The US appeared significantly closer to paying most of its $1.3 billion debt to the UN after the 189-member organization approved a resolution that redistributes members' funding obligations. Congress now must contribute 22 percent of the world body's operating budget and 27 percent of its peacekeeping budget - a 3 percent reduction in both cases. Congress has pledged to pay $826 million of its debt if the body agreed to lower the US share. Media magnate Ted Turner helped to secure the deal by offering $34 million to help cover the immediate loss of funding.
Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks vowed to bring prosecutions for a second time against the three members of the force whose convictions were overturned by a California superior court. Parks must choose between appealing the ruling or refiling the case for trial with a new jury after Judge Jacqueline Connor threw out the jury's decision citing insufficient evidence. The jury had earlier found the officers had falsified reports in an attempt to frame gang members.
With less than a month remaining in his term, President Clinton granted clemency to 62 people convicted of federal crimes, the Justice Department reported. Among them: Daniel Rostenkowski (D), the former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who was indicted in 1994 on corruption charges. Activists also are lobbying Clinton, who has pardoned a total of 255 in his two terms - far fewer than most other modern presidents - to grant a pardon to former junk-bonds dealer Michael Milken.
In what has become a holiday tradition, Clinton also announced housing initiatives, calling on officials to strive for economic diversity among residents of public housing projects. A likely outcome of the new regulation, Clinton said, would be more racial integration. Another initiative raises the amount individuals can borrow from the Federal Housing Administration to $239,250 - a 9 percent increase.
Civil rights advocates vowed to oppose the nomination of John Ashcroft as US attorney general, arguing that the outgoing Missouri senator's decision to block the nomination by Clinton of a black judge to the federal bench showed racist overtones. Ashcroft lost his bid for reelection last month. President-elect George W. Bush, meanwhile, was preparing to fill the remaining positions in his Cabinet, after a five-week post-election legal battle delayed the transition process.
Airline delays caused by poor weather and labor disagreements last week appeared to have eased as travellers confronted few transportation tie-ups over the holiday weekend. Retailers, meanwhile, hoped a strong rush of last-minute shopping would boost flagging sales figures hurt by poor weather in the Midwest.
Pianist Victor Borge, who died in Greenwich, Conn., was remembered for his unique blend of light-hearted humor and musical virtuosity as an international performer for more than 50 years. The Danish-born musician became a US citizen in 1948 after fleeing Europe during the German occupation. Many of Borge's skits, which he developed for television and radio, lampooned high-brow musicians and were often improvised.
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