News In Brief

The US

A new poll found half the respondents saying President Clinton should consider leaving office if he lied in his grand-jury testimony, but the majority said he can put the White House scandal behind him. The New York Post survey showed 57.7 percent believed the president could go on to govern effectively and 54.9 percent approved of his job performance.

Vice President Al Gore's account of his campaign fund-raising phone calls appears to be contradicted by handwritten notes on a memo obtained by the Justice Department, The New York Times reported. Unidentified government officials told the paper the notations indicate Gore and campaign officials discussed how some donations he was raising - meant only for general party campaign purposes - would be diverted to accounts to directly finance the Clinton-Gore reelection. The sources said the notes were written by an unidentified senior Gore aide.

Italian insurance firm Assicurazioni Generali SpA agreed to contribute $100 million to settle Holocaust-era claims. The accord, reached in New York, still must be approved by a federal court and the company's board of directors. It would affect tens of thousands of claimants, including about one-third of policies bought by Jews in Eastern Europe.

The director of the FBI is reportedly flying to Africa with some other top agency officials to oversee a bombing probe that already involves more than 250 FBI investigators, government sources said. Freeh and his group were reportedly scheduled to visit the site of the embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, today.

Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle resigned under pressure amid new allegations of plagiarism. Globe editor Matt Storin said he asked for and received Barnicle's resignation after questions arose over a column he wrote in October 1995. Reader's Digest magazine wanted to reprint the column, but its fact checkers could not verify the story. Barnicle's writing have often created controversy, most recently over an Aug. 4 column in which he lifted jokes without attribution from a 1997 book by George Carlin.

The four-week moving average of claims for unemployment benefits fell to 303,000, the lowest level in a year, the Labor Department reported. Analysts said it was another sign that jobs remain plentiful despite the Asia-induced slowdown in the US economy.

Regions of Earth experiencing unusually wet or dry conditions have increased over the past 20 to 30 years, researchers said in a report that will add to the debate over global warming. While overall changes were small, climate researchers found increases in drought-affected areas in Africa and Asia and an increase in both extremely wet and extremely dry areas in Europe and the US. The report by several scientists is to be published in the Sept. 1 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

The US tightened sanctions against a former rebel group in Angola in response to its delays in implementing a UN-brokered peace deal with the Angola government. Clinton informed Congress by letter that he had issued an executive order freezing US property of the group, UNITA, and - among other things - prohibiting UNITA from importing into the US diamonds from Angola that have not received a certificate of origin from the Angolan government.

California took a step toward holding its presidential primary in March rather than June. The state Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would move the primary to the first Tuesday in March - one of the earliest possible dates in the nomination process. In addition to five New England states, primaries or caucuses are also tentatively scheduled for that day in New York, Maryland, Georgia, Minnesota, and Colorado.

The World

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern announced "extremely draconian" measures to stamp out renegade republican groups in the wake of the Omagh bombing Aug. 16. Ahern said the proposals, including the right to restrict bail for suspected terrorists, were approved in an emergency Cabinet session and would become law within two weeks. British Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the proposals and said his country was reviewing whether to strengthen British law to crack down on the guerrillas.

Canada's Supreme Court ruled that Quebec has no legal right to unilaterally declare independence from the rest of the country. The long-awaited decision was unanimous and marked a victory for the federal government. But the court said the government was obliged to negotiate with Quebec if it won a referendum on independence.

Cuban President Fidel Castro was to get a first glimpse of the nearby Dominican Republic at a gathering of 14 Caribbean government heads or ministers in Santo Domingo, the capital. They were expected to strengthen their alliances and plot trade strategy. Cuba and the Dominican Republic settled some long-standing disagreements earlier this year.

Congolese rebels made a surprise peace offer to President Laurent Kabila, but diplomats said the invitation to negotiate a cease-fire did not stop the fighting near the capital, Kinshasa. A Congolese minister said the government refused to talk to "the instruments of Rwanda and Uganda," which it accuses of abetting the rebels. In a continued advance into Kinshasa, the rebels had reportedly captured the last major western town in their path, Mbanza-Ngungu. Meanwhile, Southern African leaders remained divided on a proposed military intervention in the civil war.

Indian authorities began evacuating some 50,000 people from towns and villages in the Himalayas after a series of landslides reportedly killed up to 300 people in the area. Authorities in the state capital, Lucknow, said engineers would dynamite a blockage of boulders and mud in the Mandakini River, which was forming a lake and threatening to submerge five towns and 25 villages. Deforestation on the mountain foothills was blamed for causing the landslides.

A group of retired Indonesian generals demanded their president resign immediately to pave the way for a a two-year "transitional" government, to be appointed by the country's reformist movement. The generals, at the forefront of President Suharto's ousting in May, said his successor, B.J. Habibie, "hasn't made much progress ... politically or economically." Meanwhile, an Indonesian military judge sentenced two officers to four years and 10 months in jail for failing to control troops accused of killing four students at a pro-democracy rally in May. Critics said the internal investigation into the killings focused only on low-level officers.

Jordan's prime minister resigned in a move widely expected by analysts. Abdul-Salam al-Majali was replaced by new Prime Minister Fayez al-Tarawnah, who is expected to make sweeping changes to an administration wracked with internal divisions and domestic economic problems.

North Korea said the Supreme People's Assembly would convene next month for the first time in four years, setting the scene for de-facto leader Kim Jong-il to be elected president.


"There is solid public opinion in Quebec that it's not up to the Supreme Court to decide or limit in any way the right of the Quebec people to choose their future." - Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, on a high-court ruling that his province has no legal right to declare its independence.

Customers at the Sinh Doi restaurant in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City can be forgiven for seeing double. All of its waiters and waitresses are twins. Thanh Tung, who is a popular songwriter, opened the Sinh Doi - which means twins in Vietnamese - last month. He says he actually conceived the idea in 1997, but fearing competitors might steal the concept, he spent six months advertising for twins by word of mouth. Now there's just one problem: telling them all apart.

Out of the Asia comes a new approach to technology's so-called millennium bug: Simply shut your computers down. Because of their location, the banks in Singapore are expected to be among the first in the world to face any glitches caused by software mistaking 2000 for 1900 on Jan. 3, the first Monday of the new century. Some software consultants have been counseling Singapore banks to remain closed for the first few business days of the new millennium and learn from the experiences of other, more intrepid firms.

The Day's List

Europe Homicide Rates Put US Figures in Relief

A British Home Office study of 29 major North American and European cities indicates those in the US are much more violent, based on a comparison of their homicide rates over two-year periods. With 69.3 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, the rate for Washington, D.C., was found to exceed by far all the other cities. The homicide rate for the US capital was 170 times greater than the rate for Brussels, which had the lowest rate, 0.4 per 100,000. The 10 cities with the highest homicide rates:

1. Washington 69.3

2. Philadelphia 27.4

3. Dallas 24.8

4. Los Angeles 22.8

5. Chicago 20.5

6. Phoenix 19.1

7. Houston 18.0

8. Moscow 18.1

9. New York City 16.8

10. Lisbon 9.7

- Associated Press

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