News In Brief

The US

The NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Bosnia definitely will end next June, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was expected to announce in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington. A source who asked not to be identified said Berger also would tell listeners that the question of a successor force in Bosnia has yet to be decided. Earlier, NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana, in Brussels, hinted broadly that an international military ground force would take the alliance's place. President Clinton has told Congress he wants to pull US troops out of the ethnically split country when the peacekeeping mandate runs out.

Despite the controversy over unregulated political "soft money," the Republican and Democratic parties raised $35 million in such contributions in the first half of 1997 - more than during the kickoff of the last presidential election cycle, the Federal Elections Commission reported. It said the GOP had raised $21.7 of the total.

Teamsters president Ron Carey called himself "the victim" in the illegal diversion of union funds to his 1996 campaign for the post. Speaking at the AFL-CIO convention in Pittsburgh, he said trusted aides kept the transfer from him. His narrow victory over James Hoffa Jr. was nullified and a new election ordered. Three aides pleaded guilty in the case. Earlier, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, who oversaw the spending of $119 million in union funds on the 1996 general elections, cal-led for a ban on "soft money" donations to national politics. He said union resources could be better spent in other areas.

Despite a continuing series of problems with Mir, astronaut David Wolf said he looks forward to his scheduled four-month stay on the troubled Russian space station.

Amtrak cannot afford the pay hikes recommended by a Clinton administration emergency board and believes its survival is threatened, the rail passenger service said. The panel, appointed by Clinton Aug. 21 at the start of a cooling-off period, proposed retroactive increases for track maintenance workers going back to 1995 and a series of lump-sum and equity payments to head off a strike. Unless Congress intervenes, Amtrak and the workers' union have until Oct. 22 to settle their pay dispute and avert the strike or a lockout.

Girls between 10 and 14 turned increasingly to alcohol and narcotics over the past three decades, a federal agency report-ed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said its studies show alcohol use in that group rose from 7 percent of new users in the early 1960s to 31 percent in the early 1990s, with marijuana experimentation climbing from 5 percent to 24 percent in that span.

News organizations covering the impending Unabomber trial in Sacramento, Calif., asked the judge in the case to lift his order keeping jurors' identities secret. Garland Burrell issued the ruling because of extensive publicity surrounding the trial. A lawyer for the plaintiffs called the order "unprecedented" because both sides in the case had agreed that juror safety was not an issue. The trial of suspect Theodore Kaczynski is due to begin Nov. 12.

The first black cadet in US Military Academy history was awarded his commission posthumously by Army Secretary Togo West. James Webster Smith, born a slave in Columbia, S.C., completed four years at the West Point, N.Y., academy in 1874 despite continuous harassment by white cadets. He was expelled for failing an exam but went on to become commandant of cadets at what is now South Carolina State University in Orangeburg.

The fastest speed by a motor vehicle over land will not count as a world record, officials in Nevada ruled. Andy Green of Britain drove the Thrust jet car over a test course in the Nevada desert at 618.5 m.p.h. and then at 687.9 m.p.h. - for an aggregate of more than 650 m.p.h., well above the record of 633. But the elapsed time between the two runs was 80 minutes, 20 more than rules allow.

The World

Northern Ireland's two main opponents faced each other for the first time at the negotiating table. But the rhetoric at the historic meeting was anything but peaceful. The only item on the first day's agenda was the Ulster Unionists' demand that Sinn Fein be thrown out because of ties to the IRA. But Ulster Unionists said they would participate even if Sinn Fein remained. Two smaller Unionist parties have boycotted the talks, saying Britain and Ireland plan to use negotiations as a way to eventually merge the province with Ireland.

The siege against the West Bank village of Nablus tightened after Israeli soldiers reportedly identified Islamic militants who carried out two suicide bombings in Jerusalem. Dozens of Palestinians protested the blockade, burning tires and hurling rocks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the bombers belonged to a cell of the militant group Hamas, which operates out of the West Bank. Twenty-five people, including the five bombers, were killed in the July 30 and Sept. 4 attacks.

Russian President Yeltsin is likely to announce an increased state role in the economy when he addresses parliament today, a source told Reuters. Yeltsin's speech was likely to stress that the state was best placed to move the economy forward while protecting citizens, and that the government would be taking control of some of the most vital areas. Separately, Yeltsin's crusade against one of the last vestiges of communism received an unexpected boost when the head of the upper house said he supported legalizing land sales.

In the second-worst massacre in six years, suspected Muslim rebels murdered at least 85 people in Algeria's capital, security forces reported. No one has claimed responsibility, but such attacks are frequently thought to be the work of the Armed Islamic Group, one of several organizations trying to oust the military-backed government and install strict Islamic rule.

Despite promises to end capital punishment, the Ukraine has secretly executed 13 people this year, a former justice minister told Reuters. A spokesman for President Leonid Kuchma denied the charge. When Ukraine joined the Council of Europe in 1995, it pledged to abolish the death penalty. Last year, the number of executions was 167, more than any other country except China. A moratorium supposedly has been in place since January, but has not been observed, said Serhiy Holovaty, who was fired from his post last month.

More than 2,000 people across Japan demonstrated against US military presence as Tokyo and Washington prepared to announce new guidelines governing defense cooperation in New York. The two countries were to ratify an update of 1978 guidelines on political leadership and military planning in case of a post-cold war conflict in Asia.

A Saudi court sentenced a British nurse to death for murdering a colleague, the victim's lawyers said. Deborah Parry would be the first Westerner to be beheaded in Saudi Arabia. Another nurse was sentenced to flogging and eight years in jail for her role as an accessory to the December murder of Australian Yvonne Gilford.

Hazy days continue in Malaysia, where air pollution levels hit an all-time high. The air pollution index in Kuching reached 839. Officials extended the state of emergency for the fifth day in a row in Sarawak State, urging people not to go outside without masks. Unchecked forest fires in Indonesia have sent a thick cloud of smog over Malaysia and Singapore as well.

About 80 Montserrat residents were evacuated after two days of volcanic eruptions that destroyed the island's abandoned airport. Officials said they were considering cutting power and water in threatened areas to force people to evacuate.

"We have got to the stage now where all the major parties are here.... Now let's get down to sorting out our differences."

- Northern Ireland Catholic leader John Hume, after the first talks between Sinn Fein and the Protestant Ulster Unionists.


Public fountains are for decoration or maybe for birds to splash around in, right? Not in Johnstown, Pa., apparently. The city's newly dedicated downtown fountain was used for a swim meet last month - at what can best be called an early hour - by six people, four of whom were off-duty or retired police officers. No, they weren't wearing Speedo racing suits at the time. The cops' identities aren't being revealed, and it isn't known how many laps they swam. But penalties have been assessed.

Have you ever seen a movie you thought was excellent even though the critics panned it? Now there's an opportunity to weigh in with your own reviews for the benefit of other film fans. US Satellite Broadcasting and Sony Electronics are looking for entrants in their "You Be the Movie Critic" contest. The winner will be put to work preparing quarterly film critiques for broadcast. Finalists will be judged by - guess who? - a nationally known movie critic.

The Day's List

Who's Worth What in the Business of High-Tech

True or false: Microsoft has produced more multimillionaires than any other US high-tech company. Answer: True. Led by chairman Bill Gates, 12 of the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant's executives rank among the 100 richest Americans in the technology field, according to Forbes ASAP magazine. Its list of the top 10, their corporate affiliations, and estimated net worth:

1. Bill Gates, Microsoft $38.66 billion

2. Paul Allen, Microsoft $14.77 billion

3. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft $8.21 billion

4. Larry Ellison, Oracle $8.20 billion

5. Gordon Moore, Intel $7.97 billion

6. Michael Dell, Dell $4.66 billion

7. William Hewlett, Hewlett-Packard $4.20 billion

8. Ted Waitt, Gateway 2000 $2.83 billion

9. David Duffield, PeopleSoft $1.73 billion

10. Charles Wang, Computer Associates $1.20 billion

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