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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / April 14, 1999



The Defense Department was reviewing a NATO request for 300 additional aircraft to support the allied bombing of Yugoslavia. The US already has more than 400 warplanes in Europe supporting the air war, and it was announced Saturday that 82 more were being sent to intensify it. But there seemed to be little doubt the Pentagon would accede to the new request.

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GOP leaders signaled their unwillingness to rush into public debate on the Kosovo crisis as Congress returned from a two-week break. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) of Illinois called for a week of fact-finding on the issue. Sens. John McCain (R) of Arizona and Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware - advocates of planning for a ground operation - circulated nearly identical resolutions that would give President Clinton authority to use "all necessary force" to meet NATO goals in Kosovo. But Biden said he doubted such a measure would win congressional approval so long as the administration says NATO can succeed by air power alone.

A federal judge in Little Rock, Ark., found Clinton in contempt of court for giving "intentionally false" testimony about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. District Judge Susan Webber Wright imposed a civil rather than a criminal penalty, ordering the president to pay Paula Jones "any reasonable expenses" caused by his "willful failure" to obey discovery orders during her sexual-harassment lawsuit against him.

Susan McDougal was found not guilty of obstruction of justice for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the Clintons' Whitewater dealings. She declared victory on the steps of the Little Rock courthouse even though the judge declared a mistrial on two charges of contempt after the jury deadlocked on the contempt issues. The verdict was seen as a major setback for independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who was said to be considering a retrial. In her defense, McDougal said she had feared Starr would force her to invent testimony harmful to the Clintons if she appeared under oath before one of his grand juries. She already has spent 18 months in prison for civil contempt of court for refusing to testify before one of the grand juries.

China's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) could still be approved this year, Premier Zhu Rongji and Commerce Secretary William Daley concurred. Despite their failure to seal an agreement last week while Zhu was in Washington, Daley said, "It's no longer if - it's when" a trade accord will be signed, characterizing the deal as "95 percent" solidified. The Wall Street Journal said the administration was considering the option of allowing China to enter the WTO, but "reserving approval" - thus delaying a vote in Congress on the issue until after the 2000 elections.

The Pentagon spelled out special tax breaks for military personnel serving in "qualified hazardous-duty" areas. The measures included an extension of the deadline for filing and paying federal income taxes and a tax exemption for military pay earned while serving in the certified combat zones.