News In Brief

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The US

Cementing its position as a high-tech superpower, America Online announced it had successfully negotiated the purchase of Netscape Communications for $4.21 billion. Net- scape, whose software popularized the Internet, would cease to exist as an independent entity and function as an AOL division, the announcement said.

Earlier estimates of the US gross domestic product for the July-September quarter were too conservative, the Commerce Department said. But it also announced that corporate profits for the period fell 1.8 percent, the third such decline in the past year - a factor that analysts said raised questions about the sustainability of the latest stock market rally. The Commerce Department said the broad measure of overall economic activity grew at a 3.9 percent rate instead of the 3.3 percent reported last month.

Recommended: Default

US troop strength in Asia will be kept at 100,000 "for the foreseeable future," even if concerns over North Korean nuclear weapons development are resolved and the peninsula is reunified, a new Pentagon review on regional security said. Since the last such review, in 1995, the region has experienced economic decline in several key countries and nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, analysts noted.

CBS said it had not yet been served with a subpoena for un-edited "60 Minutes" videotape showing Dr. Jack Kevorkian administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill patient. Oakland County, Mich., prosecutors announced the subpoena but said more investigation was needed before any charges against Kevorkian would be filed. Meanwhile, Gov. John Engler's office said the state would pursue a charge of practicing medicine without a license against the retired pathologist. Regulators suspended his license in 1991.

Anti-Semitism is declining in the US, except among blacks, a new survey indicated. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said its findings showed blacks were almost four times as likely as whites to hold anti-Jewish views. ADL director Abraham Foxman blamed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for promoting such sentiments. Spokesmen for both Farrakhan and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People disputed the ADL findings.

Spending on disaster relief this year because of hurricanes Bonnie and Georges, along with flooding, wildfires, and tornadoes, has set a record, the Red Cross said. The agency projected it will have expended $160 million by the year's end to help 300,000 families in 41 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

Powerful winds and heavy precipitation knocked out electric power for more than 100,000 people in Oregon and Washington. Gusts clocked at 89 m.p.h. blew roofs off buildings, shattered windows as far away as Reno, Nev., and contributed to at least one death.

Susan McDougal was acquitted on nine counts of embezzlement and forgery by a Santa Monica, Calif., court. The jury found the Whitewater figure and former Clinton business associate innocent of stealing $50,000 from symphony conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife while serving as their bookkeeper from 1989 to 1992.

The World

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat opened a new international airport in the Gaza Strip - the first on Palestinian soil. The $250 million facility, in the town of Rafah, was hailed by Palestinians as a symbol of their sovereignty and a commercial lifeline. The opening was delayed by two years because of disputes with Israel. Those were resolved last week, with Israel gaining control over which countries can fly to and from Gaza.

As Iraq faced a new showdown with the UN over weapons inspections, the Baghdad government pleaded for help from its Arab neighbors. State-controlled newspapers carried warnings that Western attempts to topple President Saddam Hussein could destabilize the Middle East. The government continued to resist UN weapons inspectors' requests for documents relating to the country's arms program. The Security Council, meeting to find ways to resolve the impasse, was expected to call on Baghdad to cooperate with inspectors.

Meanwhile, Iraq was searching for the perpetrator of an abortive assassination attempt on Saddam Hussein's deputy. Reports of the failed attempt to kill Izzat Ibrahim were broadcast as Britain was hosting a meeting of Iraqi dissidents seeking to oust Saddam.

With political tensions rising in Russia, the country's anti-communists paid tribute to liberal politician Galina Starovoitova, who died last Friday in what was believed to be a political assassination. Meanwhile, President Yeltsin remained in a Moscow hospital, intensifying speculation that elections could take place before scheduled in mid-2000. An adviser to German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder, who visited Moscow last week, said Yeltsin appeared "only able to carry out his duties in a highly limited fashion." (Related opinion, page 9.)

Iran's government condemned an attack on a bus reportedly carrying nine Americans who were accused as spies by hard-line newspapers. An Islamic group claimed responsibility for the weekend attack. Militants smashed several windows as the bus traveled through Tehran, but no one was injured.

In an attempt to reform Britain's conservative House of Lords, the Labour government announced plans to strip hereditary peers of their right to vote. Opening Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II announced a bill that would break six centuries of tradition by removing 759 hereditary peers. An opposition Conservative Party spokesman accused the government of "constitutional vandalism" and an upper house majority vowed to resist the move.

Some 1,000 Indonesian students occupied the attorney general's office, demanding that former President Suharto be put on trial. Another 2,000 students staged separate antigovernment rallies in Jakarta. President B.J. Habibie ordered a new inquiry into corruption allegations against Suharto after an earlier investigation concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Business and Finance

Taking their cue from Wall Street, stock markets across Asia posted sharp gains as trading closed yesterday. Hours after the record 9374.27 close in the Dow Jones industrial average, Japan's Nikkei index shot through the key 15,000 level for the first time in three months, finishing at 15,164 - a 384-point gain. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index closed at 10,871, its highest since late April. Similar increases were recorded in Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The largest one-time increase in wholesale prices for cigarettes in US history was announced by tobacco companies as they moved swiftly to pass the cost of their 25-year, $206 billion settlement with state attorneys general on to customers. Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, the industry leaders, both hiked prices by 45 cents a pack. Analysts said they expected distributors and retailers to add at least a nickel to the wholesale price.

Etceteras

'This is the beginning of our state.' - Palestinian worker Abeer al-Jurf, at opening ceremonies for Gaza International Airport.

EARLY THANKSGIVING

It was a mild Sunday afternoon, and there were pro football games all over TV. But about 3,500 of their closest friends still found time to drop by the open house at the McCaugheys in Carlisle, Iowa. Does that name ring a bell? It should. A year ago on Nov. 19, Bobbi McCaughey made history - not to mention world headlines - by giving birth to septuplets. She and her husband, Kenny, wanted to say "thank you" for the kindnesses of all who supported them during their ordeal and since, especially the businesses that contributed the land, materials, labor, and cash to build a dwelling big enough for their 10-member family. If you weren't there, the line waiting to get in the front door stretched five blocks. Most of the visitors were fellow Iowans, but one guest-book signer came all the way from Ontario, Canada.

The Day's List

Top US private company: Survey says it's Cargill Inc.

For all of its legal difficulties with the federal government, agri-business giant Cargill Inc. ranks No. 1 in the annual Forbes magazine list of top US privately owned companies. The magazine bases its ratings on annual revenues. Chicago-based Cargill would appear likely to solidify its status after announcing earlier this month that it's buying rival Continental Grain, which also made Forbes's top 10. The largest companies and their 1997 revenues (in billions):

1. Cargill $51.4

2. Koch Industries 36.2

3. United Parcel Service 22.4

4. Goldman Sachs 20.4

5. Continental Grain 15.0

(tie) Pricewaterhouse Coopers 15.0

6. Mars 14.5

7. Andersen Worldwide 13.7

8. Bechtel Group 11.3

9. Publix Super Markets 11.2

10. KMPG Peat Marwick 10.6

The Christian Science Monitor will not be published Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26, a legal holiday in the United States.

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