News In Brief


The GOP's $270 billion Medicare overhaul bill was expected to pass the House last night over strident objections from many Democrats. Final concessions to balky members included easing cuts for rural doctors. The bill achieves most of its savings by ratcheting down fee increases for hospitals and doctors. Clinton said yesterday he would veto the bill.

Some 160 world leaders - from King Mswati III of Swaziland to President Clinton - will descend on New York City this weekend to herald the UN's 50th anniversary. Even Cuba's Fidel Castro (above) will be there: The State Department issued him a visa Wednesday over objections by some conservatives. Also, the GOP conceded defeat Wednesday on a hard-fought bill that aimed to bring down Castro quickly by starving Cuba of hard currency.

A $245 billion tax cut over seven years was set to pass the Senate Finance Committee last night. Beside a $500-per-child credit, it has a $500 student-loan tax bonus and a $5,000 adoption credit.

Telling well-heeled fund-raiser audiences recently that "I raised your taxes too much," Clinton has incited many GOP charges of a "flip-flop" on taxes. On Wednesday, many GOP members claimed the statement validated their attempts to push through a massive tax cut, which Democrats have harshly criticized.

"You are going to get US men and women killed," and "You don't have the votes," were typical responses top Clinton officials got from House members about the plan to send 20,000 troops to Bosnia. The officials will be on Capitol Hill again next week to try convincing lawmakers of the plan's necessity.

A once-secret 1972 RJR memo hints that the tobacco company considered its cigarettes "a vehicle for delivering nicotine." The memo, leaked anonymously and written by RJR's then-assistant research director, says that "Happily for the tobacco industry, nicotine is ... habituating." Similar memos from Brown & Williamson and Philip Morris also have been leaked and may lead the FDA to regulate cigarettes. The firms deny they misled customers and are fighting regulation in court.

A relatively miniscule $1,000 campaign donation is causing big troubles for presidential frontrunner Senator Dole. As Dole courted conservatives this summer, his staff returned the donation from a gay Republican group. But Dole said Tuesday he wouldn't have sent it back if he was consulted. The seemingly contradictory actions have irked both gays and conservatives.

Ross Perot's new political party says it has more than half the 89,007 voter registrations needed to qualify for California's ballot. But the Secretary of State said Wednesday only 10,217 of the 50,000 claimed Reform Party registrations had been verified.

Sen. Jesse Helms, who has held up confirmation of many ambassadors, appeared to give Clinton's choice for Chinese ambassador, former Sen. Sasser, a nod of approval as he ordered a rare second hearing Wednesday.

Louis Farrakhan said Wednesday the Nation of Islam will start a voter registration drive in a bid to make blacks "a third political power" not bound to any party. He did not lay out an agenda.

Shuttle Columbia's eighth launch attempt is now targeted for today after bad weather forced a scrub yesterday.

After 20 years of low-hype TV journalism, tonight is Robin MacNeil's last night on PBS's MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour. He will now pursue a career in writing.


As many as 2,000 Muslim men have been or are being executed by the Bosnia Serbs near the Serb-held city of Banja Luka, US officials said yesterday. Credible US reports cite that Bosnian Serbs are forcing Muslims to wear Nazi-style arm-bands. US spy satellites are searching Banja Luka for mass graves. Meanwhile, Croatia will not launch an offensive to retake Serb-held land, Croatian President Tudjman told US envoy Richard Holbrooke yesterday. And Bosnia and rival Yugoslavia agreed to open liaison offices in each other's capitals Wednesday. Residents of Gorzade (above) enjoyed UN food shipments Tuesday for the first time in two years.

French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette said he does not believe a "grotesque" statement by Serb leader Radovan Karadzic that two French airmen shot down over Bosnia have been kidnapped from a hospital. Meanwhile, security doubled in Paris yesterday as 400 soldiers took up positions at six train stations to deter a wave of bombings linked to Algerian terrorists. The militants demanded President Chirac cancel a New York meeting next week with Algerian President Liamine Zeroual, but Chirac said French policy will not be influenced by terrorists.

NATO Secretary General Willy Claes was to hear from Belgium's Parliament yesterday if he would be sent to court to answer corruption charges. A report disclosed there is no hard evidence against him. Parliament yesterday approved a high court request to continue investigating former Defense Minister Guy Coeme's role in the scandal.

Chechen rebels yesterday accused Russia of helicopter attacks on mountain villages in which three people were killed. Meanwhile, President Yeltsin called Chechnya the biggest disappointment of his presidency. Elsewhere, NATO was holding talks with Russia in Brussels to try to agree on a way for Moscow to take part in a multinational force to police a possible Bosnia peace accord.

US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, speaking in Hong Kong after visiting Beijing, urged the US yesterday to forge partnerships with Asian nations - "listening more and preaching less." And Hong Kong Gov. Chris Patten urged residents yesterday to speak out against the pro-China camp's proposal to water down the colony's Bill of Rights.

Hopes for a Taiwan-China summit appeared to fade yesterday after Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui insisted China first accept Taiwan as an equal.

Elias Hrawi, Lebanon's pro-Syria president, won a three-year extension to his six-year-term after parliament backed a constitutional amendment to side-step fresh elections.

As government forces continued their advance in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna Peninsula, 70 Tamil separatist rebels and 34 Sri Lankan soldiers were reported killed yesterday.

The Spanish Senate voted 128 to 127 to investigate charges that Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez's government waged a "dirty war" against Basque guerrillas. The proported campaign took 27 lives between 1983 and 1987.

Zambia called off investigations yesterday into whether former President Kenneth Kaunda illegally ruled the country before he took out Zambian citizenship. Zambia had announced plans Wednesday to deport the former 27-year leader as an illegal alien.

New Zealand's Parliament yesterday unanimously approved the biggest-ever compensation deal with indigenous tribes who lost vast tracts of land to British colonists 132 years ago. The government will also formally apologize for the seizure. And New Zealand expressed delight at the news that France, Britain, and the US plan to join the South Pacific nuclear-free zone.


If we wanted to have 100 percent security in France, we would need a policeman behind every citizen and a soldier behind each garbage can."

- Jacky Viallet, head of France's largest police union, on the bombings.

Two independent astronomy teams have confirmed the apparent existence of a planet outside the solar system. Swiss astronomers on Oct. 6 said they had found a planet orbiting a star similar to the sun named 51 Pegasus, about 40 light-years from Earth. San Francisco State astronomer Geoffrey Marcy Tuesday confirmed the Swiss discovery.

A statue of President Andrew Johnson was unveiled Wednesday at the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville, partly laying to rest hard feelings about his role in the Civil War. He'll join statues of Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk, other Tennessee native sons.

At work on Capitol Hill, they may quibble. But after hours, four singing senators are always in harmony. Republican Sens. John Ashcroft of Missouri, Trent Lott of Mississippi, Larry Craig of Idaho, and James Jeffords of Vermont debuted at the Kennedy Center Wednesday.

Firefighters in far west China have managed to extinguish a huge blaze that has raged for more than 100 years in an untapped coal deposit, Chinese officials said yesterday.

Top 10 British Poems

Rudyard Kipling's "If" was voted Britain's favorite poem in a phone-in vote conducted by the BBC last Friday. More than 7,500 callers registered their choice from about 1,000 poems.

1. "If," Rudyard Kipling

2. "The Lady of Shalott," Alfred Lord Tennyson

3. "The Listeners," Walter de la Mare

4. "Not Waving but Drowning," Stevie Smith

5. "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," William Wordsworth

6. "To Autumn," John Keats

7. "The Lake Isle of Innisfree," W.B. Yeats

8. "Dulce et decorum est," Wilfred Owen

9. "Ode to a Nightingale," John Keats

10. "He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven," W.B. Yeats


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