News In Brief

The US

A US appeals court rejected a bid by civil rights groups to delay implementation of a California law barring affirmative-action programs. The decision in San Francisco by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals would allow the law, passed by California voters in November, to go into effect today unless the US Supreme Court issues a stay. Opponents, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the appeals court to allow them time to appeal to the Supreme Court.

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., charged former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy with 39 counts of illegally accepting gifts and favors from large food producers and then trying to cover it up. He was accused of accepting more than $35,000 worth of gifts, trips, and favors from firms doing business with his department.

Sen. Paul Coverdell declared his opposition to former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld's nomination to be ambassador to Mexico. The Georgia Republican, a key member of the Senate committee that must confirm Weld, wrote to President Clinton, asking him to withdraw the nomination. Coverdell called Weld's selection politically motivated, and said Weld did not possess needed diplomatic skills. Weld is locked in a bitter feud over the nomination with Jesse Helms, conservative Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Vice President Al Gore telephoned at least 46 people from the White House in 1995 and 1996 to solicit funds for the Democratic National Committee, The Washington Post reported. It said documents made available by White House and DNC officials to Senate investigators indicate Gore asked for "soft money" donations of between $25,000 and $100,000. Attorney General Janet Reno has told the Senate she doesn't think an independent counsel should examine the issue, in part because US law was amended in 1979 to allow solicitation of soft money from the White House.

A lawyer for Teamsters Union presidential candidate James Hoffa asked a review panel to remove Ron Carey as union leader. Attorney George Geller asked the independent review board investigating corruption in the union to oust Carey on the basis of evidence uncovered by the court-appointed officer who has ordered new union elections. Geller said an appointed "monitor" should temporarily oversee the union.

The law firms that helped Florida win its Medicaid lawsuit against the tobacco industry could share more than $1 billion in fees, a state attorney revealed. Robert Montgomery said the 11 firms were to receive 25 percent "of the real money value" of Florida's $11.3 billion settlement, which is to be paid over 25 years. The "real money" value is estimated to be $5 billion. The accord did not include legal fees, which the industry has reportedly agreed to pay separately.

This year's college freshmen posted the highest math scores in 26 years on a key college entrance exam, the College Board reported. It said the average SAT math score rose three points to 511, the highest since 1971. The average SAT verbal score was 505, the same as last year.

A new poll showed 77 percent of Americans favoring national standards for measuring academic performance in public schools. In the Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup survey, 81 percent of respondents said a computer in each classroom would improve student achievement "a great deal or quite a lot." More than 70 percent favored moving "troublemakers" to alternative schools and allowing families to choose public schools.

A US appeals court in St. Paul, Minn., upheld an 1837 treaty giving Chippewa Indians the right to hunt and fish on land beyond their reservation. Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson said the decision by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit would be appealed. It was a victory for the Chippewa in a long-running dispute with opponents of restoring treaty rights, including the state, several counties, and some landholders. In the 1837 treaty, the Chippewa ceded 13 million acres of land in Minnesota and Wisconsin to the US government.

The World

Missile-proliferation talks between the US and North Korea were postponed a day after the Clinton administration granted political asylum to two North Korean diplomats. Pyongyang has demanded its ambassador to Egypt, Jang Seung-il, and his brother, Jang Seung-ho, an envoy serving in Paris, be returned to North Korea to face charges of embezzling public funds and leaking state secrets. The talks were scheduled to take place in New York.

Israel ended its 28-day siege of Bethlehem by lifting a travel ban imposed after a July 30 suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Israel reportedly suspects two Hamas leaders behind the attack are hiding in the West Bank city. The travel ban had prevented Bethlehem's 60,000 residents from leaving their city.

Intense battles between Cambodia's warring factions spilled across the Thai border. Two Thai soldiers were killed after several stray shells landed in Thailand, smashing a gatehouse and pinning down a dozen journalists. Fighting was reported to be the heaviest in two weeks around the Cambodian border village of O'Smach, where soldiers loyal to ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh are trying to hold ground against a massive offensive by strongman Hun Sen's Army.

A Libyan man wanted in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco was arrested in Rome, Italian police said. Eter Abulgasem Musbah was tracked down by Italian security police through intercepted phone conversations, and will be sent to Germany to face prosecution for the attack that killed two US soldiers and a Turkish woman - and wounded 200 other people. Days after the blast, the US bombed Libya.

Poverty has declined faster in Asia than anywhere in the world, a World Bank report said. It credited strong economic growth for largely eradicating poverty in Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and urban areas of China. But it said poverty still grips many countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Mongolia, where many live on less that one dollar a day.

Concerned about a US crackdown on illegal immigration, Mexico called on its diplomats in Texas to meet in San Antonio today to map out a plan to protect the rights of Mexican migrants. On Monday, the US launched Operation Rio Grande, deploying 69 border-patrol agents and surveillance equipment along the Mexican border in south Texas. Mexico says the operation runs counter to bilateral promises to "promote cooperation" when dealing with the massive flow of Mexican immigrants to the US.

Officials in India reaffirmed their country's commitment to peace talks with Pakistan, despite recent cross-border firing in Kashmir. At least nine people have died in the past week as Indian and Pakistani troops have traded small-arms fire across the border. The talks are to be held next month.

Some 100 people drowned in Nigeria after two boats collided, a local newspaper reported. Survivors attributed Monday's accident off Nigeria's Niger delta to heavy rains, which impaired visibility. Boat accidents are common in Nigeria where many vessels do not have radios to call for help in emergencies.

Tanzanian soldiers reportedly killed 20 Burundian troops who had planted land mines along the border separating the two countries. The Marija newspaper said Tanzanian forces patrolling the border near Kigoma had launched an attack under cover of darkness after they came under fire from Burundian soldiers earlier in the day. Tanzania has accused Burundi's Tutsi-led government troops of crossing the border to kill suspected Hutu rebels living among some 300,000 refugees camped in western Tanzania.


"The US offer of shelter to the criminals seriously damaged the climate [for] resuming the talks."

- North Korea's deputy UN representative Li Gun, on postponement of missile talks with the US after the defection of two North Korean diplomats.

Almost nothing keeps delivery boys for Pizza A Go Go from completing their rounds. That's because the Palo Alto, Calif., firm uses two all-terrain Hummers, a civilian version of the Humvee military transport, to make sure customers get their pizzas before they cool. The boxy 15-foot vehicles can hum through as much as two feet of water and scale 18-inch loading docks.

Penguins using sunscreen? Yes, that's what it's come to at the Edinburgh Zoo, where the daily parade of toddling penguins is one of the main attractions. While the city experienced an unprecedented, sunny hot spell, the birds shed more feathers than usual during their annual moult. So zoo keepers thought it best to protect them with cream.

Tony Costlow, co-owner of a rafting firm in Fort Collins, Colo., knows how to home in on profits. He employs homing pigeons to help him sell photos to clients shooting the Poudre rapids. Outfitted with homemade backpacks, the birds deliver film from photographers on the river to the firm's office for quick development so pictures are ready for sale before customers finish their runs and dry off.

The Days List

The 10 US Cities Rated As Most 'Kid Friendly'

Naperville, Ill. (about 30 miles southwest of Chicago) is the nation's best city for raising children, according to a Washington-based lobbying group that advocates lower birth rates worldwide. Zero Population Growth based its Children's Environmental Index on a comparison of infant mortality, unemployment, health, economics, crime, environment, and education in 219 cities with more than 100,000 residents. The group's top 10:

1. Naperville, Ill.

2. Overland Park, Kan.

3. Irvine, Calif.

4. Plano, Texas.

5. Fargo, N.D.

6. Madison, Wis.

7. Sterling Heights, Mich.

8. Ann Arbor, Mich.

9. Livonia, Mich.

10. Sioux Falls, S.D.

- Associated Press

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