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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / February 2, 1998



The US

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President Clinton's proposed budget for next year will include a $9.5 billion surplus, the first in three decades, aides familiar with the plan said. The document predicts surpluses of $8.5 billion in 2000, $28.2 billion in 2001, $89.7 billion in 2002, and $82.8 billion in 2003, the sources said. The budget - to be sent to Congress today - is expected to put forward $100 billion in new spending and tax breaks over five years, with much of it going to a child-care initiative, education, and biomedical research.

As a response to global warming, Clinton said he would propose a five-year, $6.3 billion package of tax incentives and research funding to spur development of more fuel-efficient autos and other energy-saving technologies. The proposal would give tax credits of $3,000 to $4,000 to buyers of the next generation of fuel-efficient cars as a way to boost their development.

Four Northeastern states said they would carry out their own programs to fight auto pollution. New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont said they would not accept an automakers' plan to offer gasoline-powered cars with 70 percent cleaner emissions nationwide as a way to avoid building unconventional "super clean" cars for smog control in the Northeast. The remaining Northeast states as well as Washington, D.C., said they wanted to join a national plan. Automakers have until Feb. 17 to decide whether to pursue a national low-emissions vehicle program proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Gasoline prices plunged over the weekend. Drivers along the East Coast found prices as low as 84.9 cents a gallon in Florence, S.C. - a drop of 4 cents in one week. In Georgia, a Monitor editor traveling through the area found the lowest price advertised along I-95 was 90.9 cents, although most stations were a few cents higher. Some Virginia stations were selling unleaded regular for 99.9 cents (self-service). Gasoline could be found near I-95 for 98.9 cents in Virginia and 99.9 cents in New Jersey.

After keeping quiet for a week, some top Republicans began attacking the president on moral grounds late last week. US Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri, who is considering a run for presidency in 2000, was the first prominent Republican to break the wall of silence. He was joined by Steve Forbes, who ran for president in 1996, and by former Education Secretary William Bennett. They spoke out at the 25th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Arlington, Va.

A majority (57 percent) of Americans think the inquiry into allegations concerning Clinton and a former White House intern should be stopped, a Time Magazine/CNN poll indicated. It showed the public evenly split - at 43 percent - on whether independent counsel Kenneth Starr has acted responsibly.

Senate Democrats thwarted a GOP effort to rename Washington National Airport after former President Reagan, and Republicans balked at a Demo- cratic proposal to rename the Justice Department headquarters after former Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Republicans were hoping to pass a bill making the airport change on Reagan's birthday, Feb. 6, but Democrats used parliamentary tactics to block further consideration.

A plan to phase out government involvement in running the Internet's naming and address system was released by the Clinton administration. If enacted, the plan would turn management over to the private sector, stimulate competition for registering new addresses, and create five new top-level suffixes, or "domains." The proposal is posted on the Web (www.ntia.doc.gov).

Joseph Alioto, who died late last week in San Francisco, was the city's longtime former mayor and a nationally renowned antitrust lawyer. He is credited with helping to establish - during two mayoral terms (1968 to 1976) - the racial tolerance that continues to characterize San Francisco.

The World

Iraq opened talks with 23 UN officials in Baghdad to plead that it has no weapons of mass destruction left. As they met, the training of hundreds of thousands of civilian "volunteers" began in military defense techniques. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned that the US would use "substantial" force against Iraq if diplomatic efforts failed to resolve the impasse over arms searches.