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News Briefs, part 2

Navy Chief Challenges Tailhook Inquiry Findings

The Washington Post

Fighting to save his reputation and his job, Chief of Naval Operations Frank B. Kelso II yesterday released documents challenging last week's finding by a military court that he witnessed lewd conduct at the 1991 Tailhook convention and then lied about his knowledge of the misconduct.

The documents include a Feb. 11 memorandum from the Pentagon's senior Tailhook investigator to Defense Secretary William J. Perry supporting Kelso's claim that he did not see any inappropriate behavior while attending the gathering of naval aviators at the Las Vegas Hilton.

"During our investigation we were unable to find any credible evidence that Admiral Kelso had specific knowledge of the improper incidents and events that took place," said the memo from Deputy Inspector General Derek J. Vander Schaaf.

At Kelso's request, Navy officials released the statements in a detailed rebuttal to last Tuesday's finding by a military judge that Kelso had witnessed leg shaving contests and other misconduct at the convention. The judge, Navy Captain William Vest, cited Kelso's knowledge of the misconduct in dismissing charges against the last three Navy officers to face courts martial in the scandal.

Navy Secretary John Dalton is currently considering whether to fire Kelso as a result of Vest's report. But Navy officials said Dalton was troubled by "factual errors" in the judge's finding.

Jewish Agency Official Charged with Fraud

The Washington Post

Simcha Dinitz, chairman of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency and an ambassador to Washington in the 1970s, was charged yesterday with serious fraud and breach of trust involving personal use of agency credit cards.

Dinitz announced he is taking a paid leave of absence to fight the charges and said he is innocent.

The indictment, following a long police investigation, charged that, during visits abroad, Dinitz, 64, made personal purchases at stores such as Macy's and Bloomingdale's using an American Express card issued by the agency, and also misused a credit card from the clothing retailer Syms.

In Israeli news media reports over the last year, Dinitz has been depicted as a high-flying executive who ignored warnings that he was violating agency rules and who had expensive tastes while on agency business, including once insisting on a chauffeured car to take him 200 yards between terminals at a New York airport.

Mendel Kaplan, chairman of the agency board of governors, said the police investigation over the last year had not affected the agency's finances. But others have said that the scandal surrounding Dinitz reflected poorly on an organization that is dependent on donations from Jews abroad.

Trial of Accused Florida Serial Killer Set to Begin

Los Angeles Times

The gruesome serial killings of five college students -- crimes that shocked the nation and terrorized a north Florida town three and half years ago -- will be revisited beginning Tuesday as the murder trial of a rangy Louisiana drifter opens in a Gainesville courtroom.

Danny Harold Rolling, 39, is charged with five counts of murder in the stabbing and mutilation deaths that took place over three days at the beginning of the 1990 fall term at the University of Florida.

The crime scenes -- the apartments where the victims lived -- were so horrific that the prosecutor has moved to keep police photos of the bodies sealed. "I don't think the loved ones should ever have to see these photos," said the chief prosecutor, state attorney Rod Smith.

Rolling, the son of a retired police officer, already is serving a life prison sentence after pleading guilty in 1991 to a grocery store robbery and being sentenced as a career criminal. He has previous robbery convictions and has been linked to several other crimes, including a triple murder in Shreveport, La., and shooting his father in the face.

If Rolling is convicted of the Gainesville slayings, the state will ask that he be executed.

Clinton Pledges Increase In Aid to Pakistan

The Washington Post

President Clinton, praising Kazakhstan's economic reforms and its decision to give up its nuclear weapons, yesterday pledged to increase U.S. aid to the former Soviet republic by several hundred million dollars.

Clinton, at a press conference with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, used the pledge of the increased economic aid and U.S. technical assistance to promote another U.S. goal: persuading the republic to continue piping its oil through Russia rather than Iran.

The White House welcome and promise of greater U.S. aid resulted from Kazakhstan's decision in December to ratify the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and move forward on its pledge to destroy the SS-18 long-range nuclear missiles left on its soil after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Among the aid pledged to Nazarbayev is $85 million this year and next to dismantle and destroy the nuclear weapons. In addition, economic aid will go from $91 million in 1993 to $311 million in 1994.

"We believe we have established the basis for a long-term partnership of immense strategic importance and economic potential for the United States," Clinton said at the press conference. He and other administration officials referred to Kazakhstan as far ahead of other former Soviet republics in establishing a market economy and noted Kazakhstan's strategic importance both because of its location straddling Europe and Asia and its valuable natural resources.