News In Brief


President and Mrs. Clinton were scheduled to fly from Hawaii to Sydney on the first leg of an nine-day journey to Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

A career CIA employee was arrested on charges of passing classified secrets to Russia, law-enforcement officials said. Harold Nicholson appeared before a federal magistrate in Alexandria, Va. It is apparently the first time a CIA employee has been so accused since 1994, when Aldrich Ames was sentenced to life in prison for similar activities.

Defense Secretary William Perry defended sending US troops to Bosnia, but backed off a bit on committing soldiers in Zaire. He said critics should recognize the US has helped to bring peace to Bosnia and should stop carping about a prediction that the mission would end after a year. "There may or may not be a unique need" for a US military presence in Zaire, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board was to open hearings in Miami into the crash of a ValuJet plane in the Everglades in May. The Miami Herald reported that workers processing the oxygen-generating canisters that were in the hold of the aircraft were working 12-hour shifts seven days week, in violation of federal rules. Safety investigators suspect the canisters ignited a fire that spread to the passenger compartment. A final safety report is expected in the spring.

The Democratic National Committee laid off John Huang, whose fund-raising among foreign nationals became a major issue in the waning days of the presidential election. The committee said his departure was part of a normal post-election reduction in fund-raising staff.

Cockpit warning systems required since 1993 on big commercial jets are credited with reducing midair collisions, USA Today said. Commercial airliners in the US have come as close as 500 feet to other planes at least 23 times so far this year. That compares to a reported 131 close calls in 1989.

The countdown resumed for today's scheduled blastoff of the space shuttle Columbia. It had been on hold since Wednesday because of stormy weather. Columbia and its five astronauts are to spend 16 days in orbit.

Some 201 hours of White House tapes secretly recorded by Richard Nixon were made available to the general public by the National Archives. Transcriptions of the tapes are not available, but a 27,000-page tape log and a 200-page conversation list are to be made available. This was the first of five planned of releases of different portions of the tapes.

The apparent loser in a close Louisiana race for the US Senate said he will ask the Senate to decide whether to throw out results of the election. Republican Woody Jenkins said the Senate leadership had agreed to hear his case. Jenkins withdrew a lawsuit challenging his 5,788-vote loss to Democrat Mary Landrieu, saying New Orleans authorities had provided access to fewer than 10 percent of the voter-registration cards and poll sign-in books he requested.

Safety demands the buckling up of children in the back seats of cars with dual air bags. That is the message being mailed to millions of customers of some of the nation's largest insurers and other companies. The mailing comes after many automakers said they were sending letters to vehicle owners, offering tips on protecting children in cars with air bags. Federal highway safety officials said they are exploring whether weight sensors can shut off air bag units when small children occupy front seats.

Police stopping motorists for traffic violations do not have to say the driver is free to leave before asking permission to search for drugs, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously. Reviewing an Ohio case, the justices said courts should look at all circumstances before deciding whether someone voluntarily consented to a search. The Constitution's Fourth Amendment requires that consent to a search be voluntary.


Only stragglers were still crossing the Zaire-Rwanda border, the UN said. Officials estimated that a half-million Hutu refugees remained in the hills of eastern Zaire, but predicted that another border crossing into Rwanda would be opened this week by the Tutsi rebels who control the area. The Red Cross announced a search for the refugees and Zairean civilians also displaced by the latest fighting. Meanwhile, countries offering troops to the international force for Zaire scheduled a meeting tomorrow in Stuttgart, Germany, to review its size and mandate.

China threw its support behind UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in his bid for another term, but the US repeated its threat to veto him. Consideration of Boutros-Ghali's nomination was the only item on the Security Council's agenda late yesterday. But officials said a vote might be postponed to allow more time to argue for compromise. The US has failed to win broad support for denying the Egyptian diplomat a second term as secretary-general. If the US exercises its veto power, the next round of nominations will be limited to other Africans.

The political opposition in Serbia claimed a sweeping victory in local elections and warned President Slobodan Milosevic not to tamper with the outcome. Unofficial results gave the four-party Together coalition control of 32 communities, among them Belgrade, the capital. Reports prior to the election suggested that Milosevic's leftist government might try to annul the results.

Jubilant Romanians flew victory flags and embraced in the streets to celebrate the election of new president Emil Constantinescu. The former geology professor defeated ex-communist Ion Iliescu, who had ruled the country since 1989. Constantinescu was holding a 10-point lead, with final returns expected tomorrow. It marked the first time Romanians have replaced their head of state through the ballot box.

Despite image problems stemming from its reputation for human-rights abuses and political repression, Burma opened a year-long campaign to promote tourism. The military government, hoping for at least 300,000 foreign arrivals, has invested heavily in new hotels. But opponents, led by Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, are attempting to discourage tourism that, they say, would prop up the ruling junta.

A special panel in Taiwan finished work on a draft treaty for peace with China. The document, commissioned by the ruling Nationalist Party, calls for resumed contacts with the government in Beijing. It aims to put differences between the two parties on the negotiating table. Peace talks have been at an impasse for the past 17 months, and China staged military exercises close to Taiwan earlier this year.

A sixth day of torrential rains pelted southern Egypt, flooding thousands of acres of farmland and destroying scores of houses. The storm is blamed for eight deaths. Telephone and electric service have been disrupted over a wide area. Police reported that the main highways in the region were damaged by flash flooding.

Russia's failed Mars mission crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Chile, with no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Because of predictions that it might come down somewhere in Australia, civil-defense teams there were on full alert out of concern that the impact could produce a cloud of radioactivity from the probe's four plutonium batteries.


''I wanted to emigrate, but I won't now....It will be difficult at first, but then it will be better."

-- Student Victor Varzaru, on the election that swept ex-communists from power in poverty-stricken Romania.

It's never too soon to get on the fast track to a successful career, right? At least it isn't in Japan, apparently. In a country where students stake their professional futures on admission to the "right" high schools and universities, competitive entrance exams are now being required for some kindergartens too. One program offers cram courses for toddlers whose parents want them to score well - at a monthly tuition of $135.

They also believe in starting early in Griswold, Conn. Last week the board of selectmen appointed a committee to help plan the town's tricentennial. As the fifth state to join the Union, Connecticut has a longer history than most others. Still, Griswold's 300th anniversary doesn't arrive until 2076.

Stanford, Dartmouth, St. John's, and the University of Massachusetts are among colleges that have scrapped team nicknames that were offensive to native American groups. Now Miami University of Ohio is joining them. Trustees voted to drop the school's longtime nickname, Redskins, and are accepting proposals for a replacement. One tongue-in-cheek suggestion: the Politically Corrects.


Possible successors to the UN's Boutros-Ghali

African diplomats said to be potential candidates for the post of UN secretary-general, if - as expected - Boutros Boutros-Ghali is denied a second term because of a US veto:

Kofi Annan of Ghana, UN undersecretary-general, who heads peacekeeping operations.

Hamid Algabid of Niger, secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Salim A. Salim of Tanzania, secretary-general of the Organization of African Unity.

Olara Otunnu, former Ugandan UN envoy who heads the International Peace Academy.

Abdou Diouf, Senegal president.

Amara Essy, Ivory Coast foreign minister.

James Jonah, Sierre Leone ambassador to the UN and a former UN undersecretary-general.

- Reuters .

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