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Marine Admits He Was Part of Porno Ring

Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO

An active-duty Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton has turned himself in to military investigators, saying he submitted to nude photographs as part of an underground pornographic production ring, officials at the base said Wednesday.

The Marine, who was not identified, thus becomes the second junior enlisted man at Camp Pendleton whose involvement in the porno operation has been confirmed by military authorities.

"(The Marine) indicated that he did not participate in sexual acts and expected payment, which was never received for his participation," Chief Warrant Officer Mike Hedlund, the base spokesman, said Wednesday.

Hedlund said the matter had been referred to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Posing nude for pay constitutes pandering, a felony offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Lesser offenses are deemed misdemeanors handled as non-judicial punishments.

Pendleton officials also confirmed that NCIS agents conducted a jailhouse interview with the man who claims to have engineered a gay Marine porno ring that police say may involve between two dozen and 200 active-duty personnel.

Police recently turned over evidence to military authorities, who on Tuesday acknowledged for the first time the involvement of an active-duty Marine. Whether any Marine is charged "remains to be seen," Hedlund said.

Clinton Unveils Compromise Wetlands Policy

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration, breaking new ground on a long-running environmental debate, on Tuesday outlined a package of initiatives designed to stem and eventually reverse the loss of the nation's swamps, marshes and vernal pools to agriculture and development.

Seeking to balance the rights of private landowners with the concerns of environmentalists, the administration moved to protect 1.7 million acres of Alaskan wetlands threatened by development and to close loopholes in federal regulations that have allowed builders to drain and damage other wetland areas throughout the country.

At the same time, however, the proposal would exempt from further regulation 53 million acres of farmland that once were wetlands, and would allow some developers to build on wetlands if they contribute to the creation or restoration of such lands elsewhere.

The wetlands protection effort, unveiled after 10 weeks of work with less fanfare than the other initiatives, was touted by White House officials Tuesday as "the most ambitious set of wetland improvements" since the federal government began regulating the use of such lands in the early 1970s. But environmental groups responded with caution, saying the administration's package does too much to accommodate farmers and private developers.

Clinton Wants to Boost Civilian Aircraft Industry

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

President Clinton and his technology guru, Vice President Al Gore, are trying to put the aeronautics back into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The primary goal is to bolster American civil aircraft manufacturing, one of the few domestic industries that still produces a positive trade balance.

U.S. aircraft manufacturers have seen their world market share erode at an alarming rate. In 1969, they built 91 percent of the civil aircraft sold worldwide. Today, the industry is struggling to maintain a 67 percent market share.

While the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush focused on big ticket space projects like Space Station Freedom and a manned mission to Mars, they overlooked the basic research needs of American civil aircraft manufacturers, said Bradford E. Biegon of the American Association of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

"The job base is declining, we're facing increased economic competition on all fronts, and this remains one of the few industries in which we're economically competitive," Biegon said. "We need to to continue to make these research investments if we're going to preserve this industry."

To spur the effort, the White House budget submitted to Congress earlier this year calls for a dramatic increase in research funds that one day may make American-built passenger planes faster, safer and cheaper to operate.

Specifically, the administration wants to spend more than $1 billion in the 1994 fiscal year on aeronautics research and development, up 18 percent from the current year.

400 GIs Part of New Effort To Neutralize Somali Warlord

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration's decision to send 400 U.S. Army Rangers to Somalia represents a major new effort to protect existing U.S. troops from ambush and to neutralize fugitive warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Publicly, the administration continued to deny that the deployment is aimed primarily at capturing or killing Aidid, who has been the object of a U.S.-U.N. manhunt since mid-June. His militiamen were blamed for the June 5 ambush that left 24 Pakistani peacekeeping soldiers dead.

But well-placed administration policy-makers conceded privately that there is no question the Rangers are being dispatched mainly to help break Aidid's grip on the Somali capital -- by capturing him, if possible, or by blunting his influence in other ways.

If the Rangers cannot quickly catch Aidid, they will move to isolate him physically and intensify pressure on his guerrillas, using counterterrorism tactics to disrupt his links with his followers and to disarm and break down his forces, military experts said.

Clinton Seeks to Avoid NAFTA Environmental Study

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration's chief legal advocate Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling that would require the government to assess the environmental impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. Solicitor General Drew S. Days III argued that because President Clinton, and not a government agency, is ultimately responsible for carrying out the trade pact, NAFTA is exempt from a 1970 environmental law. That law, the National Environmental Protection Act, requires the government to conduct environmental impact studies for decisions by federal agencies that affect the environment.

After hearing arguments from Days and a lawyer representing environmental and public interest groups, a three-judge panel could decide in a matter of weeks whether to overturn a June decision by U.S. District Court Judge Charles Richey that many thought might deal a serious blow to NAFTA.

The trade agreement, which Clinton has indicated he plans to submit to Congress for ratification this fall, would remove most trade barriers among the United States, Canada and Mexico, creating the world's largest free-trade market.

Ex-Contras Free Remaining Hostages

The Washington Post

MANAGUA, Nicaragua

Former Contra guerrillas released their last five hostages in the north of the country Wednesday, opening the way to a peaceful resolution of the kidnapping crisis that has paralyzed Nicaragua for almost a week.

The second group of hostage takers, made up of leftist former members of the Sandinista army, agreed to free its remaining five captives here -- including Vice President Virgilio Godoy -- as soon as those released by the ex-Contras arrive in the capital.

Among the five being flown by helicopter in rainy weather to Managua were two Sandinista members of the National Assembly. Donald Mendoza, leader of the kidnappers here, said his group in turn would be flown out of the capital. "This is a triumph for us," he said.

The crisis has reflected unresolved disputes still tearing at the country after a decade of civil war in the 1980s.

Former members of the U.S.-sponsored Contra movement in the northern hills of Nicaragua held until the last the two legislators and three military officers identified with the Marxist-led Sandinista National Liberation Front that ruled Nicaragua from 1979 until Violeta Chamorro was elected president three years ago.

Some See Sheik's Indictment as Anti-Muslim Bias

Newsday

NEW YORK

At the Brooklyn mosque where Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman often preached, Muslims who gathered to pray Wednesday greeted the news of his indictment with disbelief and outrage, saying it was was evidence of anti-Muslim bias.

"They've wronged him," said Yusaf Ibrahim, 28, as he was entering the Abu Bakr Siddique mosque. "It's just prejudice on the part of the government against the Muslim religion."

"It's all lies," said a 27-year-old man who identified himself only as Osama. "Islam teaches that you have to be good to everybody."

The sheik might have said that someone like Adolf Hitler deserved to die, Osama said, but he has never advocated violence. "I've been to so many of his classes, all of them, and he's never said to kill anybody," he said.

He dismissed evidence pointing to the sheik's guilt as untrue, saying the media was to blame for spreading untruths about the religious leader.

"For the past year we never hear anything good in the media about Islam," he said. His explanation: "Americans are becoming Muslims and the government wants to put a stop to it."

In the Arab-American enclave on Court Street in Brooklyn, Muslims were incredulous at the sheik's indictment.

"I don't know how they could say he did that," said Nasser Mati, 22. "We don't believe in violence in the Muslim religion."

Dr. M.T. Mehdi, secretary-general of the National Council on Islamic Affairs, said the sheik's indictment is "a triumph of paranoia and intolerance in America."