News In Brief

The US

A few hundred US soldiers are expected to touch down on Bosnian soil next week to help prepare for the main contingent. Funding for deployment before Christmas of some 20,000 US troops to the Balkans is certain to be on Congress's docket next week. But Congress isn't the only party that could squelch the plan: The US will drop the troop deployment if rival Balkan forces breach the new peace settlement, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said Wednesday. (Opinion, Page 18; Editorial, Page 20.)

Sen. Arlen Specter followed the footsteps of California Gov. Pete Wilson Wednesday: He withdrew his bid for the 1996 Republican presidential nomination. His campaign fizzled out because of a money shortage and apathy among party moderates, he said. (Related story, Page 1.)

Westinghouse's $5.4 billion takeover of CBS was approved by the FCC Wednesday. FCC commissioners said they expect Westinghouse to increase educational programming by at least three hours per week. The approval includes waivers for laws aimed at limiting the number of media outlets one firm can own, including allowing Westinghouse to control multiple TV and radio stations in Minneapolis, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Who will benefit most from the GOP's $245-billion tax-cut plan? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal group, says that although middle-income Americans will get two-thirds of the tax-relief before 2002, they will get little afterward. Of $90 billion in post-2002 tax-cuts, 53 percent will go to the rich, the group says. But GOP tax-guru Rep. Bill Archer says overall, 80 percent of the tax cuts will go to those making less than $100,000, and 61 percent will go to those making between $30,000 and $75,000.

A borrowing binge of record proportions may be taking a toll on US consumers. Loan officers at 33 of 54 banks questioned said consumer loan delinquency rates rose over the least year, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. Consumer borrowing rose by $5.4 billion at an annual rate in September, a new record.

This holiday season may prove a bit tight for Boeing Company workers. The workers defied the advice of union leaders Tuesday and voted to reject a three-year contract offer from the commercial jet-maker. News that five Boeing executives are eligible for 2.5 million in bonuses because of rising stock prices angered the workers. They also rejected a contract requirement that they pay part of their health-care insurance premiums. Wichita, Kansas, striker Steve Price (above) left no doubt how he felt about the contract.

This holiday season, think twice before purchasing goods possibly made in sweatshops, consumer and labor groups are emphasizing. Shoppers should ask store owners whether the store has a code of conduct for suppliers, and whether the code specifies living wages and bars child labor, the National Consumer League says. Last summer, investigators in California found 68 Thai nationals working under slave-labor conditions surrounded by a fence ringed with razor wire.

Doctors are often unaware of the last wishes of their terminally ill patients, a new study says. Of some 4,800 seriously ill patients interviewed about their wishes for treatment, about one-third said they did not want extensive life-prolonging efforts. The views were then communicated to their doctors. But in their final days, the patients spent just as much time in intensive care as those whose wishes were not related to doctors. ''It didn't work,'' one researcher of the effort to follow the treatment wishes said. The survey, which was funded by the Princeton, New Jersey-based Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, concludes that patients and families must take a more forceful approach in end-of-life decisionmaking.

In attempting to block the opening of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling, Interior Secretary Babbitt Tuesday invoked President Clinton's promise to protect environment spending from budget cuts. Babbitt says the ''spirit and content'' of the new budget agreement requires Republicans to drop their ANWR proposal. But Alaska Rep. Don Young, who says ANWR can be opened without little ecological damage, says it is not an environmental issue but a ''money issue'': The GOP is counting on $1.3 billion in ANWR drilling revenues to help balance the budget. (Related story, Page 4.)

The World

Bosnian President Aliza Izetbegovic was showered with flowers on his return home Wednesday, but analysts said enforcing the peace pact will not be easy. Representatives for the Bosnian Serbs at the Dayton talks have emphasized that their delegation did not accept the plan, though Bosnian President Milosevic signed on their behalf. Also, the EU offered $1 billion to rebuild Croatia and Bosnia; the World Bank was putting together a multi-billion dollar reconstruction package; and most of the world applauded the deal, but some European allies expressed resentment that the US got the credit. (Story, Page 6; Opinion, Page 18, Editorial, Page 20.)

Countries worldwide exploded with outrage Wednesday at the news that France set off another nuclear blast under Mururoa Atoll in the South Pacific Tuesday. Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating was ''appalled,'' New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon was ''exasperated and disgusted,'' Japan ''deeply deplored'' it, and South Korean environmentalists threw eggs at the French Embassy in Seoul. Last week, at the UN, 95 nations voted to condemn France's nuclear testing.

The Irish will decide today whether to legalize divorce. The referendum has pitted the Catholic Church against the state in a bitter campaign. A poll published in the Irish Times this week indicated that support in Ireland for legalizing divorce slipped to 45 percent from a high of 52 percent two weeks ago. And, 42 percent opposed divorce, up from 35 percent.

The Red Cross was set to launch its first-ever global advertising campaign yesterday. The message: ''Landmines Must Be Stopped.'' Participants attending an international weapons convention scheduled in Geneva in January and April next year are expected to debate the issue.

Several Arabs and Afghans were among over 120 people arrested in a crackdown following the Nov. 19 suicide bombing at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad, Pakistani authorities said Wednesday. Separately, in neighboring Afghanistan, the Islamic Taliban militia advanced closer to Kabul Wednesday. They captured several key districts and strengthened their siege of the capital, the Afghan defense ministry and rebel sources said.

''Three or four'' candidates are being considered for NATO's top post, US Defense Secretary William Perry said Wednesday. Perry said it was premature to view Spanish Foreign Secretary Javier Solana as a likely winner. Solana's name has been discussed in recent days as the most likely choice for the post.

Lagumot Harris was elected president of Nauru Wednesday. There are no political parties in Nauru, and voting is usually along family and clan lines. Nauru, an 8-square-mile raised coral island, has a population of about 9,000 people. Naurans are among the world's richest people due to the island's exports of rich topsoil, which has left the island looking like a barren moonscape.

India rejected an offer from Kashmiri militants to exchange two ailing Western hostages for an imprisoned guerrilla because it will encourage more kidnappings, India's External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Wednesday.

An earthquake that rocked the Middle East Wednesday morning was felt in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. Residents and hotel guests scurried into the streets regionwide. The resort town of Nuweiba, Egypt, and Jordan's Gulf of Aqaba were hardest hit. All but a few escaped swaying or crumbling buildings. The quake measured between 6.2 and 7.2 on the Richter scale.


Manuel Santos-Noya holds what may be Protestant reformer Martin Luther's personal Bible (above). The book, signed by Luther and covered with notes in his handwriting, was found among thousands of Bibles at the Wuerttemberg Library in Stuttgart, Germany.

Faced with a cash crunch and being unable to pay workers in cash, officials at a match factory in eastern Siberia settled on the bright idea of paying workers with surplus matches. the Itar-Tass news agency reported. The bundle of 5,000 matchboxes each worker received is worth about half a million rubles ($100) - close to the average monthly wage.

Teenagers who eat dinner regularly with their families are, on average, happier than their peers who don't, says a survey of 3,000 teens by the publisher of ''Who's Who Among American High School Students.'' They also don't drink as much alcohol as their peers and are less likely to have had sex.

''What Do You Think We Should We Name Him?''

For the first time in a century, the name John has fallen off the favorite-name list of New York City parents - and has been replaced by Brandon. Also, Tiffany and Danielle have replaced Melissa and Christina. The top ten names follow.

Boys Girls

1. Michael Ashley

2. Christopher Jessica

3. Kevin Stephanie

4. Anthony Samantha

5. Jonathan Amanda

6. Daniel Nicole

7. Joseph Jennifer

8. Matthew Michelle

9. David Tiffany

10. Brandon Danielle

- New York City Health Department/AP

'' Nobody is celebrating in Sarajevo because we have suffered too much.

We know what a piece of paper means. By itself, it means nothing.''

- Tarik Drina, a former postal worker in Sarajevo, on the Bosnia peace accord.

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