News In Brief

The US

Campaign-finance reform advocates were encouraged by Speaker Gingrich's scheduled appearance at a hearing on bipartisan bills that are gaining political momentum. Topics included: limiting political action committees - special-interest arms that dole out campaign dollars; limiting ''soft money'' contributions to political parties from corporations, unions, and others; and setting voluntary limits on campaign spending and rewarding candidates who abide by the limits with cut-rate TV ads.

President Clinton wants to return to the New Democrat philosophy that undergirded his 1992 campaign, says conservative writer Ben Wattenberg, who spent an hour listening to Clinton's presidential soul-searching in a phone conversation last week. White House aides said Clinton did not recall saying he is making a philosophical change. But Wattenberg recalls Clinton saying he hoped to achieve this philosophical tack by signing a ''tough, but not harsh'' welfare-reform bill and an ''honorable'' compromise budget.

As the curtain of silence descended on the peace talks in Dayton yesterday, US officials expected the three Balkan leaders to take up tough issues on Bosnia. Despite terse opening statements Wednesday, Presidents Tudjman of Croatia and Milosevic of Bosnia agreed to try to peacefully resolve the dispute over Serb-held eastern Slavonia. They also promised to work to normalize ties and let the region's 2 million refugees go home. Also, at a White House meeting Wednesday, Clinton failed to convince Speaker Gingrich and Senator Dole of the merits of sending US peacekeeping troops to Bosnia. (Above, peace activists tie ribbons to a sign near talks in Dayton, Ohio.)

In a move that could open up the GOP's presidential nomination process, moderate Republican Larry Rockefeller filed a lawsuit yesterday challenging the constitutionality of how the state party picks its presidential primary delegates. Since Senator Dole is the party bosses' choice, most major candidates have foregone an effort to get on the ballot because of the time and expense involved. New York's delegates represent 10 percent of the total needed to win.

Some 55 percent of Americans think their taxes will rise when Congress and Clinton finish their budget talks, said an AP poll out yesterday. Also, the only agreement Clinton, Senator Dole, and Speaker Gingrich reached in budget-balancing talks at the White House Wednesday was that they would meet again soon.

The FBI wants broad powers to tap phone lines because more and more of modern life - and crime - takes place via phone conversations and computer phone links, The New York Times said yesterday. An FBI proposal before Congress would give it power to tap one of every 200 phone lines - a number that could mean 10,000 taps in New York City alone. Critics are balking at the measure and say the FBI is gradually trying to chip away at personal privacy.

Ross Perot's new Reform Party has registered enough California voters to appear on the state's 1996 presidential ballot. State officials say Perot supporters collected nearly 108,000 voter registrations, about 18,000 more than they needed.

''The abortion debate will shift from the abstract to the real,'' with the passage of a bill banning ''partial-birth'' abortions in the House Wednesday, GOP Rep. Chris Smith said. Anti-abortionists hope the victory is the first in a string of such bills.

A bill that would set up a commission to study gambling's effects got Clinton's support Wednesday. Proponents, including Senator Simon, say the nation's gambling boom has spawned crime, false economic promises, political corruption, and addiction. Opponents defend the industry's legitimacy and say states should be free to choose.

Secretary of State Christopher was set to do ''job interviews'' with the top contenders for the recently opened top NATO post. He was to meet with yesterday with former Danish Foreign Minister Uffe Ellemann-Jensen today and former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers - who has backing from Germany, Britain, and France - yesterday.

The World

In separate incidents, two suicide bombers struck in the Gaza Strip yesterday, lightly wounding 11 Israelis. Both bombers were killed by the explosions. Israeli radio said Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. Palestinian police called the blasts revenge attacks by Muslim militants for last week's assassination of their leader in Malta.

Reformed Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski has a slight edge over President Lech Walesa in Sunday's Polish presidential elections, analysts said yesterday. Although the economy is growing at 5.5 percent annually, many Poles are disillusioned with Walesa's vigorous use of veto power and a 15-percent unemployment rate. (Story, Page 7.)

Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze is the clear favorite among six contesting candidates to win Sunday's presidential elections. Popularity polls gave him a 60 to 70 percent support yesterday. Shevardnadze, a former Soviet foreign minister, has based his campaign on a commitment to radical economic reforms.

The African National Congress yesterday appeared poised to win South Africa's first all-race local elections. With returns in from 42 of the almost 700 races, the ANC received 58 percent of votes cast and won majority control of 34 councils. (Above, three women wait in line to vote.) Also, demonstrations were held yesterday in Durban as former Defense Minister Magnus Malan, and 10 other army officers made their first court appearance in connection with the 1987 killings of 13 people.

Fierce resistance by Tamil rebels slowed the advance of the Sri Lankan troops, an Army spokesman said yesterday. He said 200 soldiers were killed. The Army was 2.5 miles from Jaffna, and the area is believed to be full of booby traps and land mines. Meanwhile the government prepared for retaliatory attacks by shutting the nation's schools until the end of the year.

Food security will outrank military security in parts of the world in coming years because of tight food supplies and rising prices, the Washington D.C.-based Worldwatch said yesterday. Grain prices have climbed 30 to 40 percent this year because consumption has outrun harvests for three years, it said.

Canadian Prime Minister Chretien said his nation has a right to political stability. He and other federalists are frustrated because separatists in Quebec are already pushing another secession vote. Even the resignation of Quebec's separatist premier, Jacques Parizeau, failed to dampen a combative mood.

During a 16-hour marathon grilling yesterday, prosecutors said former President Roh Tae-woo disclosed names of a few businessmen who contributed to a $654-million slush fund he managed. Sources said prosecutors were planning to summon officials of some conglomerates. But analysts contend that the top businesses will come through relatively unscathed because of their pervasive influence on the economy. And, the US agreed yesterday to establish a special panel to consider giving Korea custody of American troops suspected of crime in Korea.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, was tense yesterday as residents awaited a high court ruling on an opposition petition to have landmark pluralist elections declared null and void. Opposition parties threatened to defy a police ban and hold a rally later in the day to protest the alleged rigging of Sunday's voting.

French police detained five Islamic guerrilla suspects and seized bomb-making equipment in raids in Paris and Lille yesterday. One of the arrested is believed to be a key figure in the wave of recent terrorist attacks. Sources said the arrests could be a breakthrough in the investigation into eight bomb attacks since July. And French nuclear tests in the South Pacific is expected to be high on the agenda during next week's Commonwealth Meet in New Zealand.


The honesty of Americans was tested recently by Reader's Digest. According to a December article in the magazine, released Wednesday, the Digest deliberately ''lost'' 120 wallets containing $50 in 12 areas across the US. Nationally, two-thirds of all the wallets were returned. And Seattle was the most honest city, where nine of 10 wallets were brought back.

A girl in Plano, Texas, was tired of sightseers crowding the street in front of a neighbor's fire-damaged home. So she and some friends decided to solicit a ''gawking fee'' and raised more than $600 for the burned-out family, the girl, Seychelle Van Poole, said Wednesday. About 150 people contributed. Seychelle and her pals presented their donations to the Frenkil family at a block party. The Frenkils said they plan to rebuild.

Top TV Shows, Oct. 23-29

Show/Network/number of homes that watched

1. ''World Series Game 5,'' ABC, 21.6 million homes

2. ''NBC World Series Game 3,'' NBC, 19.2 million

2. ''World Series Game 4,'' ABC, 19.2 million

4. ''NBC World Series Game 6,'' NBC, 18.7 million

5. ''ER,'' NBC, 17 million

6. ''Home Improvement,'' ABC, 16.9 million

7. ''NYPD Blue,'' ABC, 16.7 million

8. ''Friends,'' NBC, 16.2 million

9. ''NFL Monday Night Football,'' 15.8 million

10. ''Coach,'' ABC, 15.6 million

- Nielson Media Research/AP

'' It is just that once people have tasted power they show an incredible desire

to retain that power. They are quite allergic to freedom.''

- Desmond Tutu, on Nigeria's Sani Abacha, whose government has sentenced eight political opponents to death.

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