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News Briefs, part 1

American's Flight Attendants Threaten Carrier with Strike

The Washington Post

Flight attendants Monday threatened a nationwide strike against American Airlines Inc. at 6 a.m. Thursday, just before the year's busiest holiday travel period. American said it was confident it could continue operations in the event of a walkout.

Negotiators for American and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator in New Orleans Tuesday in a final effort to avert a strike. But the prospects for avoiding a walkout did not appear good Monday.

The strike threat raises the possibility that the nation's two largest airlines -- American and United Airlines Inc. -- could find themselves under siege from their unions during the heavy holiday travel period that begins next week with Thanksgiving and extends through the Christmas season.

The nation's major airlines are under intense competitive pressure from emerging, low-cost, no-frills carriers such as Southwest Airlines Co. and Reno Airlines. Both American and United are demanding major contract concessions from their unions.

Yeltsin Says New Parliament Will Pick Date for His Election



In a double-reverse that may leave Russia's already bemused voters reeling in confusion, President Boris N. Yeltsin said Monday that the final decision about the timing of the country's next presidential election would be up to its new Parliament.

In an interview with Izvestia, a leading newspaper, Yeltsin insisted that he had not canceled a presidential vote scheduled for June, despite his recent public statement virtually ruling out the election.

He said he stood by his comments of 11 days ago to a group of media leaders that a presidential election next year was unnecessary. But he said that he had been expressing a "personal view," not an official opinion, and that his decree ordering the June election remained in effect.

In the interview, Yeltsin acknowledged that he did not "feel like facing early elections now." He said voters already had been given the chance to pass judgment on him in a referendum in April -- which Yeltsin won handily -- and would have a second opportunity next month when they vote on his proposed constitution and elect a new Parliament.

But he said he would leave it to the new legislature to decide whether to hold presidential elections next year or allow him to finish out his original term, which expires in 1996.

Meteor Shower Expected

The Baltimore Sun

The annual Leonid meteor shower is due to be at its peak today. But astronomers aren't forecasting any space spectaculars like the Perseid meteor "storm" that flopped in August.

"When we build too much hope for something spectacular and it doesn't happen, it's a bad reflection on science," said Dr. George W. Wetherill, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

"Then when you really have something you want to tell about, they (the public) don't pay any attention."

The Leonid shower is expected to be near its peak just after dark, with perhaps 12 to 16 meteors an hour.

"That's only three to four times more than you would see on a normal night in a dark location," said Jim O'Leary, of the Davis Planetarium in Baltimore. "But this meteor shower is unpredictable. It can be much higher than that."

The Leonid shower is associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, which visits the inner solar system about every 33 years, leaving a trail of dust and stony debris. The Earth passes through the debris stream each November on its orbit around the sun, producing the Leonid showers.