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News Briefs 1

Upcoming Women's Conference Runs into Multiple Snags


Even before it opens, the World Conference on Women has generated political problems, many of them unrelated to the issues expected to dominate the largest-ever U.N. conference when it convenes in Beijing next week.

One hurdle was removed with China's release of imprisoned Chinese-American human-rights activist Harry Wu last week, clearing the way for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to attend the conference as honorary chairwoman of the U.S. delegation. Some human-rights groups had demanded that she boycott the conference to protest Wu's incarceration on espionage charges.

In other snags, Beijing faced criticism when it moved some of the conferees' meetings 35 miles outside the capital in an attempt to avoid protests. It also has denied or held up visas for some of the delegates.

Safe sex and family planning are the core concerns of many activists who will attend the conference.

The Vatican said supporters of contraception and abortion have been devaluing the role that family and motherhood play in the lives of women.

The delegates will deal with specific problems including domestic violence in the United States, sex trafficking in Colombia, bride-burning in India and war crimes in Russia along with general issues such as securing equal wages, primary health facilities and education for women all over the world.

Israel Guards Jericho As It Seeks To Extradite Bomb Suspects

The Washington Post
JERICHO, West Bank

Israel Sunday maintained a tight seal around this West Bank enclave of Palestinian self-rule in an effort to force Yasser Arafat to turn over a pair of wanted Islamic militants, six days after a Jerusalem bus bombing in which Israel alleges the two men had a part.

Israeli authorities also announced the arrest of dozens of activists of the militant Islamic Hamas movement and said they had foiled plans to carry out more suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. One of those arrested helped plan an attack in December in which a suicide bomber from the Gaza Strip wounded 13 people at a Jerusalem bus stop, a police statement said.

Even as it mounted a virtual siege in Jericho, with a "no exceptions" ban on traffic in and out, Israel turned over eight more government powers to the Palestinian Authority elsewhere in the West Bank. Arafat's self-rule government is gradually assuming civilian governance of the occupied territories, and an agreement signed in Cairo Sunday gave it regulatory power over agriculture, postal services, insurance, energy, industry and commerce, labor, municipal affairs and statistics.

In still another sign of these perplexing times in the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, Israel threatened Sunday to close three quasi-governmental Palestinian offices in East Jerusalem. With a year remaining before they negotiate the city's "permanent status," Israel and the Palestinian Authority are battling over symbols of sovereignty in that portion of the city captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.

Sunday Police Minister Moshe Shahal declared that the Palestinian broadcast authority, a health council and an office of statistics in East Jerusalem were official organs of the Palestinian Authority, and therefore forbidden by the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian accord to operate in the city. He gave them 96 hours to cease operations and said he would close them forcibly after that.

Hearings Clarify Where Whitewater Prosecutors Are Heading

The Washington PostWASHINGTON

In better days, they were the movers and shakers surrounding Bill Clinton, the vibrant young Democratic governor of Arkansas. They ran small banks and free-spending savings and loan associations, set up interconnected corporations and embarked on grand business and real estate ventures, often backed by shaky financing.

Now many of Clinton's close associates from the 1980s have fallen victim to the labyrinthine Whitewater scandal, the investigation named for the first couple's Ozarks real estate flop. The probe has rocked Arkansas' political circles and snared businessmen and lawyers who have not even a vague connection to the Whitewater Development Corp., in which Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton were half partners.

Recent congressional hearings into the failure of a savings and loan run by the Clintons' business partner in Whitewater offered a clearer picture than the public has had before of the kind of documentary evidence available to Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr - and the directions it might be taking him.

What happens next is largely a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

Starr's office always had the mission of looking beyond the Ozarks to get to the bottom of a series of disparate charges swirling around the Clintons, who, except for millions of dollars of legal fees, have not been touched by the investigation.