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News briefs, part 2

Clinton Lobbies Senate Democrats On Spending Plan

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

With many Democrats voicing misgivings about his deficit-reduction plan, President Clinton lobbied wavering members of his party Tuesday as the Senate neared a showdown on the $347 billion package of tax increases and spending cuts.

Clinton met with five Democratic Senators who have reservations about the massive budget reconciliation bill, which was cleared for a floor vote by the Senate Budget Committee on a party-line tally. A final vote was expected by Thursday night.

Even supporters of the measure expressed lukewarm support. "It's the best we can do," said Sen. J. James Exon, D-Neb. "Maybe this is a phony plan, too ... It's just not as phony as those previous ones (deficit-reduction plans). It can't be any worse ..."

Despite the widespread grumbling by Democrats and all-out opposition by Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., agreed with his counterpart, Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, that the bill would be approved.

"They've got the votes -- it'll pass," Dole told reporters after he and other GOP leaders in the Senate said they would introduce an alternative plan. It would reduce the deficit below $200 billion by 1998 entirely with spending cuts, eschewing any tax increases.

The Republicans provided no details on their proposal, but separate GOP amendments were expected on the proposed 4.3-cent-a-gallon increase in gasoline taxes and to eliminate a proposed tax increase on Social Security benefits for better-off retirees.

Mayor Young Announces He Will Not Seek Re-Election

The Washington Post

DETROIT

Gleefully keeping this city guessing about his intentions until the last possible moment, Mayor Coleman A. Young announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election to a sixth term, ending a colorful political career during which he has been Detroit's chief executive for almost two decades.

Young, 75, made the announcement in characteristic fashion, reading a statement at a crowded news conference a few minutes after the 4 p.m. filing deadline for the Sept. 14 primary.

Declaring that "20 years is enough," Young said many allies had offered help if he decided to run. "But I don't campaign like that," he continued. "I campaign all-out. ... Should I win another term, I do not think I could put as much into the job as I believe it deserves or demands. It would be a disservice to my own standards to be able to deliver anything less than 100 percent."

Young's decision guarantees a wide-open scramble to succeed him by a field of 27 candidates, including a last-second entrant, Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., who made a poor showing when he ran for mayor four years ago. The clear front-runner at the start of the race, according to Detroit political analysts, is Dennis Archer, 51, a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court who announced his candidacy last November.

Young cited his age and health as the reasons for not seeking a sixth term.

Weather

A Pleasant Stretch

By Marek Zebrowski
Staff Meteorologist

Thanks to a passage of a coldfront, most of the Northeastern US will cool off and dry out, enjoying a pleasant string of summer days. Wednesday's strong northwesterly winds will be caused by a significant pressure gradient between a storm system exiting through the Canadian Maritimes and the high pressure cell drifting southeastward from the Great lakes region.

By Thursday, with this high positioned right over central New England, coastal seabreezes will develop; clear skies and dry airmass in place will allow for nearly unlimited visibility from the mountain peaks to the Cape beaches.

Once the high moves to the south of us later in the week, hazy and more humid conditions will return. Cloudier skies and a threat of showers and thunderstorms caused by a slow-moving coldfront now in the Mid-West may be, unfortunately, our weekend lot.

In the very long range, the 90-day outlook from the National Weather service just out, calls for average temperatures and precipitation for our region, whilst much cooler and wetter than normal conditions are forcast to persist in the central sections of the US.

Today: Sunny and breezy, high of 82F (28C) with comfortable dewpoint temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. Winds NW 15-25 mph (24-40 kmh)

Tonight: Clear and refreshingly cool, lows around 60F (16C), mid to high 50s (13-15C) outside urban areas

Thursday: Sunny and pleasant, with a high of 80F (27C) and lighter northwesterly winds that will become onshore in the afternoon, dropping temperatures to the 70s (22-25C) in coastal locations

Weekend outlook: Fair Friday, lows in mid 60s (17-19C), highs in low 80s (28C). Saturday: more humid, chance of showers and late afternoon thundersorms, highs in mid 80s (28-30C). Sunday: continued unsettled and warm.

Cape Cod Forecast: Sunny and breezy for Wednesday and Thursday with highs near 80F (27C) and lows around 60F (16C). Gusty NW winds will gradually subside late Wednesday and become onshore Thursday. Visibility will be clear to the horizon. Weekend outlook : partly cloudy, becoming humid with areas of fog after dark, especially in the south facing areas. Highs in the mid 70s (23C), lows in the low 60s (16-18C), with winds becomig southwesterly. Chance of showers and thunderstorms late Saturday into Sunday.

Lawmakers' Pet Science Projects Get Unscientific Funding

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

As Congress concluded closed-door negotiations over the federal budget late last year, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, took advantage of arcane congressional rules to add $10 million to the bottom line for a center in Honolulu to increase public scientific literacy.

Inouye was not the only one taking such action. Ten powerful members of Congress added $95 million to this year's federal budget for pet scientific projects -- none of which were subject to public scrutiny or evaluation by independent scientists.

The practice, known as academic earmarking, has expanded dramatically in recent years. Since 1980, the total cost of such projects has risen more than 70 times over, according to budget experts. This year, the price tag is expected to be nearly $800 million, a 13 percent increase from 1992.

Proponents argue that funding arrangements provide for valuable research and scientific programs that otherwise would go undone. They also note that Congress similarly earmarks money for military equipment, highways and bridges, federal buildings, airports and water projects in lawmakers' districts.

But with the Clinton administration and congressional leaders under pressure to curb spending and reduce the federal deficit, such practices are coming under increased scrutiny.

Rep. George E. Brown Jr., D-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has begun a series of hearings to investigate the arbitrary funding of scientific projects.

"It's difficult defending it in today's Congress because things are so tight," he said. "It's particularly bad because most people are suffering and a few privileged people are able to get tens and hundreds of millions of dollars for things that they think are important."

Even as the White House struggles to come up with a package of tax increases and spending cuts, President Clinton himself has participated in the funding practice.

To be sure, much of the money goes to research and facilities that are considered important to institutions or communities, and some have national applications. And the money spent on such projects represents only about 10 percent of the $10 billion that the federal government annually gives to colleges and universities for research and development through a competitive process.

Female FBI Agent Alleges Harassment

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

A veteran female FBI agent has charged in a lawsuit that she was the victim of "continuous sexual harassment" in the bureau's Tucson office.

The agent, Suzane J. Doucette, said she was sexually harassed by a supervisor and routinely called "derogatory, sexist names." She said that after she complained, she was denied promotions and subjected to other retaliatory actions. Her lawyer, Tod F. Schleier, said these included a disciplinary investigation based on false allegations that Doucette disclosed classified documents, a charge he contended the FBI has used in the past to discredit dissenters.

Doucette's charges came to light last month when she testified before a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee hearing into the handling of racial and sexual discrimination complaints by federal agencies. At the time, Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., called her a "very brave woman" who has "shown tremendous courage."

Doucette, 39, has so far offered no corroboration for her charges and, according to Schleier, an internal inquiry by the bureau dismissed her claims. But Robert Harris, deputy staff director of the Senate panel, said he interviewed her extensively before the hearing -- as well as a colleague of hers who did not testify -- and concluded, "I had no doubt about her credibility."

FBI spokesman Charles Mandigo said it was the bureau's policy not to comment on pending lawsuits. But he said the FBI has a "very strong policy" against sexual harassment, adding that in the past year one agent was fired and another senior bureau official demoted over harassment claims.

Conservatives Embroiled In Campaign Funding Controversy

The Washington Post

LONDON

Britain's ruling Conservative Party has managed to stay in power for 14 years, aided by fat party coffers that have paid for expensive election campaigns. Now the Conservatives are embroiled in a controversy over their refusal to disclose where all those campaign funds came from.

Faced with revelations of several large -- and perhaps questionable -- contributions, Conservative leaders were pressed Tuesday to change their policy of not identifying big donors who choose to remain anonymous.

The Conservatives stood their ground despite opposition charges they had accepted large amounts of money from foreign sources, granted knighthoods and other honors in exchange for campaign funds and even advised companies on how to avoid disclosing their contributions to the party.

"There is the atmosphere of sleaze, the odor of corruption," the deputy leader of the opposition Labor Party, Margaret Beckett, told the House of Commons. She compared the government of Prime Minister John Major to "the Nixon White House," and at another point she said the Conservatives' practices are "the kind of thing we all raise our eyebrows at when it happens in a Third World country."

The campaign-finance-reporting reforms that swept U.S. politics in the 1970s never reached Britain, where political parties are under no obligation to disclose individual campaign donors by name.

The Labor Party receives heavy funding from Britain's labor unions and reports these donations each year. Only a small percentage of Labor's campaign money comes from big individual contributors, according to party officials.

But the Conservative Party gets up to half its campaign war chest from wealthy individuals, none of them named. Some corporate contributions are also never fully traced, so that of more than $75 million the party raised in the past four years, less than half was reported in any meaningful way.