News In Brief


President Clinton seemed to soften his opposition to a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. After a meeting with congressional leaders, he said he still thinks an amendment unnecessary. But, if passed, it should include an exception for managing recessions, he added. Aides said the comment reflects the increased strength of Republicans in the Senate.

Newt Gingrich seemed assured of a second term as Speaker of the House, after Republican leaders issued a statement "unequivocally" supporting his reelection. Republican Rep. Steve Largent of Oklahoma had suggested over the weekend that Gingrich step down as Speaker until a House subcommittee decides whether to formally charge him with ethics violations.

Transportation Secretary Federico Pena officially confirmed he will not stay on in a second Clinton term. He submitted a resignation to the president during a meeting in the White House.

The Clinton administration urged the Supreme Court to outlaw doctor-assisted suicides. Such a prohibition would create "an important psychological barrier for physicians who might otherwise be tempted to resort" to helping patients die, Solicitor General Walter Dellinger wrote in a brief to the court. Meanwhile, the high court, in a unanimous ruling, made it easier for the government to deport immigrants who enter the country through a pattern of fraud.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for an immediate boycott of Texaco. He also said investors should divest themselves of Texaco stock until the company settles a $520-million lawsuit brought against it for alleged racial discrimination in its treatment of employees.

The Justice Department rejected a request for an independent counsel to investigate Democratic Party fund-raising. The department referred the request from Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona to a task force looking into complaints about 1996 campaign financing. It said a special prosecutor might be named later, depending on results of the task force inquiry.

The Pentagon will double its spending to investigate whether US troops were exposed to chemical weapons in the Gulf war, an official said. The number of people working on the inquiry will increase tenfold.

Wholesale prices rose 0.4 percent in October, the Labor Department reported. Food and energy prices moved higher, but the so-called core rate fell 0.3 percent, after being up the same amount in September.

The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee was scheduled to meet, but was not expected to change interest rates.

The Energy Department announced a $4 billion-a-year program to manage nuclear weapons stockpiles. The plan would reduce weapons manufacturing facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., Kansas City, Mo., and Amarillo, Texas, while providing two new facilities in California and New Mexico. The Military Production Network, a coalition of environmental groups, said it would sue to block the plan.

Westinghouse Electric will split into separate broadcast and industrial companies, corporate officials said. Speculation had increased in recent weeks that such a move was imminent. Westinghouse, which bought CBS last year, is in the process of buying Infinity Broadcasting. The realignment is expected to eliminate about 1,100 industrial jobs.

A drill sergeant at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., pleaded guilty to having sex with three female recruits. He was scheduled for sentencing, which could put him in prison for up to 14 years. An Army hot line set up last week at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland to field complaints about sexual harassment has received 2,500 calls, of which 235 have been referred to Army investigators, a spokesman said.

Sunbeam Corp. is about to eliminate 6,000 jobs company officials said. The number of Sunbeam factories will be reduced from 26 to eight.


A multinational relief force led by Canada could be on its way to Zaire by the weekend, UN officials said. But the mission, which would feed and protect more than a million Hutu refugees was awaiting US approval. In Washington, the State Department did not indicate when the Clinton administration's decision would be announced. Its hesitation was attributed to lack of a clear plan on how to help the refugees. Meanwhile, the UN suspended food distribution in the Zairean city of Goma after it came under artillery fire.

Muslims and Serbs blamed each other for clashes in a demilitarized zone of northeastern Bosnia that were the worst since the civil war ended a year ago. One person died and, according to unconfirmed reports, as many as nine others were wounded between the two factions in the village of Koraj. Muslims gathered at a UN checkpoint and vowed they would return by force to homes now in Serb-held territory. The incident caused suspension of an internationally supervised program that returns refugees to their former homes.

Delegates to the UN-sponsored conference on food approved a plan to cut the number of the world's hungry and malnourished people in half by the year 2015. Details of the nonbinding blueprint were not spelled out, but the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization said the world must produce 75 percent more food over the next 30 years to keep pace with population increases. Opening-day speakers at the 194-nation meeting included UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, and Pope John Paul II.

Searchers in India found the flight-data recorders from the planes involved in the world's third-worst aviation accident. A Saudi jumbo jet and a Kazakh Airways cargo aircraft collided near New Delhi, causing a reported 349 deaths. Speculation on the cause ranged from inadequate radar to language problems between pilots and air-traffic controllers.

Thousands of Filipinos protested next week's regional economic summit in Manila. They marched on the US Embassy, burning effigies of President Clinton, the American eagle, and the US flag to register their displeasure at the summit goal of eliminating trade protections for poor countries by 2020. Critics say that would lead to unfair competition from wealthy industrialized nations. Clinton is among the world leaders scheduled to attend the conference.

Austria's coalition government said it would ask parliament to compel psychiatric testing for would-be gun buyers. The measure, expected to become law early next year, would exempt guns used for hunting or for ceremonial purposes. Austria already bans the sale of pump-action shotguns.

By the widest margin yet, the UN General Assembly voted to urge the US to end its economic embargo of Cuba. The nonbinding resolution passed, 138-3, with members of the European Union voting as a bloc for the first time. Only Israel and Uzbekistan joined the US in opposing the measure. It was the fifth year in a row that such a resolution has passed. The embargo has been in place since 1962.

Air traffic to and from French Guiana was suspended as police fought to quell worsening riots. The latest violence stemmed from the convictions of seven people in an incident that caused one death and millions of dollars worth of damage to businesses and government buildings. Police in Cayenne, the capital, used tear gas to push stone-throwing mobs out of town. Militant unions protesting French policy threatened a general strike. Almost one-quarter of working-age Guianese are unemployed.


''Not even ancient Rome attempted to enact a law to rule the world."

-- Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage, at the UN, criticizing a US law that seeks to punish foreigners who do business with his country.

Singer Ricky Lynn Gregg believes in giving Christmas gifts early. He delivered a semi-trailer full of books, computers, clothes, and toys to an Oklahoma boarding school that serves 27 Native American tribes. The gift is part of his Trail of Hope, a program that tries to supply Native American communities with necessities. Gregg started it after seeing Sioux Indians saw off pieces of their homes for fuel.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu had just delivered a speech on improved relations with China in Beijing. He was taking questions from the audience when a man asked: "Can you help fix my Japanese tape recorder or get me a refund?" The question brought howls of laughter. Kaifu promised to refer the matter to the manufacturer.


Community Celebrates Home-Grown Artists

As a cultural mecca, Bucks County, Pa., wants to be up there with London and Paris. The following residents (now deceased) are showcased in "Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists" at the James A. Michener Museum:

Pearl S. Buck, Nobel Prize-winning author and humanitarian

Daniel Garber, artist

Oscar Hammerstein II, writer and lyricist

Moss Hart, playwright

Edward Hicks, artist

George S. Kaufman, playwright

Henry Chapman Mercer, architect, artist, and collector

Dorothy Parker, author

S.J. Perelman, humorist

Edward Redfield, impressionist

Charles Sheeler, artist

Jean Toomer, author

- Associated Press

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