News In Brief

The US

Using such terms as "disturb-ed" and "frustrating," Attorney General Reno criticized the White House for its belated release of videotapes sought by Senate investigators. She told a weekly news briefing that the Justice Department should have been notified "immediately" after the tapes were found. The White House said it learned of the existence of the tapes Oct. 1 but did not notify Justice until Oct. 4, a day after Reno wrote to House Republicans clearing President Clinton of misconduct during coffees at the executive mansion with contributors to the Democratic Party.

Public support for both Clinton and Vice President Gore has slipped amid investigations of campaign fund-raising abuses, a new poll found. A CNN/USA Today survey put Clinton's job-approval rating at 55 percent, a 6 percent drop from August and September. Gore's rating fell to 47 percent, his lowest since late in 1992. The survey was conducted between Oct. 3 and 5. Clinton is due to leave Sunday for a week-long, three-nation tour of South America.

The administration sees momentum building for giving Clinton so-called "fast track" negotiating authority on trade, press secretary Mike McCurry said. He sought to play down the lack of support for the measure among Democrats, only four of whom voted with the majority in a 24-14 victory in the House Ways and Means Committee despite arm-twisting by the president. "Fast track" gives a president the authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries that cannot be amended by Congress.

China said it hoped the US would "take a few steps" to ensure that President Jiang Zemin's visit unfolds smoothly after a coalition of human-rights groups announced it would stage a major demonstration across from the White House Oct. 29. Jiang is scheduled to meet Clinton that day, followed by visits with members of Congress a day later.

New applications for unemployment relief dropped again last week and kept the national total for a 30-day period below 310,000 for the first time since 1989, the Labor Department said. It said applications dwindled by 5,000 from the week ending Sept. 27.

Even the apparently effective enforcement of laws against selling cigarettes to minors is not reducing teenage smoking, a new report said. Citing the findings of a 1994-1996 survey of 17,603 high-school students, the New England Journal of Medicine said those under 18 still can obtain cigarettes easily and may be smoking even more heavily than before current campaigns to discourage their use began.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Gene McKinney will plead innocent to all 20 counts of sexual harassment against him, his attorney said. But Charles Gittins said he did not think the charges - all of them brought by white women - were racially motivated. McKinney, who is black, is accused of adultery, indecent assault, soliciting sex, and issuing threats to a female soldier. The Army said it would court-martial him at Fort Belvoir, Va., but set no date.

Unless the coming winter is unusually cold, US homeowners should pay less for heating oil, natural gas, and propane, the Energy Department said. It said utilities and other suppliers were left with surpluses of fuel because of last winter's relatively mild temperatures. Average heating-season savings on oil should range from $60 to $70, compared to $20 for natural gas, and more than $90 for propane, the department estimated.

Eight US firearms manufacturers will install child-safety locks on every new handgun they sell, Clinton announced. He said the move would affect eight of every 10 domestically produced handguns.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill called a news conference, reportedly as a forum for men's head basketball coach Dean Smith to announce his retirement. Smith, whose record of 879-254 makes him the winningest college coach in history, led the Tar Heels for 36 years. His 1982 and 1993 teams won national championships.

The World

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned after Communists in Parliament withdrew support for his minority government. In a heated debate, the Communist Reformation Party said Prodi's terms for a compromise deal on his proposed 1998 budget, which called for deep cuts in welfare and pension programs, was socially unacceptable. Italy has had 55 governments since World War II, each lasting an average of 10 months. Prodi's government lasted 500 days.

Israel will release $49 million in taxes it has withheld from the Palestinian Authority since the July 30 suicide bombings in Jerusalem, a senior Palestinian official said.

A former Israeli head spy, quit a government committee investigating the botched assassination attempt on the leader of the Hamas movement. Nahum Admoni was accused of being in favor of the operation. Meanwhile, speculation mounted that Danny Yaton, the current chief of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, will be asked to resign. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister David Levy, in a radio interview, said he was unhappy with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies and also was considering submitting his resignation.

Italian playwright Dario Fo won the 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works have received acclaim for combining biting political observation with comedy. Among his writings are "Accidental Death of an Anarchist" and "Non Si Paga! Non Si Paga!" ("Can't Pay! Won't Pay!"). In announcing the $1 milion prize, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said: "Fo has been performed all over the world, perhaps more than any other contemporary dramatist."

Russian President Boris Yeltsin denied he had any intention of seeking relection after his current term expires in 2000. Yeltsin made the announcement in Strasbourg, France, where he joined leaders from 40 European nations. They are scheduled to begin a two-day meeting today to discuss issues from human rights to European security.

Bosnian Muslims won a political victory in local elections, claiming 24 of 45 seats on Srebrenica City Council, about two years after they were forcibly driven out of the former UN safe area.

Mexicans began mobilizing emergency aid as hurricane Pauline pounded the Pacific coast near Acapulco, dumping heavy rains and flooding streets. Telephone communication to much of the coast was cut, and there was little information on the situation.

In a seven-hour speech, Fidel Castro vowed to continue Cuba's socialist path.

An Iraqi Kurdish group allied with Turkish soldiers claimed it has killed 40 rival Kurd rebels. The announcement came as Turkish planes continued to pound rebel positions along the Iraq-Turkey border. Turkey said it had killed 538 Kurd rebels in the past three weeks.

A week-long series of events in memory of Che Guevara kicked off in La Higuera, Bolivia, where the Argentine-Cuban revolutionary was killed 30 years ago by government troops. Guevara fought with Fidel Castro to overthrow Cuban ruler Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and remains a figure of almost mythic proportions to many followers, while others recall him as a terrorist.

Hillary Rodham Clinton push-ed for a bigger role for women in building successful democracies. She told a conference of Latin American first ladies in Panama City that the more women participate in the election process, the more a democracy stands to succeed.

"It is very frustrating to have them produced in such a delayed fashion.... I was mad."

- Attorney General Reno, on the belated release of White House tapes showing President Clinton at coffee with Democratic Party donors.


Fire departments from four Wisconsin towns raced to the scene of an emergency call in Manitowoc, pumping thousands of gallons of water until the crisis was over. So, was an entire block on fire? Were they hosing spilled fuel off some highway? Neither. A pond holding 17,000 salmon fingerlings had sprung a serious leak, and a sportsmen's club would have lost its $100,000 investment if the water level hadn't been raised again.

You knew the movies on the life and times of Diana, Princess of Wales, wouldn't be long in coming, right? Well, brace yourself; the first is already in the works. Martin Poll Films of Los Angeles says it has acquired rights to the recently revised biography on which Diana herself was a secret collaborator. The search is on for "distinguished" British actors to play the key roles.

But the New York paper Newsday suspects its readers may be reaching the saturation point for stories about Diana. Above a six-paragraph piece on the new film was the following tongue-in-cheek caveat: "Caution . . . . If you have had enough of these stories, please do not continue reading. There will be no other warning."

The Day's List

The Public's Favorite US Company: It's Microsoft

The polling firm Louis Harris & Associates asked 1,011 adults to rate the companies they perceive as "best." The top 10 finishers and where they placed in the same survey last year:

1. Microsoft 4

2. IBM 2

3. General Motors 3

4. AT&T 1

5. Ford 6

6. Wal-Mart 7

7. General Electric 5

8. Coca-Cola 8

9. Intel unranked

10. Boeing 20

The Christian Science Monitor will not be published Columbus Day, Monday, Oct. 13, a legal holiday in the United States.

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