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News Briefs

Dollar Resumes Downward Spiral

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

Despite the Clinton administration's renewed effort to bolster the sagging dollar, the U.S. currency resumed its downward spiral Thursday, falling against the Japanese yen, the British pound and the Swiss franc and edging up only slightly against the German mark.

With his options limited, and timing considered crucial, Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin declared, "This administration believes a strong dollar is in America's national interest."

In the measured language of international finance, such a statement is considered powerful and represented the most forceful defense the administration has offered since Rubin issued a similar statement when the tumble began last Friday. But it appeared to have no impact on the course of the dollar, which fell once again after appearing to rally late Wednesday and early Thursday following an increase in some European interest rates.

By the end of trading Thursday one dollar was equal to 90.50 yen, down from 91.33 the day before. It was also valued at 1.3945 marks, up slightly from 1.3935 marks on Wednesday.

Suspicions have been strong in the international currency exchanges that the administration quietly favors a weaker dollar, which lowers the cost of U.S. goods sold in foreign countries and can thus improve the U.S. trade balance and boost export-related jobs.

Fuhrmam Testifies in Simpson Trial

Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES

With his reputation and the murder case against O.J. Simpson on the line, Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman took the witness stand Thursday to describe his actions during the investigation, to fend off allegations that he is a racist who may have planted evidence and to deny ever having met a witness who accuses him of making racially inflammatory comments.

Speaking softly but in a clear voice, Fuhrman told the jury he was "nervous, reluctant" about testifying in a case that has thrust him into the spotlight and made him one of the trial's most potentially important witnesses.

"Throughout, since June 13, it seems that I've seen a lot of the evidence ignored and a lot of personal issues come to the forefront," Fuhrman said in response to Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark's first question to him. "I think that's too bad."

Fuhrman captivated the nation last summer when he testified during the preliminary hearing that he found a bloody glove that he said he found behind O.J. Simpson's Brentwood estate. Since then, however, he has been on the receiving end of intense investigation by the Simpson defense, who have called him a racist and have suggested that he may have planted the glove.

Clinton to Take Greater Control over CIA, Spy Agencies

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration has moved to exert greater control over what intelligence the CIA and other spy agencies collect, and created a new, high-level committee to oversee their performance.

The president last week signed a classified presidential order that for the first time since the Cold War's end sets formal, White House priorities for subjects to be targeted by the CIA and other intelligence agencies, according to congressional and administration sources.

The directive establishes a committee of senior White House, Pentagon, State Department and other officials to review regularly whether the government's intelligence objectives are being met and if they ought to be changed.

The change means the consumers of intelligence, top administration policymakers, will have a new, direct and continuing role in deciding what information they want collected. The new system would limit the past independence of the CIA and other agencies in setting their own priorities and deciding how well they're performing.

The change grows out of frustration, in the administration and Congress, over the lack of focus for intelligence gathering as a result of the wide range of requirements placed on the CIA since Communism collapsed.