News In Brief

The US

As Republicans worked on proposed articles of impeachment against President Clinton, the White House sought to win over moderate GOP lawmakers in its second and final day of defense before the House Judiciary Committee. The president's lawyers summoned five former US prosecutors, who testified that the case against the president was too weak to be pursued. The witnesses included former Gov. William Weld (R) of Massachusetts.

A preliminary Pentagon report has found that Hughes Electronics Corp. gave China information potentially damaging to US national security after a Chinese rocket carrying a Hughes-built commercial satellite crashed in 1995, The Washington Post and The New York Times said. Air Force Intelligence and the Defense Technology Security Administration prepared the document at the request of two congressional committees. The administration reportedly wants additional questions answered before finalizing the report.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told reporters that Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov had assured her the Russian parliament would finally approve the Start II nuclear-arms treaty by the end of this month. Albright said she hoped to launch new strategic arms-reduction talks when she visits Moscow next month - after the parliament has ratified the long-stalled treaty. Start II was signed in 1993.

Astronauts Jerry Ross and James Newman were to attach two 100-pound antennas to each side of the international space station. The work was to be accomplished during a seven-hour spacewalk, the second this week. The antennas will allow the shuttle crew to communicate with colleagues on Earth after entering the station for the first time - an event scheduled for today. A final spacewalk - to stow tool boxes for future assembly crews - is set for Saturday.

Half of all US counties have no strategic plans to tackle millennium-related computer problems, the National Association of Counties said. In the first survey of its size at the local level, the group - representing the 3,069 counties - said only 50 percent of the 500 it surveyed last month are ready for possibly disastrous computer snafus on Jan. 1, 2000. Most vulnerable are thousands of small, rural counties, officials said. Of 119 counties with fewer than 10,000 people, 74 had no comprehensive plans.

New Hampshire Democratic and GOP leaders unveiled a new campaign pledge designed to preserve the state's traditional first-in-the-nation presidential primary. They said all potential presidential candidates for the 2000 primaries will be asked to sign a statement that they will not campaign or allow declarations of candidacy in any state that holds its primary earlier than seven days after New Hampshire's. State law says the primary must occur at least seven days before any other state's.

A construction crew's mistake caused a blackout in San Francisco, trapping some office workers in high-rise elevators, stopping trains, and forcing the airport to divert incoming planes. The incident affected an estimated 940,000 people.

The World

UN and American officials were calling "very serious" a refusal by Iraq to allow international weapons inspectors to search the ruling Baath Party headquarters in Baghdad. Iraq said the UN team reportedly called off its efforts after being asked for "written notification" of the items it was looking for. Weapons-inspections chief Richard Butler disputed the account, saying the attempt was "absolutely legal" and "they blocked us." In Washington, a White House spokesman said the US was "poised to act" if Iraq fails to comply fully with the inspectors.

Violence that has preceded President Clinton's arrival in the Middle East worsened as a teenager died and 80 other people were hurt at Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Nablus on the West Bank. The casualties resulted from clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters on the 11th anniversary of the intifadah, or uprising against Israeli occupation. Seventy others were hurt in similar violence Monday. Clinton's visit to the region, beginning Sunday, is aimed at shoring up the accord he brokered between the two sides in October.

Spain may begin formal extradition proceedings against Augusto Pinochet so he can be tried for genocide and other crimes against humanity, the British government decided. The announcement means the former Chilean dictator, under armed guard in London, now faces a long legal battle as his lawyers seek to keep him from being sent to Spain. That country accuses him of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of Spanish nationals during his 17-year rule in Chile.

An almost intact skull and skeleton of a hominid, or ape man, was discovered by researchers near Johannesburg, South Africa. The fossilized remains, estimated at 3.5 million years, are believed to be the oldest ever found and the first of a "mature adult," a researcher said. Much of the skeleton is still embedded in rock.

Saying, "I don't want to be treated as though I were only a piece of jewelry," Interior Minister Ruth Dreifuss accepted congratulations after her election by parliament as Switzerland's first female and first Jewish president. The post is largely ceremonial and rotates among the seven members of the Cabinet on an annual basis. Women did not gain the right to vote in national elections in Switzerland until 1971.

The new government of the Philippines was forbidden to grant ex-first lady Imelda Marcos immunity from prosecution by the Supreme Court. It ruled she could not be shielded from charges as part of a deal to recover billions of dollars her late husband, Ferdinand, allegedly helped himself to from public coffers. In a news interview last week, Mrs. Marcos claimed her husband secretly owned 4,000 tons of gold and most of the nation's largest companies.

As expected, longtime President Omar Bongo was reelected to a new seven-year term in Gabon, the Interior Ministry said. It said he won 66 percent of the vote in last weekend's election, to 16 percent for his closest challenger. Bongo has been in power since 1967.

Business and Finance

The deficit in the broadest measure of US trade widened to a record $61.3 billion from July through September, the Commerce Department reported. The current-account deficit grew by 8.1 percent in the third quarter from $56.69 billion in the second quarter.

Trans World Airlines said it had split an order for 125 new jets between Boeing and Airbus, marking the first time the US carrier has ordered planes from the European Airbus company. TWA said it agreed to buy 50 Boeing 717-200 aircraft for delivery beginning in February 2000 and 50 Airbus A318s for delivery beginning in 2003. Twenty-five Airbus A320s are to be delivered beginning in 2005.

Further consolidation of the pharmaceuticals industry will result from the merger of Britain's Zeneca Group and Astra AB of Sweden - the largest in European history. The new AstraZeneca will have joint capitalization of $67 billion. But the companies said the restructuring would come at the cost of 6,000 jobs. Two French drug manufacturers merged last week, and France's Rhone-Poulenc and Germany's Hoechst announced a joint venture Dec. 1.


'The most appropriate result is something other than removing this person from his office.'

- Former Gov. William Weld (R) of Massachusetts, testifying as a witness for President Clinton.


Each time an election rolls around, you hear the expression: Vote early and often. In Quebec early last week, someone did. Now the authorities would love to meet her, and not because they're impressed with her democratic zeal. A satirical TV show, "La Fin du Monde," sent the mystery woman to six different Montreal-area polling places, where she used the names of friends to obtain and cast ballots. She took a hidden camera along to prove she'd completed the assignment. The show came up with the idea "to be helpful" because "not everyone has the time to vote." If "Gertrude," as the show called her, is caught, however, she may be charged with corruption.


When is a Beanie Baby collection too big? For Nancy Tedeschi: when it gets to $20,000 worth. The upstate New York insurance broker has donated all 2,500 of hers - among them an original Teal Teddy valued at $1,400 - to charities in Albany. "The search becomes addictive, like smoking cigarettes," she said. "I had to kick the habit."

The Day's List

Rating the best and worst sites on the World Wide Web

NetGuide '99, an online directory for Internet users, asked its designers, editors, writers, and producers to rate the best Web sites in 22 categories. The guide is a production of CMP Media Inc., a Long Island, N.Y., provider of marketing services and information to builders, sellers, and users of technology. Among its choices, beginning with www. unless otherwise specified:

Best chat site

Best for kids

Best money site

Best for entertainment

Best shopping site

Best travel site

Best sports

Best start-page

Best consumer technology site

Most overrated


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