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News Briefs 1

Cambodia Welcomes Outside Help

Los Angeles Times

International aid agencies have invested in Cambodia's rural development projects, and to its credit, the country welcomes the help. Indeed, the $200 million in aid given each year directly to the government accounts for about half of the government's total income.

In Baydamran, a few miles east of Battambang, the Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services organization has provided $20,000 in start-up capital for a small-scale bank. The bank's loans average $26 - enough to open a family based business.

Chum Cheoum, a mother of 10, borrowed $30 to buy ingredients for making rice snacks that she sells in town. Sdeong Peach, whose husband was killed by the land mine, borrowed $15, enough to set up a noodle stand. The bank expects to earn enough money in interest to repay the $20,000 to Catholic Relief Services in three years.

A road leading up the mountain Phnom Sampeou, near Battambang, shows another way that Cambodia is being rebuilt. At its foot lives Kim Bunthoeum, an intense, 29-year-old monk trying to save a Buddhist monastery there.

His education was at the hands of three older monks, the only residents of the monastery who were not killed by the Khmer Rouge or did not flee. The Khmer Rouge had leveled everything except the dormitories.

Canada Reacts Cautiously To U.S. Open Border' Plan

Los Angeles Times

Canadian officials, who are stepping up enforcement against firearms smuggling from America, have expressed surprise at a proposal by U.S. border agencies to eventually eliminate all customs and immigration inspections on individuals crossing from Canada into the United States.

Officials in Ottawa reacted cautiously to the plan Tuesday, noting it is preliminary, would apply only to entries to the United States and would require approval by both the American and Canadian governments.

The draft - floated in Washington by a group representing U.S. Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the departments of Agriculture and State - envisions an "open border," permitting Americans and Canadians to pass from Canada into the United States as easily as crossing from California into Nevada. The report describes the proposal as a "long term recommendation," which officials said involves a three- to five-year target for implementation.

Although the draft only deals with border inspections on the U.S. side, any decision by the Americans to eliminate them could lead to calls for reciprocal action by Canada.

Canadian and U.S. officials already are negotiating ways to speed crossings under an agreement initiated by President Clinton and Prime Minister Jean Chretien during the president's February visit to Ottawa. But those talks do not entail an "open border" scenario, officials said Tuesday.

Scientists Drill Samples From Undersea Mineral Mound

Newsday Inc.

In most scientific experiments, the final outcome is the main uncertainty. In this experiment, undertaken last fall by scientists 12,000 feet below sea level, every step along the way was uncertain.

No one had ever drilled into a seething-hot, geyser-spewing mound of minerals under the sea, using an 8-inch-wide, 2-mile-long sliver of metal. No one knew if the drill could stand the heat. No one could say how the hot mound might react when punctured, a process akin to slicing into a hot souffle while it's still being baked. And no one was sure if any ore samples could eventually be retrieved.

But now the answers are in, and geochemist Susan Humphris and her ocean-going colleagues are announcing success. Despite their trepidation, the scientists managed to poke 17 holes into the seething mound over a two-month period, and the rock samples they gathered in that unique experiment are now being studied in laboratories around the world.

Humphris, at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, was a co-leader of the expedition, in which the drilling ship JOIDES Endeavor sailed to a point about 2,000 miles east of Miami to successfully probe what scientists have described as "a hellish mound the size of the Astrodome spewing hot (up to 680F), sulfurous, metal-laden plumes" into the water.