News In Brief

The US

Republicans vowed tough scrutiny of Bill Lann Lee, the Justice Department's new top civil rights enforcer. But Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah pledged to avoid "retribution" against him. President Clinton appointed Lee acting assistant attorney general and said Lee "has the full confidence of the president" and "that's all he needs."

Segregating men and women in military training would boost morale and lower tension between the sexes, a civilian review committee said in a report to the secretary of Defense.

The cost of gas, oranges, and airline tickets fell in November. And the increase in all other consumer prices was 0.1 percent, the Commerce Department said. That puts the year's inflation rate at 1.8 percent - the lowest since 1986. Also, housing starts grew 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.53 million, it said.

The jury in the bombing trial of Terry Nichols was set to begin deliberations. On Monday defense lawyers called the government's case "woefully lacking" and based on circumstantial evidence.

The military's new anthrax-inoculation plan will cover all 2.4 million active and reserve troops and cost $130 million, the Pentagon said. A vaccine against the chemical agent will first be given to troops in the Middle East and South Korea. Iraq and North Korea are able to mount canisters of the agent on missiles or spray it from planes, the Pentagon said.

Early support for extending the US troop presence in Bosnia appeared to be growing. Senate Armed Services Committee member John Warner (R) of Virginia, just returned from Bosnia. He said troops will be needed there for at least two more years and that the US risks damaging the NATO alliance if it pulls out. Clinton has invited congressional leaders to join him on a trip to Bosnia next week.

Major US airlines agreed to install better ground-warning systems. Satellite-assisted computers will warn pilots to "pull up" if mountains or other dangerous terrain are too close. Airlines will spend about $400 million for the systems - or about $92,500 per plane.

Treatment significantly helps drug abusers, a government study found. Four kinds of programs, including short- and long-term residential treatment, helped users to stop committing crimes and to find jobs, the study said. In preparing its report, the National Institute on Drug Abuse study tracked 10,000 users from 1991 to 1993.

Former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy escaped the possibility of mandatory jail time when a federal judge in Washington dismissed the government's most serious charges against him. The former Clinton administration official pleaded not guilty to getting $35,000 in gifts from firms his agency regulated.

Clinton won't be investigated for his role in an Indian casino deal, Attorney General Reno said. A 90-day probe is looking into whether Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt nixed a permit for a Wisconsin tribe. Another tribe opposed to the permit had recently given the Democratic party a $300,000 contribution.

The suicide rate in three US cities with legalized gambling is higher than in other comparably sized cities, according to a study from the University of California, San Diego. Las Vegas, Reno, Nev., and Atlantic City, N.J., have higher suicide rates, it found. The gaming industry disputes any linkage.

Microsoft will appeal a federal judge's decision to temporarily block the bundling of its computer-operating system with its Internet browsing program - a move that has boosted the software giant's market share in the Internet market. The government said Microsoft's moves to comply with the ruling aren't sufficient.

The World

Chief UN weapons inspector Richard Butler is expected to report to the Security Council tomorrow on his largely unsuccessful meetings with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad. He announced late Monday that Iraq remained adamant in denying access to possible weapons storehouses. And he cited differences between Iraq's claim that it had destroyed all biological weapons and what his inspectors have found, saying, "We do have a problem here."

South Korea's won currency was set free to find its own level on financial markets as part of a package of reforms required under the international bailout of the country's economy. The government also said it would raise the cap on interest rates, cut the budget, and ease rules on corporate mergers.

Mexico's economy is nearing full recovery from the 1994 peso devaluation, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. In an annual report, the Paris-based group of the world's leading industrial nations forecast a 12 percent gain in Mexico's gross domestic product over the next two years, coupled with a 10-point drop in inflation. The economy shrunk by more than 6 percent following the devaluation, triggering a massive international bailout.

Jewish settlers in the West Bank would have "full security control," Prime Minister Netanyahu said as his Cabinet returned to a discussion of a limited troop withdrawal. A detailed proposal for such a pullback is demanded by Secretary of State Albright for their meeting tomorrow in Paris. Angry Jews yelled "You betrayed us" at Netanyahu's defense minister, Yitzhak Mordechai, on hearing that 42 of their 144 settlements may not be declared vital to Israel's security.

Pakistan's bitter political feud took a surprise turn with the nomination of an obscure member of parliament to be the next president. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif selected Rafiq Tarar, a retired judge, to succeed Farooq Leghari. Leghari quit Dec. 2 in a constitutional dispute with Sharif that also cost Supreme Court Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah his job. Tarar's election, on an internal vote of parliament members and those from provincial assemblies, is considered certain.

State-owned Kenya Broadcasting Corp. was warned against biased coverage of political campaigns as the Dec. 29 general election approaches. The electoral commission also accused "some candidates" of encouraging violence. Two deaths, 63 injuries, the arrests of 50 people, and the seizure of assorted weapons have been reported to date, with campaigning still in its first week.

Australian Aborigines were offered $40 million - but no apology - by the government as compensation for the taking of thousands of children from their parents for adoption by whites or to be placed in orphanages. The practice, over a span of six decades ending in the 1970s, was seen as being in the children's best interests. Aboriginal spokesmen welcomed the financial settlement but said the response was "fundamentally flawed" without an apology because state governments and church groups had formally expressed regret.

Attention shifted to the safety of the Tupolev-154 passenger jet after the crash of a Tajik Air charter flight in the desert near Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates. The plane carried tourists apparently bound for a shopping spree in neighboring Dubai. Only the navigator - of the 86 people aboard - survived. The jet was the third Tupolev-154 to crash this year and the seventh since January 1994. More than 600 people died in those accidents.


"The Marine Corps builds men. The FBI builds witnesses."

- Defense attorney Michael Tigar, telling jurors the US government moulded evidence to fit its own conclusions against Terry Nichols in the Oklahoma City bombing case.

Construction of the new house has already cost $236,000, with another $38,000 needed for water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups. Not out of line by modern real-estate standards, right? Ah, but hold on, say critics, who note that the money - for a facility to house Bergen County, N.J.'s, 20 drug-sniffing dogs - is $32,400 more than the average person pays for a private dwelling.

Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love, but some residents weren't feeling that way toward the producers of a new movie being filmed there last week. They'd transformed a trendy neighborhood of shops and galleries to give it a 19th century appearance for the flick starring Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey. But the project was four months behind schedule. So instead of being filled with holiday shoppers' cars, parking spaces held buggies. Store aisles were mostly empty, as customers had to show identification before guards would let them pass. Oh, the film: Toni Morrison's "Beloved."

The Day's List

'Scream 2' Sets Record At Box Office in Debut

The sequel to Wes Craven's blockbuster horror film, starring Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell, racked up almost six times the ticket sales of its nearest competitor last weekend. Its estimated revenues of $39.2 million were the largest on record for a December opening, according to film-industry sources - and nearly double the $20.1 million set last year by "Beavis and Butt-head Do America." The top films for Dec. 12-14 and their estimated grosses (in millions of dollars):

1. "Scream 2"$39.2

2. "Flubber" 6.9

3. "For Richer or Poorer" 6.0

4. "Home Alone 3" 5.1

5. "Amistad" 4.6

6. "John Grisham'sThe Rainmaker" 3.4

7. "Alien Resurrection" 3.3

8. "Anastasia" 3.1

9. "The Jackal" 2.5

10. "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" 1.8

Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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