News In Brief
As cruise missiles slammed Iraq for the second night in a row, Defense Secretary William Cohen said there had been "no American casualties" and "we are achieving good coverage of our targets." Officials indicated there could be as many as four days of attacks.
Despite the ongoing bombing, House Republicans decided to open the impeachment debate against President Clinton today, Democrats protested vehemently that the debate should not overlap with military strikes against Iraq. Incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston pleaded with Democrats not to stall or try to prevent lawmakers from voting Saturday as Republicans leaders planned.
Several top congressional Republicans questioned the president's motives in attacking Iraq on the eve of the scheduled vote on impeachment - and criticized his overall strategy against Baghdad. Other prominent Republicans made more conciliatory statements, and a bipartisan resolution supporting US troops was approved in the House on a 417-to-5 vote.
Federal buildings across thecountry were placed on maximum alert, and authorities tightened security at airports as the US braced for potential retaliation for the air raids. Overseas, 40 American embassies in Africa were closed for two days as a precautionary measure.
About three-quarters of the public supports the decision to order strikes against Iraq, polls by ABC, CBS, and NBC showed. About 60 percent of respondents in the NBC survey said the president's action was warranted. One in 3 said the air attack was timed to delay impeachment proceedings. In the ABC poll, 40 percent said the House should impeach Clinton; 58 percent said he should not be impeached - numbers essentially unchanged from the previous week.
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said he was creating a "pork crisis" task force to help farmers facing the lowest prices since World War II. Farmers in southern Minnesota and parts of Iowa were receiving just $8.50 per hundredweight for their hogs this week -- the lowest since 1941. Prices have dropped 70 percent over the past year, prompting Glickman to say he and antitrust experts from the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department would investigate concentration in the slaughter industry.
Forty-two percent of California's farm laborers worked illegally from 1995 to 1997, an increase of 9 percent from the early 1990s, a University of California study said. From 1990 to 1991, 33 percent of farmhands didn't have proper employment documents, according to the study. Growers' complaints about the difficulty of finding adequate numbers of people to work legally were supported by the study.
US and state law-enforcement officials announced the biggest crackdown to date on telemarketing scams, saying nearly 1,000 people had been charged with fraud in a 2-1/2 year undercover operation. Agents focused their efforts on telephone solicitations of the elderly.
Weddings went off without a hitch and Baghdad residents generally made routine preparations for the start of the Ramadan holy month despite a second night of US-led attacks against strategic Iraqi targets. More than a dozen explosions were heard in the capital, and the government said at least 25 people were killed and 75 were hurt. Five others died in the first night's raids. Collateral damage also was described as heavy.
Russia and China led the governments protesting the strikes against Iraq, with the former's President Boris Yeltsin demanding "an immediate end." Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov also telephoned Vice President Gore to express "indignation," and the State Department announced that Russia was recalling its ambassador to the US for consultations.
The truce in Kosovo appeared in danger of breaking down as police attacked an ethnic Albanian village, saying they were in search of masked gunmen who killed six Serbs earlier in the week. Two suspected Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army members reportedly died in the police attack and 34 people were arrested. The clash, at Glodjane, was described by one of the "verifiers" monitoring the Kosovo cease-fire as "war."
The fate of ex-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet took a dramatic turn as Britain's highest court set aside its own ruling against him, forcing a new hearing next month on whether he holds diplomatic immunity from arrest. The court decided to take the action because one of its members had failed to divulge his close ties to the human-rights group Amnesty International. The same panel had previously ruled 3-to-2 that Pinochet, now under detention in London, was not entitled to such immunity just because he's a former head of state.
As muted protests took place outside, Chinese authorities opened the trials of two leading democracy activists for their efforts to register an opposition political party. Wang Youcai and Qin Yongmin pleaded not guilty to subversion of state power in courtrooms in Hangzhou and Wuhan, respectively. Neither was represented by a lawyer. If convicted, they could be sentenced to life in prison. Between them, they have served 11 previous years in jail or labor camps for antigovernment activities.
Tanks were reinforcing a heavy troop presence in the streets of Guinea's capital, Conakry, as the government announced President Lansana Conte was headed for reelection. Opposition leaders had warned of trouble if Conte was declared the winner in the first round of balloting. They accused the government of denying registration cards to 35 percent of the electorate - mostly people likely to cast ballots for their candidates - in a revision of the voter rolls.
Business and Finance
A jump in farm exports helped narrow the US trade gap in October to its lowest level in several months despite record imports, the Commerce Department said. The deficit unexpectedly shrank to $14.19 billion from $14.37 billion in September as imports of goods and services rose 2.2 percent to a record $93.81 billion. Exports were up 2.8 percent at $79.62 billion.
Without discounting the possibility that oil exports could yet be disrupted because of new hostilities in Iraq, traders said the first attacks had relatively light impact on futures prices. On the London market, the price per barrel for February deliveries of the benchmark Brent crude jumped 80 cents, to $11.36, but then slid back to $10.90 as trading closed. Iraq's own oil exports were described as "proceeding normally."
The first Buick rolled off the assembly line at a $1.5 billion joint venture between General Motors and China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Co. But prospects for the venture remained uncertain. Sales in China have been sluggish, and what new cars consumers have been buying are low-priced, such as the $14,490 Volkswagen Santana. Shanghai-built Buicks will sell for upwards of $36,000.
''No matter what our debates at home ... I rise to say today to Saddam, the United States can both govern itself and lead the world simultaneously.' - Speaker Newt Gingrich, as the House overwhelmingly OK'd a resolution of support for US attacks on Iraq.
THE VALUE OF KINDNESS
For 15 years, Regina Jennings cleaned classrooms at West Virginia University's College of Law. Now, it's the school that's cleaning up. Despite the fact that she earned only about $10,000 a year at the job, is retired, and lives modestly, Ms. Jennings has donated $93,000 to her former employer. Why? Because "they treated me extremely well." She accumulated the money through investments. The school plans to name a room in her honor. Fine, she said, "but I don't want my picture on the wall. Have you ever seen the people on those walls?"
A CHRISTMAS MYSTERY
Baldwinsville, N.Y., is no booming metropolis, and Beaver Lake Nature Center isn't exactly on the beaten path, especially at this season. But despite the solitude, someone apparently views a trip there as a special duty. For the 15th year in a row an unknown visitor has left a miniature Nativity scene among the roots of the same tree inside the park - and departed unseen. Parts of the crche are always hand-made, although the figures in it change each time. Director Bruce Stebbins can only call the person or persons responsible "the good guys."
The Day's List
Field is already crowded with bidders for 2008 Olympics
Earlier this month, Paris became the latest of eight major cities to announce their bids to become the venue for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. Beijing reportedly is the early favorite to host the event, after narrowly losing out to Sydney, Australia, to stage the next summer Games. With Athens set for 2004, the International Olympic Committee may prefer to choose a non-European city next, observers say. The IOC will select the 2008 host in 2001. Cities that have already announced their candidacies for 2008:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Associated Press