News In Brief


President Clinton announced the final members of his Cabinet. Transportation Secretary Federico Pea was nominated to head the Energy Department; Alex Herman is the labor secretary pick; Andrew Cuomo, son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, was nominated as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Federal Highway Administrator Rodney Slater as Transportation Secretary; Janet Yellen as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Clinton also reappointed Education Secretary Richard Riley, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jesse Brown.

After two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted he violated House ethics rules. The confession was an attempt to bargain for a reprimand instead of being removed from the post, Republican sources said. Gingrich acknowledged his failure to seek legal advice to prevent the use of tax-exempt organizations for political purposes.

The Justice Department issued subpoenas to the White House counsel's office for documents on Clinton's legal-defense fund and some campaign contributions. The fund was designed to help pay Clinton's legal bills from the Whitewater case and other matters. Earlier, it was disclosed that $640,000 from the fund was returned to donors, may of whom belong to a small religious sect in Lake Elsinore, Calif.

A federal jury in North Carolina found ABC's "Primetime Live" trespassed and used fraud for a story on alleged unsanitary food practices at the Food Lion supermarket chain. The jury, which is to resume deliberations after Christmas, can only seek a few thousands of dollars of compensatory and punitive damages, the trial judge said. Food Lion says it ought to be awarded billions in damages from lost business attributable to the story. The jury didn't rule on the truth or falsity of the report.

Clinton announced he hoped to use a new work-study program to create an army of literacy tutors on college campuses. He said some 20 leading college presidents had pledged to use half of their federally funded work-study slots for students willing to tutor young children in reading. The government will waive the requirement that colleges pay 25 percent of the cost of such programs, he added. Clinton unveiled a $2.5 billion plan to combat illiteracy last August.

Steve Jobs, creator of Next Software Inc., announced Apple Computer Co. will purchase his company for $400 million. Jobs left Apple 11 years ago after losing a fight for control of the company he cofounded. He said he now intends to help blend the companies' software to create a new operating system intended to surpass those of competitors.

A California judge granted Susan McDougal permission to return to a Texas jail for medical attention after she was brought to southern California for a court hearing. She was to face charges in a case involving alleged embezzlement of about $150,000 from symphony conductor Zubin Mehta when she worked as a bookkeeper for his wife, Nancy. McDougal, a former partner in the Whitewater venture, is in jail for contempt because she refused to testify before a grand jury about Clinton.

O.J. Simpson won permanent custody of his two children in a legal battle with their maternal grandparents. The children have been living with the grandparents since Simpson was arrested in the deaths of their mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

Celebrated astronomer Carl Sagan died in Seattle, Wash. Sagan won the Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for "The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence." In 1980, his acclaimed 13-part PBS series "Cosmos," which retraced the 15 billion years of cosmic evolution, became the most-watched limited series in the history of American television. That record was latersurpassed by "The Civil War."


In his first public remarks on Peru's hostage crisis, President Fujimori rejected the chief demand of the leftist hostage-takers. Freeing jailed colleagues of the Tupac Amaru guerrillas was "unacceptable," he said. But he indicated a willingness to explore peaceful solutions to the standoff. The Japanese government, whose embassy is the scene of the crisis, endorsed Fujimori's stand. Meanwhile, a London newspaper reported that the captors are negotiating with Japanese corporations, whose executives are among the hostages, for billions of dollars in ransoms.

Palestinian protesters responded to a new curfew in the West Bank city of Hebron by stoning Israeli troops. The incident followed the arrests of 100 Palestinians for the attempted firebombing of a Jewish home. While the clashes were occurring, US envoy Dennis Ross attempted again to mediate the longstanding dispute over redeployment of Israeli troops from Hebron. Elsewhere, a bomb exploded at a bus stop used by Israeli soldiers near Bethlehem, but no injuries were reported.

Opponents of Serbian President Milosevic said they would launch their own television and radio stations to challenge the state-run outlets that are loyal to him. Opposition leaders also set up "shadow" governments in cities where their election victories were overturned last month. Meanwhile, an international fact-finding mission said it had uncovered problems with the Nov. 17 voting but did not identify them.

A booby-trapped car exploded in Belfast, Northern Ireland, injuring a senior member of Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army. There were no immediate claims of responsibility, but the incident came less than two days after IRA gunmen fired into a police detail guarding a pro-British Protestant politician. Some observers speculated that the bombing signalled the end of the truce maintained by Protestant militants even after the IRA ended its own cease-fire last winter.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin was expected back at his Kremlin desk today for the first time since undergoing major surgery Nov. 5. A spokesman said Yeltsin's first order of business would be a meeting with top aides and senior government officials. In a television interview, Yeltsin vowed to crack down on bureaucrats who had not "worked hard enough" in his absence.

Leaders of striking Greek farmers voted to end 24 days of road blockades that have cost the economy more than $100 million. But it was unclear whether the decision would be accepted by some of the strikers, who left barricades in place on Greece's east coast. Farm leaders said they would meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis today, but so far he has rejected any concessions to the strikers.

A proposal to give Taiwan's President, Lee Teng Hui, broad new powers was scheduled for debate at a key meeting today between his ruling Nationalist Party and its two major opposition groups. Prospects for quick agreement on taking away the right of lawmakers to veto Lee's choice for premier and on giving him authority to dismiss the legislature were considered poor.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for a bomb that exploded outside a high school in Douaouda, Algeria, killing one student and injuring another. The school is one of many whose female students have refused to wear the traditional Muslim veil. Douaouda is a suburb of the capital, Algiers, where religious tracts issued over the weekend - apparently by Islamic militants - reminded women of their "permanent obligation" to wear the veil.


''I felt a sense of confidence from him that a way out will definitely open up.'' -- Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda, after meeting with Peruvian President Fujimori on the hostage crisis at Japan's Embassy in Lima, Peru.

When Ruth Parr retired from the Columbus Credit Bureau in Ohio, perhaps the sorriest to see her leave was the local transit authority. Parr may have been its all-time best customer. In 40 years she rode the No. 38 bus to work and back 20,000 times, always thanking the driver for each trip. Some of the drivers and fellow passengers gave her a surprise party last week, featuring - yes - a bus-shaped cake.

The Massachussetts Institute of Technology wanted to find out which modern innovation has most simplified the lives of Americans. So, in a survey last month, it asked 1,008 adults. Now, consider the possibilities: the cellular telephone, the personal computer, the microwave oven. But the winner was none of the above. Eighty percent of respondents picked ... the VCR.

Would you pay $50 to join something called the Social Development Unit? If you were a 20-ish college graduate you might - if you lived in Singapore. The organization with the stuffy, bureaucratic-sounding name is actually a matchmaking serv- ice. It sponsors barbecues, in-line skating parties, and other get-acquainted sessions. Members - and there are almost 20,000 of them - say SDU stands for "single, desirable, and unattached."


What US Music Lovers Were Buying This Year

The nation's No. 1 best-selling recorded music for 1996 as published in Billboard magazine's year-end edition (artists and labels included):

Top Single: "Macarena," Los Del Rio (RCA)

Top Album: "Jagged Little Pill," Alanis Morissette (Maverick-Reprise)

Country Single: "My Maria," Brooks and Dunn (Arista)

Adult Contemporary Single: "Back For Good," Take That (Arista)

Rhythm and Blues Single: "You're Makin' Me HIgh - Let It Flow," Toni Braxton (LaFace)

Latin Track: "Un Million de Rosas," La Mafia (Sony)

- Associated Press

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