News In Brief

The US

President Clinton's seven-year balanced-budget plan was set to arrive on Capitol Hill yesterday. Speaker Gingrich warned that it is doomed if it uses overly optimistic economic forecasts. The plan gives smaller tax cuts and takes shallower bites from Medicare and Medicaid than the GOP budget, which Clinton vetoed. His list of reasons for doing so began with the $433 billion reduction in Medicare and Medicaid and ended with cuts in the export enhancement program. Clinton also said he will veto the $27 billion bill for Justice, Commerce, and State Department funding that passed the House. It would dismantle his plan to hire 100,000 new police. Above, actress Whoopi Goldberg, a one-time welfare mother, protests planned cuts in children's programs at a Capitol Hill forum with Senator Kennedy.

Microsoft was set to unveil its plans to capture a larger share of Internet ''gold rush.'' The software giant will begin by revamping its three-month-old Microsoft Network on-line service to get ready for the estimated 125 million people who will be using the World Wide Web by 1999. Also, Microsoft may become a partner in NBC's planned 24-hour news channel, which aims to rival CNN. The Wall St. Journal says the two are in talks.

The House ethics committee will hire an outside counsel to investigate Speaker Gingrich. Although it cleared him of most ethics complaints, the issue of whether he improperly used tax-deductible contributions to finance a college course he taught will be probed. Gingrich says he will be cleared of the charge. The panel reprimanded him on three charges, including giving out an 800 number for his political materials on the House floor.

HBO postponed Sunday night's Michael Jackson concert. The pop superstar was taken to a hospital after fainting during rehearsal for the concert.

Connecticut's three-month tax amnesty period brought in more money than expected. Some 17,000 delinquents paid about $40 million in back taxes. With the period now over, the state is gearing up to prosecute its tax deadbeats.

Former Education Secretary William Bennett, a longtime critic of what he calls ''trash TV,'' has inspired a new television show for children and their parents. PBS will launch an animated half-hour series next season based on his bestselling ''Book of Virtues.'' It will be PBS's first animated prime-time series and will dramatize such virtues as courage, compassion, and friendship.

Corporal punishment is still an often-used discipline tool among the nation's parents. Some 65 percent of 1,000 parents surveyed by New York-based Gallup said they hit their kids on the bottom with a bare hand; But 85 percent use ''time outs'' or send children to their rooms. About 25 percent agreed that praising children too much ''may go to their heads.''

Kindergartners should know that animals need air, water, food, and light, says a new set of science standards put out by the Washington, D.C.-based National Research Council. By high school, students should be versed in natural selection and evolution. The standards don't provide curricula but do give guidelines and provide a few specifics.

Treasury Secretary Rubin has a secret plan to avoid debt default in January. For now, he will continue tapping two $61.3 billion federal-employee pension funds, which he began doing last month. But that will keep the government afloat only through Dec. 29. He won't divulge the details of his plan for January - when the US will bump up against the $4.9 trillion debt ceiling, as it did Nov. 15 when Rubin authorized the use of the trust-fund. Republicans don't want to raise the ceiling until a seven-year balanced-budget plan is passed.

The World

With time growing short before NATO troops arrive, rebel Serbs resumed expelling Muslims from areas the Serbs will control in postwar Bosnia, UN officials said. In addition to the expulsions, Serbs, Croats, and Muslims have been destroying property on lands they must vacate once the peace accord is signed. Also, the first US military plane flew into Tuzla - headquarters for the 20,000 US troops heading to Bosnia. Meanwhile, 184 members of the House of Representatives, nearly half, went on record as opposed to sending US troops to Bosnia. That's 34 members short of a majority needed to defeat a resolution backing the troop deployment. (Related stories, Pages 1 and 7.)

The invasion of two embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia, by 115 mainly East Timorese turned violent as pro-Indonesia protesters followed them and shouted abuses. Two Dutch diplomats were injured. The East Timorese had forced their way into the Dutch and Russian Embassies to demand that an independence petition be delivered to a UN representative. The protest marked the 20th anniversary of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

A demonstration grew violent in eastern France when police fired tear gas canisters into a crowd of striking miners. Flights at Paris's Orly Airport were delayed when protesters attempted to block runways. Also, France announced its last nuclear test blast in the South Pacific will take place in late February, several months ahead of schedule.

Japan's Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama sought a court order to force Okinawa Governor Masajode Ota to renew land leases for US military bases on the island. Ota earlier rejected Murayama's plea to force landowners to renew the contracts.

Israeli Prime Minister Peres promised to investigate the reported killing of hundreds of Egyptian POWs during Arab-Israeli wars. Also, Palestinians finally have their own passports, and Israel is accepting them, an Israeli Army spokesman said. Some 30 countries, mostly Arab, have also acknowledged the passports. In the West Bank, some 93 Palestinian vigilante gunmen laid down their weapons, Palestinian police said. Meanwhile, an Israeli official said Israel will release 1,000 Palestinian prisoners by Jan. 20.

''We did not know it was illegal,'' a Korean Airline official said as KAL pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributions of $5,000 to US Congressman Jay Kim. US laws prohibit corporate and foreign national contributions in federal elections. And President Kim Young Sam will make a major Cabinet reshuffle, a government official said. Also, former President Chun Doo Hwan, now in detention, has been on a hunger strike for the last five days, Korean officials said.

China is forcing Tibetan monks to attend today's enthroning of Gyaincain Norbu, China's rival nominee for the Panchem Lama, the Dalai Lama's aides said. The monks are barred from protesting the choice.

Vietnam planned to welcome Cuban leader Fidel Castro today. He intends to study the country's economic reforms and changes since his last visit during the Vietnam War. While Vietnam remains one of the world's poorest countries, capitalist market reforms have resulted in increasing foreign investment and improving personal wealth.

US-India relations have hit a rocky patch, Western diplomats said. A diplomatic war of words started when a top Indian minister said the US has ''evil designs'' on Kashmir. And INSAT-2C, an Indian satellite seen as revolutionizing the country's telecommunications, was put into orbit by a French Ariane rocket.

Egypt announced the ruling National Democratic Party won 71 percent of the 444 seats at stake in parliamentary elections.

A Colombian congressional commission will decide Monday whether to ask Congress to formally investigate President Ernesto Samper on charges of accepting drug money for his campaign. The head of the commission recommended the probe be shelved for lack of evidence.


James Reston of the New York Times, who died at his home in Washington, was one of the giants of journalism in the 20th century and twice won the Pulitzer Prize. As Times columnist and Washington bureau chief he covered the world for half a century.

Many people in the world's richest nations can read at only the most basic levels, the International Adult Literary Survey says. Can adults read a computer manual? Between 6 and 24 percent can't, the survey finds.

Big climate changes in the last million years may have come from something very small: dust from outer space. So say US scientists in the latest issue of the journal Nature. Earth alternates between ice ages and warm periods in a pattern that includes a mysterious 100,000-year cycle. Scientists suggest this cycle might be due to variations in dust levels.

Top 10 Sports Earners

Together, 1995's 10 top-paid athletes, according to Fortune magazine, made $229.1 million. For many, endorsements - doing commercials, making appearances, etc. - boosted overall earnings. Below are salaries and total 1995 earnings in millions (salary plus endorsements, but excluding side businesses and equity partnerships).

KEY: Name Salary (Sport) Total Earnings

1. Michael Jordan $3.9 (Basketball) $43.9

2. Mike Tyson 40.0 (Boxing) 40.0

3. Deion Sanders 16.5 (Football/Baseball) 22.5

4. Riddick Bowe 22.0 (Boxing) 22.2

5. Shaquille O'Neal 4.9 (Basketball) 21.9

6. George Foreman 10.0 (Boxing) 18.0

7. Andre Agassi 3.0 (Tennis) 16.0

8. Jack Nicklaus 0.6 (Golf) 15.1

9. Michael Schumacher 10.0 (Auto racing) 15.0

10. Wayne Gretzky 8.5 (Ice hockey) 14.5

- Fortune magazine/AP

'' ''In France, we like to say, 'C'est la vie,' - that's life. But this is not a life.''

- Angry Paris commuter Micheline Renaud, on the strike that has shut down public transportation since Nov. 24 and has affected mail delivery, airports, hospitals, and schools.

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