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News In Brief

By CompiledLance Cardenand Caryn Coatney / August 7, 1998



The US

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Monica Lewinsky was to begin her long-awaited appearance before the grand jury in Washington, which could define the future course of the Clinton administration. White House officials said they hoped it was a sign that a four-year investigation headed by independent counsel Kenneth Starr was finally coming to an end.

The House voted to tighten controls on Justice Department prosecutors, including independent counsels. It approved a plan that would order US prosecutors to comply with ethical standards of the states in which they operate and to set up an independent board to review complaints about prosecutors' conduct. Some Democrats took the opportunity to criticize Kenneth Starr.

The House upheld a ban on discrimination against homosexuals in federal jobs. A number of Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the proposal, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Joel Hefley (R) of Colorado which would have blocked an executive order against discrimination over sexual preference in hiring, firing, and promoting US employees. It was defeated 252 to 176.

The House passed a GOP bill that might be used to block the use of a statistical sampling in the 2000 census. The measure earmarks $952 million for the Census Bureau in fiscal year 1999, but withholds half the money until Congress decides sometime after March 31 to release it. Critics of the measure said half the funds may be held hostage unless the bureau drops plans to use statistical sampling, which some experts say is more accurate than traditional methods of counting minorities, poor people, and children.

Plans for exploring and developing Alaskan oil and gas resources in the northeast quadrant of the 23-million-acre National Petroleum Reserve were expected to be unveiled by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. Environmentalists who want to prohibit exploration in the entire reserve say that, with oil prices low, there is no reason to use the energy resource now.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms brought relief to much of Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas. Weather experts, crediting a summer cool front, said it would lower temperatures for a couple of days - but might not signal an end to the region's summer heat wave. Meanwhile, the Clinton administration declared an agricultural disaster area in drought-stricken South Carolina, making many farmers there eligible for low-interest loans.

Northwest Airlines ground workers rejected contract proposals and overwhelmingly authorized a strike if necessary, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said. Talks between Northwest, the nation's fourth-largest airline, and the Air Line Pilots Association were declared at an impasse last week. That set up the possibility of a strike a week before Labor Day weekend, when a 30-day cooling-off period expires Aug. 29.

Former President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and other luminaries appealed for talks to abolish nuclear weapons, citing new global dangers created by recent Indian and Pakistani tests. The Fourth Freedom Forum, a US antinuclear group, organized the appeal on the 53rd anniversary of the bombing that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima.

Orders to US factories inched up only 0.1 percent in June, failing to recover from a sharp decline in May, the Commerce Department said. Orders in June totaled a seasonally adjusted $330.5 billion. In May they fell 2.2 percent, the biggest drop in three years. Orders in the April-June quarter were 0.7 percent below the first quarter.

The Boston Globe asked columnist Mike Barnicle to resign because he apparently used, without attribution, material from comedian George Carlin. Less than two months ago, Globe columnist Patricia Smith resigned because she had fabricated material used in some of her articles.

The World

UN monitors were reportedly able to perform their work in Iraq unhindered, despite Baghdad's decision to suspend cooperation with the arms inspectors. American UN envoy Bill Richardson said the Security Council would need to respond in a "strong, unmistakable way" to Iraq's latest challenge.

A world conference of Anglican bishops reaffirmed their policy that homosexuality is incompatible with the scriptures and sex should be confined to married couples. With African and Asian bishops leading a traditionalist majority, the resolution on homosexuality was overwhelmingly adopted by delegates meeting in Canterbury, England. It was seen as a setback for liberal bishops from the US and Europe.