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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Caryn Coatney / December 9, 1998



The US

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"We all know" that President Clinton's conduct was "sinful," White House counsel Greg Craig told the House Judiciary Committee in opening two days of defense against possible impeachment. But Craig argued that the president's actions provided "no grounds for impeachment." Craig said Clinton "wants everyone to know he is genuinely sorry for the damage he has caused." The defense team planned to call 14 witnesses - among them constitutional scholars and historians - to help show "a sharp distinction between immoral conduct and illegal action."

A majority of respondents to a national survey once again said they oppose impeachment for Clinton. In a poll of 513 US adults, the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found 69 percent who did not think he would be impeached, while "two-thirds" said they would vote against such a move if they held seats in the House of Representatives. The same percentage would vote against his removal from office if the matter came to a trial in the Senate.

The average life expectancy for Americans has reached an all-time high of 76-1/2 years, new federal government data show. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also put the infant mortality rate for last year at 7.1 per 1,000 births, a 3 percent drop from 1996. Its statistics, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed a 3 percent drop in teen pregnancies as well..

Police may not conduct full searches of motorists or their vehicles if they've been stopped for routine traffic violations, the US Supreme Court ruled. In a 9-0 decision, the justices overturned a 1983 Iowa law that permitted such searches even when no arrest followed.

Slightly more than 0.5 percent of the requests for gun purchases were rejected by the FBI since a new law began requiring "instant" background checks Nov. 30, the agency said. The FBI processes such requests in all but 16 states, which have exercised the option to conduct their own checks. The FBI said it had approved all but 951 of 177,391 gun sales under the new provision of the Brady bill.

Computers hummed and the heat came on inside the International Space Station as US astronauts completed the hook-up of critical power cables in less time than mission directors had expected. The couplings between the US-built Unity module and the Russian Zarya power unit took four hours, not the predicted five or six.

A Delta Airlines jet en route from Atlanta to Zurich, Switzerland, and a British Caledonian flight came within 1.07 miles of colliding off Long Island, N.Y., last Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The planes, each traveling more than 500 m.p.h., were carrying a combined 370 passengers and crew. The FAA said its investigators were not yet ready to agree with air-traffic controllers that a malfunctioning computer at the Nashua, N.H., ground control center was to blame.

The World

Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israelis escalated ahead of President Clinton's scheduled visit Saturday to monitor the peace agreement reached in October near Washington. Tensions have risen since the Palestinians demanded that Israel free Palestinian political prisoners from its jails. Israel maintained it had made no such agreement, but has freed some Palestinians, mostly criminals. Some 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have staged a hunger strike, calling for their release.

Meeting no apparent resistance from Iraqi officials, UN arms inspectors were poised to begin their first searches of suspected weapons sites since the Baghdad government promised its full cooperation last month. Meanwhile, hundreds of delegates met in Baghdad for an international conference protesting UN economic sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. At the conference, Iraq accused the West of pursuing "organized genocide" by maintaining the sanctions, which it claims have killed 1.5 million people by depriving them of food and medicine.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin's surprise shake-up of his administration was praised by many Russian newspapers, but the Communist Party opposition reaffirmed its claim that Yeltsin wasn't capable of "governing anything any longer." In an effort to reassert his authority, Yeltsin briefly left a hospital - where he's been staying since Nov. 22 - to fire his chief of staff and three deputies.

NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels to start planning a strategy for the 21st century. Britain vowed to push for a stronger, more independent role for the European Union, while Germany's new Green Party foreign minister was expected to call on the alliance to renounce its option of being the first to use nuclear weapons in a war.