blocking a peace agreement as both sides awaited the arrival of Secretary of State Albright. She's due in the region tomorrow to try to break a 19-month negotiating deadlock so that the two sides can sign a deal with President Clinton at Camp David, Md., Oct. 15.

An attempt at shuttle diplomacy by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was under way to try to calm tensions between Syria and Turkey. The latter, whose growing ties with Israel anger the Damascus government, said it wanted a peaceful resolution but would go ahead with plans for military exercises near their common border and might send troops to attack Kurdish rebel bases in Syria. To signal that it did not want to be seen as a party to the dispute, Israel said it would scale back troop movements near its own border with Syria.

Eleven days after ceasing operations, Philippine Airlines (PAL) placed newspaper ads announcing, "Your national flag carrier is back!" The debt-ridden airline and its largest union reached a no-strike agreement, allowing the recall of almost the entire 8,600-person workforce. PAL shut down Sept. 23 after the union rejected a recovery plan that would suspend worker rights for 10 years. Under the new deal, workers traded collective bargaining for a 20-percent share of stock and seats on the airline's board.

Amid reports that his party would ask him to step down within six months, Australian voters returned Prime Minister John Howard and his Liberal-National coalition government to power. Howard appeared to have won at least a six-seat majority in Parliament, although analysts predicted he'll be challenged for the leadership of the government by Treasurer Peter Costello. The election also brought a crushing defeat for the anti-immigration One Nation Party, which won only one seat. Its founder, Pauline Hanson, lost her reelection bid.

Voters in Latvia rejected a controversial referendum on citizenship that had blocked their country's eventual acceptance into the EU and perhaps NATO. By a 53 to 45 percent margin, they eased the way for 650,000 ethnic Russian residents to become Latvians. Adult Russians, however, must still prove fluency in the Latvian language. The formerly Communist Baltic state has become a leading reformer in Europe since breaking with the Soviet Union in 1991. But it was passed over for EU membership last year, in part because of lingering prejudice toward Russians.

Etceteras

"Let all this be done without partisan exploitation or mean-spiritedness. Let it be dignified, honest, and, above all, cleansing." - Former President Gerald Ford, calling in an essay for a rebuke of President Clinton, rather than impeachment.

No, racing champion Michael Schumacher didn't take a wrong turn in some Formula One Grand Prix event and end up in this Dresden, Germany, exhibition hall. But that is his Ferrari 412 T2, complete with sponsor decals pasted all over it. Or, at least, it's an exact replica on display at the city's autumn fair. One of the sponsors is a cigarette company. But notice that none of the folks gawking at the car is lighting up. That's because it's made of 9 million matches.

At San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art, not only is smoking forbidden, but visitors may not even breathe on an exhibit of Alexander Calder's famous mobiles. They're fragile, and air currents alone are enough to make them spin.

The Day's List

Most-Stolen Cars: In US Hondas, Toyotas Top List

The National Insurance Crime Bureau in Palos Hills, Ill., combines theft reports for all model years of a particular make in compiling its rankings of most-stolen vehicles. Such lists usually lag behind sales trends, which helps explain the bureau's high ranking of the Oldsmobile Cutlass, which was immensely popular in the mid-'80s. The top 15 of last year's stolen vehicles:

1. Honda Accord

2. Toyota Camry

3. Oldsmobile Cutlass

4. Honda Civic

5. Ford Mustang

6. Toyota Corolla

7. Chevrolet C/K pickup

8. Nissan Maxima

9. Jeep Grand Cherokee

10. Ford F-series pickup

11. Jeep Cherokee

12. Cadillac DeVille

13. Ford Taurus

14. Chevrolet Caprice

15. Plymouth Voyager

- Associated Press

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