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News Briefs I

RNC Chief Lobbies to Keep Job After Poor Election Performance

The Washington Post

Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson, under fire for not delivering the GOP message more forcefully through the last election cycle, now faces a challenge to his chairmanship.

Florida Republican chairman Tom Slade, fresh from one of the few unqualified GOP successes in the midterm election, announced that he will seek the party chairmanship at the RNC's meeting in January.

Nicholson, who is here attending the Republican Governors' Association meeting, welcomed the challenge, but in the face of Slade's announcement brought in extra help to lobby the governors for their support. Nicholson allies said they take Slade's candidacy seriously, but added that they believed the incumbent would prevail when the 165-member national committee votes.

Nicholson, who was elected in 1997 as a compromise choice, has drawn criticism from some Republicans for not being a forceful television advocate for his party. After the midterm elections, Michigan Gov. John Engler publicly criticized his leadership, saying he did not think Nicholson was up to the job of being RNC chairman.

Weather Pattern Likely to Bring U.S. Harsher Winter


In the wake of the strongest El Nino climate event on record, scientists now say its opposite, La Nina, has come on with surprising speed, in plenty of time to affect this winter's weather.

In fact, weather experts said, La Nina's strengthening began in May and probably played a role in the violent hurricanes named Bonnie, Georges and Mitch. And La Nina may even linger long enough to bring on drought in the Midwest next spring.

What's now likely is a somewhat harsher winter in the Great Lakes area, where it has already snowed this fall. And in the Northeast, after last winter's abnormal warmth, the weather should turn cold again, but not necessarily colder than usual.

"What we're expecting are mature La Nina conditions that will dominate through this winter," said atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth, at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colo.

Director Alan Pakula, 70, Dies in Auto Accident

Los Angeles Times

Alan Pakula, the producer and director of more than two dozen movies including such hits as Klute, Sophie's Choice and All the President's Men, died Thursday in an automobile accident in New York. He was 70.

Police in Suffolk County, N.Y., said Pakula was driving on the Long Island Expressway about 30 miles east of New York City when a metal pipe crashed through his windshield, striking him in the head. Severely injured, Pakula lost control of his 1995 Volvo, which crashed into a fence. The director, who lived in New York City, was pronounced dead at North Shore Hospital in the Long Island town of Plainview.

Investigators said the metal pipe was apparently lying on the roadway and had been struck by the car ahead of Pakula's, propelling it into the air and through his windshield.