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News briefs

Small Shakeup for Clinton Staff

Newsday

WASHINGTON

President Clinton will name a new deputy chief of staff as part of a modest staff shakeup, officials said Wednesday, but some senior Democrats inside and outside the White House complain that the real adjustment needs to come at the top -- with Clinton's hands-on operating style.

The real problem with the White House staff, some Clinton friends and allies say, may be that no one on it is willing to tell off the boss.

"He's his own chief of staff," former Democratic National Chairman John White said of Clinton.

White House sources confirmed that Clinton would appoint Roy Neel, now Vice President Al Gore's chief of staff, as a new deputy chief of staff. They said Neel, 47, a veteran of Gore's congressional staff, would be charged with directing day-to-day operations. The current deputy chief of staff, Mark Gearan, would handle longer-term strategy. Both would report to chief of staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty III.

Other changes may also be in the works, political sources said. Senior officials discussed having communications director George Stephanopoulos at some point pull back from some daily briefing duties to spend more time on strategy.

"I think you can correct this stuff pretty quickly, but people are concerned," said one outside White House adviser. "You have a couple losses, some tactical mistakes, a few errors and some arrogance, and all of a sudden you've got Carter II," a reference to former President Carter's penchant for trying to micromanage his own government.

Hawaii Court Rules State May Not Prohibit Gays From Marrying

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

The Hawaii Supreme Court has become the first in the country to rule that a state may not be able to prohibit gays from marrying. The decision gives broad protection under the state's constitution to homosexuals.

The ruling late Wednesday, which lawyers on both sides of the case describe as "groundbreaking," marked the second time in the past year that state courts have found protection for gays in state constitutions. Last September, the Kentucky Supreme Court safeguarded privacy rights for homosexuals when it struck down an anti-sodomy law.

Together, the decisions show how new legal avenues for homosexuals have opened, at the same time gays are winning more social acceptance and political status. "We're thrilled, and we're planning our wedding," said Ninia Baehr, one of the parties to the Hawaii case, who has been trying for nearly three years to marry another woman.

BU Wins Dispute on King Papers

The Washington Post

BOSTON

A jury Thursday upheld Boston University's claim to own about 83,000 personal papers left by the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and rejected an effort by his widow to move the documents to Atlanta.

Deliberating about six hours over two days, jurors found that King had made a "charitable pledge" when he sent a letter to BU on July 16, 1964, naming the school repository for his papers and indicating he planned to give them as "an outright gift."

Mrs. King wanted the papers consolidated with the rest of King's effects at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change in Atlanta, his hometown. After the verdict, she said she and her children were disappointed and considering an appeal.

White House Prepares to Unveil Priorities in War on Drugs

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON

As governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton authorized a criminal investigation of his own brother for selling cocaine. As president, he termed drug abuse as serious a problem as the nation confronts. He appointed a respected police official as his drug policy director while also setting as his goal drug treatment "on demand."

His words have been well-received by those fighting the drug war, from Drug Enforcement Administration agents working undercover to counselors in drug treatment centers in America's blighted big cities. But so far, there has been precious little action from this White House to back it up.

Friday, at a "drug summit" organized by members of Congress impatient for leadership, the Clinton administration will begin to disclose its priorities on how to fight drugs.

Interviews with administration officials -- and with those in the field who have been advising the administration -- indicate that the Clinton administration is inclined to try to shift the emphasis slightly in the drug war in a number of ways. They include:

--Spending less on drug interdiction outside the United States and more on treatment. Interdiction, which ranges from staff Coast Guard patrol boats to burning down poppy fields in Peru, is one part of the enforcement component, but it is the most expensive part.

--Diverting some of that money to treatment facilities, including those that operate in prison.

--Trying to revamp federal mandatory sentencing laws that put minor drug sellers or couriers in prison for long stretches. This is Attorney General Janet Reno's big push, and she is scheduled to be the leadoff witness Friday