Clinton Calls on Public To Defer Its Judgment

PRESIDENT Clinton is urging Americans to defer judgment on questions about his character, contending he's the target of the ``constant politics of diversion and division and destruction.''

``I think I've been subject to more assault than any president,'' Clinton said May 9 at a ``town-hall meeting'' in Rhode Island. ``But we'll have an election in 1996, and I wish that we could just all settle down and be Americans for a while and work on our problems, and then evaluate me based on the job I do.''

Clinton says ``powerful forces'' are trying to undo his presidency. A Clinton legal defense fund

THE White House is considering a legal defense fund to help President Clinton pay for his private lawyers, but ethics experts say the idea raises questions on how to avoid the appearance of selling favoritism.

``This is one of the problems you face when you have a first family that is not wealthy in a society where litigation costs millions,'' says New York University law professor Stephen Gillers. As for defense strategy, Robert Bennett, the attorney hired to defend Clinton in a sexual harassment lawsuit, says he will seek a dismissal of the complaint, arguing that the suit fails to show a legitimate cause of action and that the president is immune to such suits anyway, the Washington Post reported.

Presidential adviser Bruce Lindsey said that White House aides are considering possible ways for the president to handle his legal bills in the Whitewater real estate controversy and in the lawsuit filed by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Corbin Jones. US, Japan work out `dual use' pact

JAPAN and the United States have agreed to expand exchanges of ``dual-use'' technology that can be applied to both military and commercial purposes, officials said May 10.

Defense officials from the two nations agreed in March on the need to expand such cooperation, but no new projects have been agreed on, and it is unclear how they will proceed.

The agreement is part of a US strategy to rely more on commercially available technology for developing high-tech weapons rather than developing systems strictly for military use on their own, which is much more expensive.

The Pentagon recently decided to invest $580 million over the next five years to back commercial production of flat-panel displays, a key technology that has many military uses but also can be used commercially, as in lap-top computers. No food stamps for `pensioners'

UNEMPLOYED Americans are cashing in their pensions to buy groceries because they cannot get food stamps to tide them over to the next job as long as they have retirement savings.

Workers who are forced to dip into their nontraditional pensions such as Individual Retirement Accounts pay a steep penalty and may easily spend more on taxes than they would collect in benefits during a short spell on food stamps.

``It is a terrible personal tragedy that Americans are forced to spend away their future,'' said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D) of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Compromise plan on health reform

SEN. Edward M. Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts is offering a compromise health reform plan in which the smallest American businesses are exempt from paying their workers' insurance and health alliances are not mandatory.

Senator Kennedy is chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, which will lead-off Senate voting on health care when it begins considering Kennedy's bill next week.

President Clinton called Kennedy's proposal ``a good start.''

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