News In Brief

The US

A bipartisan team of House Judiciary Committee lawyers will visit Kenneth Star's office this week to review potential impeachment evidence the independent counsel has not sent to Congress, the panel's chairman said. The move by chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois was seen as a goodwill gesture to committee Democrats, who have expressed suspicions that Starr might have held back material favorable to President Clinton.

A plan to move California primary elections up three months was officially approved by Gov. Pete Wilson (R). The bid to give Californians more clout in the presidential-nomination process moves the state's primary to the first Tuesday in March from the first Tuesday in June.

Voter participation in this year's primaries hit a record low, the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate reported. Analyzing turnout in 36 states in which both parties selected nominees for governor, US senator, or both, the nonpartisan group said turnout averaged 17.4 percent. That is 10 percent lower than the turnout for primaries before the last midterm elections four years ago. Support declined about equally for Democratic and Republican candidates.

Clinton declared major disasters or emergencies in four states hit by hurricane Georges, which was downgraded to a tropical storm. A disaster declaration made US subsidies available in Monroe County, Fla., where hurricane damage is extensive. The president expanded a disaster declaration issued last week for parts of Louisiana hit by tropical storm Frances. And he declared emergencies in areas of Alabama and Mississippi that were struck by Georges as it moved north from the Florida Keys. Florida raised its estimate of insured losses from the storm to $250 million.

Consumer confidence has suffered its biggest monthly drop since January, the Conference Board reported. Its index of consumer confidence fell 7.1 points in September - to 126.0 from a revised 133.1 in August. It was the third consecutive month of decline. The widely watched index is down 12.2 points from a 29-year high recorded in June.

House and Senate negotiators gave Clinton flexibility in dealing with India and Pakistan by approving a one-year waiver of US sanctions against them. The waiver, a first step in a potentially broad revision of US sanctions policy, was approved as part of an agriculture-funding bill. The panel rejected a proposal, approved in July by the Senate, to exempt food and medicine from all unilateral US embargoes.

The House passed a measure designed to make college more affordable by reducing student-loan rates to their lowest levels in nearly 20 years and expanding grants to low-income students. It would also establish new grants for states to improve teacher training, write off up to $5,000 in student loans for teachers and child-care workers who take jobs in poor school districts, and create new programs to help the disadvantaged reach college. The bill, reconciling earlier versions, was approved on a voice vote and was expected to gain quick Senate approval.

The House approved a $250.5 billion defense bill for fiscal 1999 on a vote of 369 to 43. It was expected to quickly sail through the Senate and be signed into law. Among other things, the measure contains a 3.6 percent military pay raise - and $951 million for the Pentagon's antimissile-defense programs.

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the NCAA can be sued under a US law banning sexual discrimination by programs and activities receiving federal financial aid. It will review a ruling that, if upheld, would force the National Collegiate Athletic Association to defend itself against the sexual-bias charges of a woman declared ineligible for volleyball at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, N.Y., in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, returning home from impromptu peace talks in Washington, was greeted with a car-bomb explosion and a threat by hard-liners to topple his government if he closes a deal with Palestinian Authority President Arafat. The blast in a Ramallah suburb in the West Bank, killed one person and injuring two others as Israel was closing its borders for security reasons on the eve of the Yom Kippur holiday.

In three-way talks at the White House with Arafat and President Clinton, Netanyahu agreed to relinquish Israel's claim to an additional 13 percent of land captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. But he demanded that it not be used as a staging base for attacks on Israel. A key legislator from one of Netanyahu's coalition partners, however, vowed to muster enough votes in parliament to force early elections if the withdrawal is formalized.

Arafat, meanwhile, returned to the White House for further discussions with Clinton after a speech in New York urging the UN to support the establishment of a Palestinian state. Secretary of State Albright and special envoy Dennis Ross also were ordered to the Middle East next week to try to keep momentum going in the newly invigorated peace process. And Arafat agreed to attend mid-October talks at which final details of a further Israeli pullback from the West Bank are to be discussed.

Albanian separatist leaders in Kosovo refused all cooperation with the provisional government planned for the restive province. They said such a body would be a "rubber stamp" for the Yugoslav regime of President Slobodan Milosevic. Meanwhile, in southern Kosovo, new attacks against Albanian towns were reported despite Serb claims that they had ended. Western diplomats touring the area saw the remains of 15 Albanians who'd been shot, execution-style.

A detailed plan for meeting Russia's severe economic crisis was promised by Oct. 8 as Prime Minister Primakov announced that September's tax revenues were only half of what had been expected. He promised Russia's 89 regional governors a share of revenues from a new national alcohol monopoly, but warned against allowing that increased autonomy to "nourish separatism."

Citing disarray in his coalition government's ranks, the Socialist prime minister of Albania quit two weeks after the murder of a top political rival. Fatos Nano's resignation was a key demand of the opposition Democratic Party. But, in a statement, the latter said it now also was insisting that a new "technical government" be appointed to rule for one year until new elections could be held.

Showing off bruises to back up the claim that he'd been beaten while in police custody, ex-Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim pleaded not guilty at his arraignment to charges of corruption and sodomy. Anwar was denied bail, but a magistrate ordered him examined by doctors and agreed to transfer his case to a higher court due to the seriousness of the charges.

The impoverished central African nation of Chad widened the conflict in neighboring Congo, confirming that it has committed more than 1,000 troops to help President Laurent Kabila battle a force of Tutsi-led rebels. The Chadians were believed to be intended for use in a major offensive against rebel-held towns in eastern Congo (formerly Zaire). Troops from Angola and Zimbabwe, already helping Kabila, managed to prevent a rebel takeover of the capital, Kinshasa, in late August.


" That's only fair.... We haven't played a major role in selecting a nominee for president in nearly 30 years." - California Gov. Pete Wilson (R), signing a bill that will move his state's primary elections up from June to March.

Some of us might wish we had names other than those our parents gave us. Then there's the case of an Austrian retiree. His name once cost him a job. Anonymous callers harass him because of it. And his own son dislikes it so much that he adopted his mother's maiden name instead. Yet, although life undoubtedly would be easier under a different name, our man never considered making a change out of respect for his parents. His name, if you haven't guessed: Adolf Hittler - with a double "t."

In case you missed it, William Shakespeare is out with a new play. Last week in London, 382 years after the bard's death,the five-act "Edward III" officially was credited to him following a lengthy computer analysis. Previously, its author was believed to be that other internationally famous playwright: Anonymous.

The Day's List

Richest-Americans List Is Like a Tale of Two Firms

Forbes magazine's annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans is dominated at the top by eight whose wealth traces to just two companies: Microsoft and Wal-Mart. Microsoft CEO Bill Gates is ranked No. 1 for the fifth consecutive year. Behind him in No. 3 and No. 5 spots are Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen and its president, Steven Ballmer. In the No. 6-to-10 spots are five heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. The top 10 with estimated net worth (in billions):

1. Bill Gates, Bellevue, Wash. $58.4

2. Warren Buffett, Omaha, Neb. 29.4

3. Paul Allen, Mercer Island, Wash. 22.0

4. Michael Dell, Austin, Texas 13.0

5. Steven Ballmer, Bellevue, Wash. 12.0

6. Alice Walton, Rogers, Ark. 11.0

7. Helen Walton, Bentonville, Ark. 11.0

8. Jim Walton, Bentonville, Ark. 11.0

9. John Walton, Durango, Colo. 11.0

10. Robson Walton, Bentonville, Ark. 11.0

- Associated Press

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