News In Brief


Investigators from both parties were to summarize evidence before a polarized House panel considering four proposed articles of impeachment against President Clinton - including charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, and abuse of power. It seemed likely a majority of the committee's 21 Republicans and 17 Democrats would forward this week at least one article for consideration by the full House in a historic session that would begin late next week. Meanwhile, the White House said Clinton was open to a Democratic censure proposal that would condemn him for making "false statements" and leave him open to criminal and civil penalties.

Puerto Ricans favor statehood over other options to be offered in a plebiscite Sunday on the territory's status, a new poll indicated. A survey of registered voters conducted for the San Juan Star found 49 percent favoring statehood and 45 percent preferring "None of the above." The poll found "free association" - a type of enhanced commonwealth status - was favored by 3 percent of respondents, and independence by 2.4 percent. The plebiscite is nonbinding.

The US said it would not respond with force to isolated acts of Iraqi defiance to UN inspectors but would await an overall report on Iraq's cooperation. US officials said that lack of cooperation did not bode well for prospects of easing sanctions against Iraq - and that Washington was "prepared to act" militarily if necessary. The comments came after Iraq denied access to UN inspectors trying to search the headquarters of President Saddam Hussein's ruling Baath Party.

Clinton would like to strengthen Social Security through more profitable investments - such as corporate stocks and bonds - but how to do that is not yet apparent, a White House official commented. Economic adviser Gene Sperling said Clinton had made it clear during a two-day conference on overhauling the retirement system that he wants to find ways to get higher returns from the fund while minimizing risks of doing so.

Five Cuban exiles departed from Florida for their homeland by boat, testing the resolve of the US government to stop them on the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Democracy Movement ship left Marathon in the Florida Keys, followed closely by a Coast Guard vessel. The exiles said they hoped to join a demonstration of Cuban dissidents to be held in a park in Havana on the anniversary of the UN declaration.

Clinton ordered the creation of Eleanor Roosevelt Awards for Human Rights to recognize Americans for "especially meritorious contributions" to human rights in the US and abroad. The awards are to be presented annually around the Dec. 10 anniversary of the UN human-rights declaration.

Astronauts were to begin opening a series of hatches that connect the shuttle Endeavour with the new seven-story international space station. Work inside the station will continue through tomorrow, when the crew will exit the station in preparation for Tuesday's return to Earth.


Senior Palestinian leaders gathered in Gaza City to take up the issue of revoking clauses in their charter that call for the destruction of Israel. Revocation was promised in a letter to US President Clinton by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. But the interim accord signed by the two sides in October calls for it to be made official by a formal vote. Still in dispute, however, is how a vote will be taken. Israel demands a show of hands; the Palestinians have said approval by acclamation is sufficient. Clinton is due in Gaza next week.

The political party headquarters in Baghdad that UN weapons inspectors were prevented from searching Wednesday was declared off-limits by Iraqi officials. "No one can enter except members and Iraqis," a ruling Baath Party leader said. The rebuff was termed "very serious" by UN inspections chief Richard Butler, who is due to report to Secretary-General Annan next week on Iraqi cooperation with his experts. Meanwhile, the inspectors were said to be resuming normal searches of other suspected weapons sites.

Spanish courts wasted no time in formally charging Augusto Pinochet with crimes against humanity after the British government decided he could be extradited for trial. The ex-Chilean dictator is due in court in London today to learn when an extradition hearing will be held.

As many as 10,000 protesters clashed with police in Jakarta, Indonesia, as a demonstration for more democracy turned violent. The protest, on Human Rights Day, was one of the largest since President Suharto quit in May. The marchers were blocked from reaching the presidential palace and parliament. Many then threw rocks and bottles at police headquarters.

In a two-hour confrontation, Serb police blocked an international forensics team from the first exhumations of Albanians killed in the campaign for independence in Kosovo. The scheduled start of the project was to have been a milestone in the investigation of atrocities on both sides of the dispute. The Serbs forced the team to turn back after being forbidden to accompany it to the Albanians' grave sites by a unit of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army.

A $2.5 billion plan to save Venice from sinking under tides that waterlog the city one day in every four appeared headed for rejection by a 20-member advisory panel to new Italian Prime Minister Masssimo D'Alema. The advisers are known to have environmental and financial concerns about the project. The plan calls for a system of dams across the three mouths of Venice's lagoon.

By a 96-to-22 vote, the death penalty was abolished by Bulgaria's parliament and replaced by life imprisonment without the right of appeal. Nineteen people already ordered to be executed are eligible to have their sentences commuted by President Petar Stoyanov.


"It's difficult to put a floor under this market," oil-industry analysts in London said after prices for January deliveries of crude slid to a new low: $9.88 a barrel. One specialist expected prices to test the $9.50 level soon. The slippage followed word by Venezuela's President-elect, Hugo Chavez, that he expected no further cuts in production. Venezuela is the principal supplier to the huge US market. This week, Persian Gulf Arab states agreed to extend current production limits but delayed action on additional cuts.

Keeping its vow to slash expenses by billions of dollars, newly merged MCI WorldCom Inc. will eliminate 3,750 jobs, The Wall Street Journal reported. The joint company currently has a work force of 75,000.

A three-year suspension on debt payments because of hurricane Mitch was offered to Nicaragua and Honduras by the "Paris club" of creditor nations. The economies of the two countries were the hardest-hit by the late-October storm, the most devastating in Central America in 200 years. Both have committed to rebuilding while at the same time implementing reforms decreed by the International Monetary Fund. Together, they owe $10 billion.


'William Jefferson Clinton ... warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office and disqualification to hold and enjoy any [US] office of honor, trust, or profit...' - Concluding sentence in each of four articles of impeachment being considered by the House Judiciary Committee.


Not planning to do any Christmas shopping in Willmar, Minn., this year? Then you've missed your opportunity to take your selections home for free. It seems an anonymous donor put up the cash for disc jockey Mike Dworak of radio station KWLM to drop in at stores in the town of 16,000 people and offer to pay for whatever goods customers had brought to the cash register. Calling himself "the Christmas angel," Dworak rode in a white chauffeured limousine and wore a white tuxedo, white gloves, and mirrored sunglasses. It was fun, he said, "to watch their reactions."


If you're young, British, and contemplating marriage, the following may provide some serious food for thought. A new survey of people 18 to 30, published in London, found one-quarter of respondents would rather give up their partners than their TV sets. In a related poll on favorite leisure activities, a majority put watching programs on the tube at the top of the list - averaging almost 3-3/4 hours a day.


Where food supplies are least adequate - UN report

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has released new data on nutrition and malnutrition in 177 countries. The report says more than 800 million people in developing countries are chronically undernourished - and some 2 billion others have dietary deficiencies. The world's average daily dietary energy supply, the report says, is 2,760 kilocalories per person. Denmark's 3,780 were the highest. The US was listed at 3,620. Nations ranked lowest in food availability (with average kilocalories per person available daily in each):

Somalia 1,580

Eritrea 1,640

Burundi 1,710

Afghanistan 1,710

Mozambique 1,720

Ethiopia 1,780

Comoros Islands 1,830

Haiti 1,830

Democratic Republic

of the Congo 1,880

Djibouti 1,890

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