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News Briefs I

Mexico, Rebels Make Little Headway

Los Angeles Times

Given the insults and recriminations surrounding the first substantive meeting between Zapatistas and any Mexican authority in nearly two years, there were few hopes of a breakthrough for the rebels' weekend meeting with a congressional team.

But when the three-hour session finally occurred Sunday night, even the reduced expectation of resuming regular contact was too much.

The two sides couldn't manage to fix a date to meet again before the Zapatistas headed home from this pretty colonial city to the relative calm of their mountain and jungle hideouts.

While legislators tried to put an optimistic face on Sunday's meeting, which they said was cordial, prospects for serious negotiations have rarely seemed so remote in the nearly five years since the guerrillas staged their uprising in the southern state of Chiapas on New Year's Day 1994.

A sullen cease-fire holds, but it is punctuated by periodic skirmishes. The simmering conflict retards badly needed economic development for the dirt-poor indigenous Mayans of rural Chiapas, which was one of the demands that prompted the uprising.

McDougal Acquitted In Case Alleging Theft

The Washington Post

Susan McDougal, the reluctant witness and enigmatic partner of the Clintons in the failed Whitewater development, was acquitted Monday of unrelated charges that she fleeced famed musical conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife, Nancy, of $50,000 in a credit card and check fraud scheme.

As McDougal beamed a broad smile and her eyes brimmed with tears of relief, the jury pronounced her not guilty of nine counts of grand theft, forgery and failure to file state income tax returns. The verdicts ended a 10-week trial that shed as much light on the wild shopping sprees and exorbitant spending of Los Angeles' rich and famous as on McDougal's sloppy accounting practices when she worked as a bookkeeper for the Mehtas. McDougal still faces criminal contempt charges for refusing to answer questions about the Clintons before the Whitewater grand jury.

Deutsche Bank in End Stages Of $9 Billion Takeover

Los Angeles Times

Deutsche Bank confirmed Monday it is in the "advanced stages" of negotiating a nearly $9 billion takeover of Bankers Trust Corp. of New York, a move many analysts see as helping the big German bank compete for a larger piece of Europe's burgeoning merger activity.

The combined company, which would have assets of about $850 billion, would jump to the top of the list of the world's biggest banks based on assets.

Bankers Trust shares soared $7 to $84.25 on the New York Stock Exchange, still well below the $93 per share offer confirmed by Deutsche Bank. The German giant's shares ended up 2.4 percent Monday in European trading, which was completed before the rumored talks were confirmed.

While some banking analysts balked at the $93 per share price for the troubled, eighth-largest U.S. bank - about $9.2 billion in cash - most see the acquisition of Bankers Trust as offering it much needed expertise in investment banking.