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News briefs, part 1

Administration to Allow Federal Health Plans to Cover Abortion

The Washington Post


The Clinton administration, in another reversal of Reagan-Bush policies, is proposing to allow federal employee health insurance plans to offer coverage for abortions.

Under a decade-long ban, health insurance coverage for abortions has been allowed only if a woman's life is endangered by her pregnancy. The strict ban has been enforced by a provision attached to the Treasury Department-Postal Service appropriations bill.

"The provision has been proposed for deletion" in President Clinton's budget, which is scheduled for release Thursday, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget said.

"The budget will also say that the administration will work with the Congress to develop an approach that is consistent with federal and state laws," the OMB spokesman said.

The decision is the latest in a series of steps the Clinton administration has taken to break with Reagan-Bush abortion policies. Two days after taking office, Clinton overturned five abortion restrictions, including the "gag rule," which had prevented abortion counseling by anyone but physicians at federally funded clinics. More recently, the administration indicated it will not seek reauthorization of the Hyde Amendment, named for Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., which forbids the use of Medicaid money to pay for abortions.

Confident Yeltsin Kicks Off Campaign to Win Referendum



Bolstered by a successful economic aid summit, a confident President Boris N. Yeltsin Monday ventured straight into the wilderness of Russian domestic politics.

Even before returning to the capital from his Canadian weekend, Yeltsin informally kicked off a campaign to win an April 25 referendum in which voters will be asked whether they support the president and his reform policies.

His opponents also appeared ready for the big campaign, criticizing the U.S. aid package and saying it was designed by President Clinton simply to bail Yeltsin out of his domestic political troubles.

Russian lawmakers have done everything they can to frustrate Yeltsin and his economic reform policies; the 1,033-member Congress of People's Deputies, whose members are mostly holdovers from the Soviet era, almost impeached him last month.

Along with questions of whether the people have confidence in Yeltsin and support his economic programs, the four-question referendum will ask whether early elections should be held for the parliament and for Yeltsin, whose five-year term expires in 1996. Terms for the 1,033-member Congress of People's Deputies expire in 1995.

Mercedes to Build $300 Million Auto Plant in U.S.

Los Angeles Times


Signaling the growing attractiveness of the United States as a manufacturing location, German luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz A.G. said Monday that it will build a $300 million plant in America to produce a new sports utility vehicle.

A site for the new factory has not yet been chosen, but Mercedes plans to start production of the $25,000-to-$30,000 vehicles by 1997. It marks the first time Mercedes will produce passenger vehicles in the United States.

The decision by Mercedes comes at a time when the European auto market -- the second-largest after the United States -- is particularly weak and when German car makers are facing severe problems. A weak U.S. dollar and the high cost of labor have made it difficult for the Germans to export cars to the United States.

For Mercedes, the decision is part of a broader strategy to increase efficiency and expand its product offerings worldwide. It follows an earlier decision by competitor Bayerische Motoren Werke A.G. to build a $300 million factory near Spartanburg, S.C.


Sunny But Cool

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

Mostly sunny, cool days and clear crisp nights will be the rule for the next several days as a large anticyclone governs the weather over New England. A small cyclone will move offshore from the Mid Atlantic states tonight but its attendant clouds and precipitation will stay south of the area. The cyclone will help to contribute to a persistent east wind over the area today and Wednesday. With the air initially relatively dry, it will be a few days before we might have to concern ourselves with moisture from the Atlantic returning the low clouds and damp weather. By then (Thursday), a weak disturbance passing to our north will cause winds to blow more from the southwest -- boosting temperatures and diminishing the precipitation threat. Wet weather is anticipated for later in the week.

Today: Mostly sunny and cool. Winds northeast 10-15 mph (16-19 kph). High 50F (10C).

Tonight: Mostly clear and cool. Winds northeast 10-15 mph (16-19 kph) Low 34F (1C).

Wednesday: Sunny and continued cool. High around 50F (10C). Low 35-39F (2-4C).

Thursday: Partly cloudy and milder. High 55-60F (13-16C). Low around 40F (4C).