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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / September 29, 1997

The US

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The shuttle Atlantis docked with Russia's Mir space station for an exchange of US astronauts and a delivery of supplies. The shuttle skipper greeted Mir's commander and promptly passed him a sorely needed replacement for the station's troublesome computer. The old one had a minor problem prior to the docking of the shuttle, but kept the station steady for the arrival. Astronaut David Wolf is to replace Michael Foale, who has been on Mir since May.

President Clinton urged an audience in Houston to demand campaign-finance reform and support cutting campaign costs by offering lower-cost media ads to candidates who abide by fund-raising restrictions. His words came on a day when he raised $600,000 for his deeply indebted Democratic Party - and on the day GOP majority leader Trent Lott opened Senate debate on reform of campaign financing. Lott said debate would occur "against a background of lurid exposs" of how Clinton raised millions for his 1996 reelection campaign.

A former top Clinton aide has told investigators that the president called several Democratic donors from the White House in 1994 to solicit contributions, the Los Angeles Times reported. Harold Ickes, ex-White House deputy chief of staff, said he was present when the president spoke by phone with several donors, sources said. Attorney General Janet Reno must decide by Friday whether to start a preliminary inquiry into telephone solicitations by Clinton and Vice President Gore to raise funds for the 1996 election.

A federal grand jury is investigating a loan involving former GOP chairman Haley Barbour that provided his party $1.6 million shortly before 1994 elections, two lawyers said. The Washington, D.C., grand jury has taken testimony about the transaction from several witnesses, they said. Hong Kong businessman Ambrous Tung Young reportedly put up money to guarantee a loan for the National Policy Forum. Most of the loan was used by the Republican Party to repay an old debt.

The Educational Testing Service uncovered widespread cheating in its programs but did not tell the public, The New York Times reported. The Princeton, N.J.,-based company, which runs most educational testing in the US, told the Times it had been as forthcoming as possible, given the dictates of privacy and test integrity. While the well-known SAT test apparently was not corrupted by cheating, others were - including a citizenship test for immigrants, the Times said. As a result, immigration officials said prospective citizens showing up with ETS English-competency certificates were unable to understand the language.

Aides to Teamsters leader Ron Carey have told prosecutors he was aware of a scheme in which the union donated money to liberal groups which, in turn, had their donors make contributions to his campaign, The New York Times reported. The article cited officials involved in the investigation. Carey has maintained that he did not know of the scheme and was betrayed by his aides.

California Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a bill that would have banned the manufacture and sale of cheap, poorly made handguns known as "Saturday night specials" in the state. The measure would have outlawed guns that are easily concealed and can cost as little as $35.

The US gross domestic product grew at a 3.3 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department reported. That is down from a 4.9 percent rate in the first quarter. The slowdown was even more abrupt in consumer spending, which dropped from a 5.3 percent growth rate in the first quarter to just 0.9 percent in the second.

The Thrust jet car broke the world land-speed record. Royal Air Force fighter pilot Andy Green of Britain drove the huge black car across Nevada's Black Rock Desert at 714 m.p.h., shattering the previous record of 633 m.p.h. That mark was set in 1983 by Richard Noble, who is leading the Thrust team.

The World

Amid speculation that Israel and Palestinian negotiators were about to agree on resuming peace talks, senior representatives of the two sides prepared to meet today in New York with Secretary of State Albright. Their get-together was to follow a flurry of activity in the Middle East that began last Friday with the announced arrest by the Palestinian Authority of "up to 70" activists of the Hamas resistance movement. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu followed over the weekend by ordering the payment of $17 million in withheld tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.

Hong Kong's newly appointed legislature approved a measure taking the right to vote away from 2 million people who used it in 1995, the last time local elections were held. Under the restructured election law, only 200,000 people will be eligible to participate in the next elections, in May. Democracy activists claimed the measure was intended to squeeze them out of the electoral process.