News In Brief

The US

Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh refused to hand over a key document to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee investigating campaign fund-raising. But Freeh told the panel he might be willing to provide more details about the memo, which urged Reno to seek an independent prosecutor to investigate campaign fundraising, The New York Times reported.

President Clinton planned to travel to Miami as part of a three-day trip to raise more than $2 million for the Democratic Party. Earlier, he was scheduled to address donors at a chic New York restaurant after visiting a South Bronx neighborhood to tout a public- and private-sector project. Crumbling tenements in the Charlotte Gardens section were replaced by 89 single-family ranch houses in the mid-1980s. Clinton also was expected to announce several new HUD housing grants.

The design of Boeing's jetliners needs to be changed to guard against the buildup of flammable fumes, The New York Times quoted company officials as saying. The statement, a departure from a principle of aviation design, was made on Day 2 of National Transportation Safety Board hearings in Baltimore on the explosion of TWA Flight 800. Meanwhile, FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom, who led the criminal investigation into the explosion, announced his retirement. Kallstrom also is known for bringing down scores of organized-crime figures during his 28-year career.

Hillary Rodham Clinton planned to open a celebration of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a speech at the UN. The declaration, signed 50 years ago, was the first comprehensive agreement among nations stipulating specific rights and freedoms for all people. Earlier, the president helped to celebrate the anniversary with a speech at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

A California jury ordered Attransco, a shipping company, to pay $18 million for damages incurred when its tanker spilled 16.8 million gallons of oil on state beaches. In what one lawyer called the first case of lost recreational damages from an oil spill, the decision directs the company to pay the state and the cities of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach $12.8 million for the five weeks their beaches were closed in 1990. The jury also ruled Attransco should pay $5.3 million for harming plankton and other tiny sea creatures.

The roads and skies will be busier than ever this holiday season, according to an the American Automobile Association forecast. The strong economy and plump personal finances will spur a record 44.5 million Americans to take a trip of 100 miles or more, it said, citing a Travel Industry Association survey of 1,500 people. Florida is expected to be the top US travel destination, followed by California and Hawaii. Mexico is the favored international destination.

Weakening overseas sales drove the US current account deficit, the broadest measure of the nation's trade performance, to its highest level in a year during the third quarter, the Commerce Department said. It widened 11.4 percent, to $42.16 billion, from $37.85 billion in the second quarter - its highest level since $42.83 billion in 1996.

Senate majority leader Trent Lott gave the Climate Change Treaty only "bleak prospects" of ratification by the Senate, even if US negotiators agree to it. In a letter to Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) of Nebraska, Lott said Vice President Gore weakened US leverage at the Kyoto, Japan, conference with instructions to the US team to show "increased negotiating flexibility."

A defense witness in the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Terry Nichols testified he tried to report a sighting of a suspect in the blast to the FBI, but was told the agency already had the men it wanted. The defense is arguing that the government failed to pursue other leads after arresting Nichols, who is charged with conspiracy and murder in the April 1995 blast.

The World

Delegates to the global warming conference in Japan were waiting well into the night to vote on a compromise treaty to reduce the flow of heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. But sources said the accord still could be scuttled by developing nations. They oppose a complex formula allowing industrialized countries to buy and sell the right to pollute.

A new challenge to the Middle East peace process was developing as Israel's Cabinet rushed to draft a ban on Palestinian census-taking in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Parliament was expected to take up the measure immediately. The census began earlier this week in the West Bank and Gaza. But moves to include Jerusalem go the the heart of conflicting claims over which side controls the city, considered by both as their capital.

Five more banks were order-ed to suspend operations by South Korea in a move aimed at easing concerns in financial markets. The government acted after depositors withdrew more than $1 billion from the banks following the bailout of the country's troubled economy by international lenders. Fourteen banks now have been suspended. The government promised some of the 16 others that remain active it would help in withstanding strains on their liquidity.

The Irish Republican Army will likely call a halt to its latest cease-fire early next year, the conservative Daily Telegraph reported. Citing security sources, it said the IRA has resumed recruiting, training, weapons-testing, and "tailing" British police and Army troops in Northern Ireland. Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair today in London.

Serb representatives stalked out of an international conference on peace in Bosnia, complaining that a reference to ethnic tensions in neighboring Kosovo had been "sneaked through the back door." Otherwise, agreement was reached on rules for Bosnian citizenship, passports, and license plates, but not on a common currency.

Once the world's most-hunted criminal suspect, "Carlos the Jackal" is due to go on trial tomorrow in Paris for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and a Lebanese informant. Illich Ramirez Sanchez (his real name) was arrested in Sudan in 1994 after a 19-year search. He also is suspected of other terrorist acts around the world that left more than 80 people dead and hundreds more injured.

Russian commandos captured a hijacker claiming to be wired with explosives at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, ending the takeover of a passenger jet that began eight time zones away in the Siberian city of Magadan. None of 155 people aboard the plane was injured. The hijacker, who demanded $10 million and safe passage to Switzerland, turned out to be carrying only a harmless device made of plaster. Meanwhile, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was reported to be back in a Moscow hospital for a 10- to 12-day stay because of illness.

Indonesian President Suharto is "healthy" and will attend a regional conference next week, his office and family members said. Suharto has not been seen in public since returning from a strenuous overseas trip. Speculation that he was seriously ill or dead gripped financial markets, causing the rupiah to fall to an all-time low against the US dollar. Suharto is widely expected to seek a seventh five-year term next year. Indonesia is one of several Asian countries mired in economic crisis.

"It will be an all-time winter travel extravaganza."

- Travel Industry Association of America executive William Norman, forecasting a 5 percent increase in personal

and business trips because of the robust US economy.


Houstonians can relate to the old rhetorical question: What if they gave a party and nobody came? The Houston Image Group paid $500,000 for a scratch 'n win ad in Time magazine offering 33 free trips to the city, first-class accommodations, and a night at the theater with playwright Edward Albee. Only one person claimed a trip. Attempting to anticipate all eventualities, the sponsor even had a backup strategy: Those not winning instantly could mail in forms giving them a second crack at the prizes. Total entries received: 1,200.

Fresh from his confrontation with the UN over weapons inspections, Saddam Hussein has found another way to keep himself in the news. Reports from Baghdad say the Iraqi president approved the design for the world's largest mosque - a domed hall capable of holding 30,000 worshippers. It's to be built next to a man-made lake in the shape of the Arab world. No word on how the project will be paid for: Iraq is also feuding with the UN over terms of the deal that allows it to sell oil for badly needed food.

The Day's List'

US Colleges Attracting Most Foreign Students

The number of international students at US colleges and universities increased by less than 1 percent in the 1996-97 academic year, continuing a seven-year low-growth trend, the UN's Institute of International Education reports. Its survey found the following 10 schools had more than 3,000 foreigners enrolled:

1. Boston University 4,657

2. New York University 4,491

3. University of Southern California 4,183

4. University of Wisconsin-Madison 3,886

5. Columbia University 3, 807

6. Ohio State University Main Campus 3,772

7. University of Texas-Austin 3,403

8. Harvard University 3,238

9. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor 3,194

10. University of Illinois - Champaign 3,091

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