News In Brief
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat gave President Clinton his qualified acceptance of a US peace formula for a negotiated settlement with Israel, sources close to talks this week said. After two meetings at the White House, Palestinian officials said Arafat (above left with Clinton) also agreed to 12 days of negotiations with Israel. The next move could be up to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has said increased violence caused him to shift attention from Clinton's outline, which he accepted, to guarding Israel against attacks. A final accord would depend on further talks and may still be hard to conclude. (Story, page 6.)
President-elect Bush filled out his Cabinet with three additional nominees, including the first and only Democrat as Transportation secretary - current Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta. He picked outgoing Sen. Spencer Abraham of Michigan, an Arab-American, as secretary of Energy and Linda Chavez, former staff director of the Commission on Civil Rights, as Labor secretary. Mineta, a former congressman, is a Japanese-American who spent time in an internment camp during World War II. Abraham, the descendant of Lebanese immigrants, backs opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Chavez opposes affirmative action. (Story, page 4, editorial, page 8.)
Meanwhile, House minority leader Richard Gephardt said that because of a slowing economy, Democrats were willing to "work out a compromise" with Bush to produce larger tax-cut legislation than Democrats had previously favored. But Democrats, Gephardt said, likely will continue to resist the full $1.3 trillion Bush plan.
California-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it expects to run out of money in three weeks unless it raises rates, and Southern California Edison said customers should pay higher rates to ease its debt. The utilities have lost at least $9 billion because of soaring wholesale electricity prices and a state-imposed rate freeze that keeps them from passing higher costs on to customers. The California Public Utilities commissioner said he expected a rate hike to be granted but said any increase would be "more modest" than utilities expect.
Bridgestone/Firestone is recalling 8,000 truck tires, many of which may have been installed on 4,700 General Motors sport utility vehicles. The recall is unrelated to problems that led to the recall of 6.5 million Firestone tires in August. The new recall involves Wilderness LE tires built at its plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Thousands of Puerto Ricans jammed the streets of San Juan to celebrate Sila Calderon's inauguration as Puerto Rico's first woman governor. The former mayor of San Juan reaffirmed promises to seek greater autonomy for the US territory and to help halt US Navy bombing exercises on the outlying island of Vieques. The Navy owns two-thirds of Vieques and uses it for training its Atlantic Fleet.
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