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News Briefs, part 2

Amtrak Cuts More Trains

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Amtrak President Thomas Downs on Thursday sliced away more national passenger trains by cutting daily service on many routes and eliminating the once-famed Broadway Limited between New York and Chicago.

The cuts - some to take effect June 11 and others Sept. 10 - eliminate about 12 percent of Amtrak's train miles and are expected to save $99 million. It is possible that individual states will provide enough money to restore some of the cuts.

The trims are supposed to let Amtrak survive despite declining federal subsidies, fare competition from low-priced airlines and rising maintenance costs fed by old equipment and facilities.

"This is not our best of days," said Downs at a news conference. The cuts should allow Amtrak to balance its budget if Congress approves the system's diminished $260 million operating subsidy for fiscal 1996, he said. But there is no guarantee Congress will do so.

The cuts spare north-south service along both coasts. But the rest of the "national" passenger system will be only loosely connected by a spindly web of trains, many of them running only three times a week. Several routes were reduced in frequency or eliminated in a first round of cuts in December.

Amtrak carries about 22 million passengers annually over 24,500 route miles on 212 trains a day - 122 in the Washington-Boston corridor.

First Lady Overwhelmed' On South Asian Journey

The Washington Post
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka

In a Bangladeshi village of the lowest of low-caste Hindus - often called "untouchables" - dozens of children stretched their arms to touch the hands of a beaming Hillary Clinton, the woman they'd been told was Queen of the World.

In villages like Moishahati, where government officials and high caste Hindus - much less foreigners - seldom venture, it is believed that just touching someone of higher caste will bring more respect and honor to a person at the lower end of the social scale.

But in a reversal the villagers couldn't possibly comprehend, it was the poor inhabitants of the mud and straw huts of the rice-paddy community who won the respect of the first lady of the United States.

"I've come away overwhelmed," Clinton said of the Bangladeshi villagers and dozens of other women she encountered in a 12-day visit across the Indian subcontinent. In the first few jet-lagged days of her journey through India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, Clinton recited numerous parallels between programs and problems in the United States and those in South Asia, often sounding as though she were plugging her husband's policies on the campaign trail in Middle America, half a globe and worlds away.