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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / February 10, 1998

The US

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California Gov. Pete Wilson asked President Clinton to declare half the counties in the state federal disaster areas from El Nio-driven storms. In Monterey County, the town of Pajaro was evacuated as the Pajaro River crested at 29 feet. In some parts of northern California, precipitation for February is already almost triple the usual amount for the month, a spokesman for the state flood center said. North of San Francisco, 500 residents were evacuated from the shores of fast-rising Clear Lake. South of the US-Mexico border, flash floods in Tijuana killed at least 13 people and forced thousands of others from their homes.

A friend of Monica Lewinsky who works at the White House gave detailed accounts to Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr's investigators of what the White House intern told her about a rumored affair with Clinton, Newsweek magazine reported. Meanwhile, Lewinsky's lawyer, William Ginsburg, said when he was called into the case Jan. 16, investigators told him they wanted to wire her to record phone calls. Ginsburg also told Time that Starr reneged at least three times on granting his client immunity from prosecution.

Opening statements began in the trial of Sgt. Major of the Army Gene McKinney, who is accused of using his position to prey on women soldiers. Prosecutors alleged in a Fort Belvoir, Va., courtroom that he propositioned and groped six women, pressured one into having sex with him, and threatened another when she complained about his advances.

The number of children on welfare declined 23 percent from January 1993 to January 1997, The Wall Street Journal reported, quoting the President's Council of Economic Advisers. In a report due to be released this week, the panel cites the strong economy and an expansion of tax credits for the improvements in childhood poverty, the Journal said. While cuts in welfare programs raised the childhood poverty rate by 0.5 percent since 1993, increases in the tax credit reduced it by 2.5 percent during the same period, the Journal said.

Federal agents confiscated a pickup truck registered to a man sought as a witness to the bombing of a women's clinic in Birmingham, Ala., where abortions are performed. The blast killed a police officer and injured a nurse. The truck was found in the woods of western North Carolina. Authorities have been searching for the 1989 Nissan registered to Eric Rudolph since Jan. 29, when it was seen near the New Woman All Women Clinic. Rudolph is being sought as a material witness to the bombing.

Voters in Maine go to the polls today to decide whether to repeal a law that forbids discrimination against homosexuals. The measure, enacted last year, bars discrimination based on sexual preference in housing, employment, public accommodations, and credit. Maine is among 11 states with such a law.

A Taiwanese delegation was expected to open crucial talk with US officials in Washington on the island's bid to enter the World Trade Organization. Two weeks of talks are expected to cover plans to reduce tariffs on rice, pork, and chicken, and to open Taiwan's telecommunications market and other service industries.

Cigar manufacturers are the latest target of the Federal Trade Commission. Regulators want the five largest manufacturers to provide the government with detailed reports of annual sales and advertising expenditures, The Wall Street Journal reported. US cigar sales have jumped 53 percent to 5.2 billion since 1993, the Journal said.

Steven Renfro was scheduled for execution last night, which would be the 146th in Texas since 1976 - and the second in as many weeks. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend, aunt, and an acquaintance, and wounding a police officer during a shooting rampage in 1996.

The World

Saying, "The window of opportunity is getting narrower" for a diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis, Defense Secretary Cohen maintained that the US needs no further UN resolutions approving the use of force. He declined to confirm reports that Saudi Arabia might allow the use of its soil for logistical flights during air strikes against Iraq from elsewhere in the Gulf.

In New York, the UN Security Council was to take up the proposal by Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Iraq be allowed to more than double the amount of oil it sells for food, as part of a diplomatic effort to end the crisis. Annan cancelled a trip to the Gulf to remain involved in the discussions. Diplomatic sources said he did not want to visit Baghdad until it appeared Iraq was ready to accept UN demands on complying with weapons inspections.