Last night's presidential debate was to give Al Gore and George W. Bush free air time to appeal to voters, but paid advertisements held the potential to be even more important. Republican sources said the party plans to spend up to $22 million on ads over the final three weeks of the campaign, while the Democratic Party has less than $10 million for the period. Sources for the latter said they are making tough choices to conserve resources for the most competitive states. The parties are supposed to sponsor only "issue ads" that don't promote any particular candidate, although in practice the spots are similar to those produced by the Bush and Gore campaigns.
The House passed legislation to bolster automotive regulation in an effort to prevent problems such as the Firestone tire failures that are blamed for 101 deaths. The bill, passed by a voice vote, requires vehicle rollover testing and installation of systems to warn of under-inflated tires. Another provision calls for stiff prison sentences for auto executives who hide safety problems. But the legislation's future is uncertain in the Senate because of time constraints and strong opposition from the industry.
The US arts scene got a boost from an $18.8 billion bill for the Interior Department that President Clinton signed. For the first time in six years, when Republicans won control of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts received a significant budget increase - up $7 million from last year to $105 million. The bill also doubled the funds to be spent on land conservation.
The security clearance of the US ambassador to Israel, which was suspended three weeks ago because of alleged violations, was reinstated for "compelling national security interests," a State Department spokesman said. The Middle East has been rocked by two weeks of violence that has killed at least 90 people. Martin Indyk now will have access to classified information, but an investigation of his actions is still under way, the spokesman said.
Almost 42,000 Los Angeles County employees began a general strike. The walkout didn't include 5,000 medical workers, who were barred from participating by a Superior Court judge. Uniformed sheriff's and fire department personnel also weren't part of strike plans. Los Angeles already is coping with a public-transit strike.
The New Hampshire Senate overwhelmingly acquitted the state's chief justice of ethics violations, but aftershocks from the impeachment case were expected to continue for months. A flood of court-reform bills is expected to be on the legislative agenda in January, and the Supreme Court's disciplinary committee is conducting its own review of David Brock. Brock also is likely to be subject to a "bill of address," a constitutional alternative to impeachment - although he already is generally considered to have withstood his toughest test.
For the fourth time this week, two Americans shared a Nobel Prize. The award in economics went to James Heckman of the University of Chicago and Daniel McFadden of the University of California-Berkeley for their development of statistical methods to study households and individuals. McFadden's work led to the design of San Francisco's BART public-transportation system; Heckman has showed a correlation between education and wages. Americans already have won Nobel Prizes this year in chemistry, medicine, and physics.
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