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White House Anticrime Bill Boosts Police On the Beat

PRESIDENT Clinton yesterday pressed for anticrime legislation that would fulfill his pledge to put tens of thousands of new police officers on the street and tighten gun controls.

The measure, announced from the White House, would be a refined version of the omnibus crime bill that failed last year, including the "Brady bill" restriction on handgun purchases, an expanded federal death penalty, and limits on appeals by death-row inmates. The new part is more police officers.

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As a candidate, Mr. Clinton spoke frequently of his desire for 100,000 additional police officers. Half are already included in other bills. The rest, to be devoted to community policing - the current term for old-time beat cops who know their neighborhoods - will be included in the crime package.

Passing the gun-control bill is something Clinton has also long endorsed. The measure includes a five-day wait on handgun purchases and requires background checks on would-be buyers. The waiting period would phase out as state records are computerized for instant access.

The crime package would also restore the death penalty for federal crimes that existed before the Supreme Court temporarily overturned capital punishment in 1972, including the murder of certain federal officials. It would add new federal capital crimes such as murder for hire.

It would also limit the appeals of death row inmates. It would limit state inmates to a single federal habeas corpus appeal, subject for the first time to a six-month limit. Drought areas to receive relief

All of South Carolina and nearly all of North Carolina and Georgia were declared drought disaster areas Tuesday by Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy.

The declaration makes farmers eligible for federal Farmers Home Administration loans at 4.5 percent interest. The disaster declaration covers all 46 counties in South Carolina, 154 out of 159 in Georgia, and 89 of 100 in North Carolina.

Farmers also will be eligible for direct payments under a disaster aid bill that President Clinton is expected to sign Thursday. Those payments are expected to cover about half of farmers' losses, Agriculture Department spokesman Steven Kinsella said.

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Drought losses are estimated at up to $500 million in Georgia, $264 million in South Carolina, and $161.5 million in North Carolina.

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