News In Brief

The US

The US was going ahead with its military buildup in the Gulf, with President Clinton saying "we will wait and see" whether Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein permits UN inspectors - including Americans - to search for prohibited weapons. Six B-52 strategic bombers left bases in the US for deployment within range of Iraq despite a deal reached between Baghdad and Russian Foreign Minister Primakov on the resumption of inspections.

The White House is at work on a new strategy to win the cooperation of Latin American countries in the fight against illegal drugs, administration officials said. The plan was designed to "bury" the controversial US system of certifying countries such as Colombia and Mexico on the effectiveness of their antidrug efforts, they said. It was scheduled to be presented to other hemisphere leaders at a summit in April.

The White House denied a report that Democratic Party donors with no military background had been granted burial plots in Arlington National Cemetery. The report, in the Dec. 8 issue of Insight magazine, is based on "anonymous sources and innuendo," special counsel Lanny Davis said. Cemetery superintendent John Metzler told a Washington TV station he had objected to nine waivers granted for burial but was overruled.

The crew of space shuttle Columbia activated scientific experiments but was ordered to postpone release of an independent solar observatory because of an unanticipated spike in voltage. The unit, nicknamed Spartan, is designed to fly free of Columbia for two days before it's retrieved. But it shut itself down, causing a 24-hour delay while scientists worked to restore full operation.

The US trade deficit unexpectedly rose 17 percent in September - the highest level in eight months, the Commerce Department said. The $11.07 billion deficit, blamed largely on imports from Asian nations, was more than $1 billion higher than economists had forecast. Analysts warned that turmoil in Asian financial markets and currency devaluations in that region would likely depress US exports in the months ahead.

Also rising unexpectedly were first-time applications for unemployment benefits, the Labor Department reported. It said 20,000 Americans had filed such claims in the week ending Nov. 15, for a seasonally adjusted total of 333,000. Economists had predicted the claims would be about 311,000.

Women members of the Nation of Islam may now serve as mosque leaders, the Rev. Louis Farrakhan said. He also announced plans for a 50-nation "friendship tour" beginning Dec. 1 that would feature stops in Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Cuba. He has drawn heavy criticism for earlier visits to Iraq, Iran, Sudan and Libya, all of which are on the US government's list of terrorism sponsors

Four boys and three girls were born to a Carlisle, Iowa, couple who have been the focus of worldwide attention for weeks. Bobbi McCaughey delivered the septuplets at Blank Childrens Hospital in Des Moines - the first such birth in the US since 1985.

For the first time in 43 years, federal prosecutors in Manhattan have been authorized to seek the death penalty in a murder trial, The New York Times reported. The case involves a Connecticut man charged with transporting his kidnapped fiancee across state lines before her remains were found in the trunk of a car on an expressway ramp.

The late Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, appeared nine times each in movies nominated as the all-time best by the American Film Institute (AFI). AFI historians chose 400 titles, from which a panel of screen-industry representatives and others will be asked to vote for the greatest 100. The project is designed to help celebrate the centennial of the industry.

The World

UN arms inspectors, including the six American members expelled last week, will return to Baghdad today, their boss, Richard Butler, said. The announcement came after Iraq approved a deal reached by Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov in Moscow. Under the plan, Iraq agreed to take back the Americans in exchange for Russian assurances that it will work to lift UN sanctions once Baghdad complies with Security Council resolutions.

President Yeltsin removed top economic reformer Anatoly Chubais as Russia's finance minister, but kept him on as first deputy prime minister in overall charge of economic policy. Economist Mikhail Zadornov was named to take over the Finance Ministry. Chubais came under fire last week for his involvement in a corruption scandal that cost three of his closest aides their jobs.

South Korea's currency, the won, fell 10 percent a half hour after Seoul's foreign exchange opened, automatically suspending trading for a fourth consecutive day. Finance Minister Lim Chang Yuel said the country was turning to Japan and the US to resolve the crisis. But he did not rule out asking the International Monetary Fund for a bail-out if the effort fails.

India's powerful Congress Party threatened to withdraw its support for the government, unless a smaller rival was expelled from the ruling coalition. Congress lawmakers made the threat after a government investigative report accused the DMK party of supporting the Tamil rebel group believed responsible for the 1991 assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Without Congress's support, the government would collapse, paving the way for new elections.

A suspected Palestinian gunman fired into a group of Jewish seminary students in Jerusalem's Old City, killing one and wounding another. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the attack "intolerable" and summoned his Cabinet to discuss a response.

Spain's Basque separatist guerrilla group ETA announced it was halting its "prison campaign," which has included hunger strikes and other protests behind bars on behalf of jailed rebel colleagues. Although the move fell short of a cease-fire, it was ETA's first conciliatory gesture since the murder of young politician, Miguel Angel Blanco, in July caused a wave of national outrage.

Some 1,500 Hutu rebels attacked a jail in northwestern Rwanda in a bid to free their colleagues, a military spokes- man said. Nearly 300 people died in the raid, which began Monday near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most of those in the jail were awaiting trial on charges they participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

A mutinous Mexican police SWAT team surrendered and agreed to turn over comrades to army troops, ending a 14-hour standoff in Mexico City. The soldiers had moved in on the police base Wednesday to arrest 14 SWAT members for questioning in the alleged execution of six youths in September. The police responded by sealing off the base and demanding that those charged be allowed to speak with lawyers before being interrogated.

Canada's 45,000 postal workers went on strike after weeks of bargaining with the federal mail service failed to produce a contract agreement. Canada Post is pushing to restructure delivery routes that, the union says, would lead to the loss of 4,000 jobs. The two sides also have yet to agree on salary increases.

"Generally speaking, we view this as an encouraging development, but one that ultimately must be tested by what Saddam Hussein does."

- White House spokesman Anne Luzzatto, reacting to Iraq's decision allowing the return of US weapons inspectors.


It's loud, ugly, emits clouds of noxious blue exhaust, and is ridiculed all over Europe. But the Trabant, a car mass-produced in the former East Germany using 1950s technology, easily passed a simple road-safety test that a state-of-the-art, A-class Mercedes-Benz flunked. The latter flipped over at 37 m.p.h. while turning to avoid obstacles placed on a flat, paved surface, and shipments to dealers were quickly halted by the manufacturer. Meanwhile, back on the test track, the Trabant was still upright at just under 50 m.p.h., to the delight of its defenders.

True story: A Tucson man and his accomplice picked the wrong day and place to attempt the robbery of a bank in the Arizona city. While the accomplice waited in their get- away vehicle, the would-be thief set off on his mission, unaware that a police seminar on responding to bank robberies was taking place in the neighborhood. The bad guys were quickly caught and arrested.

The Day's List

Largest Bank in The US: It's Chase Manhattan

The latest banking megamerger in the US will combine First Union Corp. of Charlotte, N.C., with Philadelphia's CoreStates Financial. The joint company will have assets of $240 billion. But that's still far behind the largest bank, Chase Manhattan. The top 10 banks, their headquarters, and assets (in billions), as ranked by SNL Securities, a Charlottesville, Va., research and publishing firm:

1. Chase Manhattan,

New York $366.5

2. Citicorp, New York 300.3

3. NationsBank,

Charlotte, N.C. 285.6

4. J.P. Morgan & Co.,

New York 269.6

5. BankAmerica, San Francisco 257.7

6. First Union, Charlotte, N.C. 155.1

7. Bankers Trust, New York 140

8. Banc One Corp.,

Columbus, Ohio 122.4

9. First Chicago NBD 113.3

10. Wells Fargo, San Francisco 97.6

- Associated Press

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