News In Brief

The US

President Clinton met briefly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at the White House before flying to a conference center 70 miles east of Washington to formally convene new Mideast peace talks. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said she hoped they could clinch a land-and-security deal by Sunday.

Clinton signed a temporary spending bill to keep the government running through tomorrow even as White House and congressional negotiators tried to put finishing touches on a compromise $500 billion-plus measure to fund much of the government for the rest of the fiscal year. Among other things, negotiators reportedly reached agreement on $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund, $5.98 billion in emergency aid to farmers, and $1.1 billion to hire new teachers.

Schools may be safer than last year's outbreak of school shootings led people to believe, a report released yesterday at a White House conference on school violence indicated. Although 16 people died and dozens were wounded in attacks by youngsters during the last academic year, the rate of school crime was down, fewer students were bringing weapons to school, and nine out of 10 public schools reported no violent crime at all, the report said. It was commissioned by Clinton after a December shooting in West Paducah, Ky.

Last month was the world's hottest September on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. It was the ninth straight month of record heat, adding fuel to the debate on global warming. The average worldwide temperature for September was 59.98 degrees F. Average temperatures in the contiguous US exceeded the record for heat set during the dust-bowl years of the 1930s.

The Federal Aviation Administration recommended replacement of insulation in almost all US passenger jets at "the earliest possible maintenance interval." Concern about insulation has grown out of the probe of Swissair Flight 111, which crashed off Nova Scotia last month. The FAA said it would develop within six months new specifications for insulation to increase fire safety.

A federal judge denied a request by Microsoft Corp. to delay its antitrust trial for two weeks. The trial is set to begin Monday in Washington, D.C. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson called the company's request "unwarranted."

The only impeachment-related hearing scheduled prior to midterm elections was postponed by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee. An Oct. 22 subcommittee session at which scholars were to testify on historical standards for removing a president was called off because the House has remained in session longer than expected and lawmakers don't want to interrupt their campaigns to return for a hearing, GOP officials said. Postponement was criticized by Rep. Robert Scott (D) of Virginia as evidence of GOP disinterest in quickly resolving the impeachment issue.

Prices charged by factories, farms, and other producers jumped 0.3 percent in September - the largest rise in a year, the Labor Department said. The overall producer price index had fallen 0.4 percent in August. A closely watched core index, which strips out volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.4 percent in September after a 0.1 percent fall in August.

The US agreed to clean up tanks leaking high-level nuclear waste near the Columbia River under a timetable that will allow Washington State to sue if compliance lags. The accord, announced by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and Washington Gov. Gary Locke (D), is designed to speed up efforts to remove the most dangerous pollution from the 500-square-mile Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where nuclear-bomb ingredients were processed for four decades.

The World

NATO and US officials were expected to tell Yugoslav President Milosevic face-to-face that he still wasn't in compliance with the terms of his agreement to stave off punitive air strikes over the Kosovo crisis. Milosevic is up against a deadline tomorrow to show substantial progress in withdrawing Serb Army and police units from the province. In Washington, the White House said Milosevic had opened the way for humanitarian agencies in Kosovo to aid hundreds of thousands of Albanian refugees.

Momentum appeared to be building for a full resumption of dialogue between China and Taiwan as their representatives wound up a second day of meetings in Shanghai. China's senior envoy to the talks, Wang Daohan, accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan, in what analysts said was the most concrete advance in relations since 1995. The parties also agreed to explore eventual reunification, although a senior government official in Taipei said that could come only after China recognized Taiwan as an equal.

Chancellor-elect Gerhard Schrder and the Green Party he is courting as a coalition partner were near agreement on deals that would halt nuclear power in Germany and overhaul the nation's 85-year-old citizenship law, reports said. The latter would grant automatic passports to most babies born on German soil regardless of their parents' nationality - a change that would most affect 2 million Turkish immigrants. The Greens and Schrder's Social Democrats both called for negotiations - beginning next year - with electric-utility officials on closing Germany's 19 nuclear power plants.

Saying, "the task proved to be impossible," Italy's caretaker prime minister ended his bid to cobble together a new government. Romano Prodi couldn't enlist the backing of his former Communist allies for a majority in the lower house of parliament a week after they deserted him and helped to defeat his proposed 1999 budget. Expectations grew that Massimo D'Alema, leader of parliament's largest block, the Democrats of the Left, now would be asked to try to form a government.

Its forecast last March that the Asian financial crisis would put only "a small dent" in the global economy is no longer operative, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said. Its new prediction: an almost 50 percent drop in trade this year - from the original estimate of 7 percent to 4 percent, with an additional 1 percent slump in 1999. The WTO revised its forecast because hard-hit Asian countries were experiencing "a big contraction in imports" and because of "uncertainty about growth prospects in the European Union and the US."

All sides were hailing a new agreement to end political turmoil in the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho. The deal, mediated by diplomats from South Africa and other neighboring countries, calls for a committee to overhaul Lesotho's electoral system and oversee a new vote for members of parliament. The violence erupted Sept. 22 after rebellious soldiers backed an opposition protest of the last election, in which the ruling party won all but one of parliament's 80 seats.

An American marine was at the center of new tensions on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where the US military presence is already deeply unpopular. Cpl. Randall Eskridge of LaPorte, Ind., was indicted on suspicion of fleeing an auto accident that killed a teenage girl earlier this week. The incident brought apologies from US officials. The heavy US presence has been resented since the 1995 rape of another schoolgirl by three American servicemen. The island's Nov. 15 election for governor is viewed as a referendum on the issue.


"The vast majority of America's schools are still among the safest places for youngsters to be." - Education Secretary Richard Riley, citing new evidence that school violence may be waning.

A live tribute on Italian TV to Pope John Paul II's 20 years in office wasn't supposed to be a call-in show. But that's how it ended up. As host Bruno Vespa was recounting some of the pontiff's initiatives, the control room alerted him that a special guest was on the phone, hoping to put in a few words. The caller? Right, John Paul II, who was watching and wanted to say "thank you."

If you're a serious bicycle rider or know someone who is, the German manufacturer Hercules is offering what it says is a first - and just in time for Christmas. The innovation: an automatic transmission for two-wheelers. A small circuit board adjusts the gears to the bike's speed. The rider can check it all on a display panel. Trekking bikes will be the first to feature the new system, listing at about $750.

The Day's List

Author-Finalists Named For US Book Awards

Literary lion Tom Wolfe and scholar Harold Bloom are perhaps the best known among those whose works were named this week as finalists for this year's National Book Awards. Winners, chosen by the National Book Foundation, will be announced Nov. 18 in New York. The candidates for the prestigious fiction and nonfiction prizes:


"Charming Billy" Alice McDermott

"Damascus Gate" Robert Stone

"The Healing" Gayl Jones

"Kaaterskill Falls" Allegra Goodman

"A Man in Full" Tom Wolfe


"All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of American Slavery" Henry Mayer

"Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human" Harold Bloom

"A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage" Beth Kephart

"Slaves in the Family" Edward Ball

"There Once Was a World: A 900-Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok" Yaffa Eliach

- Associated Press

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