GUN-CONTROL BILL'S PROSPECTS ENHANCED Prospects for passage of the Brady bill, which would establish a five-day waiting period and criminal background check for handgun buyers, appeared to brighten as the Senate reached agreement Wednesday on how to deal with a separate but far-reaching crime-control bill. The accord could lead to the crime bill's passage next week. President Clinton predicted passage of the Brady bill and said he was intrigued with the idea promoted by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D) of New York to tax certain forms of ammunition and use the money to help pay for national health-care reforms. The proposal is not part of the crime bill. The Brady bill cleared the House 238 to 189. Rain comes to Malibu

Rain, heavy at times, fell before dawn in Malibu, Calif., yesterday, the first storm since fire destroyed hundreds of homes and burned vegetation off more than 200,000 acres in six counties. The rain unleashed minor mudslides, prompting some hit by the fire to pile sandbags and spread plastic sheets on the ground for fear worse slides were to come on hills stripped of brush. Fuel prices irk truckers

Independent truckers in the United States threatened protests over high diesel fuel prices yesterday. Many industry officials said they expect only sporadic demonstrations and little effect on the flow of goods. Mutual fund confusion

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission says more money and staff is needed to monitor the astronomical growth in mutual funds, citing a survey that shows many investors are still uncertain about the risks. Nearly half of those polled thought incorrectly that all money market mutual funds sold through banks are federally insured, SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. said Wednesday. Disney eyes US history

News that the Walt Disney Company plans to build an American history theme park near Haymarket, Va., had some local leaders smiling and others worrying about the possible negative impact upon the village of some 500 residents. Congressional officials briefed about the project, which was scheduled to be announced in Haymarket yesterday, said different areas of the park would be based on eras in American history such as the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War II. The park would reportedly open in 1998, with construction possibly beginning in 1995. Freight trains collide

Two freight trains collided head-on around midnight yesterday in Kelso, Wash., killing at least one crew member and causing a fiery derailment of more than 20 cars that blocked an interstate highway. Hours later, rescuers still could not find four other crew members possibly trapped in smoldering wreckage. War games in Gulf

US, British, and Kuwaiti forces will hold joint ground and special forces exercises in the emirate from Nov. 15 until Dec. 14, the US military said. About 1,200 US soldiers would be involved. A Kuwaiti defense ministry spokesman said the exercises, the latest in a series of war games by the three countries, had been planned long ago and had nothing to do with a reported shooting incident on the border between Kuwaiti and Iraqi forces Wednesday. Japan goes whaling

Japan, the world's largest consumer of whale meat, will defy international pressure again to catch minke whales on a five-month ``research'' mission in the Antarctic Ocean. The whaling mother ship Nisshin Maru is to leave the Japanese port of Yokosuka today with three catcher boats. A previous mission in the Antarctic killed 330 whales in the name of research. Most of the catches ended up on dinner plates. Nigerian dispute grows

Nigeria's Army-appointed interim government, already under attack for dissolving local councils and hiking fuel prices, faces further pressure to quit after a Lagos high court declared yesterday that it is illegal. The ruling came in a suit brought by Moshood Abiola, who apparently won the presidential election on June 12 that was later annulled.

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