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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / September 11, 1998



The US

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The full weight of the special prosecutor's inquiry arrived on Capitol Hill in 36 sealed boxes containing "substantial and credible" evidence of wrongdoing by President Clinton. But, after a series of quick meetings among House members, much remained unsettled about how to proceed with reviewing the material. House Judiciary chairman Henry Hyde said 445 pages, including the introduction and a 280-page narrative, would be "immediately" assembled and disseminated through the Internet.

Clinton asked the American people for forgiveness in a pair of speeches to Democratic supporters in Florida. "I'm determined to redeem the trust of all the American people," he said, asking donors at an Orlando fund-raising luncheon for Florida gubernatorial candidate Buddy MacKay to spread the word. He later made a similar plea to donors in Coral Gables.

The deficit in the broadest measure of US trade performance jumped 20 percent in the April-June quarter to a record $56.5 billion, the Commerce Department said. Reflecting global economic turmoil, the current-account deficit rose from a record $46.7 billion in the first quarter to put the nation on track for a deficit above $200 billion for the year - the biggest since officials began tracking the data in the 1940s.

A measure requiring deployment of a national missile-defense system "as soon as technologically feasible" failed by one vote to pass the Senate. The Republican initiative is likely to be debated later this month in the House, where it is expected to win approval. Also, Senate Republicans said they had given up on an attempt to override Clinton's veto of tax-preferred savings accounts for educational expenses.

It costs about $72.7 billion a year to treat smokers for medical problems caused by cigarettes, a new study said. Health economists at the University of California reviewed public and private health-care spending and found that smoking accounted for about 11.8 percent of US medical expenditures in 1993. The report indicates costs of treating illnesses related to smoking over many years may be far larger than the proposed $368.5 billion settlement that fell through after being negotiated last year between states and the tobacco industry.

An additional $20 million in US aid was being sent to Kosovo to help avert a humanitarian disaster for thousands of refugees fleeing Serb shelling of ethnic-Albanian villages, State Department officials said. But one of the officials expressed skepticism about whether the new aid package would be effective without a pullback of Serb forces.

A new poll indicated so-called binge drinking is becoming more popular among those who consume alcohol on college campuses. A Harvard School of Public Health study published in the Journal of American College Health found the proportion of student drinkers saying they "drank to get drunk" had increased from 39 percent in 1993 to 52 percent in 1997. On a more positive note, the study also showed the number of students saying they do not drink alcohol increasing from 15.6 percent in 1993 to 19 percent in 1997.

A human-rights group criticized the Immigration and Naturalization Service for holding detainees in jails where they are mixed with criminals and subject to abuse. In a report on jails in seven states, Human Rights Watch cited - as examples of abuse detainees are subject to - the denial of medical care, frequent transfers to other jails, lack of outdoor exercise, and isolation from friends and relatives.

Chiquita Brands International was urged to meet with a group representing banana workers in Latin America. Sixty US and European human-rights, environmental, labor, and citizen groups released a letter saying they were disappointed the Cincinnati-based company had not responded to repeated requests for meetings.

The World

Almost certain confirmation of Yevgeny Primakov as new prime minister of Russia is expected as the Communist-dominated lower house of parliament prepares to vote on his nomination today. The veteran diplomat and former spymaster was proposed for the job by President Yeltsin after parliament twice rejected his first nominee, Viktor Chernomyrdin. Primakov's principal weakness appeared to be largely untested economic skills.

UN and African leaders made a fourth try to forge a cease-fire between Congolese troops and rebels trying to depose self-declared President Laurent Kabila. Fighting surged in eastern Congo after rebels stormed out of negotiations earlier this week just as a draft truce agreement was to be signed. Back in the capital, Kinshasa, for the first time in two weeks, Kabila shrugged off peace efforts and called for an invasion of Rwanda, whose troops he accused of backing the rebels.