News In Brief

The US

Colombia's Andres Pastrana received a warm welcome to the White House in the first state visit by a president from his country in 23 years. Pastrana was to join President Clinton at a state dinner after a ceremony kicking off his three-day visit. In addition to talks about drug trafficking, he plans to discuss with US officials his country's economic problems and a peace agreement with leftist guerrillas. Officials also want to ask him about a fungus being tested by US scientists that may be an environmentally safe way to eradicate marijuana and coca-leaf plants.

Astronauts for the shuttle Discovery plan to board the spacecraft today after a traditional pre-launch breakfast of steak and eggs. Clinton plans to be among several dignitaries and politicians at Cape Canaveral, Fla., to watch the launch scheduled to carry US Sen. John Glenn (D) of Ohio and six others into space. Glenn plans to participate in 10 experiments, most of which will explore the effects of weightlessness on the body.

Clinton signed into law a bill promoting religious freedom worldwide that allows the presidency flexibility in applying sanctions. It gives the president 15 policy responses to countries found to be engaging in religious persecution. The bill was a compromise between business interests and religious groups. He also signed into law a bill that lifts Major League Baseball's exemption from antitrust laws, which gives players the same rights as other professional athletes in labor negotiations.

Vice President Gore was to announce development of the world's fastest computer, which is capable of performing 3.9 trillion operations a second. The IBM supercomputer also can simulate a nuclear bomb test, allowing scientists at the Department of Energy to maintain the reliability of atomic weapons stockpiles without having to conduct nuclear tests, officials said. "Pacific Blue" runs 15,000 times faster and has 80,000 times more memory than the average desktop personal computer.

Clinton planned to declare a health-care crisis in minority communities to intensify the government's battle against AIDS among blacks and Hispanics. White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said the president would announce a $156 million program of new prevention efforts, wider access to AIDS-drug treatments, and training for health professionals to treat the disease.

An impeachment inquiry could leave the presidency "permanently disfigured and diminished," according to a petition signed by more than 400 historians. The statement criticizes the House decision to conduct impeach proceedings, saying "the current charges against him depart from what the (Constitution's) Framers saw as grounds for impeachment." It includes signatures from some of the country's best-known historians, such as Doris Kearns Goodwin, Henry Louis Gates, Taylor Branch, and Julian Bond.

The National Republican Congressional Committee began a $10 million ad campaign with references to Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Republicans have raised $278 million in campaign funds as of Oct. 14 - about $92 million more than Democrats this election year, according to the Federal Election Committee.

Videotapes of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates could be viewed in a Washington courtroom as early as today after US District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ruled that prosecutors can show all 20 hours of the pre-trial interviews with government lawyers. The Justice Department claims the company illegally used its monopoly position to squeeze competitors out of the Internet browser market.

The government credited public safety campaigns for 1997's all-time low in highway death rates. Although the number of fatalities has been lower in other years, higher mileage held down the rate - the lowest since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began keeping statistics 30 years ago, it said. Some 41,967 people were killed in traffic accidents in 1997.

The World

The Palestinian Authority's action plan for countering terrorism will be ready by tomorrow, Secretary of State Albright promised the Israeli government. Prime Minister Netan-yahu has threatened to delay submitting his land-for-security deal with the Palestinians to his Cabinet until the antiterrorism plan has been made public. Time is critical because the Israeli-Palestinian accord calls for implementation by Monday.

Kosovo Liberation Army guerrillas were searching the province for land mines, booby traps, and remnants of Serb security forces as Albanian refugees headed cautiously back to their villages. Meanwhile, in Belgrade, analysts said hard-liners were solidifying their influence over moderates in Yugoslav President Milosevic's government, with the replacement of secret service chief Jovica Stanisic by a police commander. Stanisic was reportedly critical of Milosevic's crackdown against Albanians in Kosovo.

With the words, "the current situation is one of unmistakable bankruptcy," Brazil's Finance Ministry formally announced details of a three-year plan to pull the country back from the brink of economic collapse. It calls for $23.5 billion in savings in the first year via tax increases, budget cuts, and other measures - all aimed at qualifying for a $30 billion emergency-credit package from the International Monetary Fund and other sources.

An urgent appeal to South Africa's Supreme Court was filed by the ruling African National Congress to block release of the report on human rights abuses during apartheid by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The report, leaked earlier this week, contains damning allegations against the ANC for the torture and murder of people who obstructed its campaign to end white rule.

An estimated 8,000 Indonesian students observed National Youth Day with a sit-in in Jakarta to demand that President B.J. Habibie resign. The demonstration, the largest since May - when similar protests helped to topple President Suharto - was peaceful in the face of a heavy police guard. Student leaders said they do not trust legislators and other government-appointed delegates who are due to begin an overhaul of Indonesia's election laws Nov. 10.

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has diplomatic immunity and should not have been arrested in London earlier this month, Britain's High Court ruled. But the justices said he would remain in custody pending an appeal of their decision. Pinochet's lawyers sought the ruling because of the efforts of Spain, Switzerland, and Chilean exile groups in Britain, France, and Sweden to bring him to trial for alleged human rights abuses during his 17 years in power.

In a visit deep with symbolism, Argentine President Carlos Menem laid a wreath at the memorial for 252 British troops who died in the Falkland Islands war. His trip to London was the first official visit by an Argentine leader since the fighting in 1982.

Forty-nine Buddhist monks in Tibet were ordered by the Chinese government to retire in what critics called a new effort to crack down on the influential faith. Retirement is unusual because senior monks play a major role in the transmission of Buddhist teachings. Meanwhile, the newspaper Asian Age reported 2,300 Tibetans - most of them monks and nuns - have sought exile in India so far this year because they refuse to sign required forms opposing Buddhism's senior leader, the Dalai Lama, and accepting Chinese supremacy in the region.

Etceteras

Within three days, 300 people had contacted me. It was then that we realized we had touched a nerve." - Princeton University Prof. Sean Wilentz, on why he and other historians signed a petition opposing impeachment.

A report by the Census Bureau gives the term mobile homes a whole new meaning. As of 1993, its data found, the median length of time Americans aged 15 and over lived in their current dwellings was less than 5-1/2 years. Men, and especially renters, pulled the median down - with the latter tending to use the same crash pad for only a fraction more than two years.

The relentless rains that have been soaking northern Europe in recent days couldn't have come at a better time for a German policeman who stumbled into the midst of a robbery scene. The cop was armed only with his umbrella as he headed off on a break when he was confronted by the thief brandishing an electric-shock device. Our hero used the bumbershoot to knock the weapon to the ground and menace the suspect into surrendering.

The Day's List

Saturn SL2 Is Rated Cheapest Car to Operate

Looking for a new car that won't set you back a lot of money in operating costs or sticker price? An analysis of selected 1999 models by Rochester, Wis.-based Runzheimer International, a management-consulting firm, projects that the Saturn SL2 sedan will cost owners one-third as much per year for fuel, maintenance, insurance, taxes, and other expenses as the Mercedes 320S, at the opposite end of the scale. Runzheimer's findings, based on a study of 16 models:

1. Saturn SL2 $6,756

2. Chevy Metro LSI 6,913

3. Honda Accord DX 7,461

4. Dodge Neon 7,557

5. Toyota Camry CE 7,729

6. Chevy Lumina 8,845

7. Ford Taurus SE 9,060

8. Dodge Intrepid 9,328

9. Nissan Maxima GXE 9,793

10. Mercury Grand Marquis GS 10,303

11. Buick LeSabre Ltd. 10,603

12. Buick Riviera 12,947

13. Oldsmobile Aurora 13,943

14. Cadillac DeVille 14,834

15. Lincoln Town Car Exec. 14,864

16. Mercedes 320S 18,710

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