News In Brief

The US

A policeman ousted as a Boy Scout leader because he's homosexual lost a appeal to the US Supreme Court. The justices, without comment, refused to review a state-court ruling that said El Cajon, Calif., policeman Charles Merino's suspension as leader of a law-enforcement Explorer post did not violate state law. Exploring is a coed Boy Scout program for youths 14 to 20.

Historians and lawyers researching class-action lawsuits for former prisoners of war have found evidence that US automakers collaborated with Germany's Nazi regime, The Washington Post reported. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors have vigorously denied assisting the Nazi war machine or profiting significantly from its use of forced labor. Washington attorney Michael Hausfeld, representing former Russian prisoner Elsa Iwanovat in a suit against Ford, told the Post similar legal action could be taken against GM. German subsidiaries of the firms controlled 70 percent of Germany's auto market as war broke out in 1939.

The crew for the first manned mission in construction of the International Space Station arrived at the Kennedy Space Center. If all goes as planned, its six international members will lift off aboard the shuttle Endeavour Thursday, carrying one of the $60 billion station's first building blocks. The crew will add a US module to a Russian component launched 10 days ago.

House Judiciary Committee hearings on impeachment resume today with testimony from convicted perjurers, some of whom have served jail terms. Democrats said their testimony would be meaningless because there is no proof that President Clinton has perjured himself and no legal basis for equating perjury with impeachment. Majority whip Tom DeLay (R) of Texas said on CNN that he thought a House majority would vote to impeach. But other Republicans said they did not have the votes.

Yasser Arafat said he hoped 1999 would be "the year of the independent Palestinian state" with Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to annex large chunks of Palestinian land if Arafat declares a state without prior negotiations. The US has cautioned against unilateral acts by either side. Arafat made his comment before meeting in Washington with Clinton. Meanwhile, the White House said Clinton would propose that the US give $400 million in new aid to Palestinians over five years as part of an international assistance effort - and extend the current $100-million-a-year US aid program for Palestinians.

Clinton will propose expanding Medicaid and Medicare in his new budget so people with disabilities can retain health benefits when they return to work, The New York Times reported. Of 8 million disabled people of working age who receive payments from Social Security and Supplemental Security Income programs, fewer than 1 percent opt to return to work, it said.

Clinton was to announce several measures designed to promote electronic commerce, the White House said. They ranged from encouraging private-sector investment in high-speed Internet connections to American homes to fighting fraud on the Internet.

The World

Mounting casualties will not force Israeli occupation troops from south Lebanon, Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordecai insisted. Opposition to the military presence has intensified with the deaths of seven Israeli soldiers there in the past two weeks. Israel says the occupation is necessary to protect border villages from attack by guerrillas from the Shiite Muslim Hizbullah movement.

Promising a better, stronger, and more effective government, Cambodia's Hun Sen was sworn in as premier after months of bitter infighting over a disputed national election. He said his coalition government would implement such reforms as an independent judiciary, respect for human rights, a streamlined civil service, and a crackdown on corruption. Cambodia's international standing plummeted in the wake of a violent coup last year and elections in July, which the opposition continues to claim were rigged.

Dissidents and diplomats gave Chinese President Jiang Zemin low marks for failing to win a written apology from Japan as he returned home from a historic five-day state visit. He had demanded such an apology for the long Japanese occupation of China, which didn't end until the close of World War II. Japanese officials pledged $3.2 billion in new aid but expressed only "deep remorse" for the occupation. Jiang's visit was the first to Japan by a Chinese head of state.

Muslim leaders in Indonesia were appealing to their followers not to be provoked into revenge attacks after angry Christians burned at least three mosques, an Islamic school, and a cleric's house in West Timor. The violence broke several days of calm following Muslim-Christian clashes in the capital, Jakarta, in which 13 people died. Longstanding religious and ethnic tensions have been difficult to control since President Suharto quit in May.

The already sensational corruption trial of ousted Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim erupted in chaos after one of his lawyers was ordered to jail for contempt of court. The attorney had refused to apologize for accusing prosecutors of encouraging a potential witness to lie. Anwar, who was fired and then arrested in September, was beaten while in police custody, attracting international attention to his fledgling political-reform movement.

Irish nationals who left in search of brighter economic opportunity are leading a wave of new immigrants, the Dublin government reported. It said 22,800 more people arrived in the republic than emigrated in the year ending in April. More than half of those were Irish returnees. After centuries of losing population to the more prosperous US and Britain, Ireland now is considered the fastest-growing economy in the European Union.

The end of apartheid has brought an alarming increase in AIDS cases in South Africa, a UN study said. It reported that many as 14 percent of adults have tested positive for the virus believed to cause the disease. The report blamed such factors as greater mobility of people since the fall of white minority rule and the low status of women. It said the spread of new cases among pregnant teenagers is of greatest concern.

Business and Finance

The No. 2 US life insurance carrier, Metropolitan Life, said it will join a growing list of competitors in becoming publicly traded. MetLife also hopes to acquire a commercial bank, chairman Robert Benmosche said. MONY, Prudential, and John Hancock already have raised new capital by issuing stock or announced they'll take that step.

A conference center in Strasbourg, France, is booked for today by agro-chemical giant Rhone-Poulenc and German pharmaceuticals maker Hoechst - apparently to announce a joint venture or merger. The latter would give them a combined $13 billion a year in sales in the "life sciences" field, second only to Merck of the US, with $23 billion.

Trading in shares of Petrofina, one of Belgium's biggest employers, was suspended amid reports that it will be sold to a group of rival oil companies within days. Speculation has focused on France's Total and Elf Aquitane, as well as ENI of Italy, as buyers.


'There are many [Israeli] generals who believe we must leave this area ...

and I'm sure the minister knows it.' - Legislator Yossi Beilin, after the Defense Ministry said there was no alternative to keeping Israeli troops in Lebanon.

The Day's List

Family films fill most seats over the holiday weekend

Family films dominated the Thanksgiving-holiday box office, led by a record-breaking take from "A Bug's Life." According to studio estimates, Walt Disney's computer-animated comedy earned $33.6 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period. It has earned $46.5 million since its national rollout last Wednesday. The previous five-day Thanksgiving record was held by Disney's "101 Dalmatians," which earned $45.1 million in 1996. Two other Disney movies came in third and fourth over the weekend, each down a notch from last week. Estimated ticket sales for top movies at North American box offices Nov. 27-29 (in millions):

1. "A Bug's Life" $33.6

2. "The Rugrats Movie" 21.1

3. "Enemy of the State" 18.0

4. "The Waterboy" 14.0

5. "Babe: Pig in the City" 6.4

6. "Meet Joe Black" 5.8

7. "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" 4.6

8. "Home Fries" 3.7

9. "Ringmaster" 3.6

10. "Elizabeth" 3.4

- Exhibitor Relations Inc./Reuters

A list appearing in this space Wednesday, Nov. 25, incorrectly identified the corporate headquarters of agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. The company is based in Minneapolis.

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