News In Brief

In a bid to sway the last crucial undecided voters before tomorrow's election, George W. Bush and Al Gore each launched a final campaign blitz in key states. Both camps said Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania - with a combined 66 electoral votes - could decide the presidential race. Various national polls showed Bush leading by a few percentage points, but in most cases the findings were within the statistical margin of error - meaning the race appeared tied.

Not only was the presidential race tight, but a number of gubernatorial contests also appeared to be going down to the wire. Eleven states are electing governors, and analysts considered five to be tossups - Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and West Virginia. Overall, five women are major-party candidates. No more than four women have ever held US governorships at the same time, the National Governors Association indicated.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is to meet with President Clinton in Washington Thursday, the chief Palestinian negotiator confirmed. Such a move by Arafat could clear the way for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to have a separate meeting with Clinton, Israeli officials have said. The talks would be aimed at turning around five weeks of violence between Israeli security forces and Palestinians, in which at least 171 people have been killed.

North Korea will not be on Clinton's itinerary during his coming trip to Asia, although he may go before he leaves office in January, a White House official announced. The decision came after talks between the two sides on the Pyongyang government's missile program wrapped up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with significant issues still unresolved. Clinton is slated to leave next weekend for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Brunei, and then will become the first US president to visit Vietnam since Richard Nixon in 1969.

Clinton vetoed legislation that could have imposed prison terms and heavy fines on federal officials caught leaking classified information. The measure had drawn fire from news organizations. Although Clinton acknowledged that there were too many leaks of confidential information and that they could harm national security, he said the legislation was too broad and could deter government officials from legitimately informing the general public.

Negotiators for two major tobacco companies are close to reaching nationwide settlements that would cover all individual smokers' claims in regard to punitive damages, The New York Times reported Saturday. It said Lorillard Tobacco and the Liggett Group have been bargaining with a federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., and were discussing paying out $8 billion total. If an agreement were reached, it could supercede a Florida case that awarded a $144.8 billion punitive verdict earlier this year and is now under appeal.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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