News In Brief

The US

The US halted a major buildup of military forces in the Persian Gulf. More than 50 warplanes - including 12 stealth fighters - that were flying to the region from US bases will remain at intermediate stops in Europe until further notice, a Pentagon spokesman said. Meanwhile, US officials said President Clinton had called off not one, but two weekend attacks against Iraq, halting the second strike shortly after deciding to accept Iraq's offer to resume UN inspections.

The US and Japan announced plans to pump an additional $10 billion into Asian economies to help lift the region out of economic crisis. The proposals include a $5 billion initiative by the US, Japan, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. In addition, the US would fund $5 billion in loans - three $1 billion loans to Indonesia, Thailand, and South Korea as well as $2 billion in private business-loan guarantees through the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The plan was unveiled by Vice President Al Gore, who was attending an Asian economic summit in Malaysia in place of Clinton.

The Supreme Court refused to revive campaign-spending limits for city-council elections in Cincinnati, turning away a challenge to its landmark 1976 ruling that said such restrictions in US elections violate free-speech rights. In addition, the court rejected contribution limits in an Arkansas case involving restrictions on the amount donors could give to political candidates.

Monica Lewinsky has signed a seven-figure deal for the North American rights to a tell-all book and agreed to terms for her first TV interview, the New York Post reported. St. Martin's Press inked the pact Friday, the Post reported. It will be co-written by biographer Andrew Morton. The book is scheduled to be published in February, the article said, citing a source familiar with the negotiations. Exact terms were not reported.

The question of whether the Food and Drug Administration can regulate tobacco as a drug will be taken to the Supreme Court by the US solicitor general, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart announced. And the president said he plans to make initiatives to fight teen smoking a "legislative priority" next year.

A new technology designed to make computer screens more readable was unveiled by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, who predicted it would speed widespread use of electronic books. Gates, who delivered the opening address at the Comdex computer trade show in Las Vegas, said the company's new ClearType software tripled the resolution of anything previously available.

At item in this space in some Monitors yesterday, Nov. 16, erred in identifying incumbent US Sen. Harry Reid (D) as winning reelection from Utah. Reid emerged after a recount as the winner of the Senate race in Nevada.

The World

With Israel's parliament about to open two days of debate on the Oct. 23 land-for-security deal with the Palestinian Authority, Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened to suspend the pullback of troops from the West Bank it requires. He declared the withdrawal would be put off unless the Palestinians drop plans to declare unilateral statehood in May.

While state-run news outlets were denouncing President Clinton's "arrogance," more than 140 UN workers returned to Iraq to resume relief efforts suspended when military strikes appeared imminent. They had been evacuated to neighboring Jordan for their safety. The International Atomic Energy Agency said nine of its inspectors also would return today following Iraqi pledges that they could resume their work. But in a commentary, the newspaper Al-Jamhuriya bitterly criticized Clinton's renewed call Sunday for a change of government in Baghdad.

Two Muslims and a Croat were convicted of atrocities against Serbs in Bosnia by the UN's war-crimes tribunal. But justices in The Hague unexpectedly found a third Muslim innocent of similar charges at a prison camp in central Bosnia in 1992. The verdicts against Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo and Croat Zdravko Mucic were the first in cases of crimes against Bosnian Serbs; previous cases involved offenses by Serbs. Prosecutors vowed to appeal the acquittal of Muslim Zajnil Delalic, who was found not to have had control over the Celebici camp where Serbs were killed, beaten, and raped.

Tensions over the US military presence on Okinawa may ease now that voters have elected a conservative as their new governor, analysts said. With the heavy backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, businessman Keiichi Inamine defeated incumbent Masahide Ota, a vigorous opponent of American bases on the island. Inamine proposed building a military-commercial airport that US forces would use for 15 years. Exit polls showed many voters siding with Inamine because of concern over Okinawa's 9.1 percent unemployment - the highest in Japan.

Breaking with regional tradition, the Persian Gulf state of Qatar announced plans for a parliament "elected directly by the public." No date was set, but preparations are under way for the first municipal elections, probably in early February. All Qataris over 18, including women, are eligible to vote, and anyone over 25 may be a candidate. Neighboring Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia forbid females from voting and holding office or restrict participation to those identified by the government.

Business and Finance

The Federal Reserve is expected to trim interest rates for the third time in less than two months when its Open Market Committee meets today in Washington. A Reuters poll showed 22 of 25 economists expecting the Fed to cut the overnight bank lending rate to 4.75 percent from its current 5 percent.

US industrial production fell for a second straight month in October as businesses ran at their slowest rate in more than six years, the Fed said. Output declined 0.1 percent after a revised 0.5 percent September drop. Industries' operating rate dropped to 80.6 percent of capacity, the lowest since 80.2 percent in September 1992.

An economic state of emergency was expected to be declared by Colombian President Andres Pastrana. Colombia is beset by an urban jobless rate of 15 percent, interest rates on loans that average 37.3 percent, and a government debt estimated at 4.5 percent of gross domestic product. Pastrana took office in August, pledging tough austerity measures, but critics say he has acted too slowly.

Almost $117 billion in revenues and 6.5 million jobs will have been lost to the tourism industry by the end of the year because of global economic turmoil, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimated. It said the bulk of the losses in jobs and capital investment was in Asia.


"You know how difficult it is to say 'I'm sorry,' and how difficult it can be to say 'I forgive you.' But any other route is filled with ... peril." - Nobel Peace Prizewinner Desmond Tutu, in Denver, urging US teenagers to combat human hatred.


Imagine the reaction of Mrs. Julius Martinez when she headed into the next aisle in a Tarpon Springs, Fla., supermarket and found her husband hugging and kissing another woman. But it was all perfectly innocent. In his embrace was Millie Rodriguez, the sister he hadn't seen since they were together at a family reunion in New York in 1980.


Lots of people try to gain entry to the Guinness Book of World Records. Then there are those already listed who don't want to be and may sue to be removed. The Aboriginal people of Palm Island, off northeastern Australia, say it's "insulting and hurtful" that their home is cited as "the most violent place on Earth outside a combat zone." The publication's 1999 edition bases its selection, in part, on a murder rate 15 times that of Australia's Queensland state. But, says one government official: "I was on Palm Island last week and felt perfectly safe."

The Day's List

Republicans contend for House leadership posts

House Republicans meet tomorrow to elect their leaders for the 106th Congress, which convenes in January. In the process, they are expected to vote to change their National Congressional Committee chairmanship from an appointive to an elective office. So it's included in this roundup of who's running for which GOP House posts:

Speaker - Robert Livingston of Louisiana is poised to replace Newt Gingrich.

Majority leader - Incumbent Dick Armey (Texas) faces Steve Largent (Oklahoma) and Jennifer Dunn (Washington).

Majority whip - Incumbent Tom DeLay (Texas) - unopposed.

Conference chairman - Incumbent John Boehner (Ohio) faces J.C. Watts (Oklahoma).

Conference vice chairman - Jennifer Dunn vacates post. Anne Northup (Kentucky), Peter Hoekstra (Michigan), and Tillie Fowler (Florida) vie for her job.

National Congressional Committee chairman - Incumbent John Linder (Georgia) faces Tom Davis (Virginia).

- Reuters

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