News In Brief


While the East Coast began digging out from a regionwide snowdrift, the West was enjoying unseasonable highs: It was 85 degrees in Los Angeles yesterday. Meanwhile, New York City schools closed for the first time since 1978; Philadelphia got a record 27.6 inches; and most East Coast airports closed. The storm kept Senators Dole and Gramm and Steve Forbes from a key GOP dinner in New Hampshire.

Lockheed Martin will acquire Loral's defense electronics and systems integration business for $9.1 billion. The move creates a defense and space powerhouse with more than $30 billion in annual sales. It will also likely put pressure on other industry giants - including Boeing and McDonnell Douglas - to follow the merger trend.

Pressure mounted on Hillary Rodham Clinton as congressional Republicans threatened to call on her to testify in two politically charged investigations. Senator D'Amato, chairman of the Senate Whitewater committee pointed to Mrs. Clinton's inability to recall events as a sign of obfuscation. The White House retorted that D'Amato is a "political henchman" aiming to discredit Mrs. Clinton with an eye toward fall elections.

The US doesn't have to resume a study on Agent Orange's effects, the Supreme Court ruled. Veterans groups failed to convince the court that a study of the defoliant used in Vietnam, and blamed for some veterans' poor health, was wrongly canceled in 1988. And, in a decision with implications for joint ventures abroad, the court let stand a claim by McKeeson Corp. that Iran wrongly confiscated its ownership share in a dairy company there. Iran claimed its actions had no effect on the US.

The budget battle hasn't helped President Clinton's approval ratings: The number of Americans who approve of the job he's doing is down to 42 percent, from 51 percent three weeks ago, a CNN/Gallup poll found. And congressional Republicans regained some public confidence, with 47 percent saying they want the GOP to have more influence over the direction the nation takes - up from 42 percent two months ago.

One black-owned Los Angeles bank got $600,000 in new deposits on "Change Bank Day" this weekend. The event, which stemmed from the Million Man March, aims to get blacks to invest in their community. Organizers hope to get 25 percent of the $9 billion that L.A.-area blacks have in banks switched to black-owned institutions.

Today's college freshmen have little passion for political and social reform, with more students believing that individuals are powerless to bring about change, says an annual survey conducted by UCLA. The percent of freshmen who think one person "can do little to change society" rose to nearly 34 percent, a 10-year high, the survey noted.

The newest Internet gadgets on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are devices halfway between phones and personal computers that offer World Wide Web access and sell for less than $500. Companies entering this emerging market - including Compaq, Packard Bell, and Acer - realize that not everyone can afford a personal computer but hope the prospect of Web access will entice consumers to pay at least $500.

The average cost of gasoline edged up a half-penny a gallon in two weeks, and an oil-industry analyst predicted that prices will continue to climb in coming months. The average price of gasoline, including all grades and taxes, was 117.47 cents on Jan. 5, when the Lundberg Survey of 10,000 gas stations nationwide was conducted. The average was 116.90 cents on Dec. 22.

Denver International Airport, which was beset by problems during its construction, now is reportedly having trouble with its radar and computer systems. The Denver Post reports that equipment failed 75 percent of the time during a six-month period last year. The systems broke down 135 out of 181 days from May through October 1995.


World leaders paid homage to former French President Francois Mitterrand calling him a statesman, a patriot, and a great European. Affectionately called "Tonton" or "Uncle" Mitterrand, who died yesterday, was considered a master of political theater, both bold and controversial. Acknowledged as an architect of European unity, he was also an advocate against nuclear testing. His 14 years in power made him France's longest serving leader since Napoleon III, who ruled from 1852 to 1870.

The US is willing to send troops to the Golan Heights to guarantee an Israel-Syria peace treaty, but only if both sides request the deployment, US Defense Secretary Perry said. He also announced that the US will give Israel an additional $200 million in aid for developing the Arrow antiballistic missile. Israel is the the biggest recipient of US aid at $3 billion a year, $1.8 billion of it in military aid. Also, the US will provide Jordan with $300 million in military aid. The outright grant will supply Jordan with 16 F-16 fighter planes, tanks, and other equipment.

NATO warned the Bosnian factions that it will act decisively to any provocation. The alliance reported seven times over the weekend that Bosnia's factions opened fire on NATO forces seven times over the weekend that - five at troops and two at airplanes. Also, the NATO chief in Bosnia, US Adm. Leighton Smith, met with a senior Bosnian Serb official, Momcilo Krajisnik, and stressed that celebratory holiday gunfire was dangerous. Gunfire is a traditional way of marking holidays like Christmas and New Year's in the Balkans.

Alvaro Arzu appeared poised to become Guatemala's next president. Ballots from 83 percent of Guatemala's municipalities showed that Arzuwon 52.3 percent of the vote, while Alfonso Portillo got 47.7 percent. Both candidates promised to tackle rising crime, poverty, and to continue talks to end a 35-year civil war with leftist guerrillas, the longest running in Central America.

Haiti reportedly will ask the UN to extend its peacekeeping mission by another six months. Many Haitians believe the departure of the peacekeepers, scheduled to be completed by Feb. 28, will see a resurgence of violence. And some US Republican lawmakers are asking whether the $2 billion US investment in Haiti was worth it although the Clinton administration considers Haiti a foreign policy triumph.

British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said he plans to question Chinese leaders about allegations of brutality and neglect in Chinese orphanages today. The issue threatens to cloud his visit to Hong Kong and China, his first as foreign secretary, and detract from the trip's focus on Britain's relations with China and the return of Hong Kong. Meanwhile, China gave the foreign press a tour of a Shanghai orphanage filled with healthy children. (Story, Page 6.)

Thailand, the world's biggest rice exporter, increased its sales by 27 percent last year. China and Indonesia accounted for more than one-fourth of the 6.1 billion tons Thailand shipped. Thailand's main competitors are the US, India, and Vietnam. Thai rice is considered high-quality because less than 15 percent of the grains are broken.

India's western state of Maharashtra said Enron Corp could restart its investment in a cancelled power project. But it asked the Houston-based company to charge 22 percent less for the electricity it would supply. Enron has yet to respond to the offer. The decision comes after a year of political infighting over the estimated $2.8 billion plant, the largest foreign investment in India since it began liberalizing its economy in 1991.

A cargo plane overshot a runway while landing and slammed into a busy market in Zaire and exploded. The Red Cross, which is providing relief operations at the site, said more than 250 people were killed.


We Southerners aren't used to this, so we're going to get out and play in it."

- Melanie Carter, a student at Furman University in Columbia, S.C., who took a rare opportunity to go sledding. More than a foot of snow fell in some areas of the South.

Keiko, the three-ton killer whale who leaped to stardom in the film "Free Willy," is settling in at his new home on the rugged Oregon coast. Earlier, hundreds had lined the streets as Keiko was taken by flatbed truck to the Oregon Coast Aquarium after being flown from Mexico to Newport, Ore., aboard a transport jet.

Linda Rios is fighting a $271 traffic ticket that accuses her of driving solo in a car-pool lane in San Jose, Calif. Rios told the officer that because she's five months pregnant, her fetus should be counted as a second person. The officer didn't buy it. She's hoping the judge will.

A federal study says plowing at night can dramatically reduce the number of weeds competing with farm crops. The theory is: Light penetrates the soil as it is being turned causing weed seeds to sprout. Even moonlight can cause weed seeds to sprout.

Singapore is testing a new satellite venture. It's the world's first 24-hour sing-along TV station. Channel Karaoke TV plans to woo a potential audience of billions. The network is scheduled to go on the air later this year when its Singapore studios are ready.

All-Too-Common Cliches

Lake Superior State University took nominations for words that have just been used too much and - in the nominators' views should be banned.

Online: "Where is the 'line' that everyone is on," the nominator asked. "It sounds like some place a fish should be."

"'Cyber-ANYTHING' sets my teeth on edge," wrote another nominator.

The race card: As used most often of late in the O.J. trial.

Unplugged: MTV jam sessions by nearly every big music group.

"Frankly": As used by House Speaker Newt Gingrich 12 times in one speech.

Ethnic Cleansing: Instead of the more direct "genocide."

Peacekeeping force: An oxymoron, say some nominators.

- Lake Superior State University (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)

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