CONGRESS TRIES TO AVOID GRIDLOCK Legislative rush hour has arrived on Capitol Hill and major legislation to overhaul campaign finance laws is falling by the wayside in the rush toward a Thanksgiving adjournment. The North American Free Trade Agreement is hanging precariously. Crime-fighting bills are just getting on the fast track and a long-awaited debate on a balanced-budget constitutional amendment remains ahead. Other issues to be resolved include the president's Education 2000 school-reform plan, more spending cuts, and an extension of jobless benefits. Two appropriations bills remain unfinished, held hostage to policy disputes. US policy toward Haiti and Somalia, as well as gays in the military, hover over the Defense Department spending bill. And an administration plan to double grazing fees on Western lands has stalled the Interior Department's funding blueprint. Jewish settlers riot

Jewish settlers rioted and kept Arabs off roads in the West Bank yesterday in protest over the killing of a settler and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's peace moves with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The riots, which come as Israel and the PLO negotiate the details of Palestinian self-rule, highlight concerns over how the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be policed after Israeli troops pull out. The recently signed accord calls for Israeli security forces to retain power over Jewish settlements, but settlers are concerned about new PLO police forces. Peru vote debated

President Alberto Fujimori said Sunday that all Peruvians had won a victory by narrowly approving a new constitution that opens the way for his reelection bid in 1995. But some analysts suggested that the balloting was not a strong endorsement. One polling firm said only about 53 percent of the voters supported the charter drafted by Fujimori appointees. El Salvador deaths

The murder of two former leftist rebel leaders in El Salvador this week has created widespread fear that the delicate peace process is being threatened by a renewal of right-wing death squad activity. No suspects have been arrested in the murders, but leftists blame right-wingers for the deaths. Court on gay rights

The Supreme Court refused yesterday to let Colorado enforce its anti-gay-rights amendment while state courts judge its legality. The court, without comment, rejected the argument that Colorado court rulings set a too-high legal standard for judging whether the amendment violates homosexuals' rights. Crime in Germany

The US has gotten a black eye abroad after a German tourist was murdered in Miami. But now some US citizens have been assaulted in Germany. Members of the US national luge team, training at an east German resort, were set upon and injured by a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads.

After the fires

The California wildfires, which destroyed nearly 800 buildings and burned across 170,000 acres, have left a new threat in their wake mudslides. With rains predicted any day, crews struggled to reseed denuded hillsides with grass to hold them up. ``We're really racing against the clock,'' said Bill Brown of the US Forest Service. Wisconsin mourns

University of Wisconsin football fans are still in shock following a melee that left at least 69 people injured, seven of them critically. The fans were hurt after the Wisconsin Badgers upset the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in a crucial Big 10 matchup. Rooters pressed onto the field, crushing some spectators between the stands and a waist-high fence. Shuttle lands

The space shuttle Columbia landed safely in California yesterday with seven astronauts and a cargo of laboratory rats, after a 14-day medical research mission that set a US flight endurance record. ``Congratulations on a very successful life sciences mission,'' Mission Control told commander John Blaha and his crew.

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