News In Brief

Closing arguments were to be delivered in the Senate impeachment trial - with each side having three hours for its presentation. Whether the Senate's final deliberations - scheduled to begin today - would be open to the public was far from certain. That required a two-thirds vote to change the rules, and some senators said the necessary votes were not there. Either way, a vote on the impeachment articles was expected Thursday or Friday.

A senior German official and the chairman of Deutsche Bank were to meet with Holocaust survivors and US officials about settling all outstanding Holocaust and slave-labor claims. Bodo Hombach, a German chancellery minister, and Deutsche Bank's Rolf Breuer were to meet in Washington with officials of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and other survivors' groups, as well as US Under Secretary of State Stuart Eizenstat. A WJC source said the group would decide on the basis of the meeting whether to fight the purchase of Bankers Trust by Deutsche Bank, which admitted last week that it helped fund the construction of Auschwitz.

Hundreds of American Airlines customers were forced to make other travel plans after the airline canceled about 240 flights because of unexpected pilot absences. The carrier and its unionized pilots are in negotiations over the recent acquisition of Reno Air by the airline's parent firm, Fort Worth-based AMR Corp. The union does not want AMR to maintain Reno as a low-cost carrier. Pilots are barred from striking, but can decline to work overtime.

The Stardust spacecraft rocketed away on a seven-year quest for comet dust. Its journey - aboard a Boeing Delta rocket - began a day late due to a last-minute radar problem. The Stardust mission is the first to try to gather material from beyond the moon. Stardust is to meet up with Comet Wild 2 in 2004.

New programs designed to cut the US drug problem in half by 2007 were to be unveiled by Vice President Al Gore and Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug-policy director. Using a blend of strategies, they hope to reduce the use and availability of drugs by 50 percent by 2007 - 25 percent by 2002. Achieving the 50 percent goal would mean just 3 percent of the population age 12 and over would be using illegal drugs. The current figure is 6.4 percent, down from nearly 15 percent in 1979. An ad campaign that generates more than $195 million a year in matching contributions from media companies was said to be one component of the new effort.

US prosecutors have told independent counsel Kenneth Starr they will investigate his office's initial contact last year with Monica Lewinsky, Newsweek reported. The magazine quoted an unidentified Justice Department source as saying prosecutors told Starr they want to determine whether his staff offered Lewinsky an immunity accord on condition she not speak to her attorney. Meanwhile, there were calls for an inquiry into presidential aide Sidney Blumenthal's denial under oath that he spread negative stories about Monica Lewinsky. Journalist Christopher Hitchens said Blumenthal described Lewinsky to him and others as a "stalker." Blumenthal had denied it in his testimony.

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