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News Briefs, part 1

Balanced Budget Campaign Intensifies in Senate

Los Angeles Times

With a Senate vote on the controversial balanced budget amendment set for early next week, backers and opponents of the measure intensified their efforts Thursday to sway the remaining handful of undecided senators.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who was on the doubtful list, declared her co-sponsorship of a new plan offered by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that would revise the proposal for a balanced federal budget by exempting Social Security, creating a capital budget and allowing deficit spending during recessions.

She added, however, that if Reid's plan fails to win the required two-thirds majority in the Senate, she will vote for the original balanced-budget amendment offered by Sen. Paul Simon, D-Ill. Feinstein is a co-sponsor of the Simon proposal but recently was counted among the undecideds after she expressed reservations about it.

Simon claims to have 62 of the 67 votes needed for passage of his proposed amendment, which would require the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress each year. Only a three-fifths vote by the House and Senate would authorize deficit spending.

The Senate has scheduled back-to-back votes on the competing bills Tuesday, while the House arranged to vote on budget-balancing amendments next month, no matter what the Senate outcome is.

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit By Midshipmen at Annapolis

The Washington Post

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed by 47 midshipmen who sought to block the Navy's probe of alleged cheating by students at the U.S. Naval Academy.

The midshipmen had objected to the use of a special five-member Honor Review Board, chaired by Rear Adm. Richard C. Allen, to review the cases of more than 100 students accused of cheating on the tough electrical engineering exam in December 1992. The ruling will allow the Allen panel to begin today its scheduled case-by-case review of the allegations against midshipmen.

The suit, filed Feb. 10, argued that investigators from the office of the naval inspector general coerced midshipmen into making incriminating statements, after failing to warn them of their constitutional rights to remain silent and consult with a lawyer.

But U.S. District Judge Stanley S. Harris agreed with Navy lawyers that it would be impossible, until all the hearings have been conducted, to determine whether midshipmen were denied their due process rights.

The midshipmen's attorneys, after consulting with their clients, probably will file suit again after the review board completes its work this spring, said attorney Charles W. Gittins.

Dinah Shore Dead At 76

Los Angeles Times

Dinah Shore, the durable and phenomenally successful entertainer who moved gracefully from radio and recordings to television, cookbooks, and her own celebrity golf tournament, capturing and keeping America's heart along the way, died Thursday in her Beverly Hills home. She was 76.

Shore died of cancer, said publicist Connie Stone, with her former husband, film star George Montgomery, and their two children, Melissa Ann Hime and John David Montgomery, at her side.

"We have lost one of the voices that defined an era for us," Hollywood billionaire financier and former 20th Century Fox owner Marvin Davis and his wife Barbara said in a statement.

"In many ways Dinah Shore set an example for us all to follow, not least in the areas of charity and fundraising for the less fortunate. Dinah was a joy to be around, independent and humorous. We should not mourn her death but rather celebrate her life."

Administration Backs Proposed Overhaul of Procurement System

The Washington Post

The administration Thursday endorsed a Senate bill that would substantially change the federal procurement system, making it possible for Congress to move ahead on streamlining the way the government buys goods and services.

Steven Kelman, administrator for federal procurement policy, asked for five, primarily technical changes in the legislation and urged the Senate to consider several other suggestions.

John M. Deutch, the Defense Department undersecretary for acquisition and technology who will shortly become the Pentagon's No. 2 official, and Roger W. Johnson, head of the General Services Administration, appeared with Kelman Thursday at a joint hearing of the Senate's Governmental Affairs and Armed Services committees.

Although Deutch and Johnson asked the panels to examine several other proposals that they said would enhance their respective procurement operations, Deutch reassured senators that "we do have a single administration position."

Kelman reiterated that the administration seeks to reduce the federal work force by 252,000 employees and said "many of those positions are intended to be procurement positions. The Congress has already endorsed these cuts. We now need Congress to pass procurement reform legislation to allow us to make cuts without grinding the government to a halt."

Governmental Affairs Chairman John Glenn, D-Ohio, noted that President Clinton and Vice President Gore support changes in the procurement system and said two more hearings would be held on the bill next month.

U.N. Says Serbs Are Violating NATO Ultimatum

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Even as it unveiled a new accord to halt the war in central Bosnia based on the "Sarajevo formula" for withdrawing heavy weapons and ending the siege, the United Nations made clear Thursday that Bosnian Serbs had violated a NATO ultimatum throughout the exclusion zone and four days after the deadline were still refusing to hand over some heavy weapons.

In the most brazen challenge to U.N. authority, a Bosnian Serb commander in Osijek, a village west of Sarajevo, not only refused to hand over an arsenal of 19 heavy artillery pieces but spirited three pieces outside the 12-mile exclusion zone set by NATO, a U.N. spokesman said. The Bosnian government listed eight further violations by the Bosnian Serbs, which the United Nations would not confirm.

The U.N. spokesman, Lt. Col. Bill Aikman of Canada, did disclose, however, that of 115 sites where the Serbs had placed artillery or tanks to bombard Sarajevo, weapons had been found at 35 after the deadline. U.N. monitors had not yet visited eight sites, Aikman said.

Now, with its resources stretched in locating Serb artillery sites and rounding up the weapons that the Serbs failed to turn in, the United Nations in New York has announced it will take on two major tasks by March 7: opening the airport in Tuzla, a government-held enclave with as many as 750,000 people; and demilitarizing central Bosnia.

Red Cross to Start College To Train Blood Workers

The Washington Post

The American Red Cross, which has been attacked for inadequately safeguarding much of the nation's blood supply, will establish a national college in Fairfax County, Va., to train workers in the latest blood-handling techniques.

The program will begin by summer and is the result of the nonprofit group's continuing review of its blood supply operations, Red Cross President Elizabeth Dole said Thursday.

"We will produce through education a national standardization of performance not possible any other way," Dole said. "Our college will have rigorous tests before certification so that the patches and pins worn by Red Crossers will serve as emblems of excellence in the industry."

The college, as the Red Cross calls it, will provide courses lasting weeks and months in handling blood, said Karen Shoos Lipton, acting senior vice president for the group's biomedical services.

The Red Cross hopes to bring in 150 to 200 people in key positions during the program's first year, Lipton said. Training will take place in the Red Cross office building at Route 50 and the Capital Beltway.

Surgeon General Attacks Cigarette Advertising

The Washington Post

U.S. Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders issued a strong attack Thursday on cigarette advertising and warned of the dangers of smoking for young people.

Elders delivered a report, "Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People," the 23rd on smoking and health from the Surgeons General in a 30-year anti-smoking crusade. This is first such report to focus exclusively on the dangers of smoking for young people.

Sounding like the sternest school principal in the country, Elders said that it was time for Americans to stop deluding themselves about the dangers of smoking for teens, and to issue "a warning to our young people that tobacco is addicting and that tobacco kills."

Elders said that kids come to believe that smoking will help them join what she called the "5-S club: slim, sexy, sociable, sophisticated, successful."

Regular repetition of the anti-smoking message has shown some success in getting adults to kick the habit. But the same message has not been as successful in reaching kids.