News In Brief
A former US military commander in the Middle East took full responsibility for allowing Navy ships - such as the USS Cole, which was attacked last week - to refuel in Yemen. Testifying before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, retired Gen. Anthony Zinni said threat conditions in that country "were actually better than we had elsewhere." Meanwhile, the Pentagon planned to announce an independent investigation led by two retired, high-ranking officers. At a memorial service Wednesday for the 17 US sailors killed in Yemen, President Clinton warned the unknown attackers, "We will find you."
The US trade deficit shrank by 7.1 percent to $29.4 billion in August - the lowest level in six months, the Commerce Department reported. A temporary fall in oil prices appeared to contribute to the decline. Even with the August reading, however, the imbalance is running at an annual rate of $353 billion, far above last year's record deficit of $265 billion.
A review of military documents, which were provided by a Chinese defector, has led the US to conclude that China has had a greater interest in American missile technology than in nuclear weapons secrets, The Washington Post reported. As a result, the newspaper said, the investigation into alleged Chinese spying has shifted to the Defense Department and its private contractors. Previously, efforts had been directed toward determining whether the designs of advanced nuclear warheads had been stolen.
Independent counsel Robert Ray concluded that Hillary Rodham Clinton gave "factually false" testimony when she denied having a role in the 1993 firings of White House travel office staffers. But Ray said he decided not to prosecute the first lady because he couldn't prove she intended to deceive or even knew that her contacts with White House aides had instigated the dismissals.
An Illinois judge ordered the temporary shutdown of a Web site that offers to sell votes to the highest bidder, pending a lawsuit that alleges it violates federal election laws. Voteauction.com originated in New York, where officials also moved against it, and is now owned by an Austrian. While prosecuting international investors could be difficult, officials could prosecute US citizens for offering to sell or buy votes.
Millions of bushels of genetically engineered corn approved only for animals may already have reached the human food supply chain, The Washington Post reported. Industry and federal officials are trying to buy it back before it is made into such products as taco shells, chips, and cornflakes. The corn wasn't approved for humans because of concerns it might trigger allergies, but officials do not think it poses an imminent risk.
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