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News briefs

GAO Says Thrift-Rescue Payments Lag

The Washington Post


The federal government has collected only $365,000 out of $84 million in fines and repayments in 55 major savings and loan criminal convictions, the General Accounting Office told Congress Thursday.

"Someone in the federal government should be held accountable," said GAO associate director Harold Valentine. "Not even a penny for every dollar (in fines and restitution ordered) has been collected."

Members of a Senate Banking subcommittee, clearly exasperated by testimony of GAO officials, were also told that no one in the federal government is keeping track of how much is collected.

Valentine and GAO assistant director Edward Stephenson later estimated that if all 4,030 convictions in major bank and S&L cases since 1987 are considered, the government has collected about $20 million out of $1.3 billion in court-ordered fines and restitutions. Many of the prosecutions occurred after 1989, when Congress began providing extra money to hire hundreds more attorneys and FBI agents to bring the cases.

In addition to criminal prosecutions, the government also is seeking to recover billions of dollars in civil suits resulting from S&L and bank failures. Congress has authorized more than $550 million for fiscal years 1990 through 1993 to press civil and criminal suits related to banks and S&Ls.

North Korea Nears Big Step Toward Nuclear Bomb, U.S. Says

Los Angeles Times


A senior Bush administration official told Congress Thursday that North Korea may be only months away from finishing a plant that can reprocess nuclear fuel, a step that would enable it to build a nuclear bomb by the middle of next year.

A North Korean nuclear reprocessing plant "may be nearing operational status," Undersecretary of State Arnold Kanter told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Asia.

On Jan. 22, Kanter met with a North Korean diplomat at the United Nations in the highest level talks ever between the two countries.

Kanter's testimony amounts to the most explicit public statement yet by any senior U.S. official about the rapid pace with which North Korea's nuclear weapons program is proceeding toward completion. A reprocessing plant can be used to convert the plutonium produced by a nuclear reactor into a nuclear explosive.

`Draft Cuomo' Campaign Picks Up Steam

The Baltimore Sun


A campaign to persuade voters to write in the name of New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo has added a fresh -- and potentially significant -- variable to the Democratic presidential primary contest here.

At the least, the movement could threaten the continued viability of two or three of the active candidates whose names are on the ballot if they end up running behind an inactive write-in candidate after they have spent months on personal campaigning and building their organizations. At the most, it could be the first step in a party-polarizing contest over the nomination that might last late into the spring.

The National Draft Cuomo Committee, an ad hoc group based in Chicago and operating out of a second-floor downtown office here, has just mailed 75,000 post cards to New Hampshire Democratic households spelling out the steps that need to be taken to write in Cuomo's name on the primary ballot Feb. 18. There are four versions tailored to reflect differences in procedures in communities that use paper ballots, voting machines or electronic voting devices.


Eyes on the Storm

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

As a weak high pressure ridge remains stationary north of New England, a significant storm will move along the Atlantic seaboard northward and intensify early on Saturday. A shortwave in the Ohio valley will be absorbed into this intensifying cyclone and pull the moisture shield westward, thus bringing the best chance of snow to the coastal sections of New England and the Canadian Maritimes.

Following the stormy start of the weekend, colder and fairer weather will follow on Sunday and Monday.

Friday afternoon: Becoming cloudy with a chance of snow late. High around 35F (2C) with a stiffening easterly breeze at 10-15 mph (16-32 kmh)

Friday night: Cloudy with a 70 percent chance of snow, low around 28F (-2C),winds turning northeasterly at 15-25 mph (24-40 kmh). Snow may mix with rain on the Cape and some beach erosion and coastal flooding is possible in northeast facing areas.

Saturday: Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of light snow, high around 32F (0C) Continuing northeasterly winds.

Saturday night: Slow clearing, winds becoming northerly, temperatures dropping through the 20's (-2 to -6C).

Sunday outlook: Fair and colder with highs in the 20's and lows in the teens with strong northwesterly winds.