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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / January 27, 1997



THE US

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More downpours are forecast for California, which received another dose of rain over the weekend - but without major new flooding. However, several highways were closed by landslides, and flash-flood warnings are in effect for parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

In Tennessee and Alabama, residents cleaned up after a tornado ripped through the states. Thousands were without electricity, more than 200 homes were destroyed or damaged, and one person was killed.

A guest list released by the Clinton administration shows that President Clinton invited 400 of his party's top financial supporters to the White House 1-1/2 years before his reelection. And a spokesman for the comptroller of the currency said bankers and bank regulators often sat down with political operatives from the Democratic Party. The administration acknowledged the events were arranged by the Democratic Party, but denied anything was wrong with holding the meetings at the White House.

Publix Super Markets agreed to pay $81.5 million to settle a class-action suit brought by 150,000 women who accused the grocery chain of sex discrimination. The suit originally brought by eight women in 1995 said Florida's largest private employ-er passed them over for raises and repeatedly denied them management jobs. The grocer also agreed to allow the EEOC to monitor hiring and promoting for up to seven years. And it reached a preliminary agreement with the EEOC to pay $3.5 million to settle complaints of racial discrimination. The money is pegged for programs to improve race relations.

The Justice Department will no longer defend in court a federal law that allows Medicare and Medicaid payments to Christian Science care-givers, Attorney General Janet Reno told Congress. A federal judge in Minnesota ruled last August that such payments violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

Clinton says he'll recommend that Congress set aside $43 million for new early-warning systems for food contamination. He said the proposal is part of the budget plan he'll send to Congress next month.

A soldier whose allegations about sexual harassment sparked an investigation into a military sex scandal plans to leave the Army today. Jessica Bleckley was granted an honorable discharge for hardship reasons. She went public with allegations that a drill sergeant at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland had harassed her. Since then, four other instructors there have been charged with sexual crimes, including rape.

A West Point cadet accused of raping a female cadet was acquitted by a jury of seven male US Army officers at West Point, N.Y. The woman was the first to bring rape charges against a fellow cadet since women were admitted to the military academy 20 years ago.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador indicated his government won't allow US agents to participate more actively in the probe of a bombing that killed 19 US airmen in Dhahran. In a rare public criticism of the country last week, FBI director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Reno demanded that the kingdom allow greater US involvement.

Three men charged with robbing banks and with bombing a newspaper office and abortion clinic also are being investigated for the July 27 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, according to the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash. The newspaper, which is the same one that was bombed, quoted anonymous FBI and Justice Department officials as saying the men are the "strongest leads" in the bombing.

Enough evidence exists to "clearly implicate" Khmer Rouge leaders in crimes against humanity during their 1975-79 rule in Cambodia, the US-funded Cambodian Genocide Program announced. And the genocide toll might be closer to 2 million rather than the previously cited 1 million, new evidence suggests. Researchers at the Yale University program in New Haven, Conn., came to the conclusions after studying meticulous records of the killings kept by the Khmer Rouge.

THE WORLD

Chechen guerrilla leader Aslan Maskhadov predicted victory in today's presidential election and vowed to turn the breakaway region into a sovereign state. He is widely favored to win, although the field also includes 15 other candidates. In Moscow, a Kremlin spokesman said Russia was ready to cut relations with any government that granted diplomatic recognition to Chechnya.

Leftist rebels in Peru released another hostage from the Japanese ambassador's residence they have been occupying since before Christmas. The freed hostage was a police official who needed medical treatment. To ease growing tensions over the standoff, Peru's government pledged to seek "a peaceful solution without bloodshed."