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News Briefs, part 2

Chain Rejects Stern's Book, Alters Best-Seller List

Newsday

NEW YORK

How hot is Howard Stern? Too hot to handle, at least in Caldor, the big discount chain.

Fearing that many of its customers would complain about the shock jock's best-selling book, "Private Parts,'' Caldor is refusing to sell the 446-page monologue/memoir that's topping The New York Times best-seller list.

But Caldor also went a step further -- it removed the tract from its in-store posting of hot books, which is based on the Times' ranking, a highly unusual move that angered the newspaper and the author and forced the retailer to make an embarrassed apology.

"If you told me when I wrote this book that it would be banned by some stores, I would not have been surprised,'' Stern said Thursday in a statement. "But to change The New York Times best-seller list to express your critical opinion is the work of meaner minds than mine''

Caldor was contrite about altering the list. "It was a mistake and it's been corrected,'' Caldor President Marc Balmuth said.

"It was done at a lower level of management and as soon as we heard of it, we changed ... (the list) back.''

That soothed the angry Times.

"There are no circumstances under which we ever allow The New York Times to be altered,'' said the paper's spokeswoman. A lawsuit, however, is not being contemplated because Caldor Thursday removed the altered list from its stores.

Council of Churches Urges Curbs On TV Violence, Rejects Censorship

Newsday

Adding its voice to the chorus of concern over televised violence, the National Council of Churches Thursday urged voluntary curbs, but rejected censorship.

"As objectionable as we find media violence, we do not believe government censorship is a viable or appropriate solution,'' read a statement approved by the council's 275-member general board, meeting in Baltimore. "We strongly object, however, to what we see as the misuse of the First Amendment, by commercial interests, as a cover for a quest for profit.''

The council approved the document after brief debate and a video message from Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill., a leader of the drive against TV violence. In the tape, Simon supported the statement and recounted his response to media executives who told him they had found no correlation between mayhem on the tube and violence in the streets.

The statement includes challenges to families, churches, the media and the federal government to cut down violence. During debate, the general board added more positive language, calling on churches, for example, to "promote specific life-enhancing programs which teach moral and ethical values'' and promising to "publicize advertisers of specific programs that depict significant values of the religious community.''

Clinton Rejects Appeal On Controversial Nuclear Plant

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

President Clinton has rejected an appeal from Capitol Hill to intervene with the British government to head off operation of a controversial new plant that will produce plutonium for use in nuclear power plants.

The United States has for many years opposed the use of plutonium for civilian purposes, but Clinton said in an Oct. 20 letter to members of Congress that he would not try to persuade other countries to follow the same course. Doing so, he wrote, would "lead to confrontation with Russia and our allies," including Britain, which favor the use of plutonium as an energy source.

He rejected the request from 33 House members, mostly Democrats, that he try to block operation of a commercial plutonium production factory in Britain known as the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, or THORP.

In a Sept. 27 speech at the United Nations, Clinton called for a worldwide treaty to ban the production of plutonium for weapons. The United States has already halted plutonium production, and with warhead stockpiles shrinking because of arms-reduction agreements has no plans to produce any more.

But nuclear scientists and arms-control specialists say there is no real distinction between plutonium intended to generate energy and plutonium destined for use in explosive warheads.

Air Force to Halt Work On Missile Warning System

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The Air Force has told TRW and Lockheed that it will end the $13.3 billion program for a new satellite system to warn of a ballistic missile attack, marking the first major cancellation of a military space program since the end of the Cold War.

The demise of the program -- known as the Follow-on Early Warning System, or FEWS -- came in a private meeting last week when Undersecretary of Defense John Deutch ordered senior Air Force officials to end the effort, according to an internal Air Force memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

The spacecraft industry, meanwhile, is mounting an effort to reverse the decision, and some senior Air Force officials oppose the decision as well.

Maj. Gen. Garry Schnelzer, the Air Force's senior space acquisition official, told Deutch during last week's meeting that FEWS should be preserved. But Deutch cut off any further debate, saying: "Let me start over. ... FEWS is zero,'' according to the memo.

The cancellation signals in graphic terms the Pentagon's reluctance to support high-cost space systems that have borne little of the brunt of defense spending cuts so far.