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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / December 10, 1998



The US

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As Republicans worked on proposed articles of impeachment against President Clinton, the White House sought to win over moderate GOP lawmakers in its second and final day of defense before the House Judiciary Committee. The president's lawyers summoned five former US prosecutors, who testified that the case against the president was too weak to be pursued. The witnesses included former Gov. William Weld (R) of Massachusetts.

A preliminary Pentagon report has found that Hughes Electronics Corp. gave China information potentially damaging to US national security after a Chinese rocket carrying a Hughes-built commercial satellite crashed in 1995, The Washington Post and The New York Times said. Air Force Intelligence and the Defense Technology Security Administration prepared the document at the request of two congressional committees. The administration reportedly wants additional questions answered before finalizing the report.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had assured her the Russian parliament would finally approve the Start II nuclear-arms treaty by the end of this month. Albright said she hoped to launch new strategic arms-reduction talks when she visits Moscow next month - after the parliament has ratified the long-stalled treaty. Start II was signed in 1993.

Astronauts Jerry Ross and James Newman were to attach two 100-pound antennas to each side of the international space station. The work was to be accomplished during a seven-hour spacewalk, the second this week. The antennas will allow the shuttle crew to communicate with colleagues on Earth after entering the station for the first time - an event scheduled for today. A final spacewalk - to stow tool boxes for future assembly crews - is set for Saturday.

Half of all US counties have no strategic plans to tackle millennium-related computer problems, the National Association of Counties said. In the first survey of its size at the local level, the group - representing the 3,069 counties - said only 50 percent of the 500 it surveyed last month are ready for possibly disastrous computer snafus on Jan. 1, 2000. Most vulnerable are thousands of small, rural counties, officials said. Of 119 counties with fewer than 10,000 people, 74 had no comprehensive plans.

New Hampshire Democratic and GOP leaders unveiled a new campaign pledge designed to preserve the state's traditional first-in-the-nation presidential primary. They said all potential presidential candidates for the 2000 primaries will be asked to sign a statement that they will not campaign or allow declarations of candidacy in any state that holds its primary earlier than seven days after New Hampshire's. State law says the primary must occur at least seven days before any other state's.

A construction crew's mistake caused a blackout in San Francisco, trapping some office workers in high-rise elevators, stopping trains, and forcing the airport to divert incoming planes. The incident affected an estimated 940,000 people.

The World

UN and American officials were calling "very serious" a refusal by Iraq to allow international weapons inspectors to search the ruling Baath Party headquarters in Baghdad. Iraq said the UN team reportedly called off its efforts after being asked for "written notification" of the items it was looking for. Weapons-inspections chief Richard Butler disputed the account, saying the attempt was "absolutely legal" and "they blocked us." In Washington, a White House spokesman said the US was "poised to act" if Iraq fails to comply fully with the inspectors.

Violence that has preceded President Clinton's arrival in the Middle East worsened as a teenager died and 80 other people were hurt at Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Nablus on the West Bank. The casualties resulted from clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters on the 11th anniversary of the intifadah, or uprising against Israeli occupation. Seventy others were hurt in similar violence Monday. Clinton's visit to the region, beginning Sunday, is aimed at shoring up the accord he brokered between the two sides in October.

Spain may begin formal extradition proceedings against Augusto Pinochet so he can be tried for genocide and other crimes against humanity, the British government decided. The announcement means the former Chilean dictator, under armed guard in London, now faces a long legal battle as his lawyers seek to keep him from being sent to Spain. That country accuses him of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Spanish nationals during his 17-year rule in Chile.