News In Brief
Florida reached an $11.3 billion out-of-court settlement with the tobacco industry, a spokes-person for Gov. Lawton Chiles said. The deal was reportedly hammered out without the knowledge of lawyers involved in the state's lawsuit to recover alleged health costs of sick smokers. Mississippi reached a similar accord last month in which tobacco officials agreed to pay $3.36 billion over 25 years. Mississippi has about 1 percent of the US population; Florida is home to about 5 percent.
A lead negotiator on the proposed national tobacco settlement said a dispute over limiting the US government's ability to regulate nicotine had been resolved. Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore said the issue had been renegotiated with the industry. President Clinton, who is still reviewing the proposal, is expected to announce his objections to it in early September.
Large US tobacco companies are selling enormous quantities of cigarettes to traders who serve as pipelines to illegal markets overseas, The New York Times reported. Citing tobacco-research groups, the Times said one-fourth of all cigarettes sold overseas are marketed illegally, depriving governments of an estimated $16 billion a year in revenues and boosting sales to minors.
Dow Corning Corp. offered some $2.4 billion to settle breast-implant claims as part of a plan to bring the company out of bankruptcy. The proposal will be offered to about 200,000 women worldwide who say implants have caused them injury. The total amount of the proposed settlement will depend on the number of women accepting it. Depending on their claims, individuals could reportedly receive between $1,000 and $200,000.
UPS made what it described as its final contract offer to union pilots, proposing pay raises and improved pensions in an attempt to head off a second labor dispute. Bob Miller, president of the Independent Pilot's Association, said he would present the offer to 2,000 union pilots but would remain neutral on whether they should accept it. The pilots' decision should be known by October. If they vote against the proposal, contract discussions will resume.
The lead attorney for convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh said he believed at least four others involved in the explosion were still at large. The attorney, Stephen Jones, has asked to be released from the case because of an interview his client gave to The Buffalo News, in which McVeigh called Jones a liar and said he had mismanaged McVeigh's defense.
New Mexico's Indian tribes have won support from US Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in their battle with state officials who want a large portion of their gaming profits. In a letter to Gov. Gary Johnson dated Aug. 23, Babbitt objected to a clause in the state's proposed gambling agreements that would require the tribes to hand over 16 percent of slot-machine profits - estimated at about $34 million a year - plus $6 million a year in regulatory fees.
Filipino Americans launched an organization to bolster their economic and political clout in the US and help their homeland. Some 1,000 delegates at a national conference in Washington named Alex Esclamado of San Francisco chairman of the new National Federation of Filipino American Associations. Filipino-Americans officially numbered 1.4 million in the 1990 census and were then runners-up to Chinese as the largest Asian-American community. Unofficially, their population is now estimated as high as 2.5 million.
Philanthropist George Soros called US drug policy "insane." In a Time magazine interview, Soros said the government is relying too heavily on prisons and the criminalization of a vast class of drug users. The billionaire said he will give $15 million over the next five years to groups opposing the US war on drugs.
East Germany's last Communist leader and two party comrades were convicted of man-slaughter in the shooting deaths of citizens trying to flee to West Germany during the cold war. A Berlin court sentenced Egon Krenz to 6-1/2 years in prison. His co-defendants were each given three-year sentences. The verdicts mark the first time former members of the East German political leadership have been held accountable for the hundreds of people killed at the East German border.
North Korea's ambassador to Egypt defected to a Western country, South Korean officials said. Jang Seung-gil and his wife fled Egypt under protection of a third country, which they declined to identify. A North Korean embassy official in Cairo denied reports of the defection. Jang would be the first Pyongyang ambassador and the most senior diplomat to abandon North Korea.
Israeli warplanes blasted a Palestinian guerrilla base south of Beirut after Lebanese guerrillas and Israeli forces battled in south Lebanon, Lebanese security officials said. It was the third Israeli raid this month on the Naameh base of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which opposes peace with Israel. Some 26 people, mostly Lebanese civilians have been killed in 15 days of cross-border fighting.
Rivals accused Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic of treason for airing television programs critical of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Plavsic supporters began broadcasting in Banja Luka Sunday, after they severed transmission links with studios in Karadzic's stronghold in Pale. Until the switch, Karadzic supporters had full control of Bosnian Serb TV.
China imposed more than 6,100 death sentences and executed 4,367 people last year as it carried out a nationwide anti-crime campaign, Amnesty International said. The figures for 1996 were the highest since 1983, when a similar crackdown resulted in thousands of executions. The human rights group released data on the large number of executions in this decade, and blamed China's legal system for discriminating against lower-class Chinese. In some cases, the period between arrest and execution is less than a week, it said.
Two bombs exploded in a residential neighborhood of the Algerian capital, killing at least four people and wounding 49 others, Algerian authorities said. The bombings in the El Biar district followed a weekend of violence in Algeria, where Muslim militants are seeking to establish an Islamic state.
Cuba formally accused the US of causing a crop-killing plague on the island in violation of the international biological-weapons treaty. Cuban officials aired their grievance in Geneva before a closed-door meeting of the 138 nations that signed the accord in 1972. Cuba said a US crop-dusting plane sprayed a dangerous substance over western Cuba last October, which led to the appearance of an insect that has stricken "practically every crop" in the area. Washington has denied the charges
International Monetary Fund officials met with Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi to seek assurances he would crack down on corruption. The meeting in the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa was the first since the IMF halted a $205-million loan package last month, amid mounting concern about high-level corruption in Kenya.
Indians and Pakistanis fired mortar bombs and rockets at each other along their Kashmir border, Indian officials said. The two sides have exchanged fire for five consecutive days, killing at least five people on the Indian side of the border and four on the Pakistani side. Peace talks are scheduled for next month.
" This reflects the Chinese authorities' reliance on the most draconian tools of the state...."
- Amnesty International, in a report that said China has executed more people in the 1990s than the rest of the world put together.
In what we assume is the conclusion of our coverage of the Gnome Liberation Front, we're pleased to report French police have liberated more than 180 garden gnomes and detained four suspected gnomenappers in Lille. Authorities found two of the ceramic statues in a car and 182 more in an apartment building.
There were more bumps than grunts when 100 robots clanked into the ring during a two-day Robot Wrestling Festival recently in Kawasaki, Japan. Coaches shouted at ringside, robot operators frantically manipulated the machines by remote-control, and spectators did more laughing than rooting. There weren't any weight categories, but robots did have to fit certain size restrictions and have something resembling arms and legs.
The Day's List
Environment Awareness Growing, New Poll Shows
A recent telephone survey of Connecticut residents indicates a possible "greening" of US public opinion. The telephone poll, conducted by the Institute for Social Inquiry at the University of Connecticut, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent. The percent of those responding positively on some key issues:
1. More ecologically concerned than 10 years ago 70%
2. Personally willing to cut back on conveniences 90%
3. Recycle almost all the time 75%
4. Want stronger state enforcement of environment laws 50%
5. Think the environment is better than 10 years ago 40%
6. Think people in general care more about the environment than 10 years ago 70%
- Associated Press