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News Briefs

Official U.S. Presence In Somalia Ends Sept. 15

The Washington Post

The last official U.S. presence in Somalia will end Sept. 15, the Clinton administration announced Friday, after deciding the capital of Mogadishu has become too violent to allow 22 diplomats and 58 Marines there to remain safely.

The issue of whether to keep a small U.S. presence in Somalia has divided the administration for several months. Pentagon officials argued the tribal warfare had left Mogadishu so dangerous it was imprudent to stay. But the State Department worried that abandoning the country would send a message of retreat that might cause the end of the continuing U.N. relief effort.

Under pressure from Congress, the administration chose safety over symbolism. But State Department spokesman Michael McCurry said the United States would try to keep some leverage in Somalia by moving its liaison office to neighboring Kenya and having diplomats make regular visits. In addition, a $35 million annual aid program, including $12 million in food shipments, will be continued.

Jesse Jackson Considers Running for President in 1996

Los Angeles Times

"Sadly disappointed" with President's Clinton's performance in office, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday that he is considering running for President in 1996 - either by challenging Clinton for the party's nomination or by running as an independent candidate.

By choosing either of these courses, Jackson could make Clinton's road back to the White House much rougher. If he contests Clinton for the Democratic nomination, Jackson's appeal to blacks and other liberal constituencies could force Clinton to pay more attention to the left. And this would be at a time when the "New Democrat" president would probably want to move to the center to answer Republican criticism that his policies are already far too liberal.

A bid by Jackson, who ran for president in 1984 and 1988, would threaten to divide the Democratic Party much as Pat Buchanan's challenge to President Bush in 1992 disrupted the GOP. And an independent Jackson candidacy might well siphon off the black votes Clinton needs to win a second term.

While Jackson said he would make no decision about 1996 until after November, he took a dim view of the "present direction" of the Clinton presidency, which he labled a "dream buster."

"Those of us who voted for racial equality and workers rights and economic stimulus and education equity as keys to reduce pain and hardship are sadly disappointed," he said. He said he was speaking on behalf of "the vast body of workers, blacks, hispanics and urban America" who helped elect Clinton in 1992.

U.S. to Pay $100K to Families of Foreigners Killed in Army Choppers

The Washington Post

The United States will pay $100,000 to family members of each of the eleven foreigners who were killed last April when U.S. Air Force fighter jets mistakenly shot down two Army helicopters over Northern Iraq.

In a statement, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary William J. Perry was authorizing the payments as a humanitarian gesture, not because they were obligated under U.S. or international law.

A report issued by the Defense Department last month concluded the shootdown of two Army Black Hawk helicopters was caused by a long string of procedural blunders and communications breakdowns on the part of two F-15 jet pilots, the crew of a nearby airborne radar plane, and various officers in the chain of command.

Gerard Lear, a lawyer representing some of the foreign nationals, said the United States may have legal liability for their deaths, despite the Pentagon's claims to the contrary. He said establishing liability in the case of the U.S. deaths was a more difficult case, because of a legal principle known as the "Feres Doctrine," which generally protects the government from legal blame in the case of military deaths.

A State Department spokesman said Friday night it could not be immediately learned what death benefits would be received by the family of one of its officials, Barbara L. Schell, 50, the only U.S. civilian killed in the shootings.