News In Brief

The US

Yasser Arafat is scheduled to continue Mideast peace talks with President Clinton in Washington today. Also, The Palestinian leader was expected to accept an invitation for a VIP tour of Washington's U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The museum reversed course and extended the invitation under pressure from the Clinton administration, Jewish groups, and some museum directors.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "some progress" was made in Mideast peace talk with Clinton and his advisors in the White House. He told a news conference in Washington he was willing to go a long way for peace, but not at the risk of Israel's security. He also said he was unlikely to meet with Arafat while their Washington visits overlap.

Clinton expressed outrage over allegations he had an affair with a former White House intern and asserted his innocence, press secretary Mike McCurry said. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr expanded his investigation to probe an accusation that Clinton and Washington attorney Vernon Jordan pressured Monica Lewinsky to testify falsely in the sexual harassment case brought against Clinton by Paula Jones, The Washington Post and ABC News reported. A series of tapes surreptitiously made by another former White House aide allegedly recorded the young woman's account of her relationship with Clinton and the subsequent pressure place upon her to testify falsely.

The US Supreme Court ruled unanimously that government agencies can punish employees who lie while being investigated for employment-related misconduct. It overturned rulings in five separate cases that had barred federal agencies from stiffening the disciplinary action taken against wayward employees based on false statements they made when questioned about their misconduct.

The judge in the trial of Unabomber suspect is expected to make a final ruling in Sacramento, Calif., today on the question of who will represent Theodore Kaczynski and how. Earlier, it was determined that Kaczynski was competent to stand trial, and Judge Garland Burrell Jr. suggested he would keep the current defense team in place and hold Kaczynski to a mental health defense, The New York Times reported. A prison psychiatrist who found Kaczynski competent to stand trail also diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, the Associated Press reported.

Two Massachusetts scientists announced they've developed a technique for cloning calves that will be able to produce medicines for humans in their milk. George and Charlie - the first calves cloned for this purpose - were born last week in Texas.

US Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced she won't run for governor of California, and said she doesn't want to enter "a very debilitating campaign environment." Clinton urged her to enter the race two weeks ago.

The US trade deficit narrowed to $8.04 billion in November - the best showing since March, the Commerce Department said. Analysts attributed the change to an all-time high in US auto exports and plunging oil imports.

Clinton marked his five years in office with a speech at a Democratic fundraiser in Washington. He touted as major accomplishments the impending balanced budget, low unemployment, and initiatives to combat racism. The event raised $1.3 million.

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. filed a federal lawsuit against Ford Motor Co. in Los Angeles, claiming the carmaker hid problems with an ignition switch. The flaw caused vehicles to catch fire, leading to millions of dollars in claims, it alleged.

The World

UN weapons-inspection chief Richard Butler reacted unenthusiastically to Iraq's request that more discussions be held on the demand for unlimited access to suspected arms storehouses. Such a move would likely end the confrontations with UN inspection teams made up, in part, of Americans. But Butler said it "flies in the face" of Security Council wishes for unfettered access to sites Iraq calls presidential palaces and declares off-limits. Butler said he would not agree to the request unless the Security Council instructed him to.

Palestinians complained of President Clinton's apparent failure to change the view of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on an overdue troop pullback from the West Bank in their talks at the White House. The two leaders met until almost midnight Tuesday, with Israeli sources saying there was hope of a new deal on yielding West Bank land. But senior Palestinian officials said Netanyahu was only "buying time." Palestinian Authority President Arafat is to meet Clinton today.

Asian currencies, led by the Indonesian rupiah, took another battering on financial markets, despite new moves by President Suharto to comply with the economic reforms demanded by western donors. Suharto signed 16 decrees in line with the $38 billion bailout by the International Monetary Fund. But the rupiah traded as low as 11,575 to the US dollar as markets neared their close.

Despite his repeated denials and concerns about his health, Russian President Yeltsin may yet seek reelection in 2000, a senior aide said. First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov said the prospect of a Yeltsin candidacy "exists and [would be] one of the stabilizing factors for our society." The Constitution limits presidents to two terms, but Yeltsin could make the case that his first term shouldn't count because he was elected in the Soviet era.

Calm returned to Zimbabwe's capital after two days of violent riots over skyrocketing food prices. The government warned it would declare a state of emergency if the unrest, which spread to other cities, persisted.

Taiwan scored political points by staging a high-tech trade show without using it as a platform to counter the diplomatic embargo imposed by mainland China, western analysts said. The event was attended by 290 delegates - the most yet - from China. Neither government sought to exploit the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum exhibition by displaying its national flag. Taiwan also drew praise for keeping its top leaders away from the opening ceremonies and for referring to itself as "Chinese Taipei."

Prospects for an early national election in Australia strengthened after the main opposition party vowed to continue thwarting Prime Minister John Howard's legislative efforts to limit the land rights of Aborigines. Political observers said the Labor Party's stand risked dividing Australia along racial lines if Howard's legislation is defeated in Parliament in March and he schedules a new election in July.

Traffic in Bolivia's capital ground to a halt as thousands of farmers rallied to demand a government response to devastation caused by El Nino. The weather system is blamed for massive crop failures from drought in the highlands and severe flooding in the lowlands. An estimated 100,000 farmers have been affected. The demonstrators vowed to prolong their protest by blocking roads to the major cities if their demands aren't met.

"The more he understands about the history of [Jewish] people, perhaps the more

he'll understand how he should negotiate."

- Holocaust Memorial Museum's Ruth Mandel, on the merits of a VIP tour for Palestinian Authority President Arafat.


It was a touching moment at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony last Sunday night when an emotional Ving Rhames gave up his "best actor" trophy to fellow nominee Jack Lemmon. The gesture will not go unrewarded, however. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which hands out the awards, says Rhames will get a replacement.

St. John's University swimmer Matt Zelen got lots of exposure for his performance in the school's invitational meet last weekend at Collegeville, Minn. The junior from Duluth set a record in winning the 50-meter freestyle and contributed to another as his team took the 200-meter relay. He also beat the rest of the field by two seconds in the 100-meter butterfly but was disqualified because his untied trunks slid off early in the race.

Something seemed awfully familiar to police in the Dutch city of Rotterdam when they pulled a car over for speeding. The same vehicle, with the same driver at the wheel, had been impounded for the same offense two days before. The cops say the offender can try for a third if he likes, once he pays a $90 fine.

The Day's List

'Titanic' Rides Tide Again With US Moviegoers

On a weekend that brought it four Golden Globe awards, "Titanic" showed no sign of slowing down at the box office. The film took top honors in ticket sales for a fifth straight time and earned an estimated $35.6 million - almost $1 million more than in its debut weekend. The estimated grosses (in millions) for the top 10 movies at North American theaters Jan. 16-18:

1. "Titanic" $35.6

2. "Good Will Hunting" 13.6

3. "Fallen" 10.4

4. "As Good as It Gets" 9.6

5. "Hard Rain" 8.3

6. "Half-Baked" 8.0

7. "Wag the Dog" 6.9

8. "Tomorrow Never Dies" 6.2

9. "Mouse Hunt" 5.3

10. "Amistad" 3.3

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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