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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / March 31, 1998



The US

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The US Supreme Court agreed to decide if independent counsel Kenneth Starr may obtain notes from a meeting between White House aide Vincent Foster and his lawyer prior to Foster's 1993 death. The court said it would hear an appeal by Foster's lawyer, James Hamilton, arguing that the attorney-client privilege applies even after a client dies. Hamilton took three pages of notes July 11, 1993, in a meeting with Foster about firings in the White House travel office. Nine days later, Foster was found dead of what officials say was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The high court rejected the appeal of a US soldier facing a bad-conduct discharge for refusing to wear a UN shoulder patch and UN blue beret for a peacekeeping mission in Macedonia. The justices turned away Michael New's argument that the order he disobeyed would have required him to become a "UN soldier."

Sales of new homes rose to a record high in February, the Commerce Department said. Single-family home sales jumped 4.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 893,000 units after a revised gain of 5.2 percent in January. February's annual rate was the highest on record, surpassing the previous high of 880,000 in March 1986. Low long-term interest rates and warm weather apparently spurred sales.

US Rep. John Kasich (R) of Ohio called on President Clinton to veto a highway-spending bill if it passes the House in its current form. The GOP chairman of the Budget Committee said the $217 billion measure contains too many "pork barrel" projects. The bill, calling for a 43 percent increase in spending over six years, is scheduled for a vote this week.

A plan to have a select group of House lawmakers review any impeachment data from Kenneth Starr ahead of the House Judiciary Committee drew opposition from Rep. Charles Canady (R) of Florida, chairman of the panel's Constitution Subcommittee. Canady said on NBC it would be a mistake to break with precedent. It was the Judiciary Committee that approved articles of impeachment proceedings against President Nixon in 1974. Rep. Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois, who heads the judiciary panel, is reportedly concerned about possible leaks to the media, if impeachable information is uncovered by Starr.

Senate negotiators agreed on tobacco legislation that would raise cigarette prices $1.10 a pack over five years, but did not settle the issue of legal protections for tobacco companies. Participants in the marathon talks warned the whole deal could still collapse. Former Food and Drug administrator David Kessler called the proposed $1.10-a-pack increase insufficient.

Political lobbyists in Hong Kong reportedly asked the US Congress to look into recent threats to the rule of law, freedom of the press, and electoral policy in the territory. The State Department is to submit a report on Hong Kong to Congress this week, providing evidence for an annual review of Hong Kong-US relations. A faultfinding review might cast a shadow over President Clinton's June summit with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Tornadoes leveled homes across southern Minnesota, killing at least one person and injuring more than two dozen others. Hardest hit were two towns - St. Peter, in south-central Minnesota, and Comfrey, in the southwestern part of the state - where tornadoes wreaked havoc.

The World

UN envoy Dennis Ross was to hold a final meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu before returning to Washington. But in public comments, Ross sounded pessimistic about hopes for a breakthrough in Middle East peacemaking. He was trying to promote a US proposal to trade tougher Palestinian security measures for an expanded Israeli troop pullback from the West Bank. But Netanyahu denied Israel was even discussing specifics for a withdrawal or that he was considering a freeze on Jewish settlement construction.

Despite concerns about his personal safety, Prince Norodom Ranariddh arrived in Cambodia's capital after almost nine months in exile. He said he was apprehensive but willing to meet with his rival, Premier Hun Sen, who ended their power-sharing arrangement with a violent coup last summer. Ranariddh said the July 26 election he was returning to compete in against Hun Sen "has to be fair and credible."

A week after his dismissal as prime minister, Viktor Cherno-myrdin won his former boss's endorsement for president of Russia in 2000. But Boris Yeltsin was only tepid in his comments on Chernomyrdin, who announced over the weekend that he definitely would seek the office. Meanwhile, the Communist-dominated parliament said it wanted to vote tomorrow on urging Yeltsin to withdraw youthful Sergei Kiriyenko as Chernomyrdin's successor.