News In Brief

The US

President Clinton strongly endorsed an agreement reached by industrial nations in Kyoto, Japan, to control green-house gas emissions, calling it "environmentally strong and economically sound." Key Democrats and Republicans agreed the treaty faces rejection in its present form from the Republican-controlled Senate. But Environment Committee Chairman John Chaffee (R) of Rhode Island warned fellow Republicans about getting on the wrong side of the important environmental issue.

Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh agreed to talk about giving congressional investigators at least part of a secret memo on the campaign fund-raising investigation. Freeh told a House Government Reform Committee hearing that Justice Department and FBI lawyers would meet with committee staff to see whether portions of his memorandum to Reno could be handed over without jeopardizing the investigation.

Clinton was expected back at the White House today after a three-day, two-state fund-raising trip and a shopping spree in New York. The president's trip included several fund-raisers in Florida and New York expected to net $2.9 million to offset the Democratic Party's $13 million debt.

National Transportation Safety Board hearings into the crash of TWA Flight 800 centered on aging aircraft and reducing the flammability of jet fuel. Earlier, safety investigators said they were focusing on possible electrical problems in the center tank fuel measuring probes.

The US Supreme Court decided that people fined by federal agencies also can undergo criminal prosecution for the same conduct. The court agreed that three Oklahoma men can be prosecuted in a bank-failure case even though they already have paid civil fines for their actions. Defense lawyers warned the ruling could lead to abusive punishment.

US retail sales rose a lackluster 0.2 percent in November, the Commerce Department said. In advance, economists had predicted a spending rise of about 0.5 percent but said the sluggish spending doesn't necessarily translate into weak profits for retailers in December. Retail spending is watched carefully as an indicator of the economy's vigor.

An investigation of poultry giant Tyson Foods Inc.'s ties to former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy "changed direction somewhat" after a meeting with Justice Department officials, independent counsel Donald Smaltz told the House Government Reform Committee. "We weren't going in the direction I thought it was appropriate to go," he said. The panel called Smaltz to testify about whether the Justice Department interfered with his work as an independent counsel. A former lobbyist for the Arkansas-based company has been charged with giving gifts and favors to Espy, who resigned in 1994.

A total of $425 million in grants will be distributed to the 50 states to help teachers and students learn to use the Internet, Vice President Gore announced. The money will come from the government's Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, which is designed to aid state and local efforts to improve teaching and learning with the use of technology.

Unless population growth slows and farm production increases dramatically, there won't be enough food by 2025 for the world's projected 8 billion people, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. Food production would need to double by then to provide food security for the world's population, said Don Jinrichsen, who is the study's author and a United Nations Population Fund senior consultant.

The World

Prominent world leaders praised - but environmentalists poured scorn on - the agreement to limit greenhouse-gas emissions approved by the conference on climate change in Kyoto, Japan. The deal requires a 5.2 percent average cut in emissions from 1990 levels over the next 15 years. It was adopted by delegates without a formal vote. But European Union Environment Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard called it "not good enough." And the environmental group Greenpeace said the accord was "a tragedy and a farce."

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu cannot promise to meet next week's deadline for key decisions on making peace, his office said. Netanyahu is due to meet with Secretary of State Albright Wednesday in Europe, and she's reported to have told him she wants a "credible" troop pullback from the West Bank and a "timeout" in Jewish settlement construction there and in Gaza. Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry denied reports that Netanyahu is prepared to improve his planned troop pullback from 6 to 8 percent to at least 10 percent.

Over the jeers of British demonstrators outside No. 10 Downing Street, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams called his meeting with Prime Minister Blair "a moment in history." Blair's office said he would have no comment on the session, the first between Britain's head of government and a political ally of the Irish Republican Army in 76 years. Prior to the meeting, Blair said he had "no illusions about the nature of Sinn Fein" but was prepared to take risks for peace.

The German state of Bavaria told an estimated 40,000 Bosnian refugees they had until Dec. 31 of next year to leave or be deported. If Bosnians living in the southern state believed their home region was too politically unstable to resettle, they should emigrate to the US, Interior Minister Guenther Beckstein said. He called the policy "strict" and said deportation notices would be issued beginning after Christmas.

"Huge" losses in tourism were confirmed by Egyptian officials in the aftermath of two recent massacres of foreign visitors. Tourism Minister Mamdouh el-Beltagi said hotel occupancy rates had plunged to an average of 18 percent at all major tourist attractions. Sixty-two people were killed Nov. 17 when Muslim militants attacked a party of European and Japanese at a historic site near Luxor. A similar incident in Cairo Sept. 18 left nine Germans dead and 19 others hurt.

Leaders of the European Union's 15 member governments open two days of meetings today in Luxembourg on a volatile range of issues from control over monetary union to extending membership invitations to former Warsaw Pact countries that have made the most progress on political and economic reform.

Mexico City Mayor Cuauhtmoc Cardenas was dealt a setback in his first week on the job when his top appointee in a campaign against police corruption was linked to narcotics traffickers. Jess Carrola Gtierrez requested a leave of absence to try to clear his name. Cardenas took office as the first elected mayor in 68 years amid hopes that he could curb an average of 628 violent crimes a day, which he blames in part on corruption.

At least half a million civil servants staged an illegal strike in Turkey, snarling traffic, closing post offices and schools, and reducing hospital care to emergency cases. The walkout, called by the Confederation of Public Workers' Unions, was aimed at forcing the government to negotiate higher pay and collective bargaining rights. Civil servants are paid according to a scale set unilaterally by the government, which vowed reprisals against the strikers.

"We got what we wanted .... This is a very good agreement."

- President Clinton, on the greenhouse-gas pact.


In Madison, Wis., there is a sure sign that something special is imminent - and it isn't the wreaths or twinkly lights that residents decorate with. For the second year in a row, an athiest group has approval to display its "equal time" message next to the official state Christmas tree. The sign reads, in part: "In this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail." On the back, it says, "Thou shalt not steal."

School officials in Yorkshire, England, reprimanded a student, met with his parents, and required him to write "I must not make racist remarks" 60 times as punishment for "inappropriate" mimicry. His misdeed: greeting an Australian classmate, "G'day, sport!" The student is 11. Reached for comment, an Australian diplomat said the greeting "is part of our vernacular" and hoped the matter wasn't one of "political overcorrectness."

Friskies PetCare Co. is looking for candidates for its 1999 Mighty Dog Calendar. Entries are open to canines with the "unique spirit" of a small dog. Entries must be received by March 15. It's not known whether the Clintons' new - and as yet unnamed - first puppy is eligible.

The Day's List

Where the Crowds Plan To Flock This Winter

US travelers are expected to take a record number of winter vacations between now and February, according to the Washington-based Travel Industry Association of America. In fact, 21 percent of American adults say they'll travel more this winter than last, according to the association's annual survey. The top winter destinations cited by respondents:

1. Florida

2. California

3. Hawaii

4. Nevada

5. Colorado

6. Arizona

7. New York

8. Texas

9. Washington State

10. Georgia

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.