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News briefs, part 2

U.S. Hands Over Subic Base

The Washington Post

MANILA, Philippines

The United States ends 94 years of military presence in the Philippines today when about 800 Marines and sailors formally hand over the last portion of a U.S. naval base and sail out of Subic Bay.

They leave behind up to $3 billion worth of facilities on one of the largest U.S. military installations overseas, as well as a wild liberty town that now faces the uncertainties of trying to transform itself into a commercial port and industrial center.

They also forsake thousands of children fathered with Filipinas, many of them bargirls in Olongapo, a city of about 300, 000 people adjacent to Subic Bay Naval Station about 50 miles northwest of Manila.

And they depart amid controversies over alleged toxic wastes that critics say remain on the base and over plans for future access to Philippine ports and airfields.

The U.S. government insists that, despite relinquishing its last military base in Southeast Asia, the United States will remain a Pacific power and continue to project its forces across the region. But there is a widespread perception that the departure from Subic Bay reflects a growing U.S. military disengagement that could unsettle confidence in the stability of the economically booming area and lead other countries, notably China and Japan, to undertake more active roles.

The U.S. Navy's pullout from the Philippines comes as a result of the Philippine Senate's rejection last year of a treaty that would have extended the American military presence in the country for at least another decade in return for more than $2 billion in aid.

The U.S. Air Force last year withdrew from Clark Air Base, 50 miles north of the capital, after the eruption of the nearby Mount Pinatubo volcano buried the region in volcanic ash. Manila gave the Navy until the end of this year to withdraw, which it has been doing progressively.

Clinton Stumps for Fowler, Will Meet Reagan on Thanksgiving

Los Angeles Times


President-elect Bill Clinton campaigned Monday on behalf of Georgia Sen. Wyche Fowler, who faces a run-off election that either will give the Democrats' a 58-42 Senate majority or raise potentially embarrassing questions about Clinton's political pull.

In stops in Macon and Albany, Clinton told voters that they needed to show up Tuesday at the polls once again so that Fowler can cast votes in the Senate that may be crucial to the new president's legislative agenda.

"You know what they're saying about this election?" Clinton asked a crowd of several thousand gathered in front of Macon's imposing Greek Revival city hall. "If you beat Wyche Fowler it will be easy to block everything President-elect Clinton wants to do."

Clinton's swing was made against the advice of several aides, who urged him not to risk an appearance with a one-term senator who has lost a strong lead in a brutally negative race. Republican Paul Coverdell, an insurance executive and former Peace Corps director, has hit Fowler hard for allegedly writing overdrafts on his account at the House bank while a congressman and for his difficulties in a messy child-support proceeding.

The Clinton aides who opposed the trip believed that by appearing with Fowler, Clinton could squander political capital at a moment when he needs to preserve all he has for the legislative fights ahead. But one aide, noting that Fowler's problems are widely acknowledged and that Clinton's approval ratings have been rising in some polls, rejected the idea that a Fowler loss would do much harm to Clinton.

Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers, while conceding that there was some risk in the campaign swing, insisted that risks are unavoidable if Clinton is to accomplish what he wants.

"He's not going to sit in his office and try to work for change," she said.

In the general election, Fowler won 49 percent of the vote, Coverdell 48 percent, and a Libertarian candidate 3 percent. Georgia law calls for a run-off when no candidate wins a majority of the vote.

Macon and Albany were chosen for stops because they are home to many of the black voters who helped Clinton and Fowler in the Nov. 3 election. At one point in his Macon appearance, Clinton lifted up a black girl, fourth-grader Carmen Fountain, who wrote Clinton to ask the president-elect to visit her school.

20 Dead as Twisters Sweep 9 States

Los Angeles Times


Raging thunderstorms marched across the South on Sunday, unleashing tornadoes that killed at least 20 people and caused extensive damage in at least nine states.

The storms flattened houses, demolished brick buildings and overturned tractor-trailers in an eastward march from Texas to Georgia before swinging north and continuing their deadly rampage in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Several states remained under tornado watches Sunday night.

Thousands in Indianapolis were without power. A tornado touched down in the western Ohio village of Arcanum Sunday night. There was no immediate word of serious injury. South Carolina was hit by at least two tornadoes Sunday night.

Tiny Brandon, Miss., was hardest hit. Ten people died and at least 86 were injured in or near the town when the storms roared through late Saturday night. Sixty homes and dozens of mobile homes were damaged.

"It's unbelievable," said W.L. Whittington, mayor of Brandon, which is 15 miles east of Jackson, the state capital. "We're lucky we didn't lose more lives than we did."

On Sunday, rescue workers in Mississippi, where 15 were killed and 150 people injured, searched for victims while repair crews cleared roads and the newly homeless sought shelter. Eighteen counties in Mississippi suffered damage, the state Emergency Management Agency said.