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News Briefs

German Free Democratic Party Calls for Foreigners' Voting Rights

Los Angeles Times
BONN, Germany

As Chancellor Helmut Kohl began talks to rebuild his wobbly coalition government Thursday, his partners from the liberal Free Democratic Party issued a call for dual citizenship and voting rights for the 6.9 million foreigners living in Germany.

Cornelia Schmalz-Jacobsen, a Free Democrat and the government's representative for the interests of foreigners, said Germany should do away with its so-called "blood laws" requiring German ancestry to secure German citizenship.

Her comments appeared to mark the start a campaign by her party for more liberal social policies from the coalition government. The Free Democrats took a beating in the Oct. 16 federal election - and in nine state elections in the past year - and are casting about to rebuild a liberal image.

Kohl is negotiating a governing program with the Free Democrats. The government, with the Free Democrats, has only a 10-seat majority in the 672-seat Parliament scheduled to convene Nov. 10.

The issue of foreigners' rights is problematic for Kohl, who also cannot afford to lose votes from the conservative wing of his Christian Democratic Party and the right-wing in its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union.

General Dynamics to Pay $5 Million in Overtime Case

The Washington Post

General Dynamics Corp. has agreed to pay $5.3 million in back wages to more than 1,000 employees of its Electric Boat Division who were illegally denied overtime payments, the Labor Department announced Thursday.

The Falls Church, Va., defense contractor agreed to the payment after Labor Department investigators found the company had "misapplied criteria" used to determine who, among its professional employees, was exempt from the overtime provisions of the the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs wages and hours in the workplace.

The agreement was one of the largest back-pay overtime awards in Labor Department history, although it was dwarfed by last year's $16.2 million award against Food Lion Inc. It covers Electric Boat workers at installations stretching from Connecticut to Washington state.

Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich praised General Dynamics for its quick response in settling the case once investigators determined there was a problem.

Eligible employees will receive their money by Dec. 1. Current employees will be paid by the company and those who have retired or left General Dynamics will receive their money through the Labor Department.

Clinton Under Pressure To Resolve Refugee Problem

The Washington Post

Last summer's decision to hold thousands of Cubans indefinitely in camps at Guantanamo Bay and in Panama is becoming a foreign policy, legal and ethical burden for the Clinton administration.

Although public attention has faded from the 32,000 Cubans held behind barbed wire, the administration has found itself under increasing pressure from two opposite directions.

The well organized anti-Castro Cuban organizations in Miami have gone to the courts to demand that their interned countrymen be given a chance to seek asylum in the United States.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro's government has threatened to abrogate the September agreement that halted the rafters' exodus if the Clinton administration admits Cubans into the United States directly from the so-called "safe haven" camps. Havana wants Washington to follow through with its promise that the refugees in the camps must first return to Cuba before applying to come to the United States.

President Clinton made that pledge after breaking with a 35-year practice of welcoming Cubans as refugees to assuage Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat. Chiles feared that a flood of rafters would spoil his chances in a tough re-election battle against Jeb Bush, the Republican challenger.