News In Brief
Al Gore, making a foray into Texas, rival George W. Bush's home state, attacked the latter's intention to pull US troops out of the Balkans if he were elected president. Gore was responding to a statement by a Bush foreign-policy adviser that Balkans peacekeeping should become a European responsibility. The vice president said the plan showed a "lack of judgment" and would undermine NATO. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, meanwhile, suggested the Bush proposal "sends a dangerous signal," but acknowledged the Clinton administration has been moving toward withdrawal.
Presidential candidate Ralph Nader vowed to press on with a nationwide campaign, despite calls to drop out in certain states because of concerns he could cost Gore the election. The Green Party nominee, responding to a dozen fellow activists who voiced such concerns, said his stumping could help build a viable third party for the future.
Seeking an increase in oil production to ease high fuel prices, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson met with the head of OPEC in Venezuela. But Richardson won no concessions from Ali Rodriguez, who indicated the cartel would stick to its agreed-to plan of raising output this Friday by 500,000 barrels a day if prices remain above $28 a barrel. Even if there is a production increase, however, American refineries may not be able to handle it because they already are operating close to 100 percent. But Richardson downplayed the situation, calling refining capacity "adequate."
The Energy Department has upped by 10 times its estimate of how much plutonium and other man-made radioactive material has been released into the soil or buried in flimsy containers, The New York Times reported. The revision came in response to a complaint by a private environmental group and a subsequent survey of a half-dozen key disposal sites around the country. But in a letter obtained by the Times, one Energy Department official said it was "still appropriate" to manage the wastes the way it has been - by reviewing situations on a case-by-case basis.
A former detective chief in the Chicago Police Department was indicted for heading a crime ring suspected of stealing $4.5 million in jewelry. William Hanhardt, a high-profile officer through the 1980s, used his knowledge and contacts to help orchestrate the theft of gems and luxury watches in a string of heists across the nation, prosecutors claimed. Federal officials said Hanhardt and five others, all of whom have pleaded innocent, used facial disguises and sophisticated technology to evade arrest for years.
Ten days after 210 million gallons of sludge spilled from a sediment pond in eastern Kentucky, concerns mounted that the Ohio River could be threatened. The sludge contains heavy metals - among them arsenic, copper, lead, and mercury - although a spokesman for the cleanup team said the substances wouldn't pose a threat to public water supplies "with full treatment." Nevertheless, federal and state authorities were arranging for tankers to truck water in to some affected communities. The cause of the spill is undetermined.
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