News In Brief


Stay away from drugs, liquor, and sex. That's the message Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala hopes to convey to nine- to 14-year-olds in a new campaign to steer them from danger and into school, sports, and the arts. She was expected to announce the program at an American Public Health meeting in Washington. The campaign plans to bring Hollywood celebrities and sports stars together to deliver the message. A 1995 study found increasing drug and cigarette use among eighth-grade girls since 1991. One-fourth of the girls surveyed had used alcohol the previous year.

The US decided to deliver a shipment of military hardware to Bosnia after the ousting of two defense officials in the country's Muslim-Croat federation. The US had withheld the shipment after objecting to the two men. Ambassadors from Croatia, Yugoslavia, and Bosnia returned to Dayton, Ohio, to measure the effectiveness of the peace accord they initialed there a year ago.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced at the ValuJet hearings that it is hiring scores of new inspectors to check for hazardous cargo aboard passenger planes. The FAA has been criticized for lax oversight of potentially dangerous cargo. A Valujet executive said in earlier testimony the carrier is responsible for the work of its contractors. The carrier has blamed an outside maintenance company for not putting safety caps on oxygen-generating canisters considered the likely cause of a fire on ValuJet Flight 592, which crashed in Florida's Everglades.

Citing a top-secret CIA report, The Washington Times reported that China recently sold Iran missile technology and components for an advanced radar system. Beijing also shipped hundreds of tons of chemicals used to produce nerve agents and riot-control gas to an Iranian chemical center, the Times said. The report contradicts Clinton administration assertions that China has curtailed its weapons-proliferation activities.

Heavy rains were blamed for the collapse of a section of major highway in Oregon, which fell into the South Umpqua River near the city of Roseburg. Two trucks drove into a 30-foot sinkhole resulting from the collapse of Interstate 5, and at least three people were injured. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people were still without power in Oregon, where the governor has declared a state of emergency in three counties.

For the first time, the head of the FBI's investigation of TWA Flight 800 expressed doubt on the theory that a bomb or missile caused the explosion. James Kallstrom said there was no sign of bomb damage after 95 percent of the plane was reconstructed. He also dismissed a claim by Pierre Salinger, a former ABC correspondent and press secretary for President Kennedy, that the plane swerved wildly to avoid a missile. Early in the investigation, a bomb was considered the most likely cause of the crash.

Ninety House Democrats and two Republicans signed a letter to Speaker Newt Gingrich and minority leader Dick Gephardt requesting passage of campaign-finance reform within the first 100 days of the 1997 congressional session. Democrats are on the defensive because of questionable money-raising activities recently by the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic Party, which already returned $762,000 in suspect campaign contributions this fall, announced it was giving back an additional $253,500 from an Asian-American business consultant because the donations were actually made by another person.

Scientists worked to correct an alignment problem with an ultraviolet telescope dropped into space by the shuttle Columbia. The crew is expected to retrieve the telescope, a $93 million joint US-German project, near the end of the 16-day mission.

An explosion at a shoe store in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that nearly destroyed a a six-story building, killed at least 12 people and injured 25. Authorities cited leaking natural gas as the possible cause.


Canada called meetings today and Saturday to coordinate intervention force strategy and organize donor assistance in the central African refugee crisis. The former meeting, postponed earlier this week, will be held in Stuttgart, Germany. The latter is scheduled for Geneva. Meanwhile, in Zaire, the UN said satellite photos had located hundreds of thousands of Hutus still at large after ethnic fighting emptied their refugee camps. And in Burundi, the military government denied accusations by Amnesty International that its troops had killed up to 500 Hutus returning from Zaire.

Riot police in Manila again blocked protests against next week's economic summit. An estimated 1,000 demonstrators marched near the presidential palace, urging the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum not to forget the needs of the region's poor. Such protests have been staged for more than a week against APEC's goal of eliminating trade barriers.

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Wang Dan was visited by his parents, who said he was receiving better-than-expected treatment. They attributed the situation to the international attention his case has generated. Secretary of State Warren Christopher raised the issue with Chinese leaders in Beijing, but was told it was none of Washington's business, a US spokesman said. China's President, Jiang Zemin, is to meet his US counterpart, Bill Clinton, Sunday in Manila.

Physicians in Moscow said Russian President Boris Yeltsin would leave the hospital today and predicted his return to work before the end of the year. Television pictures showed him on a stroll of the hospital grounds with his granddaughter. Yeltsin underwent major surgery Nov. 5.

Former South African President P. W. Botha refused to seek amnesty for political crimes in which he was implicated during the apartheid era. After a two-hour meeting with Desmond Tutu, chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Botha said he would never apologize for apartheid. He denounced what he called an "unforgiving assault" on Afrikaners by the country's black-majority government.

The factions in Afghanistan's civil war will try again next month to negotiate a peace deal, the UN said. Special envoy Francis Okelo said both sides agree on the need for a peaceful solution and want a cease-fire. The Taliban religious movement says it will remain in the capital, Kabul, even after a truce is reached. The anti-Taliban alliance of ethnic and religious minorities wants the capital evacuated first.

The 31-mile tunnel under the English Channel reopened to freight hauling after its first serious incident in two years of operation. But passenger-train service remained suspended. Fire broke out on a truck being carried through the tunnel by train Monday. A tunnel spokeswoman refused to comment on reports that the fire was set by workers angry over planned job cuts.

British security forces defused a large car bomb outside a police station in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, after receiving a tip from the news media. A caller claiming to represent an IRA splinter group, the Irish Continuity Army Council, telephoned a warning that the device had been planted.

Ticket sales for this weekend's controversial Miss World pageant in Bangalore, India, apparently are reflecting concern that the event will provoke violent protests. Organizers said they had sold only half of the 9,000 available lower-price admissions. The pageant has been the focus of violent debate, one suicide, a bombing campaign, and calls for a massive strike. Critics say it dehumanizes women and is a waste of resources.


''Virtually all countries, including Zaire, believe that a military force is still required."

- Deputy Canadian Foreign Minister Gordon Smith, on criticism than international intervention in central Africa's refugee crisis is no longer needed.

Usually, towns try to patch the potholes in their streets. Mayor Tom Long of Silverthorne, Colo., thinks his community should do the opposite. To discourage speeding, he proposed digging new holes in the pavement. But for legal reasons, the town council isn't sure that's a rut it ought to get into.

Cincinnati's police are taking a public relations beating for arresting a grandmother who fed nickels into two expired parking meters so people she didn't even know would not be ticketed. Sylvia Stayton gets her day in court today after a patrolman handcuffed her Oct. 24. One tongue-in-cheek letter to the Cincinnati Enquirer commended the cops for their effort "to stamp out this kind of decency."

Bob Dole is getting a lot of mileage out of his defeat in this month's presidential election. The Republican nominee appears in a new ad for Air France that hypes discounted fares to Paris "if you're not doing anything" and "have a little time on your hands." His $3,000 fee is being donated to a center for the elderly in Washington. Earlier, Dole joined in poking fun at his failed campaign on "Saturday Night Live."


Toys to Buy With Caution

The 10 most dangerous new children's toys, according to WATCH, a Boston nonprofit group that has issued such ratings in time for Christmas since 1965:

Disney's "Toy Story" Slinky Dog Pull Toy.

"Star Wars" Electronic Luke Skywalker Lightsaber.

Sky Dancers, and Star Wonders: Digital Skip-It, and Electronic Sound Version Skip-It.

Nerf Chainblazer, and Perceptor Blaster.

"Sesame Street" Pull Back N'Go Jet Plane.

Disney's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" Quasimodo.

Little Sleepy Eyes Soft Cuddly Toy.

"Christopher Robin Gives Pooh a Party" book.

Disney's "101 Dalmations" Slippers and "Hug Me" underwear and dog.

- Reuters

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