News In Brief

The US

Astronauts aboard the shuttle Discovery were to use a 50-foot robotic arm to deploy a satellite into space to study the sun's corona, the hot outer layers of its atmosphere. It was one of a number of scientific experiments to be performed during the current nine-day mission, which began Thursday.

Defense Secretary William Cohen canceled a week-long Asian tour to return to Washington for discussions about the Iraq crisis. Cohen made the announcement on Wake Island after Iraqi officials announced they were cutting off all dealings with UN weapons inspectors and would not allow them to continue their activities. Cohen said that planned discussions with South Korean leaders would have to be rescheduled.

Economic growth rose at a 3.3 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the July-to-September quarter, the Commerce Department said. Gross domestic product, the sum of all goods and services produced within US borders, grew at a subdued 1.8 percent rate in the April-to-June period after soaring to a 5.5 percent rate during the first three months of the year. Exports fell in the third quarter at a 2.9 percent rate, the third consecutive quarter of decline.

Four abortion clinics in three states received letters claiming to contain deadly anthrax, forcing the evacuation of one clinic and sending at least 33 people to hospitals, US officials said. Clinics in Indianapolis and New Albany, Ind.; Louisville, Ky.; and Knoxville, Tenn., received the letters, all bearing Cincinnati postmarks. An initial inquiry "clearly indicated" the substance was unlikely to be anthrax, an FBI agent said.

Relatives of two Chilean officials assassinated in Washington by agents of former dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet's government are urging the Clinton administration to reopen a probe of Pinochet's involvement in the attack. An attorney for the survivors of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his aide, Ronni Moffitt, wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Oct. 23. The letters, obtained later by the Associated Press, also asked US officials to cooperate fully with a Spanish inquiry into Pinochet's responsibility for human rights abuses. Pinochet is in Britain fighting a request for his extradition to Spain.

Thomas Jefferson very probably fathered at least one child by his slave Sally Hemings, according to a study of DNA samples collected by Eugene Foster, a retired Tufts University professor of pathology. The samples were analyzed by geneticists at Oxford and Leicester universities in England and at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Their collective findings, which seem to confirm longstanding speculation about a sexual relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, are to be published in this week's issue of the journal Nature.

A US judge cited 24 instances of alleged grand-jury leaks to news media in ordering an investigation into whether independent counsel Kenneth Starr's office violated secrecy rules, newly unsealed court papers revealed. In the documents District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson says she found "prima facie violation" of grand-jury secrecy rules starting Jan. 21, the day the Monica Lewinsky scandal erupted in news reports.

A federal judge has approved a settlement between American Honda Motor Co. and 1,800 dealers who charged the firm with bribery, lawyers in the case said. In a class-action lawsuit the dealers had charged Honda officials with conspiring to send cars to dealers willing to pay bribes and punishing those who refused. Under terms of a settlement approved by a district judge, the Torrance, Calif.,-based company will pay the dealers a total of $329.85 million, the lawyers said. In exchange, the dealers will drop their bribery claims.

The World

Israel's Cabinet decided to postpone approval of the Wye interim peace agreement signed in Washington. (Related story, Page 1.) Meanwhile, leaders of the Hamas Islamic resistance group said Palestinian police had arrested some 450 of its activists after a suicide bombing last week that killed an Israeli soldier. Also, the US and Israel signed a pact to protect Israel against ballistic missiles, especially from Iran. And ceremonies were held around the country in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was slain by an ultra-nationalist Jew on Nov. 4, 1995.

Rescue workers headed for the Casitas Volcano in northern Nicaragua, where massive mudslides have killed at least 58 people. Another 2,400 persons who were living in 10 communities at the base of the volcano are unaccounted for, Mayor Felicita Zeledon of Posoltega told Radio Nicaragua. That brings the death toll in the Caribbean from hurricane Mitch to about 460.

Iraq refused to back down from its decision to ban UN inspectors from visiting weapons sites. Iraqi Vice President Taha Hussein Ramadan, brushing off concerns about military action, said there would be no cooperation with inspectors until UN sanctions are lifted. The UN Security Council unanimously condemned Iraq's decision.

The Russian government approved the first draft of a recovery plan that includes price controls and industry supports. Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said the regulations are not a return to Soviet-style measures. But the International Monetary Fund rejected the plan, barring resumption of a 22.6 billion bailout. Meanwhile, 45 percent of all Russians polled by the Interfax news agency said they would welcome western humanitarian aid this winter.

South African President Nelson Mandela acknowledged the African National Congress violated human rights during apartheid. His statement is in direct opposition with that of deputy president Thabo Mbeki, who is the ANC's president and is likely to be elected South African president in 1999 when Mandela retires. The disagreement stems from a recently released report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that said the ANC tortured suspected spies and dissidents and killed innocent civilians.

A new Protestant group, the Red Hand Defenders, claimed responsibility for the killing of a Catholic civilian in Belfast. A caller representing the group told the BBC it was also responsible for another gun attack on a Belfast pub in which no one was hurt. The Red Hand Defenders issued death threats and claimed responsibility for a grenade attack that killed an officer after police blocked an annual confrontation in Portadown last summer.

Representatives from more than 160 countries were to begin gathering today in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to negotiate a global-warming treaty. The 12-day UN conference will cover details of the climate agreement reached in Kyoto last December. US officials are reportedly doubtful about US ratification taking place before President Clinton leaves office because of congressional opposition.

A bomb blast in the eastern border city of Sialkot, Pakistan, killed two people and injured 32, police said. The bomb went off near a mosque belonging to Sunni Moslems. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. In Karachi, troops fired teargas shells to disperse demonstrators protesting the arrest of at least 200 members of the minority Haqiqi ethnic party of the former Mohajir Qami Movement.

Etceteras

"Nobody can deny [charges of gross human-rights abuses] because some people have died in our camps and that is what the [Truth and Reconciliation Commission] report said."

- South African President Nelson Mandela, on charges against his ANC party in a final commission report.

It was right there in black and white as Havre, Mont., police crept toward the dicey situation they'd been called to deal with in a motel parking lot. Sgt. Randy Robinson, deciding it was time to act, cautiously approached the subject - a skunk whose head was stuck in an empty can. He bent down, pulled ... and then ran like mad. The animal, unable to see where it was going, had been bumping into the cars of guests who were ready to leave.

But that was tame compared with what Vimla Devi found in her home in a suburb of Chandigarh, India. Her small son, who'd been watching TV while she worked in the kitchen, wanted her to come see a "tiger" in his room. Mom assumed he was referring to a wildlife documentary - until she went to check. Sprawled on the bed was a leopard that had somehow slipped into their house and fallen asleep. Police tranquilized the beast and took it to a local zoo.

The Day's List

Ranking Top 1998 Givers To US Election Races

Just in time for tomorrow's election, the annual survey by Mother Jones magazine of the most generous individual donors to the Republican and Democratic Parties and to candidates for federal office puts Amway Corp. founder Richard DeVos and his wife, Helen, at the top of the list for 1998. The top 10, their residences, parties benefiting from their donations (in parenthesis), and the amounts contributed:

Richard, Helen DeVos, Grand Rapids, Mich. (R) $1.09 million

Peter Buttenweiser, Philadelphia.(D) $610,000

Bernard, Irene Schwartz, New York (D) $555,000

Carl, Edyth Lindner, Cincinnati (both) $536,000

John Childs, Boston (R) $383,000

Daniel Abraham, West Palm Beach, Fla. (D) $353,500

Alan Solomont/Susan Lewis,Weston, Mass.(D) $321,750

Julian, Josephine Robertson, New York (R) $313,000

Orin Kramer, Fort Lee, N.J. (D) $288,250

David, Sylvia Steiner, West Orange, N.J. (D) $280,370

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