US President Clinton signed an order Jan. 25 establishing the National Economic Council, a White House coordination effort to try to make government economic policy more effective. The council will be headed by Robert Rubin, one of Clinton's top economic advisers, and will include members of the Council of Economic Advisers and the heads of the departments of Treasury, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Clinton

said no decision has been made to seek a consumption tax. And the president also made it official Jan. 25 that Hillary Clinton will head a task force on health-care reform, made up of Cabinet and White House officials. Over the weekend of Jan. 30-31, Clinton and his new Cabinet will meet at Camp David to lay their plans for the first 100 days in office. Can Iraq build bomb?

Gary Milhollin, a nuclear arms control specialist, writes in the coming issue of The New Yorker magazine that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein retains large parts of his secret nuclear arms program and that unless the United Nations keeps up sanctions on Iraq, Saddam could build a nuclear bomb in five to seven years.

The author accuses the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency of being too timid in its inspection policies in Iraq, allowing time for the country "to spin a web of deception, a web now too dense for the inspectors to penetrate." Inspectors from the UN inspection agency, however, said Jan. 26 that Iraq should be subjected to long-term inspections to make sure it is not advancing a nuclear weapons program. US automakers want help

The top three US automakers have told US trade officials they intend to seek punitive duties on all imported cars, the New York Times reported Jan. 26. The companies claim Japanese and European manufacturers are violating US rules by selling cars for less in the US than they charge in their home markets. Job cuts at Pratt & Whitney

United Technologies Corporation Jan. 26 reported a $333 million 1992 fourth-quarter loss and said it will eliminate more than 10,500 jobs at its Pratt & Whitney jet-engine subsidiary in Connecticut. Meanwhile, reacting to massive losses reported last week, International Business Machines Corporation said Jan. 26 it cut its dividend by more than two-thirds and began a search for a new chief executive. Carrier to Adriatic

France announced Jan. 26 it was moving an aircraft carrier, the Clemenceau, into the Adriatic Sea for possible intervention in the former Yugoslav republics. Two French soldiers were killed in Croatia on Jan. 25. Britain rejected suggestions Jan. 26 by the Clinton administration that Muslims be allowed arms to help them fight Serbs in Bosnia, and that the UN enforce a no-fly zone. British Overseas Development Minister Lynda Chalker also hinted that the 2,500 British troops guarding humanitarian convoys i n Bosnia may be pulled out if the situation worsens. A British soldier was killed in Bosnia Jan. 13 and British troops there have been fired on several times. Australian of the year

Prime Minister Paul Keating gave the Australian of the Year award on Jan. 26 to Mandawuy Yunupingu, lead singer of the internationally acclaimed Aboriginal band, Yothu Yindi. The band's song, "Treaty," raised the profile of the fight for Aboriginal land rights, staff writer Catherine Foster writes from Sydney.

In a separate award, The Australian newspaper on Jan. 26 chose the late Eddie Mabo as its Australian of the Year. Mabo's 10-year fight in the 1980s to prove that his people owned their homelands in the Torres Strait Islands resulted in a case that has revolutionized the law on Aboriginal land rights.

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