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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Cynthia Hanson / April 22, 1998

The US

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The Clinton administration endorsed needle-exchange programs for drug users, but refused to fund them. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said that although a "meticulous" review had proven that needle-exchange programs can reduce transmission of the HIV virus and save lives without encouraging illegal drug use, a ban on using federal funds for such programs would remain in effect.

Microsoft and Justice Department attorneys were to argue before a federal appeals court in Washington whether a US district judge went too far in prohibiting the company from forcing computermakers who offer Windows 95 software to also offer Microsoft's Internet browser. Justice officials, who are considering a broader antitrust case against Microsoft, contend the company practice of "tieing" Windows 95 to Internet Explorer is anticompetitive and unfair.

White defendants can challenge indictments against them based on alleged discrimination against blacks in the selection of grand juries, the US Supreme Court ruled. The court unanimously allowed a Louisiana man convicted of murder to attack the charges against him on a claim that blacks were prevented from serving as the grand jury foreman. In Louisiana, grand jury foremen are chosen by judges.

A federal court denied appeals seeking to block the execution today in Arizona of a Honduran citizen. Among other things, attorneys for Jos Roberto Villafuerte contended in Phoenix that Arizona should have notified Honduran authorities of his arrest. He would be the second foreign national to be executed in the US this month despite protests by their governments that consular officials had not been contacted as required by the 1963 Vienna Convention.

The Clinton administration has approved plans to beam Farsi-language radio programming into Iran, officials said. The proposal, approved earlier by the International Broadcasting Bureau, would have Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty broadcast two hours of mostly local news daily into Iran starting in September - and increase programming to six hours daily next year. Officials of the Tehran government were already criticizing the proposal, saying it would interfere with efforts to improve US-Iran relations.

A jury in Chicago found that anti-abortion groups had violated US racketeering laws by staging protests at women's clinics. The verdict awarded nearly $86,000 to two such clinics, but could cost the defendants - Operation Rescue, the Pro-Life Action Network, and three anti-abortion activists - millions of dollars more if some 900 clinics seek reimbursement for costs of increased security, plaintiffs said.

Jesse Jackson is considering another run for the White House, his Chicago-based organization said. A spokesman for the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition said Jackson, who made unsuccessful bids for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, is expected to make a decision on his candidacy in November. He has never held elective office; his son is a Democratic congressman from Illinois.

Whitewater witness David Hale asked a Supreme Court justice to block his trial in Little Rock, Ark., on charges of lying to insurance regulators. In an emergency petition filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, Hale's lawyers said a plea agreement and immunity granted him by Whitewater prosecutors protect him against prosecution in the case. Hale's trial was scheduled to begin today.

The Clinton administration proposed legislation to finance air-traffic control services by means of user fees. Officials said fees levied on airlines starting in 2000 would provide controlers funding exempt from budgetary spending caps.

The World

For the third straight Friday, the lower house of Russia's parliament will consider the confirmation of President Yeltsin's nominee for prime minister, it was decided. Sergei Kiriyenko was rejected by the Communist-dominated Duma in each of the past two weeks on grounds that he's too inexperienced. Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said Yeltsin might personally escort Kiriyenko on courtesy visits to lawmakers as a conciliatory gesture. But Communist leaders again predicted rejection, and analysts said only a secret ballot was likely to enable the nomination to pass.

Saying "we all want to be able to surprise ourselves and the world," Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pronounced himself ready for a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Arafat May 4 in London. Netanyahu told visiting British counterpart Tony Blair he also thought progress on a troop pullback from the West Bank was possible. Netanyahu and Arafat were summoned to London for separate talks by Secretary of State Albright. But her spokesman said in Washington that "time is running out for ... hard decisions to be made."