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News In Brief

By CompiledAbraham McLaughlinShelby Siems, and Peter Nordahl / July 31, 1995

The US

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How states will divvy up federal welfare funds is the main topic at the National Governors' Conference in Burlington, Vt. Senator Dole's plan, which he is is expected to present to the governors today, would give big-growth states like Texas extra funds at the expense of slow-growth states like Wisconsin and New York. Under the Dole plan all states would get block grants to administer three welfare components: Aid to Families With Dependent Children, job-training efforts, and child-care programs. President Clinton is also expected to present a plan to the governors today.

Clinton is expected to update his 10-year budget-balancing plan today. On Saturday the White House said the revised plan might reach the zero-deficit target in nine years. It would do so with 20 percent cuts in discretionary spending and some trims in Medicare and Medicaid. The GOP plans to eliminate the deficit in seven years.

Who started the fire at Waco, and why? Congressional hearings continue on the topic. Tomorrow, Attorney General Janet Reno is expected to defend her authorization of tear-gas use in the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound. The gas has been blamed for the fire in which 80 Davidians died. On Friday, a group member testified that he didn't know who started the fire. But a Texas investigator testified to seeing lighter fluid on the hands of some Davidians. (Story, Page 1.)

Susan Smith was sentenced to life in prison for the drowning of her two sons. She will spend a minimum of 30 years behind bars. The jury decided against the death penalty. A Newsweek survey indicated that nearly two-thirds of those surveyed thought she deserved to die.

NASA delayed its next shuttle launch to check the O-rings. Endeavour, set to fly Aug. 5, is grounded until engineers figure out why searing gas damaged primary O-rings during the past two launches. NASA says Endeavour is expected to fly by the end of August. Separately, the House voted Friday to retain funding for NASA's space station.

The militant Palestinian group Hamas demanded Saturday that President Clinton release one of its officials who is being detained on suspicion of terrorism. Mousa Abu Marzuk, who has lived in the US for 14 years, was arrested at Kennedy Airport last Tuesday.

The number of Americans collecting food stamps tumbled in May. According to the Agriculture Department, 26.47 million received stamps in May, compared with 27.5 million a year earlier. The administration took credit for the drop, but Republican Senator Faircloth called the claim ''ridiculous.''

People who disagree about abortion should unite around an effort to encourage adoptions, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote Saturday in her second newspaper column in a new weekly series. The first lady was echoing her husband's ''common ground'' theme. Mrs. Clinton, long a supporter of abortion rights, said 450,000 US children need homes and that barriers to interracial adoption should be rethought.

The Senate passed strict limits on gifts Senators can receive. The measure's supporters hope the move will pressure the House to follow suit. The legislation puts a $100 annual ceiling on gifts from any one source. And it makes all gifts over $10 count toward the limit.

Senator Packwood says public hearings would allow his lawyers to cross-examine the women accusing him of sexual and official misconduct. Democrats have called for public Ethics Committee hearings, while committee chair McConnell has said he opposes them.

The EPA's budget will be cut by one-third, but it will be able to enforce anti-pollution regulations. On Friday moderate Republicans joined Democrats to block a measure that would have limited the EPA's enforcement abilities. Also, the Interior Department's wolf reintroduction program in Yellowstone will be cut by about half.

Death Valley, Calif. hit 127 degrees Saturday. Highs were in the 100s in much of the country.

The World

Russian and Chechen negotiators agreed yesterday to stop hostilities, disarm Chechnya's separatists and withdraw Russian troops from the republic. The agreement could pave the way for free elections. The next round of talks will begin August 3. (Story, Page 5.)

NATO military planners were to meet yesterday to discuss preparations to deter Bosnian Serb attacks on UN-declared ''safe areas,'' but UN officials warn tensions are set to explode into war. The Croatian president said Saturday Croatia will attack to retake rebel Serb territory and rescue a Bosnian Muslim enclave unless the Serb leadership engages in serious peace talks soon. President Clinton has denied a Friday report in the Washington Post that the US is secretly breaking the UN arms embargo to aid the Bosnian Muslims. (Stories, Pages 1 and 18.)