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President Clinton asked Americans to support him with prayer in his "difficult decision" on whether to risk the lives of US forces in a possible military showdown with Iraq. He spoke at the 46th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. Defense Secretary William Cohen said Clinton soon is likely to approve sending additional troops, aircraft, and ships to the Gulf.
William Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky's attorney, denied that talks are under way to try to secure immunity for the former White House intern in return for details of her relationship with Clinton. Meanwhile, Kenneth Starr's office told Ginsburg the independent counsel wasn't able to accept his initial offer for Lewinsky to testify in exchange for full immunity, sources familiar with the talks said. The Washington Post said prosecutors have asked her to submit to questioning early next week. Also, a grand jury heard testimony from White House steward Bayani Nelvis and presidential assistant Kris Engskov. Nelvis's lawyer denied a Wall Street Journal report that his client testified to seeing Clinton and Lewinsky alone in a study adjoining the Oval Office.
The West Coast braced for more El Nio-driven storms as California Gov. Pete Wilson declared a state of emergency in 10 counties. Communities across the region stocked up on sandbags and cleared storm drains. In Florida, Gov. Lawton Chiles also declared a state of emergency.
The Big Three automakers agreed to sell millions of cars with cleaner-burning engines, beginning in 1999, as part of a compromise aimed at easing air pollution in the Northeast. The new vehicles will emit nearly 70 percent less smog-causing tailpipe pollution than cars now available. The Environmental Protection Agency has been brokering talks between the automakers and the Northeastern states.
A group of US news organizations requested that a gag order be lifted in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against Clinton. Eleven major newspapers and television networks filed a motion in a Little Rock, Ark., federal court seeking a hearing before Judge Susan Webber Wright. The group said the gag order hasn't been effective in protecting against pre-trial publicity and instead has promoted "misinformation, speculation, innuendo, and rumor." Clinton's lawyers also have cited leaks and asked that the trial be advanced from late May to mid-March.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced new sanctions against underage consumption of alcohol. Disciplinary actions include: written reprimands, mandatory counseling, probation, loss of housing, and up to $1,500 in fines and possible expulsion. Since September, three MIT fraternities have been cited for drinking problems. One student died and another was hospitalized from alcohol poisoning, and 22 others have been charged with alcohol violations.
Clinton announced creation of a White House council to coordinate efforts to head off computer problems that threaten critical federal services when the calendar year changes to 2000. The problem is expected to occur because many computer systems are programmed to recognize only the last two digits in a date, misinterpreting 2000 as 1900.
The House and Senate voted to rename Washington National Airport in honor of former President Ronald Reagan. Clinton planned to sign the bill, but opponents have promised a court challenge. They contend the measure violates the federal government's lease to a local airport authority, which Reagan signed into law in 1986.
Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan announced he will not run for governor of California. He had considered challenging state Attorney General Dan Lungren in the Republican primary. Rep. Jane Jarman, a moderate Democrat, who represents a Los Angeles district, entered the race hours later.
Russia "shall not allow" a coalition of western military forces to attack Iraq, President Boris Yeltsin said. He repeated an earlier warning that a US-led strike could unleash a new world war but did not say how Russia would respond. He said the weapons-inspection crisis had peaked and "is going down."
Iraq's Parliament complained that initiatives to resolve the inspections crisis have gone unheeded by the US and postponed any resolution on the situation until next week. Iraq invited members of Russia's parliament for "field visits" to presidential palaces. A similar invitation was extended to members of the US Congress last week.