News In Brief

The US

The House Judiciary Committee began deliberations on holding a formal impeachment inquiry. The panel, dominated by Republicans, was expected to vote late yesterday or today in favor of conducting the probe, the first against a president since the Watergate scandal in 1974 and only the third in US history. Committee chairman Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois said he hopes to complete the inquiry by the beginning of 1999.

The Supreme Court let stand a ruling that said public school teachers have no free-speech protection against being disciplined for the curriculum materials they choose. The justices rejected the appeal of a North Carolina drama teacher punished for letting students put on a controversial play. A federal appeals court - on a 7-to-6 vote - had ruled against the teacher. The high court also let stand a ruling that allows an Indiana school district to conduct random drug testing of all students participating in extracurricular activities, even if they are not individually suspected of using drugs.

A protest of the scarcity of minority law clerks at the Supreme Court was scheduled for today by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The group said that of 394 law clerks hired by the court's current nine justices less than 2 percent have been black, 1 percent Hispanic, fewer than 5 percent Asian American, none native American, and fewer than 25 percent women.

Americans overwhelmingly support restrictions to control teen drinking, a new survey indicated. The poll by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found 89 percent of those surveyed supporting restrictions on drinking in parks, public places, and college campuses; 67 percent backing a ban on TV advertising of liquor; 77 percent favoring restrictions on drinking in sports stadiums; and 82 percent supporting a 5 percent increase in alcohol taxes to pay for programs to deter minors from drinking.

The Senate majority leader accused the White House of threatening to shut down the government. Trent Lott (R) of Mississippi also said on ABC TV that he was unsure whether he could trust the administration in budget talks. Erskine Bowles, the president's chief of staff, replied in a letter to Lott that a full budget had been submitted to Congress eight months ago and "Republicans are now almost six months behind the legal deadline for passing a budget."

Attorney General Janet Reno questioned whether evidence linking Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden to the bombings of US embassies in Africa was strong enough to justify retaliatory attacks but was ignored, The New Yorker magazine reported. It also said the White House kept its planning for raids on suspected terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Sudan so secret that four members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and FBI Director Louis Freeh were not informed.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Cisco Systems proposed illegally dividing up the emerging network market with two of its competitors, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper said executives at Cisco confirmed that the San Jose, Calif., company received a letter last week from the FTC requesting details about discussions last summer with officials at Lucent Technologies and Northern Telecom. A Cisco vice president said he was confident that an inquiry would show that the discussions had not been illegal.

A yearlong campaign to expose perceived human-rights shortcomings in the US was to be launched today by Amnesty International, a London-based human-rights group. William Schulz, executive director of the group's American chapter, said US human-rights abuses damage the nation's credibility as a global rights watchdog - and he listed widespread use of the death penalty as prominent among US abuses.

The World

The UN Security Council will have to determine whether Yugoslavia is complying with its demand for a cease-fire in Kosovo, Secretary-General Annan said. Annan told the council he lacked the means to verify compliance with its Sept. 23 resolution because the UN has no political presence on the ground there. His much-anticipated report, on which NATO was depending for a decision on whether to launch punitive strikes against Yugoslavia, instead called for the safe return of Kosovo refugees and a negotiated settlement of the crisis.

Reserves for Japan's top 19 banks have dwindled to dangerously low levels, The New York Times reported. Quoting sources familiar with a private meeting between Bank of Japan governor Masaryu Hayami and US Treasury Secretary Rubin, it said the 19 institutions could be barred from international operations "if the rules were vigorously" enforced. In Tokyo (as traders watch on TV monitors), the Nikkei index closed its lowest since January 1986 on what analysts said was disappointment that last weekend's Group of Seven meetings failed to offer a plan for restoring global growth.

News headlines in Brazil were declaring President Fernando Henrique Cardoso the winner in his bid for reelection - but by a razor-thin margin. With more than half the vote counted, Cardoso held barely enough of an edge over leftist challenger Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to avoid a runoff. Unless returns from rural areas change the trend, Cardoso will be Brazil's first head of state to win reelection via a fully democratic vote.

Skeptics heaped doubt on China's sincerity in signing a high-profile UN treaty on human rights in New York. The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aims to guarantee freedom of speech, assembly, and participation in elections. But within hours of the signing ceremony, a prominent dissident was detained in the city of Wuhan for attempting to register a rights-monitoring group at a government office.

Turkey added new fuel to its tense relations with neighboring Syria, warning that it had neither "the luxury nor the time" to wait for the latter to oust Kurdish rebels seeking refuge there. An Ankara newspaper reported that Turkish jets would first attack Syrian air and missile bases if ordered into action. Meanwhile, President Suleyman Demirel postponed talks with his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, who's attempting to mediate the dispute. Demirel said his schedule allowed no opening for Mubarak until today.

A boycott by supporters of the Zapatista rebel movement and the aftermath of last month's severe flooding held voter turnout to perhaps 40 percent in last weekend's election in Chiapas, Mexico's troubled southernmost state. With more than half the votes counted, the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party appeared headed for victory. But observers said a sectarian protest in one key town could annul returns and keep the state's legislature from being seated

Italians waited for word on whether Prime Minister Romano Prodi would quit after his Communist supporters in parliament voted with the majority in rejecting his proposed 1999 budget. Prodi scheduled an address to parliament tomorrow. He could use that speech to call for a vote of confidence or announce his resignation 2-1/2 years early.

A manhunt was announced for the persons who assassinated the leader of Mongolia's 1990 emergence from Soviet-style communism. Sanjaasuregiin Zorig, the popular infrastructure and communications minister, was murdered last Friday - five days before he was expected to be approved by parliament as a compromise choice to head the Mongolian government.


"Never lose sight of the ultimate need for a ... political solution. Otherwise, we shall be treating only the symptoms of the problem and not its causes." - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his much-awaited report to the Security Council on the Kosovo crisis.

Someone was taking Carlton Barcomb's van from his driveway without permission. Four times, in fact, in less than a month. So, although the vehicle was always returned, the Scotia, N.Y., resident decided to install an antitheft device. But no costly high-tech would do. Instead, he came up with perhaps the ultimate in low-tech - a length of thread connecting the hood ornament to a wind chime outside his bedroom window. One night last week, it worked. Barcomb awoke, phoned 911, and the borrower now faces felony charges.

Ever been invited to two social functions on the same date and wondered how you could spread yourself thinly enough to attend both? Then perhaps you can empathize with the plight of Queen Elizabeth II. Birthday parties for the British monarch's elder son, Prince Charles, and grandson Peter Phillips are scheduled for Nov. 14. No word yet on whether either event will be rescheduled - or whether the queen will choose between them.

The Day's List

'Antz' Creeps to Top of Week's Box Office List

Woody Allen's latest comedy - combining computer animation social commentary, and an insect's view of the world - earned top honors at the box office on its debut weekend. Opening in the second spot was the afterlife romance "What Dreams May Come," starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. "Rush Hour" slipped to third after two weeks at No. 1. Estimates of grosses (in millions) for top movies at North American box offices Oct. 2-4:

1. "Antz" $16.8

2. "What Dreams May Come" 16.1

3. "Rush Hour" 15.0

4. "A Night at the Roxbury" 10.0

5. "Ronin" 7.2

6. "Urban Legend" 7.0

7. "There's Something About Mary" 3.6

8. "One True Thing" 2.7

9. "Saving Private Ryan" 1.7

10. "Simon Birch" 1.5

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./AP

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