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News Briefs

Admiral Howe Hopeful Clinton Will Keep Aiding Aidid Manhunt

Los Angeles Times


Jonathan Howe, the retired American admiral who heads the trouble-plagued U.N. operation in Somalia, expressed hope Thursday that the Clinton administration would continue to support his efforts to hunt down Mogadishu warlord Mohammed Farah Aidid.

Asked at a news conference whether U.S. support would last if his bloody but futile raids against Aidid went on for another six months, Howe replied, "Let's hope it doesn't come to that."

The U.N. official, who plans to brief members of Congress in Washington next week, laid down a spirited defense of his operation, disparaging Aidid for relying on women and children to attack U.N. positions and accusing private agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross of exaggerating the numbers of dead civilians.

Howe, who once served on the National Security Council staff at the White House, acknowledged that the U.N. peacekeepers lacked experience in dealing with rioting crowds and implied that the United Nations was considering new tactics in suppressing these riots.

"We can use tear gas, pepper gas, other things that are coming in, people trained in riot control," he said. "But what we are up against is that these people use crowds as weapons."

Scientists Come Closer to Proving Dinosaur Extinction Theory

Los Angeles Times

A chunk of rock sizzled out of space and into the Gulf of Mexico off the Yucatan Peninsula around the time the dinosaurs died off 65 million years ago. Geologists have long blamed the meteorite for the extinction, but paleontologists argued the rock was too small to do the job.

A refined analysis of the suspected impact site near the Mexican village of Chicxulub indicates the suspect meteorite indeed may have been big enough to cause the extinction -- perhaps twice as big and eight times as powerful as once believed, American and Mexican geologists report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Ranging from 5 to 10 miles in diameter, the meteorite -- whether comet or asteroid -- packed an almost unfathomable amount of energy, said Virgil L. Sharpton of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. He estimated it was equal to 200 million megatons of TNT, or 10,000 times the combined power of every nuclear bomb ever made.

House Probe Uncovers Lax Justice Department, FBI Security

Los Angeles Times


Document security within the Justice Department and FBI is so lax that congressional investigators were unable to track classified papers moving between the two agencies, according to a report by the General Accounting Office.

The study, a copy of which was provided to the Los Angeles Times, also found that the FBI failed to take disciplinary action for many of the 4,400 violations that its own security patrols uncovered at FBI headquarters over a three-year period.

The GAO report, done for the House Government Operations subcommittee on information, justice, transportation and agriculture, noted that safeguarding classified and sensitive information is an absolute necessity in the law enforcement area.

"With the increasing strength and boldness of drug trafficking cartels, organized crime families and terrorist groups, it is vital that the (Justice) Department adequately protect its operations to insure that it does not itself compromise its law enforcement activities," according to Rep. Gary A. Condit, D-Calif., the subcommittee chairman.

Condit, in letters to Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, said that the security shortcomings "must be corrected."

He wrote that while procedures have been established to control and track classified documents, "compliance with the procedures is in some cases so inadequate that the GAO was unable to track documents to insure that they had reached their intended recipients ... A classified document could be lost, stolen or simply vanish into thin air leaving the department unable to identify and hold accountable those responsible for the lapse."

John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman, acknowledged the security problems and said that the department's inspector general also is looking into the violations.