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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / January 29, 1997



THE US

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President Clinton planned to propose raising federal education spending to $29 billion for fiscal 1998, up from $26.3 billion this year, during a news conference. The plan would expand Pell grants and increase funding from $2,700 to $3,000 per student, administration sources said. Money to pay for the proposal would come from shifting funds from a tuition tax-credit plan proposed earlier by Clinton.

Consumer confidence rose 2.6 points in January to a seven-year high of 116.8, the Conference Board reported. It was the third consecutive monthly increase. The confidence index is calculated from a 1985 base of 100 and is derived from a survey of 5,000 households. Participants are asked whether job availability, business conditions, and family incomes will be better or worse six months from now.

US workers' compensation in 1996 rose slightly faster than a year earlier, the Labor Department said. Pay and benefits combined rose 2.9 percent, up from 2.7 percent in 1995, but smaller than the 3 percent gain of 1994. And compensation rose 0.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 1996.

Clinton's pick for transportation secretary, Rodney Slater, is scheduled to appear before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today. He is all but assured of Senate confirmation, several Republican aides said. But Clinton's pick for labor secretary, Alexis Herman, will likely face a battle. Republicans are concerned about her work on White House political activities and relationship to John Huang, a Democratic fund-raiser under investigation for questionable campaign contributions. She is not yet scheduled for confirmation hearings.

Hilton Head Corp. launched a $6.5 billion hostile bid to acquire ITT Corp., which owns Sheraton Hotels, Madison Square Garden, and the New York Knicks and Rangers sports franchises. A merger would create the world's largest owner of big hotels and casinos.

FBI officials were to meet with a Senate panel to discuss why some FBI crime lab workers were transferred after making allegations that resulted in a Justice Department investigation of the agency. Whistleblower Frederic Whitehurst, alleged a pro-prosecution bias and mishandling of evidence in crime-lab work or testimony on several high-profile federal cases. The Oklahoma City bombing is said to be one case that's been jeopardized. Whitehurst faces severe penalties for possible leaks to the news media.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott took issue with Clinton's plan to cut $100 billion in Medicare by cutting payments to HMOs and hospitals over five years. The proposed cuts could reduce needed care for the elderly, he told the American Hospital Association in Washington. Senior citizens, especially those who are well off, should pay higher premiums, Lott added.

The largest association of black churches began a three-year, $12-million campaign to rebuild burned-out churches in the South. The Congress of National Black Churches Inc. said it also will head up arson-suppression efforts. Some $6 million for the campaign was donated by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Foundation and the rest will come from fund-raising, it said.

The jury was expected to begin deliberations in the wrongful death trial against O. J. Simpson. At least nine of the 12 jurors must find him responsible for the June 12, 1994, murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman for their families to be awarded damages.

Newly released documents held for decades in Russian secret files show that more than 200 US Air Force fliers captured during the Korean War divulged valuable information - from the latest weaponry to troop sleeping times. The Soviets often masked their involvement by eavesdropping on interrogations by Chinese or North Korean officers. The records surfaced during a joint US-Russian probe into what happened to missing POWs.

THE WORLD

Separatist military chief Aslan Maskhadov neared victory in Chechnya's presidential election, according to elections commission reports. With the count almost complete, Maskhadov had 63 percent of the vote, to 27 percent for his nearest rival, guerrilla leader Shamil Basayev. In Moscow, the Russian government said it would "look for a way to cooperate" with the winner.

Russian President Yeltsin showed up for work at the Kremlin, one day after his office announced he had no immediate plans to do so. Yeltsin also had canceled an official visit to the Netherlands next week, increasing public speculation that his health was not improving.

Japan called for restraint in Peru's handling of the hostage crisis in Lima. Leftist rebels holding 72 hostages inside the Japanese ambassador's residence shot at police who were staging a show of force outside. One vehicle was struck repeatedly. It was the first time since the episode began that gunfire endangered anyone.