News In Brief

The US

Rep. Christopher Cox ended his bid to succeed Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House, clearing the way for the election of Rep. Robert Livingston of Louisiana. Cox, a California Republican made the announcement on ABC TV.

Americans overwhelmingly back Newt Gingrich's departure as House Speaker and want his replacement to seek common ground with Democrats, an ABC News poll indicated. The survey showed 70 percent of respondents favoring Gingrich's stepping down - and 90 percent saying Republicans should find a Speaker who tries harder than Gingrich did to work with Democrats.

The Supreme Court handed independent counsel Kenneth Starr a double victory rejecting a White House appeal citing attorney-client privilege in an effort to keep presidential confidant Bruce Lindsey from testifying to the grand jury and refusing to shield Secret Service officers from testifying about what they learned while protecting President Clinton. The justices voted 7 to 2 in both cases. Dissenting were Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clinton's only appointees on the court.

The House Judiciary panel heard testimony from legal scholars on the impeachment process. In advance written testimony, they had already clashed sharply in their opinions on the legal standard for impeachment. Meanwhile, the committee was said to be close to releasing to the public Monica Lewinsky's telephone conversations with Linda Tripp. The secretly recorded tapes were made available to prosecutors by Tripp in January, triggering a probe that has culminated in the impeachment hearings.

The Supreme Court sidestepped a national debate over education, allowing Wisconsin to continue providing financial aid to families whose children attend private schools. The state has provided tuition vouchers of up to $5,000 a year per child for students who attend private schools in Milwaukee. Because most of the schools are religious, the program was challenged as violating the constitutionally required separation of church and state. The 8-to-1 decision sets no precedent.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has illegally conducted foreign medical research without agreements to avoid human-rights abuses, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported. The agreements, required by law, are meant to ensure that overseas scientists spending US dollars treat patients as Americans would be treated. In a number of instances, research has been completed without written accords that patients will be fully informed and free to refuse experimental drugs, the newspaper said.

Some 15,000 absentee ballots in Nevada's US Senate election were being recounted. District Judge Janet Berry ordered a new count after learning that malfunctioning machines in northern Nevada's Washoe County may not have tabulated them correctly following last week's election. It had appeared that incumbent Sen. Harry Reid (D) had squeaked out a 459-vote victory over Rep. John Ensign (R).

A new batch of John F. Kennedy assassination documents was released to the public, raising anew questions about autopsies that followed the shooting. For instance, the materials do not resolve discrepancies between how physicians in Dallas described Kennedy's head injury immediately following the Nov. 22, 1963, shooting and how it was subsequently described by pathologists at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The 400,000-plus pages of records were compiled by the Assassination Records Review Board, a panel set up by Congress to collect and release material related to the incident.

The Nicaraguan ambassador to the US estimated it would cost $1 billion to rebuild his country in the wake of hurricane Mitch. Ambassador Francisco Aguirre Sacasa appealed for massive aid and debt relief.

The World

Iraq is willing to compromise over suspended UN weapons inspections, an Irish envoy on an independent mission said in Baghdad. But former Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds did not offer details after meeting with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz. Still, much of Iraq's official statements remained defiant on the issue of cooperation with 15 UN weapons inspectors, all expected to leave the country by today. In Washington, President Bill Clinton was said to have put off a decision on the use of force against Iraq.

The land-for-security-deal between Israel and the Palestinians is likely to fall behind schedule by a "few days," a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. The phased troop withdrawal from 13 percent of the West Bank was scheduled to begin Nov. 16. Netanyahu has been seeking for clarifications from the Palestinians on combating Islamic militants and procedures for revoking some provisions of the Palestine Liberation Organization's founding charter.

In Central America, the first shipments of aid reached many hamlets and cities cut off by flooding caused by hurricane Mitch - including Choluteca in southern Honduras and Posoltega in Nicaragua. Ruptured roads, backed-up airports, and a scarcity of helicopters has slowed efforts to aid tens of thousands of isolated people. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called for a moratorium on debt payments from Central American countries hit by the hurricane.

In a major policy shift in Indonesia's political structure, the chief of the armed forces said the powerful military will reduce its participation in domestic politics. The general said the military's socio-political division will be abolished and the practice of routinely assigning civilian jobs to armed-forces personnel would be stopped. But Gen. Wiranto said armed forces personnel would continue to hold reserved seats in parliament.

In the Malaysian trial of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the woman who accused him of sodomy in 1997 said a trusted ally of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad had advised her to write a report on the allegations. A 1997 letter from Ummi Hafilda Ali appeared to be the first document linking high-ranking government officials to the allegations. Anwar's trial on five charges of corruption and five of sodomy is the focal point of street demonstrations calling on Mahathir to step down.

Mexico's ruling party made a strong showing in local elections viewed as a test of major party strength. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the longest-ruling party in the Western hemisphere held onto the state governorships the states of Puebla and Sinaloa. However, it lost the election in Tlaxcala, Mexico's smallest state, to a leftist alliance of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, the Workers' Party, and the Environmentalist Party.

Trade, investments, and a peace treaty will top the agenda during the Russia-Japan summit that begins today in Moscow. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, was expected to seek investments and credits to shore up a fractured economy. Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi will pursue a settlement to the Kuril Islands dispute, a long-standing thorn in bilateral relations. Tokyo got legal control of the islands in a treaty with Russia in 1875. The Soviet Union took them back in the closing days of World War II.

Hugo Chavez, who led a failed 1992 coup, says he will win Venezuela's presidential elections next month. Yesterday, Chavez' newly formed left-leaning political alliance grabbed about 35 percent of congressional seats, a major setback for the two political parties that have ruled for the past 40 years.

Etceteras

"They [the American people] have certainly indicated in the polls that they don't see it as an impeachable or dismissible offense, and that would have to be considered..." - Rep. Bob Livingston, leading candidate to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker, on the public's opinion of the Clinton case.

Kawachart Thongchure, housewife and mother of four, walked away with the winner's prize of 10,000 baht ($280) at the first annual laughing contest in Pattaya, Thailand. On stage at the event, sponsored by Ripley's Believe It or Not, some of the 64 entrants jumped up and down and others stomped their feet to keep laughing for the maximum nine minutes. The laughs were rated for their originality and oddity.

Speaking of contests, Japan's space agency is soliciting ideas for the name of the teddy bear that flew on the space shuttle Discovery. Japanese astronaut Chiaki Mukai asked for suggestions from the shuttle last week. It was not clear what prizes, if any, will be awarded. Submissions should be sent via e-mail by Dec. 1 to the National Space Development Agency of Japan's Web site, http://www.nasda.go.jp

The Day's List

This Year's Winners of National Arts Medals

Gregory Peck and Fats Domino were among those honored late last week for their contributions to the arts. The medals were awarded by President Clinton at the White House. One of the 12 honorees was Sara Lee Corporation, a longtime supporter of the arts. The other 11 recipients:

Jacques d'Amboise, dancer

Antoine "Fats" Domino, pianist/singer.

Jack Elliott, singer/songwriter

Frank Gehry, architect

Barbara Handman, arts advocate

Agnes Martin, painter

Gregory Peck, actor

Roberta Peters, opera singer

Philip Roth, novelist

Gwen Verdon, dancer

Steppenwolf Theatre Company

- Associated Press

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