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News briefs

Clifford to Face More Serious Charges for Alleged BCCI Role

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

A federal trial against former Secretary of Defense Clark M. Clifford and his law partner was postponed Thursday, ensuring that the pair would first face more serious New York state charges for their alleged involvement in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International scandal.

By granting the postponement sought by the Department of Justice, U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green cleared the way for the state trial to begin in Manhattan in early January. Depending on the outcome of that trial, expected to last six weeks, the more limited federal case eventually could be dropped altogether.

Clifford and his partner, Robert Altman, face an array of state and federal charges centering around allegations that they had helped BCCI illegally gain control of Washington's First American bank. The two served as attorneys for BCCI while they were top officers for First American, the capital's largest bank.

Democrats Force Bush's Hand On a Family Values Issue

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

Congressional Democrats, seeking to embarrass President Bush on the GOP's own family values issue, approved and sent to the White House Thursday a "family medical leave" bill that the president has threatened to veto despite widespread support.

The legislation would require larger employers to grant workers up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid leave, either to obtain medical treatment for themselves or to care for a newborn baby, sick children, ill spouses or elderly parents.

Although companies would not be forced to pay workers for the time off, they would be required to continue employees' medical insurance and to guarantee that their jobs would be available when they returned.

While Bush has said repeatedly that he approves of the concept, he objects to forcing companies to provide the time off, believing that such a requirement would be especially burdensome to smaller companies.

As Thursday's vote neared, White House aides suggested to Capitol Hill that Bush might instead entertain using several hundred million dollars in tax incentives to encourage small employers to provide the leaves. But they reiterated the president's intention to veto the latest legislation, as he had a similar bill in 1990.

The legislation approved Thursday by the House in a 241-161 vote was a compromise version of the measure endorsed by the Senate in a voice-vote last month. In all, 203 Democrats and 37 Republicans supported it.

Although the margin fell short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto, Democratic leaders said they hoped the president's rejection would convince voters that they, and not Republicans, were the strongest supporters of "family values."

EC Gloomy About European Union Pact as French Prepare to Vote

The Washington Post

BRUSSELS

Barely a week before French voters go to the polls to decide the fate of the treaty on European union, a sense of gloom has descended over European Community headquarters, where officials and diplomats say they fear the march toward a more united continent may soon succumb to political paralysis even if the French say yes.

The bullish optimism that once fueled European ambitions to become the world's next superpower has evaporated. Even though preparations are nearly complete for the creation of a giant single market at the end of this year, EC officials see little but trouble on the horizon.

Nearly all of the EC's 12 governments are facing growing political trouble as a result of a flood of immigrants from Eastern Europe and North Africa, a deepening recession and spreading civil war in the Balkans. All of those problems seem likely to grow worse in the months to come, eroding the Community's ability to undertake bold initiatives because of the political weakness of its leaders.

Weather

Clearing, then Cooler and Dryer

By Michael Morgan
staff meteorologist

As a cold front moves further offshore today, clearing will commence and winds will increase from the northwest. High pressure will slowly build eastward from the Great Lakes and turn our weather decidedly fall-like. The front will still be close enough to threaten coastal areas with some clouds, but precipitation should remain offshore.

Today: Clearing with winds shifting to the northwest at 10-20 mph (16-32 kph). High 78F<\p>(26C).

Tonight:<\p>Clearing and cooler. Breezy. Winds northwest 10-15 mph. Low 58F<\p>(14C).

Tomorrow: Mostly sunny early with afternoon and evening clouds. High 70F<\p>(21C).

Tomorrow night: Cloudiness diminishing and chilly. Low 52F<\p>(11C).

Sunday: Mostly sunny and continued cool. High 64-68F<\p>(18-20C). Low 47-52F<\p>(8-11C).