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News In Brief

The US

Senate Republicans were expected to authorize an investigation into illegal fund-raising during the 1996 presidential and congressional campaigns. A Democratic proposal to also look at millions of dollars in campaign "soft money" donations appeared headed for defeat.

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The White House and the FBI were at odds over what agents told President Clinton's national security aides. After the president complained he should have been informed about agents saying China might be trying to influence US elections, the FBI denied restricting the information from going up the chain of command. White House press secretary Mike McCurry said the FBI was "in error."

Hearings on the confirmation of Anthony Lake as CIA director were scheduled to begin before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Republicans were expected to ask Lake whether he was briefed about reports that China might try to influence US elections.

Two new polls indicated fund-raising issues may be hurting Clinton's approval rating. That rating fell from 63 percent after the Jan. 20 inauguration to 56 percent in a CBS News survey. The Washington Post also found a decline between mid-January and last week, from 60 to 55 percent. Nonetheless, in the CBS poll, 74 percent of respondents said they believe contributions encourage many public officials to change government policy.

A 1995 GOP fund-raiser appeared to sell access to government officials, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate majority leader Bob Dole, ABC and CBS News reported. For a $15,000 contribution, donors reportedly got dinner and breakfast with Dole in the Senate Caucus Room, plus briefings by GOP committee chairmen. For $45,000, they also got lunch with Gingrich in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, the networks said.

The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate announced he would not seek a fifth term. Senate minority whip Wendell Ford of Kentucky said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The productivity of US workers grew moderately at the end of 1996, the Labor Department reported. Outside the agricultural sector, output per worker hour rose at an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the fourth quarter, far less than the department's original estimate of 2.2 percent.

A development plan for the District of Columbia, including tax breaks and investment incentives, was to be unveiled by the Clinton administration to try to lure businesses to the district. It is part of a $3.9 billion, five-year bailout plan for the city.

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Clinton planned to ask broadcasters to give free TV time to political candidates. At a Conference on Free Television and Political Reform in Washington, he also was expected to suggest that an advisory panel study the "public interest obligations" of providing this service.

The "majority" of sexual misconduct charges against instructors at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground aren't true, a Maryland NAACP leader said. Janice Grant said four white female trainees had recanted stories of rape by black instructors. She said the women made the accusations to avoid prosecution for having consensual sex with superiors. An Army spokesman said the women were not coerced and denied an allegation that the Army targeted black soldiers based on white-female complaints. Seven Aberdeen instructors have been charged with sexual harassment, rape, or sexual relationships with recruits.

People in western Kentucky and southern Illinois prepared for the crest of the swollen Ohio River, as residents of towns upstream assessed flood damage to homes and communities.

Citadel officials should themselves be held responsible for student hazing - not just students - the lawyer of a former female cadet suggested. His complaint came after the South Carolina military school announced that 10 male cadets had been disciplined for hazing and harassing female cadets last fall. One male cadet was dismissed. Four had been punished earlier.

The World

Next Monday's talks on a permanent peace between Palestinians and Israel appeared in doubt, as warnings sounded over new outbreaks of violence in the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian Authority officials denied that President Arafat had suspended contacts with Israel, but called on the US and other countries to intervene on their behalf. Palestinians are angered by Israel's decisions to build new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem and to withdraw from less territory on the West Bank than expected.

Mexico's new "drug czar" will be a former public prosecutor. Mariano Federico Herran Salvatti was sworn in to succeed Gen. Jess Gutirrez Rebollo, who was arrested Feb. 18 on bribery charges. In Washington, the State Department called the move "a step forward."

Russian President Yeltsin, following through on a promise to shake up his government, fired all but two members of his Cabinet: Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and a deputy, Anatoly Chubais. Yeltsin said the new Cabinet ministers would be named next week.

As lawlessness spread across southern Albania, President Ber-isha met with opposition politicians to form an interim government that would rule until elec- tions can be held in June. They had yet to decide who should fill the critical post of interior minister. Meanwhile, parliament was scheduled to vote on an amnesty for insurgents who have seized cities, ports, and military posts in the south.

Even as it announced a visit later this month by Vice President Al Gore, China denied giving money to the Democratic Party in the US. A spokesman said China is a "developing country" and lacks funds to donate to foreign political campaigns. Gore's trip is scheduled for March 24-28.

Peru's education minister refused to resume negotiations with leftist guerrillas on the release of 72 hostages from the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima. Domingo Palermo said terms for renewing the talks had not been "sufficiently defined."

The German government confirmed published reports that a US diplomat had been expelled for trying to recruit an Economics Ministry official as a spy. Neither the diplomat nor the German official were identified. An aide to Chancellor Kohl downplayed the effect that the incident - believed to be a first in postwar US-German relations - would have on ties with Washington.

South Korea quietly adopted a new labor law to replace the one that triggered weeks of strikes and street violence. The new measure delays for two years a key clause that allowed troubled companies to lay off workers. Unions were angered when the old law was rammed through parliament in a secret session last December.

Two fires and a possible explosion blew out windows at a nuclear-waste facility 70 miles north of Tokyo, utility officials said. No injuries were reported, but some workers were exposed to low-level radiation. Smoke from the second fire escaped into the environment.

All information coming into Vietnam via the Internet will be censored, the government announced. It also said all servers providing information to the Internet must be based in Vietnam. The new regulations are scheduled to take effect next week.

Hundreds of trucks began moving Burmese refugees to safer ground inside neighboring Thailand, security officials said. They put the number of relocated Karens at 5,000 - out of an estimated 70,000 who have sought refuge from fighting with the Burmese Army. Their new location is near Mae Sot, in a camp that Thai authorities say will allow for closer monitoring.


"I don't need the FBI to tell me that people all over the world are trying to influence our elections. We ought not to be surprised."

- Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) of Neb., responding on NBC-TV to reports that China may have donated to US political campaigns.

Mary Jane Petit is glad that librarians are trained in research. The Norfolk, Va., resident was contacted by the public library in faraway Sheridan, Wyo., after one of its employees found more than $40,000 in bonds, cash, and rare coins in an old encyclopedia from the shelves. It seems Mrs. Petit's husband had stashed them in the book without telling her. After his passing, she sold it to a Wyo-ming acquaintance, who donated it to the library. The money will help her grandchildren pay for college.

A new James Bond movie will not be filmed in Vietnam because it isn't - well - politically correct. The People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) turned away the fictitious Agent 007 because he had been too vigorous in pursuing communist bad guys in earlier films.

Many cities and towns ban the burning of autumn lea-ves on grounds that it releases pollutants. But how they'll stop Freeman Hensley if he can produce his new invention commercially is another matter. The former welder from Oakland Coun-ty, Mich., mixes fallen leaves, cinnamon, and wax to form virtually smokeless fireplace logs. So far, environmental officials say, the innovation appears to be exempt from their rules.

The Day's List

Countries With Suspect Human Rights Records

Nearly 2,500 delegates are meeting in Geneva for the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Commission. They represent governments and rights groups like Amnesty International. In addition to states of the former Yugoslavia and occupied Arab territories, the commission is to examine alleged abuses in:












- Associated Press

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