News In Brief

The US

Six Air Force F-117 "stealth" fighter jets left their home base in New Mexico for the first leg of the deployment to Kuwait ordered by President Clinton. The Pentagon said the F-117s, six B-52 bombers, and nine refueling planes were being dispatched to sites within range of Iraq. Defense officials expressed concern that Baghdad has its air-defense units on heightened alert and "is interested in much more than diplomacy" as a way out of the standoff over UN weapons inspections.

New rules allowing automobiles to be equipped with on/off switches for air bags were issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But officials said they hoped few motorists would apply for them. The rules apply to drivers who must sit 10 inches or less from an air bag cover, those who must transport an infant or other small child in the front seat, and those with certain medical conditions. They were issued in response to concerns over the explosive deployment of air bags, blamed for dozens of deaths.

A health-care "bill of rights" aimed at shifting the balance of power from providers to patients was to be proposed by a presidential commission, the Los Angeles Times reported. Among its features: requirements that patients be informed about any malpractice suits filed against a doctor and that patients be given direct access to specialists as well as to primary-care physicians.

Clinton helped to raise more than $500,000 for the Democratic Party at two dinners for wealthy contributors in Washington. He addressed 35 guests at a Democratic Business Council gathering and 25 at a "major supporters" dinner sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.

New-housing starts rose in October by 1.4 percent - the fastest pace in eight months, the Commerce Department reported. But it said the gain was limited to multifamily homes and apartment buildings. A homebuilders association said the October increase came as a surprise, since surveys had indicated a slowdown over the next several months was likely.

An Ohio law banning partial-birth abortions was struck down by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati. By a 2 to 1 vote, the panel said the law was flawed because it made no exception for women who might incur "severe psychological or emotional injury" without the procedure. The 1995 ban had never been enforced. The ruling was expected to be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

In a deal estimated at $16.1 billion, Philadelphia-based CoreStates Financial Corp. and First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., announced the largest banking merger in US history. If approved by shareholders and federal regulators, the combined companies would have assets of $204 billion, and branches in 12 eastern states.

Despite falling revenues and sluggish growth in consumption, Florida grapefruit growers may not limit production, the state's citrus commission decided. It rejected a plan to cap supply by up to 15 percent a year for five years, raising the price of each 85-pound box of grapefruit from $2.50 to $4. Opponents of the plan said any gap in Florida production would quickly be filled by growers in Texas, Israel, and South Africa.

On his first nomination, Charles Frazier was the surprise winner of the National Book Award for fiction. His Civil War novel, "Cold Mountain," edged out the widely expected choice, "Underworld," by Don DeLillo. Joseph Ellis won the nonfiction prize for "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson."

Young pitchers with World Series experience were the first players chosen in Major League Baseball's expansion draft. With the first pick, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took rookie Tony Saunders, who pitched in Game 4 of the series for the champion Florida Marlins. The Arizona Diamondbacks then chose Brian Anderson of the Cleveland Indians, who opposed Saunders in that game.

The World

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright cut short a visit to India, flying to Geneva for discussions aimed at resolving the dispute over UN arms-monitoring in Iraq. She was to meet today with the foreign ministers of Russia, Britain and France. Russia's Yevgeny Primakov was expected to present a plan formulated with Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, to peacefully end the crisis.

Two Russian lawmakers said chief economic reformer Anatoly Chubais would leave his position as finance minister this week. But government supporter Alexander Shokhin and a liberal opposition leader left open the possibility Chubais would retain his other job as first deputy prime minister. President Yeltsin did not confirm whether he would sacrifice Chubais to win the opposition's support for his 1998 budget. Critics have charged that a $90,000 advance Chubais accepted to help write a book was a bribe.

Pakistan's Supreme Court formally charged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with contempt for accusing the judiciary of overstepping its authority. Earlier, Sharif apologized for accusing the court of acting illegally when it suspended a constitutional amendment that banned members of parliament from switching sides. At the same time, Sharif defended his remarks, saying it was his job to keep the country informed. If found guilty, his entire government could be removed from power.

A car bomb exploded outside a film studio in the Indian city of Hyderabad, killing 23 people and injuring 20 others, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but investigators suspect the attack was aimed at Paritala Ravi, a politician who was attending ceremonies marking the start of filming for a movie. He was slightly injured in the blast. Ten years ago, Ravi renounced violence and left a separatist group that still operates in the region.

South Korean President Kim Young Sam fired his finance minister and another economic adviser, holding them responsible for the country's financial woes. After the move, new Finance Minister Lim Chang Yuel unveiled a series of measures to boost the beleaguered banking industry. Analysts say the International Monetary Fund, which has already played a leading role in providing bail-out packages for Indonesia and Thailand, may soon be called on to prevent further collapse of the South Korean economy.

Former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan testified behind closed doors before Turkey's Supreme Court for a second day. The court is expected to decide before the end of the year whether Erbakan's Islamic party should be banned as a threat to the country's secular system. Erbakan has argued that his Welfare Party is only trying to serve the needs of Turkey's Muslim population.

To improve Algeria's image, President Liamine Zeroual ordered the creation of a new agency to correct "often false, manipulative reports" by the news media. An estimated 75,000 people have died in violence often blamed on Islamic militants. However, government security forces also have been implicated, leading to calls for an international investigation of the situation.

Zimbabwe's controversial land-reform plans took another step forward when President Robert Mugabe's government gave farmers a list of nearly 1,800 white-owned farms it plans to turn over to landless black peasants. The government proposes to take over nearly 12 million acres of land in a nation where some 4,000 white farmers own a third of the territory.

"The air defense system is actually on a higher state of alert today than it was before

[Saddam Hussein] invaded Kuwait in 1990."

- Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon,saying Iraqi forces may have set surface-to-air missile 'traps' for US pilots.


If what happened to Toronto's transit authority is any indication, don't look for many public places to be renamed for the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The authority wrote to her survivors as a courtesy, asking their blessing for its proposal to christen a new $28 million subway station in Diana's memory. The answer: no, not appropriate. Puzzled at the response, it tried again. Same result. Transit officials take the position that permission isn't needed, but have not said they will go against the family's wishes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who knows what it's like to confront major challenges, toured the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance earlier this week with movie superhero Arnold Schwarzenegger and was overheard telling him: "I've seen all your films; maybe I should act like that." It was not clear whether Netanyahu meant the ruthless Schwarzenegger of the "Predator" and "Terminator" series . . . or the hapless Schwarzenegger of "Jingle All the Way."

The Day's List

Cities Where Opportunity Is Big for Small Firms

Are you planning to start a small business? Consider basing it in Portland, Ore., which - for the third year in a row - ranked highest among large cities in the US for starting and running such a business by Entrepreneur magazine and the Dun & Bradstreet Corp. They weighed governmental attitudes toward business, economic growth, risk, affordability, and overall business performance. Their top 10 large cities for small business (including metropolitan statistical areas):

1. Portland/Vancouver, Wash.

2. St. Louis

3. Seattle/Bellevue/Everett, Wash.

4. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C.

5. Charlotte and Gastonia, N.C./Rock Hill, S.C.

6. Denver

7. Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.

8. Las Vegas, Nev.

9. Salt Lake City/Ogden, Utah

10. Kansas City, Mo./Kan.

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