News In Brief

The senate struggled to reach a consensus on how to conduct the impeachment trial of President Clinton, even as it formally began the proceedings. On one hand, House "managers," who will prosecute the case in the Senate, were negotiating for the right to summon witnesses. On the other hand, the White House was reportedly offering not to challenge grand-jury testimony gathered by prosecutor Kenneth Starr and to allow it as evidence in the trial in return for a process that would exclude or narrowly limit the calling of witnesses.

The Justice Department announced an accord to end a 27-year-old school-desegregation case in St. Louis. The agreement is subject to approval of US district Judge Stephen Limbaugh and to passage of a referendum by St. Louis voters. It calls on the city to continue a successful magnet program, maintain a certain class size at some schools, set new accountability standards, and start improvement projects at certain schools. The state of Missouri has agreed to continue funding voluntary interdistrict busing for at least 10 years.

Clinton proposed tripling US funding for children's after-school care - and giving the increase to institutions that discourage "social promotion," the automatic movement of students from grade to grade regardless of their academic performance. The proposal would increase funding for after-school care from $200 million to $600 million a year.

The cost of mailing a regular letter rises one cent to 33 cents, starting Sunday. The first US 33-cent stamp of 1999 features a hare - commemorating the Chinese new year, which begins Feb. 16.

The NBA lockout ended after a struggle that cost team owners and players hundreds of millions of dollars. Subject to expected ratification of an accord between the two sides by the NBA Board of Governors, the season is to begin the first week of February. Teams will play about 50 games each, 32 fewer than usual.

The US health-care system is "the most expensive and most inadequate in the developed world," The New England Journal of Medicine said in the first of a series of articles. It said Americans pay $3,925 a person for health care each year, far more than the $2,500 spent per person in Switzerland, the country with the second-most expensive health-care system.

Jury selection was to begin in Portland, Ore., for a trial in which Planned Parenthood, a women's health center, and five doctors are charging an Internet site with violating a federal law that bars activists from inciting violence against abortion doctors and their patients. The site, called the Nuremberg Files, drew attention in October, when the name of Dr. Barnett Slepian was crossed off its list shortly after he was killed at his home near Buffalo, N.Y., by a sniper.

Fifty-six percent of US adults were married and living with their spouses last year, the Census Bureau said. That's down from 68 percent in 1970, 62 percent in 1980, and 59 percent in 1990. The report also noted that 10 percent of adults were "currently divorced" in 1998 - up from 3.2 percent in 1970 and 8.3 percent in 1990. It said about 28 percent of children lived with just one parent, a rise from 12 percent in 1970.

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