News In Brief

The US

Republicans swept the nation's major electoral contests, winning the New Jersey and Virginia governor's seats, a congressional race on New York's Staten Island, and the mayoral race in New York City. The only cliffhanger among the top prizes was New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman's narrow victory over a Democratic challenger.

Oregon resoundingly affirmed the nation's only law allowing physician-assisted suicides. With 77 percent of precincts reporting, a repeal measure was being rejected by 60 percent of voters. The law, tied up in court since its passage three years ago, has not been used.

Voters in Houston shrugged off a ballot challenge to affirmative action. In doing so, they supported a program that benefits women and minorities in city contracting and hiring. With 97 percent of the ballots counted, a proposal to end the practice was supported by 54 percent of voters.

Washington State voters rejected a proposal to legalize medical use of marijuana and other narcotics - one of a number of significant state ballot measures that went down to defeat.

President Clinton was expected to unveil a $4 billion job-retraining package to help win support for expanded "fast track" authority to negotiate trade pacts. The proposal would aid workers losing jobs as a result of trade accords. Meanwhile, the administration won a key test vote on fast-track authority in the Senate. Stiffer opposition is expected in the House.

The House defeated a proposal to allow certain Caribbean and Central American products into the US duty free for a 14-month period beginning in May. Critics said the measure, defeated 234 to 182, would cost some US jobs.

The House defeated a plan to let states use public funds for private-school vouchers. The 228-191 vote - with about two dozen Republicans joining Democrats - was a blow to the GOP leadership's education agenda. The bill would have allowed states to turn a roughly $300 million-a-year federal program, used for such items as libraries and magnet schools, into vouchers for private or public schools.

Republic of Texas leader Richard McLaren was sentenced to 99 years in prison - and his top lieutenant to 50 years - for plotting an abduction that led to a weeklong standoff with police. McLaren and Robert Otto, whose group claims Texas is not part of the US, were the first of five members to be tried in Alpine, Texas, in connection with the April 27 abduction of Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe. Mclaren and Otto also were fined $10,000 each. Both said they would appeal.

US space scientists officially declared an end to the Pathfinder mission, four months after the craft landed on Mars. They said gathering of data came to a halt five weeks ago when they lost communication with the Pathfinder lander and its little rover, Sojourner.

A tremor detected in August near a Russian atomic test site was not a nuclear blast, the CIA said, reversing its initial assessment. The tremor was detected on Aug. 16, near Novaya Zemlya, an island off the northern coast of Russia that has long been a nuclear test site.

Regular church attendance is good for your health. This is the conclusion of researchers at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., who studied 1,718 older North Carolinians. Those who attended ser- vices at least once a week were found to have stronger immune systems. Researchers couldn't explain the findings, but said attending church might enhance immunity through "feelings of belonging" or by reducing stress. Their report appeared in the October edition of The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine.

The World

Three special UN envoys left a crisis meeting with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad, saying it had taken place "in a good atmosphere." They were to meet for a second time with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, but it was not clear whether their two-day mission would include talks with President Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, Iraq turned back arms-inspection teams for the third day in a row, although it extended by one week a deadline for American inspectors to leave the country. For its part, the UN suspended surveillance flights by American U-2 spy planes.

With one day left until Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchai-yudh's resignation, Thailand's political parties failed to agree on a successor. Speculation centered on three potential candidates: ex-Prime Ministers Chuan Leekpai, Chatichai Choonhavan, and Prem Tinsulanonda, although the latter was said not to be interested in the job. Chatichai reportedly was offered the post by Chava-lit, but turned it down. Analysts said Chuan would need to pry support away from Chava-lit's coalition partners in order to form a viable government.

Traders attached little significance to rallies that lifted the value of beleaguered currencies slightly in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Philippines. They said the gains came in light trading and that uncertainties remained over the ability of Indonesia and Thailand to implement economic reforms in exchange for massive bailouts by the International Monetary Fund and other donors. In Manila, UN official Edward Van Roy called the crisis "a social problem" and said it could spread to all of Asia and the Pacific.

Angola's UNITA rebel movement reversed course and said it would not pull out of the 1994 peace treaty it agreed to with the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. The group had threatened to disavow the accord because of new sanctions imposed by the UN last week.

Israel is considering publication of its official inquiry into Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's murder, current office-holder Benjamin Netanyahu said. Conspiracy theories have gained wide attention - partly because the inquiry didn't locate a bystander who was heard shout- ing "Blanks! Blanks!" as Rabin was shot Nov. 4, 1995, by right-wing student Yigal Amir. And an Amir confidant with alleged ties to Israel's secret service, who was nearby at the time of the shooting, now is in hiding.

Britain will revise its $3.9 billion foreign aid program, the Labour government announced, pouring more money into eliminating poverty and dropping a controversial package that critics say loaned money to other nations on the condition that they award development contracts to British companies.

The upper house of Russia's parliament ratified the global treaty on chemical weapons, following the lead of the lower house last week. The move now requires Russia to destroy the world's largest arsenal of such weapons. The ban originally had considerable opposition in parliament because of the huge cost of eliminating 44,000 tons of chemical agents left over from the Soviet era. By ratifying the treaty, Russia now qualifies for an estimated $1 billion in international aid to help pay for the disposal.

In a move considered certain to have repercussions in Russia, Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov declared his breakaway region an Islamic republic. The act was not unexpected: To Russia's displeasure, Maskhadov already had instituted a court system based on the Islamic legal code. Chechnya insists it is a sovereign state, although a peace treaty reached earlier this year with Russia leaves its status unresolved.

"The message is: Study Virginia and emulate it ..."

- GOP national chairman Jim Nicholson, predicting the antitax message that worked for Republicans in Virginia's election Tuesday will work for them nationwide next year.


Workers at a factory 340 miles southeast of Moscow, are having a rough time spending their bonus pay. Their cash-strapped employer couldn't come up with it in rubles, so the staff was given the equivalent in rolls of toilet paper. That didn't sit too well with the local housing authority, which rejected one worker's offer to pay her rent with the 150 rolls she received.

Military authorities in India asked themselves what could be done to improve morale among the soldiers posted along an especially dangerous stretch of the disputed border with Pakistan. Not only do the troops trade artillery fire with Pakistani forces, but the place - Siachen glacier - also is 20,000 feet above sea level, windy, and brutally cold in winter. Then the brass hit on just the solution: the world's highest pay phone, so the soldiers could dial up their families back home.

If you've been meaning to visit Opryland USA, the country-music theme park in Nashville, Tenn., you'll need to act fast. Because of flat attendance in recent years, the attraction is closing Jan. 1 to make way for a shopping mall.

The Day's List

'Last Summer' Lingers As Box-Office Leader

For the fourth time this year, a film has led the pack in box-office sales on three consecutive weekends. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" held off the new release, "Red Corner," as the favorite of moviegoers over the Oct. 31-Nov. 2 period. Hollywood's top 10 for the weekend, with estimated gross revenues (in millions of dollars):

1. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" $10

2. "Red Corner" 8.3

3. "Devil's Advocate" 7.6

4. "Boogie Nights" 5.1

5. "Kiss the Girls" 3.6

6. "Seven Years in Tibet" 3.4

7. "Switchback" 3

8. "Fairy Tale: A True Story" 2.9

9. "Gattaca" 2.7

10. "In and Out" 1.8

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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