News In Brief

The US

As the House prepared to vote today on whether to open a formal impeachment inquiry about President Clinton, there was widespread speculation about how many Democrats would join the GOP majority in supporting an open-ended inquiry. Democrats were concerned that if many of their members voted for the probe it would weaken White House arguments that the impeachment process was a partisan exercise by Republicans intent on bringing down Clinton.

The Senate passed a $4.2 billion bailout for struggling farmers, and Clinton promised to veto it, saying more was needed. Analysts said Republicans were unlikely to change their minds about the administration's $7.3 billion alternative - but might compromise by adding another $500 million to $600 million to their own farm-aid package.

A bill that seeks to attract more working families to public-housing projects passed the House 409 to 14. It would offer apartments to families with incomes of up to $40,000 a year - and includes incentives for tenants to work and perform community service.

New accusations of Democratic Party fund-raising abuses were made by the GOP staff of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. The report said Democrats are holding onto $3.2 million in questionable donations. Democratic officials called the report exaggerated and questioned the timing of its release, less than a month before the Nov. 3 elections. Sources familiar with the committee said it would probably forward some materials to the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission for possible prosecution.

Two senators and 44 House members urged Clinton to ease economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In letters to the president, they said the Iraqi people are suffering high infant- and child-mortality rates, an insufficient food-rationing program, critical lapses in water and sanitation systems, and a shortage of medicine. "Economic sanctions allow Saddam Hussein to exploit the suffering of his people to his political advantage," the letters said.

This year's "ozone hole" over Antarctica is the largest ever observed - 10 million square miles, compared to last year's 7.3 million square miles - Commerce Department scientists said. Because of a recent UN treaty to curb the release of ozone-depleting agents, researchers expect the hole to remain large for the next 10 to 20 years, then slowly heal. Full recovery is predicted by 2050, although climate change will affect the rate of recovery.

The Clinton administration is about to propose an $8 billion rescue of Florida's Everglades, officials said. The aim of the 20-year plan, to be unveiled next week, is to restore the natural flow of water across tens of thousands of acres and store in natural aquifers and a system of reservoirs about 85 percent of an estimated 1 trillion gallons of fresh water that is lost as runoff to the ocean each year.

San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo pleaded guilty to charges he concealed an alleged plot by ex-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) to extort money from him in a casino-licensing case. DeBartolo, who could have received up to three years behind bars, agreed to testify against Edwards in exchange for avoiding prison. He received two years probation and $1 million in penalties. DeBartolo's future with the 49ers and the National Football League is uncertain. NFL rules give it broad discretion to ban owners found to have connections to criminal activity.

A foundation created by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton donated $50 million to the University of Arkansas business school. The gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation - announced by university officials and Walton family members - was said to be the largest single donation to a US business school.

The World

NATO is signaling the people of Yugoslavia it "has no quarrel" with them - only with the policies of President Milosevic, a senior official of the alliance said in Brussels. He spoke as indications grew that punitive air strikes against key Yugoslav targets were nearing because of Milosevic's refusal to pull more of his forces out of Kosovo. Milosevic was described as "defiant" in two meetings with US envoy Richard Holbrooke. A third meeting was under way as the Monitor went to press.

Lengthy discussion with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Arafat produced agreement on a formal summit somewhere in the Washington area next Thursday, Secretary of State Albright announced. At one point in their meeting at the Eretz border crossing between Israel and Palestinian-held Gaza, she left the two men alone together for the first time in a year. Their talks were aimed at further narrowing unresolved issues holding up a permanent peace deal.

Smaller-than-expected crowds of Russians staged nationwide protests against the government, demanding back wages and the resignation of President Yeltsin. In Moscow, new Prime Minister Primakov gave his Communist deputy, Yuri Maslyukov, broad powers over economic policy, but reserved the final say on major financial decisions for himself.

Thousands of flag-waving Indonesians mixed with security forces on the tourist island of Bali as both sides prepared for a massive rally for opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri. The government, which first tried to ban a three-day convention of her political party, appealed for calm. Megawati was expected to use the gathering to launch a bid for the Indonesian presidency.

Saying Italy must not allow itself to be seen as "the weak link" in the European Union, Prime Minister Romano Prodi appealed to parliament for a vote of confidence tomorrow in his 2-1/2-year-old government. Prodi seeks approval of his proposed 1999 budget, which his Communist Party allies voted last weekend to defeat, threatening the government with collapse. Italy is due to become a co-founder of European monetary union in January.

Heavy fighting between Angolan troops and former UNITA rebels not only has resumed but also is going largely unnoticed, a monitoring group reported. The South Africa-based Institute of Security Studies said clashes in northern Malanje Province were especially serious but difficult to assess fully because aid workers aren't permitted in the area. Foreign aid workers in Luanda, the capital, have reported a steady flow of Army troops, armor, and artillery leaving for Malanje.

In emphatic terms, a senior Iranian official said his government's position on the "death sentence" against controversial author Salman Rushdie has not changed. The 1989 decree that any Muslim in a position to kill Rushdie must do so remains in effect, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said. Rushdie and Western journalists, he said, had "misused" recent statements that seemed to indicate the government had distanced itself from the edict.

Cocaine shipments arriving in Haiti for transfer to the US have more than doubled this year, narcotics-policy chief Barry McCaffrey told reporters in the capital, Port-au-Prince. He said as many as 45 metric tons are likely to move through the impoverished nation from Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia - up from 20 metric tons in 1997. Traffic rose sharply after the disbanding of Haiti's Army in 1994 and the takeover of the trade by independent smugglers.

Etceteras

" We envisage the summit as [an] exercise where some heavy lifting is going to be required. We do not envisage it as a photo-op in which everything is precooked." - State Department spokesman James Rubin, on next week's Netanyahu-Arafat-Clinton Middle East peace talks.

Before you start imagining a classic case of child exploitation, Alexander Grant of Warkworth, Ontario, really isn't laboring to push this 835-pound behemoth in from some farmer's field. He's just trying to see whether he can budge one of the entries in the Ottawa-St. Lawrence Giant Pumpkin Contest in the Canadian capital. (Answer: no.) The winner, not pictured, weighed 968 pounds. But even that was dwarfed by the apparent new world record-holder: a 1,093-pound specimen from the Port Elgin Pumpkinfest elsewhere in the province.

In Japan, whose economy is in deep recession, lawmakers are considering a novel proposal to pump up consumer demand. The government would issue every Japanese - and there are 125 million of them - a $220 gift certificate.

The Day's List

Who's Tipped to Win Next Nobel Peace Prize

Norway's NTB news agency has reported that one individual and four groups are likely candidates for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The selection committee, meeting in Oslo, made its selection last week, but has not hinted who will be named Oct. 16. Since Norwegian media are sometimes well-informed about likely winners, here are the names suggested by NTB and the reasons each is considered a candidate:

Vaclav Havel, Czech president (it's the 30th anniversary of the Prague Spring movement he led)

Medecins Sans Frontires (for its work in relieving suffering from Afghanistan to Rwanda)

Colombian children's "Peace Movement" (for campaign to end nation's violent conflict)

Partners in Northern Ireland peace deal (for one of biggest peace breakthroughs of the year)

UN human-rights groups (on 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

- Reuters

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