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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / October 7, 1997

The US

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The Clinton administration's release of videotapes of 44 finance-related coffees held in the White House sparked a firestorm among Republicans. Questions were raised about why the tapes didn't surface when the White House was first asked for all records related to fund-raising for the 1996 elections. Witnesses have differed in testimony before the Senate committee over whether Huang made a fund-raising pitch at the coffee.

The White House said Clinton would use his new line-item veto powers to axe 38 projects worth $287 million from the $9.2 billion military construction bill. Historically, lawmakers have attached pork-barrel pet projects to the military bill. It would be the second time he has used the line-item veto, but the first time for a spending bill.

The seven-member crew of the space shuttle Atlantis was expected to touch down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today after poor weather conditions delayed plans for an earlier landing. But heavy cloud cover didn't delay the launch of a unmanned rocket carrying a communications satellite.

Stanley Prusiner, a biochemistry professor at the University of California in San Francisco, won the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The prize, worth $1 million, is awarded by Sweden's renowned Karolinska Institute.

The Supreme Court refused to order the public release of Clinton's videotaped testimony in the 1996 criminal trial of his former Whitewater partners. A conservative group, Citizens United, made the request. The court also rejected a challenge to Indiana University's custom of having a clergy member offer two prayers at the school's graduation ceremony. Opponents had argued the state-supported school's custom violates the constitutionally required separation of religion and government. In other decisions, the court left intact a ruling that lets newspapers in Washington state bar their reporters from political activism even though a state law prohibits such censorship by most other employers.

The Department of Energy said it would sell the Elk Hills Strategic Petroleum Reserve to Occidental Petroleum Corp. for $3.65 billion. Sale of the reserve, near Bakersfield, Calif., would result in the largest privatization in US history.

Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney announced plans to enlist foreign nationals to take his ministry worldwide. The former University of Colorado football coach also said he would replicate last weekend's Washington gathering with rallies in every state capital Jan. 1, 2000.

Digital Equipment is negotiating the sale of its Alpha chip technology unit to Intel Corp. for more than $1.5 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported. A settlement would end a patent lawsuit in which Digital claims Intel stole technology, the Journal said.

H.F. Ahmanson & Co. announced it will acquire Coast Savings Financial Inc. in a $901 million stock deal that will create the second largest savings and loan in the country. Ahmanson, the parent company of Home Savings of America, said the purchase of its smaller rival will create a financial institution with more than $39.2 billion in deposits and $56.6 billion in assets.

President Lyndon Johnson expressed serious doubts about US involvement in Vietnam as early as May 1964, according to tapes of his personal White House talks. A discussion with National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy appears in "Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964," published by Simon & Schuster this week. Johnson called the war effort the biggest mess he'd ever seen. Partial transcripts appear in the Oct. 13 issue of News-week.

Authorities searched for an armored car company employee after discovering as much as $15 million missing from a Loomis, Fargo & Co. warehouse in Charlotte, N. C. Loomis was stung last March by one of the largest armored car robberies in US history, with the disappearance of $18 million. Most of that money was returned last month.

The World

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to hold a news conference as the Monitor went to press, apparently to discuss the return of two Israelis from custody in Jordan. The men, believed to be intelligence agents, were arrested after an unsuccessful assassination attempt against Hamas leader Khaled Meshal. Israel agreed to free 22 Palestinians and return them to Jordan in exchange. Meanwhile, Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, released last week by Israel, left Jordan for his home in Gaza, where he received a tumultuous welcome.

Long-awaited peace negotiations in Northern Ireland were to open today, but with no outward softening by rival republicans and loyalists of their positions. Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble reiterated his commitment not to surrender the province's union with Britain. Speaking for Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, party representative Martin McGuinness said, "We are going to smash the union."