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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / October 22, 1998



The US

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The framework of a Middle East peace accord seemed to finally be taking shape on the seventh day of negotiations outside Washington. The CIA would supervise the jailing and disarming of suspected Palestinian terrorists in a land-for-security accord President Clinton was pressing hard to seal between Israelis and Palestinians, officials at the talks said. A signing ceremony might take place today, they added, although it was far from certain.

The Senate sent a massive $500 billion spending measure to the White House, where it was expected to be signed into law quickly by Clinton to keep the government running. Democrats and Republicans claimed credit for various components of the package, but lawmakers in both parties deplored the process that forced them to vote on a 4,000-page document that landed on their desks Tuesday afternoon, giving them scant opportunity to review it before voting.

White House aides were to meet for the first time with House Judiciary Committee investigators in an effort to set up a framework for the panel's probe of potentially impeachable allegations against Clinton. The committee is reportedly eager to know whether the president will testify at House hearings and whether his lawyers will stipulate which testimony and other evidence they accept as accurate - thus helping the panel establish the facts in the case without the need for new time-consuming testimony.

The House approved legislation aimed at curbing bribery in international business. Supporters said it would level the playing field for US firms and make them more competitive. The bill, expected to gain quick approval in the Senate, endorses a convention of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development against bribery of officials in governments or in certain international organizations.

Clinton appointed John Podesta his new White House chief of staff, replacing Erskine Bowles. Podesta, who will take up his duties Nov. 1, has been deputy chief of staff for the past two years and previously served as Clinton's staff secretary.

Sen. Don Nickles (R) of Oklahoma dropped his opposition to Dr. Jane Henney, Clinton's choice to head the Food and Drug Administration. As a result, the Senate was expected to confirm her before adjourning. Clinton nominated Henney in June, but some Senate conservatives blocked confirmation, partly because they thought she might lead the FDA across the boundary between regulation and legislation.

Vice President Al Gore unveiled what may be an aggressive new Democratic strategy for the coming elections. Gore said he would welcome a Nov. 3 referendum on the GOP-led congressional inquiry into allegedly impeachable offenses committed by Clinton. The vice president's comments came as he campaigned for fellow Democrats in Iowa.

Clinton signed legislation funding the Central Intelligence Agency and naming its headquarters in suburban Virginia in honor of former President George Bush, who once served as its director. The president said the new name was "an appropriate and well-deserved tribute" to Bush.

Rains let up, but flooding continued unabated in south Texas. Officials said floods were affecting 60 counties - nearly one-fourth of a state that a few months ago was experiencing a devastating drought.

A public-health emergency was declared in Oakland, Calif., after the forced closure of one of the state's largest medical-marijuana clubs. The action by the City Council, on a 5-to-4 vote, will allow officials to seek alternative ways of selling marijuana to about 2,200 patients no longer able to obtain the drug at the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative, which was closed Monday by court order.

The World

Israelis were sending loud signals to Prime Minister Netan-yahu in the US that they oppose any deal with the Palestinians that would trade land for peace. The ultranationalist Moledet Party called for a vote of no-confidence in Netanya-hu's government Monday, although leftist and centrist parties were expected to give him enough support in parliament to cling to power. Other legislators threatened to vote against any settlement when it is presented for ratification. Outside West Bank towns, settlers blocked highway intersections "to show that this is Jewish country and should not be given away to non-Jews."

Yugoslav President Milosevic said he remains committed to the deal he accepted earlier this month for peace in Kosovo, "despite armed provocations" by Albanian separatists. Meanwhile, Western monitors in Kosovo said they would stress to both sides the necessity of restraint if the disengagement process Milosevic agreed to was to work by Tuesday's deadline for punitive strikes against Yugoslav targets by NATO planes.