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News In Brief

By CompiledCynthia HansonLance Carden, and Yvonne Zipp / October 7, 1996



THE US

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President Clinton and Republican challenger Bob Dole were to go head-to-head in Hartford, Conn., in the first of two debates. Analysts said Dole needed a decisive victory to give him a boost in polls. Recent polls have shown him to be as many as 20 points behind the president, although he has pulled close in several target states recently.

The Supreme Court opens the 1996-97 session today with a docket ranging from whether states can ban doctor-assisted suicide to whether a sexual harassment case against Clinton can go forward while he is in office. Other cases include deciding if states may keep sexual predators locked up after they've completed prison sentences and whether states can make English the official language.

The war on drugs lacks "true leadership" and an organized strategy, according to a secret FBI memo cited by Clinton. But Clinton says the problems predate his administration and that new drug czar Barry McCaffrey has improved government efforts - partly in response to the memo. (Related story, Page 1.) Clinton has refused Dole's and congressional Republicans' request to release the memo to lawmakers. Dole's spokesman asked: If the memo isn't critical of the president's policies, why is he "cowering behind executive privilege?"

The 104th Congress adjourned after passing legislation authorizing dozens of federal parks and land exchanges and funding the FAA for the next two years.

The US agreed to pay about $660 million - more than one-third of its UN dues, a US official said. The US owes up to $1.8 billion and Washington's delay in paying up has contributed to the UN's cash crisis. The omnibus spending bill signed by Clinton last week reportedly included $330 million for the UN's regular budget and $330 million for peace-keeping. The money is expected to be paid by January.

A 1943 anonymous letter to FBI head J. Edgar Hoover unmasking wartime Soviet spies prompting the FBI to focus on ways to combat Soviet spying, according to the intelligence agencies. The letter alleged that a Soviet husband-and-wife diplomatic team, were spies. No action was taken against Vasily Zarubin or his wife.

The number of babies born to unwed mothers dropped last year for the first time in almost 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control reported. The 4 percent drop in the out-of-wedlock birth rate was tied to a drop in the teenage birth rate - the fourth such decline since 1991.

A Los Angeles jury convicted three followers of the freemen anti-government group of all but one count of conspiracy, fraud, and money-laundering. Elizabeth Broderick, Julian Cheney, and Barry Switzer were found guilty of selling $800 million worth of "comptroller warrants" designed to look like US Treasury checks.

Putting a new wrinkle in the FBI files scandal, former White House employee Mari Anderson told Senate investigators that scores of background files on prominent Republicans were obtained after their names had been deleted from a list used to order the files. Anderson said the names were inked out in September 1993 - several months before the files were improperly obtained, Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said.

A class-action suit was filed in Los Angeles against Unocal Corp., Total, and Burma's military government for alleged human-rights abuses during construction of a natural gas pipeline. It is the second lawsuit in a month alleging Unocal knowingly cooperated with the Burmese junta.

Unemployment edged up slightly in September to 5.2 percent. Also, the stock market resumes trading today after climbing more than 50 points into record territory and flirting with the 6,000 milestone on Friday.

THE WORLD

Israeli-Palestinian talks in the Gaza Strip were expected to focus on the role of Israeli troops in the West Bank town of Hebron. In a bid to ease tensions prior to the meeting, Israel lifted a 10-day curfew on the city and pulled back tanks from other areas of the West Bank. The move came as US Secretary of State Warren Christopher flew to Israel for talks with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Also, Israeli warplanes hit guerrilla bases in southern Lebanon after an Israeli-allied militiaman was killed in ground fighting.