News In Brief

The US

James Lee Witt, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, surveyed several flooded communities in northern California. A dry weekend provided a glimmer of progress for the state as repairs to electricity and telephone service were made, and over 20,000 people returned to their homes. But officials are concerned about melting snow and a forecast of more rain. Flooding and mudslides from heavy rains have left tens of thousands homeless in Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Some 27 deaths are attributed to the storms.

Newt Gingrich planned to attend a Capitol Hill rally where House Republicans were expected to endorse his reelection today as House Speaker. Earlier, he addressed a hometown audience in Marietta, Ga., after weeks of self-imposed silence.

A federal advisory panel recommended a portion of the billions of dollars in payroll taxes collected for Social Security each year be invested in the stock market in a long-awaited report. But the 13-member panel couldn't agree on a single set of recommendations and instead issued three competing plans that all recommended investing a portion of the money in the stock market. Government figures show that without changes, Social Security could be broke by 2029.

President Clinton began highlighting his top policy priorities for his second term at an ecumenical prayer breakfast at the White House. He called for a spirit of "reconciliation," and called on religious leaders attending to help create a climate that allows faiths, races, and parties work together. The breakfast was the kickoff to several upcoming events geared toward setting the stage for his Jan. 20 inaugural.

Massachusetts-based Raytheon Company will buy the missile and defense-electronics holdings of Texas Instruments Inc. for nearly $3 billion, beating a rival bid from Northrop Grumman Corp.

A presidential commission studying Gulf war syndrome plans to release a final report today that's critical of the Pentagon's handling of the issue. Its expected to conclude that the majority of syndrome cases are the inevitable results of the strains of war, and few soldiers complaining of the syndrome are victims of chemical exposure, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Supreme Court refused to let New York require some prison inmates seeking extra privileges to attend Alcoholics Anonymous programs that ask them to believe in some higher power such as God. It turned down prison officials' arguments that the program is not an unlawful government endorsement of religion. The court also rejected the GOP's free-speech challenge to federal rules requiring political committees to encourage greater disclosure by campaign contributors. And it ruled that judges may lengthen sentences of convicted defendants based on charges of which they were acquitted. The decision relates to a case where a man was convicted of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. He was acquitted of charges that he used or carried a gun during the offense, but a federal judge took gun possession into consideration when sentencing him to a longer prison term.

The tobacco industry's secrecy probably delayed tough government action to curb smoking by decades, a former top researcher with the National Institute on Drug Abuse said. Jack Henningfield statement is included in papers filed in connection with a lawsuit Florida filed against the tobacco industry, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster and Ford Expedition were named car and truck of the year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The World

Israel and the Palestinian Authority were set to sign a deal to increase the number of international observers stationed in Hebron to 210 from 30. Analysts see the pact as a prelude to a self-rule deal for the West bank town. And Israeli government sources confirmed that Israel planned to hand over 2 percent of the West Bank to partial Palestinian control in the next stage. Palestinian officials said that's not enough.

Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney reached an out-of-court settlement in his $37 million libel lawsuit against the Canadian government, his lawyers said. The terms of the settlement include an apology from the government for wrongly accusing Mulroney of taking kickbacks in Air Canada's $1.3 billion purchase of 34 Airbus A-320 aircraft in 1988. The government will also reimburse Mulroney for legal costs.

Serbian students said they received guarantees from the military chief that the Army would not block their seven-week-old prodemocracy protests against President Slobodan Milosevic. Meanwhile, the demonstrators outfoxed a Belgrade police ban on street marches by clogging the roads with a cavalcade of honking cars.

Hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Peru, sang spiritual songs as the crisis showed no fresh signs of progress. And Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said it is unlikely that there will be a solution soon to end the crisis, a Japanese news agency reported.

A blast rocked Belfast's main courthouse. No one claimed responsibility, and no injuries were reported. An IRA attack on the courthouse in 1989 left the facility badly damaged. The blast follows a threat by "loyalists" to abandon a self-imposed cease-fire. Earlier, Northern Ireland police voiced concerns that the province might see a return to tit-for-tat violence.

Labor strikes flared again in South Korea, and businesses planned to sue union leaders for losses caused by strikes. Union leaders said they will continue to strike unless the government repeals a controversial law that allows employers to lay off workers, replace strikers, and hire temporary workers.

In an bid to find solutions to the Zairian crisis, Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi traveled to Gbadolite, Zaire, for talks with President Mobutu Sese Seko. Moi's trip has the blessings of eight African nations. Meanwhile, the Zairian government repeated its stand that it will not negotiate with rebel leader Laurent Kabila.

Cyprus's decision to buy Russian surface-to-air missiles could result in a dramatic shift in the military balance on the island, diplomats said. They said the missiles would neutralize the air superiority Turkey has had since 1974, when its troops invaded the northern third of the island.

A major oil spill from a sunken Russian tanker grew in size and moved closer to Japan's northern coast. Bad weather has hampered cleanup efforts. So far, some 26,000 barrels of oil have escaped from the ruptured tanks, which contain 133,000 barrels.

French troops stormed bases of mutineers in the Central African Republic and took control of strategic positions in the capital, Bangui. The rebels are seeking the resignation of President Ange-Felix Patasse. Meanwhile, 15 Central Africans briefly took over their country's embassy in Paris to protest the presence of French troops in their country.


"[An acquittal] does not prove that the defendant is innocent;

it merely proves the existence of a reasonable doubt as to his guilt."

- Supreme Court decision that judges may lengthen sentences of convicts when they were acquitted of the charges.

A small on-line service company is offering the ultimate for computer junkies: a 15-inch Macintosh computer inside the drive-through window of a former fast-food restaurant. Hometown America Inc. of Lewisburg, W. Va., a town of 3,500, offers a quick trip on the Internet from your car. Most users access information such as stock quotes, sports, and the weather. Others send e-mail and talk in chat rooms for free - but only for five minutes at a time if there is a long line.

The grass is greener in Aberystwyth in central Wales. British scientists found a strain of meadow grass there that stayed green when surrounding grass yellowed from lack of rain, New Scientist magazine reported. The natural mutant lacks the enzyme to break down chlorophyll and could make it cheaper to maintain golf courses, parks, and sports pitches, and provide farmers with better animal feed.

The Day's List

Notable Words of 1996

From the American Dialect Society's annual list of new words and phrases that have crept into the English language:

Word of the Year: "Soccer Mom," buzzword in the presidential campaign for suburban women who spend lots of time taking their children to soccer games and practices.

Runner up word of the year: "Alpha geek:" person in an office who's known as a solver of computer problems.

Most useful new word: "Dot: " As in "dot-com," from language of Internet e-mail addresses and World Wide Web.

Most unnecessary: "Mexican hustle," description for the Macarena.

Most controversial: "Ebonics," black street vernacular, based on the combination of the words ebony and phonics.

Most Outrageous: "Toy soldier," land mine in the former Yugoslavia.

Most Original: "Prebuttal," political candidate's preemptive rebuttal of an opponent's statement.

Most Euphemistic (tie): "Urban camping," living homeless in a city. " Food insecure," a nation with much starvation.

- Associated Press

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