News In Brief

Rep. Henry Hyde (R) of Illinois was to deliver opening remarks in the impeachment trial of President Clinton as House prosecutors began the formal presentation of their case to the Senate. They had up to 24 hours to do so, and were expected to conclude Saturday. It seemed likely the White House would begin its defense next week. The White House indicated it was unlikely Clinton would testify in the trial if asked. A spokesman characterized as "political" a comment from Hyde, head of the House prosecution team, that the president could be subpoenaed. Inflation rose just 1.6 percent in 1998, giving the US its best back-to-back annual performance on consumer prices since the mid-1960s, the Labor Department said. Its closely watched consumer price index edged up just 0.1 percent in December, capping a year in which inflation was even better behaved than in 1997, when it was up only 1.7 percent. Sixty senators urged Clinton to keep Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard behind bars despite pressure to free him after 14 years in prison. The president told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during peace talks in October that he would consider clemency for the former naval-intelligence analyst, serving a life sentence for passing US secrets to Israel. Early this week, three prominent Jewish figures - Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel; Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish Congress; and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz - wrote to Clinton on Pollard's behalf. The US concluded its sweeping antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. The trial, which began in late October, is expected to last into March. Taking advantage of new crime statistics, Clinton was to call for $6.3 billion over five years to continue a program that has reportedly put an additional 100,000 police on US streets. The president was to make the announcement during a visit to a police station in Alexandria, Va., as the Justice Department released statistics showing that the number of violent crimes last year - including those not reported to police - was likely to fall below 3 million for the first time since 1973. The US planned to propose to the UN Security Council that a ceiling on funds from oil exports that Iraq can use to purchase food and medicine be eliminated, administration officials said. Iraqis are said to be suffering from the restriction. The US could reduce or eliminate Russian launches of American-made satellites, if Moscow doesn't take steps to stop Russian entities from supporting Iran's missile and nuclear-weapons programs, a State Department spokesman said. The US imposed economic penalties this week on a Russian university and two research institutes for aiding the Iraqi programs.

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