The News in Brief

Article excerpt

The US

White House attorneys were scheduled to begin today their defense of President Clinton before the House Judiciary Committee. They will have two days to air their arguments against impeachment. The panel originally scheduled one day for defense testimony, but the White House said last week it wanted three or four days. After the panel offered one extra day, the president's lawyers promptly - if begrudgingly - accepted.

The president opens a White House Conference on the future of Social Security today, bringing together economists, members of Congress, and public-policy specialists. The administration hopes the gathering will lay the groundwork for bipartisan legislation to be considered in Congress next year. US Sen. Christopher Dodd (D) of Connecticut called for a new conversation with Cuba, saying a four-decade policy of isolating the communist nation hasn't worked. He proposed five ways to improve relations with Cuba - including the lifting of a US ban on the sale of food and medicine to the island, lifting travel restrictions and increasing direct flights, and creating a commission to explore US- Cuban relations. Dodd made the proposal two days after meeting for six hours with Cuban President Fidel Castro in Cuba. During a 6-1/2-hour spacewalk, space-shuttle astronauts were scheduled to link power cables between sections of the fledgling international space station. The first two parts of the station have been carefully joined together, creating a seven-story tower attached temporarily to the shuttle. The number of foreign students attending US colleges and universities rose 5.1 percent in the 1997-98 school year, the Institute of International Education reported. New York University had the largest increase - 4,964 students. The institute's study also found that the number of US students studying abroad had increased by 11.4 percent to nearly 100,000. Scientists said they had documented for the first time that industrial pollution and dust from Asia travels across the Pacific and degrades air quality in the US. Scientists at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco said the contribution of such air pollution to the total in any metropolitan area is very small. Clinton removed Iran from the US list of drug-problem countries. In a letter to members of Congress, the president said that while Iran - which has carried out a program to eradicate opium poppy plants - continues to serve as a transit point to Europe, there is no evidence to suggest significant quantities arrive in the US. University of California graduate teaching assistants returned to classes after gaining an agreement from school officials to discuss their demand to unionize. A 45-day "cooling-off period" was announced just in time for final exams at all eight undergraduate campuses. Talks were to begin within 10 days. College football will offer its fans a clear national-title matchup in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 4. In final Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings, the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida State Seminoles emerged as the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 teams at the Division 1-A level after a tumultuous weekend of upsets. The BCS standings use a complicated formula of polls, computer ratings, and strength of schedules to determine the top teams. The World The fate of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the possibility of early elections hung in the balance as Israel's parliament prepared to vote on whether to disband. Despite his two-seat majority, Netanyahu challenged opponents to try to topple him from power. A "yes" vote in parliament would move the next national election forward from late 2000 to early next year. President Clinton is due in Israel next week. A senior Bosnian-Serb general, the highest-ranking war-crimes suspect in UN custody, pleaded not guilty to all charges of genocide before the international tribunal in The Hague. Radislav Krstic (c. …