News In Brief

President Clinton flew to Europe for a conference today on the Balkans, where NATO recently waged a 78-day air war against Serb-led Yugoslavia. At the meeting in Sarajevo, the president will be seeking support from Western leaders for what he has described as a Marshall Plan for the region. (Story, page 2.)

Economic growth slowed down abruptly during the second quarter, as consumers curtailed exuberant spending that helped trigger an economic boom. The Commerce Department said US gross domestic product rose 2.3 percent from April through June to an inflation-adjusted $7.8 trillion. That was well below the 3.3 percent growth rate Wall Street economists had forecast. (Story, page 1.)

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan advised against major tax cuts, as the Senate moved closer to approving them by rejecting a relatively modest $290 billion Democratic proposal. Democrats tried to use the remarks of the Fed chief before the Senate Banking Committee to discredit a $792 billion Republican tax-cut pro- posal. But GOP lawmakers were quick to point out that Greenspan also indicated he prefers tax cuts to Democrats' proposals for increased federal spending. "My first choice is to reduce the debt," he said.

Army Gen. Wesley Clark's early exit as supreme allied commander in Europe was interpreted by some analysts as signaling a shift from a strategy of massing large armies in Western Europe to a reliance on US air power there. Gen. Joseph Ralston, Clark's replacement, will be only the second Air Force officer to fill the post. The move was also seen as a possible expression of dissatisfaction with Clark, despite White House denials and despite Clark's success during the NATO campaign in Kosovo. (Related editorial, page 10.)

The government said it's setting up a special Y2K command center to cope with any year-end computer glitches. John Koskinen, head of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said in a draft statement that an Information Coordination Center bunker is being built in a former Secret Service facility not far from the White House.

The government declared suicide a serious public-health threat for the first time. Surgeon General David Satcher launched an effort to educate the public on how to spot signs of trouble. Suicide, which claimed some 30,000 lives in 1997, is considered the No. 8 cause of death in the US.

Federal officials in Dallas said they're investigating as a possible hate crime the death of a black man believed to have been tied to a tree and set on fire. The decomposed body of H.W. Walker of Greenville, Texas was found June 2 in a remote area about 50 miles east of the city. Walker had been missing since early May. A 16-year-old white male was in custody in connection with the slaying.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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