The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 72.0°F | Patches Fog

News Briefs

Further Documents Show Mrs. Clinton's Trading Was Legal

Los Angeles Times

The White House released additional records Thursday related to first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's commodities trading activities, in further efforts to show she did nothing illegal or unethical in making her investments.

The White House also issued a brief analysis by a commodities expert who was asked by the Clintons to review her trading, in which he found that she "violated no rules in the course of her transactions."

Leo Melamed, former chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the nation's largest commodities exchanges, noted in a statement that new data from the Chicago exchange "largely confirms and also complements" records from Mrs. Clinton's brokerage account released last month by the White House, he said.

"These records are being released today in order to give as complete a picture as possible of Mrs. Clinton's trading," said Lisa Caputo, Mrs. Clinton's press secretary.

Melamed said the records provide more detailed information about Mrs. Clinton's first day of trading than was available from the earlier records. They show, he said, that Mrs. Clinton had risked her money in the transaction, demonstrating that it was a legitimate investment and not some form of favorable insider transaction arranged by her broker.

Moon's Craters May Hold Lunar Ice, Mission Suggests

The Baltimore Sun
The Clementine spacecraft

The first scientific mission to the moon in 22 years has discovered craters at the lunar south pole that appear to lie in eternal shadow. If the craters never see the sun they may stay cold enough to hold water that was delivered there eons ago by crashing comets.

If further studies confirm the presence of water in the craters, it would be the first ever found on the moon. Such lunar ice could one day be mined by explorers to supply their bases with water or split into hydrogen and oxygen gas to make rocket fuel.

Clementine was launched into a lunar orbit Jan. 25. A computer malfunction on May 7 canceled plans to send it off to photograph an asteroid on Aug. 31. But scientists say the spacecraft - relatively cheap at $75 million - has accomplished 99 percent of its scientific mission.

"It turns out the moon is a much lumpier planet than we expected it to be," said Johns Hopkins University geophysicist Maria T. Zuber.

During its two months in orbit around the moon, Clementine gathered more than two million images of the lunar surface. Split by filters into 11 different wavelengths of light, the images have already begun to reveal previously unknown details of the moon's mineral composition and geological history.

Clementine has produced the first reliable topographic map of the moon, showing its surface contours in a multi-colored map that is accurate to within 330 feet.

Many Child Safety Seats For Airliners Are Ineffective

The Washington Post

Many child safety seats and restraints that are sold as approved for use on airliners are ineffective and some are dangerous, according to research done for the Federal Aviation Administration.

In the first comprehensive crash-dummy tests using simulated aircraft interiors, the FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City found that all of the forward-facing seats for 20- to 40-pound children that it tested produced injuries because they could not be sufficiently anchored to prevent a child's head from striking the seat ahead. Gowdy said the institute found that one type of restraint performed consistently as advertised: small rear-facing seats for infants below 20 pounds. "I think these should be encouraged and endorsed by the FAA and the airlines," he said.

The research, which was completed late last year but not released, adds another element to one of the most emotional safety issues in aviation. Until now, safety seats have been certified as approved for both automobiles and airliners, but the CAMI research indicates that airliners may be sufficiently different from cars to require different standards.

Current FAA rules allow children under 2 to be held in parents' laps, and airlines generally allow them to fly for free. The FAA in 1992 ruled that airlines must allow use of safety seats, but the agency has stopped short of requiring them. Such a requirement would increase travel costs for families, who would have to pay for a seat.

Genetically Created Tomato Big Hit in California Market

Los Angeles Times
DAVIS, Calif.

Virginia Waters bought some to take back to Massachusetts. Bill Johnson got some to mail to his mom in Florida. And Connie Presley was taking some home to make sandwiches for the kids' lunch.

At the State Market grocery store here Saturday, America's newest and most controversial tomatoes were selling faster than than you can say "marinara sauce" as buyers came from all over to be among the first to taste and buy genetically engineered fruit.

An old-fashioned produce cart was installed at the neighborhood market and people gathered round to sample bites and offer critiques of the MacGregor's tomatoes. Handing out the free samples were employees of Calgene, this university town's biotechnology company, which on Wednesday got approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market them.

If Calgene is right about the tomatoes, grown from its gene-spliced "Flavr Savr" seeds, Waters and Johnson needn't worry whether they will still taste good after being shipped across country. Calgene isolated the gene that initiates the tomato's rotting process, cloned the gene and reinserted it, in reverse, to neutralize, or slow down, the rotting process.

The tomatoes can be kept on the vine longer, developing the sweetness that most commercially grown tomatoes lack because they are picked green and ripened artificially. It took the company more than $25 million dollars to develop the tomato, and five years to get FDA approval to market it.

Special Counsel Expects To Complete Initial Phase Of Whitewater Probe Next Month

The Washington Post

Special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr. notified House leaders Thursday he expects to complete the initial phase of his Whitewater investigation next month, a timetable that could clear the way for Congress to hold the first hearings this summer.

Those hearings would be confined to questions about the death of White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster and the propriety of Washington meetings between White House aides and Treasury Department officials concerning the failed Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan in Arkansas.

Fiske said his inquiry into those areas would conclude, "barring some development" in the last two weeks of June and he would then be able to tell lawmakers if he objected to hearings on subjects he is investigating in Washington.

Mitchell was briefed by Foley on the meeting with Fiske and planned to lay out his position on timing in a letter to Minority Leader Robert J. Dole, R-Kan., with whom he has been negotiating over timetable, structure and scope of hearings for about two months.

Fiske asked congressional leaders in March to delay hearings that would delve into aspects of his broad investigation until after his staff has interviewed relevant witnesses.

House and Senate leaders have indicated a willingness to comply with Fiske's wishes under nearly identical resolutions both bodies passed in March calling for bipartisan agreement to hold the hearings.

In the Senate, Republicans served notice Thursday they will start amending bills to force hearings if Mitchell has not reached agreement with Dole on plans for the hearings by June 7, when Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess.

Republican sources said GOP senators dropped earlier plans to start offering amendments before the recess when Dole assured them he was making progress in his talks with Mitchell and believed agreement was near.

Mitchell has urged that hearings be conducted by the banking committee, with questions that fall under jurisdiction of other panels being handled by members who serve on those panels as well the banking committee. Democrats outnumber Republicans 11 to 8 on the banking committee.

Clinton Proposes Cap on Children For Welfare Recipients

Los Angeles Times

Ending months of intense debate within the administration, President Clinton will propose making it easier for states to deny additional benefits to women who have children while already on welfare, senior administration officials say.

The decision aligns Clinton with those inside and outside the administration who argue that government must intensify its efforts to discourage out-of-wedlock births, which now constitute roughly 30 percent of all births in America. "We think it is very important to discourage additional births on welfare," said one senior official. "We are saying that states that want to try this approach should be able to try it."

But the so-called "family cap" policy inspires even more intense opposition among liberals than the proposed two-year time limit on welfare that is at the center of Clinton's plan.

Given its potential to affect the most intimate decisions of millions of women, the family cap issue is certain to provoke a polarized struggle in Congress. Many moderate and conservative legislators see the family cap as a way to promote personal responsibility, while liberals largely denounce it as racist and sexist social engineering.

"This is clearly one where there are very deep feelings on both sides of the issue, and apart from the families it directly affects, it has a large symbolic impact," said Mark Greenberg, an attorney with the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington.

In fact, although Clinton settled on the new policy at a Tuesday meeting, administration officials still appear divided over how closely to identify with the controversial idea. Some officials take pains to say the administration does not intend to push states to adopt family cap policies, merely to smooth the way for those interested in the idea. One agency official lukewarm to the policy insisted the decision left the administration "neutral" on the question.