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News Briefs 1

Leg Found in Oklahoma Blast Belonged to a Woman

Los Angeles Times

Casting doubts on defense theories that a severed leg found in the Oklahoma City federal building rubble belonged to the "real bomber," authorities said Wednesday the limb was that of an unidentified black woman.

The conclusion, announced by state medical examiner Fred Jordan in Oklahoma City, boosted the official death toll from the April 19 bombing to 169.

Defense lawyers for accused bomber Timothy J. McVeigh had speculated that the leg belonged to the "real bomber," despite the substantial circumstantial evidence that appears to link McVeigh to the explosion. But no black women have been tied to the crime or linked to McVeigh or his co-defendant, Terry L. Nichols.

The laboratory conclusions will intensify the hunt for a person missing in the blast. For weeks, FBI and other federal agents have been scouring homeless shelters, kitchens and food stamp outlets in the Oklahoma City area for any word of missing individuals, but a source said Wednesday he knew of no promising leads.

Jordan said the leg was identified as belonging to a black female after a series of three special DNA and hair fiber tests were completed by FBI analysts. The finding sharply differed from an earlier statement by Jordan's office that there was a 75 percent probability that the limb belonged to a white male.

"No one can have confidence now in any of the forensic work in this case," Jones said. "Today a white male became a black female. No wonder DNA testing is being discredited."

Administration Rejects Proposal To Relax Border Inspections

Los Angeles Times

Clinton administration officials have rejected two vice presidential task force recommendations that would reduce customs inspections at international airports and create an "open border" with Canada in an effort aimed at eliminating delays at customs checkpoints.

U.S. Customs Commissioner George Weise said the federal government has considered many ideas intended to improve entry and exit procedures at international portals, but relaxing border inspections is one of the bad ideas offered by the National Performance Review, a task force on reinventing government headed by Vice President Al Gore.

"That's just not reasonable," Weise said. "It's not doable at any time in the foreseeable future. It's kind of pie in the sky and it's not being considered seriously."

Federal officials Wednesday unveiled details of the task force's accepted proposals affecting customs and immigration policies. Miami International Airport, which has been designated as a federal "reinvention lab," will test the new law enforcement practices aimed at speeding travelers through the nation's busy international airports.

Among the rejected ideas was one to abolish checkpoints on the Canadian border, permitting passage between the two countries with little or no checking. Weise said that suggestion was never taken seriously by his office, which must approve any such recommendation before it can be implemented.

Perot Urges Medicare Reform

Los Angeles Times

Ross Perot encouraged the Republican-led Congress on Wednesday to proceed with plans to place a tight lid on future Medicare spending but said that any radical changes in the delivery of medical services should be tested on a small scale before being adopted nationwide.

The billionaire businessman and former presidential candidate, who accumulated much of his fortune by providing computer processing of Medicare claims, said changes must be made so the program's 37 million beneficiaries themselves play a more active role in controlling costs. Under the current system, "they have no incentive to look at the bill," Perot told members of the Senate Finance Committee.

At the hearing, he backed in principle the Republican concept of placing a strictly enforced ceiling on future Medicare spending. But he stopped far short of embracing some of the specific changes that many experts believe will be needed to implement the GOP plan to reduce the growth of outlays by $270 billion over seven years.