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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Yvonne Zipp / October 28, 1998

The US

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Election year 1998 is on pace to set another record for campaign spending, The Wall Street Journal reported. The current record, $1.6 billion, was set during the 1996 presidential elections and came one year after President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich vowed to reform the system. Advocates of campaign-finance reform say they will revive the issue next year.

Republicans are showing a sliver of an advantage over Democrats among likely voters in next Tuesday's elections, a new USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll found. But the 49 percent to 47 percent Republican advantage was within the survey's margin for error. The survey of 1,013 people also found that 44 percent of Republicans were more enthusiastic about voting than usual, compared with 32 percent of Democrats.

Top Democrats in Congress are accusing their party of ignoring next week's elections by holding onto funds for the 2000 presidential race and to pay off debts, The New York Times reported. Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, in particular, was upset by internal party predictions that Democrats could lose as many as 24 seats in the vote.

Consumer confidence slid to its lowest level in nearly two years in October, the Conference Board reported. The key economic indicator dropped 9.1 points to 117.3 amid increasing concerns about the global economy and political troubles.

A computer glitch halted stock trading on the world's largest exchange for an hour Monday. The New York Stock Exchange was frozen from 1:16 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. - the first interruption of trading in the US in almost three years.

A prominent murder trial took an unexpected turn when the lawyer for former prosecutor Thomas Capano admitted he had disposed of the body of his mistress, the Delaware governor's secretary. The reversal came after 2-1/2 years of denial and was the first time the defense acknowledged Anne Marie Fahey was dead. Capano still denied killing Fahey, saying her death was an accident.

NBA owners backed off their demand for a hard salary cap on Day 118 of the lockout. While the players' union downplayed the move, analysts said it should put both sides closer to an agreement.

The Labor Department sued Time Warner Inc., alleging the company denied hundreds of eligible workers the right to health care and pension plans by incorrectly classifying them as "temps" or contractors. The company denies the charges.

The rate of Americans defaulting on student loans dropped to single digits for the first time in a decade. A new Department of Education report showed the average of such defaults at 9.6 percent, down from 22.4 percent six years ago. A strong economy and more flexible repayment options are believed to be responsible for the decline.

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by antilogging protesters in California, accusing police of brutality for using pepper spray to break up sit-ins. A jury deadlocked on the case in August. The judge ruled a retrial unnecessary because no juror could find using pepper spray to be excessive force.

Two New York firefighters were fired for participating in a racist parade float Labor Day weekend. A police officer on the float, which depicted the dragging death of a black man, was also fired. The men filed federal lawsuits alleging that their First Amendment rights were violated.

A Mexican on death row in Texas is appealing on grounds that his international rights were denied. A lawyer for Humberto Leal Jr., who was convicted of rape and murder in 1994, argued police failed to tell him he could call the Mexican consulate. Leal is one of several foreign citizens on death row appealing on grounds their sentences violate the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The World

The immediate threat of air raids against Yugoslav targets was expected to be lifted as senior NATO officials prepared to meet in Brussels. Italy's ambassador said the alliance was satisfied that "there has been sufficient compliance" with withdrawal requirements by Serb forces in Kosovo to keep 400 NATO warplanes on their runways. But in Geneva, an Albanian separatist spokesman accused Yugoslav President Milosevic of "bluffing" to persuade the West that his forces were withdrawing from Kosovo.