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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Vic Roberts / October 22, 1997



The US

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Two presidential spokesmen denied the White House had altered videotapes showing President Clinton courting donors to the Democratic Party last year. Press secretary Mike McCurry and senior policy adviser Rahm Emanuel said US Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana had made "baseless" and "unwarranted" comments on a Sunday TV news program in suggesting that some tapes released to congressional investigators appeared to have been doctored.

House minority leader Richard Gephardt (D) of Missouri was "likely" to join Republicans in support of legislation to reform the Internal Revenue Service, an aide said. The Clinton administration said Gephardt's endorsement of a bill introduced by Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Archer (R) of Texas was not "a problem" despite its opposition to key provisions, one of which would allow persons outside of government to serve on an oversight board.

Mostly because of huge oil imports and a record deficit with China the US trade gap rose 3.4 percent in August - to $10.36 billion - the Commerce Department reported. The deficit was the highest since January.

To stay competitive in the fiercely competitive banking industry, Citicorp will eliminate 7,500 jobs worldwide over the next 18 months, the company announced. Citicorp, the nation's second-largest banking business, reported a 45 percent drop in earnings for the third quarter.

Carbon dioxide emissions pose a problem for Earth's climate, the world's largest auto-maker acknowledged. Senior General Motors executives, in Japan for the Tokyo Motor Show, said they believe "very strongly" that improved technological efforts must be made to reduce such emissions. They also said energy prices should be raised to prod Americans into buying more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The federal government should be spending $1 billion a year by 2004 to combat computer terrorism, according to a presidential commission. In classified recommendations to the White House, but reported by The Washington Post, the panel also called for a new directorate within the National Security Council to coordinate all governmental efforts aimed at preventing hackers from using computer networks to sabotage US infrastructure systems.

Women fill only 815 of the almost 48,000 combat-related slots that were opened for them in the armed forces under laws passed in 1993 and 1994, according to a Defense Department study reported by The Washington Post. It said the study, to be released today, found "significant" reluctance by commanders to comply with the laws.

Results of a nationwide test administered last year indicate 43 percent of high-school seniors had a below-grade-level knowledge of science, a new study found. The National Assessment Governing Board said the comparable figure for eighth-graders was 39 percent and for fourth-graders 33 percent. The exam was given to 130,000 public- and private-school pupils.

Texas may be unfair to certain convicted killers in sentencing them to be executed, four US Supreme Court justices warned. They voted with the majority in declining to hear the appeal of a death-row inmate who contend-ed his lawyers were prevented from telling a jury that he would have to spend at least 35 years behind bars if sentenced to life inprisonment instead of to execution. But the four justices said they planned to watch future sentences in Texas carefully. Texas has executed 31 convicts so far this year, with five more scheduled to die by Dec. 31.

By a 4-to-3 vote, Florida's Supreme Court ruled the use of the electric chair is not cruel or unusual punishment. The decision cleared the way for the resumption of executions halted in March when the state's chair malfunctioned. But five justices urged state legislators to consider making lethal injections the sole method of execution for capital crimes.

The World

Russian opposition leaders signaled they would drop a no-confidence motion in the lower house of parliament after meeting with President Boris Yeltsin. Nikolai Ryzhkov, leader of one of three parties that had sought the motion, said Yeltsin "took steps to meet practically all our demands." The Duma, which last week postponed the no-confidence vote until today, wants Yeltsin to make concessions on his 1998 budget.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside Thailand's main government buildings for a second day, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. The demonstrations continued as the Thai Cabinet passed new laws deemed crucial to revive the country's flag- ging economy. Concerns over government instability caused Thailand's currency to plummet to a record low against the dollar.