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News Briefs 2

Abortion Drug Found Effective


A drug long used to treat cancer is apparently "safe and effective" 96 percent of the time for women having an abortion, according to a report to be published in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Richard Hausknecht, a New York City obstetrician-gynecologist, said his study of 178 women showed only minor side effects from the use of the drug. He said the drug, called methotrexate, allowed women to terminate their pregnancies without any waiting period within the first two months.

"It's psychologically safe and much better than surgical termination," said Hausknecht, who announced that he was testing the new method six months ago. "This gives women a new alternative and more privacy."

Proponents of the new medical approach - which includes Planned Parenthood - say it could be available commercially as an inexpensive alternative to surgical abortion within two years with government approval.

Because of the recent violence surrounding the abortion issue, major pharmaceutical companies have shied away from this drug, experts said Wednesday.

Proponents of the new approach - including Planned Parenthood - say it could be available commercially as an inexpensive alternative to surgical abortion within two years with government approval.

U.S. Economic Growth Estimate Revised Upward

The Washington Post

The economy expanded in the spring at more than double the pace previously estimated but still had its weakest quarterly performance in nearly four years, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

The revised assessment prompted some economists to conclude the nation's four-year-old expansion is somewhat sturdier than expected, but many others said the economy's long-term growth prospects remain modest.

"I don't think our general view of the economy is in any way altered" by the new estimate, said Joseph E. Stiglitz, chairman of President Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

The gross domestic product - a broad measure of the value of the nation's total output of goods and services - grew at a revised 1.1 percent annual inflation-adjusted rate in the three months from April through June, the Commerce Department said. Last month, the department initially estimated second-quarter growth at an anemic 0.5 percent.

In large part, the improvement reflected revised data showing that consumer spending, which accounts for about two-thirds of the GDP, was much stronger in May and June than had been previously estimated.

Hoffa Jr. to Run For Teamsters' Presidency

Los Angeles Times

James P. Hoffa, son of the legendary Teamster who disappeared mysteriously 20 years ago, announced Wednesday he will run for president of the union his father once ran.

Before announcing his candidacy during a taping of the "Larry King Live" show here, the 54-year-old Detroit lawyer said he wants to restore "the greatest union in the world that has been sinking because of a lack of leadership."

"I was very fortunate to be his son," he said of his late father, James R. Hoffa. "And I believe that some of his knowledge and charisma have rubbed off on me."

Hoffa's campaign kickoff Wednesday included a rally in El Monte and handshakes with other members in Southern California, an important union base that is home to about 135,000 Teamsters.

Jimmy Jr., as the stocky man with his father's piercing eyes is called, is the first Teamster to file candidacy papers for general president of the 1.4 million-member union.

The election for top officers of the union is late next year, and like the last one in 1992, secret mail ballot votes will be counted by federal officials under a settlement agreement that involved charges of union corruption and affiliation with mobsters.

Hoffa has already secured the support of Joint Council 42 in Los Angeles, a 90,000-member umbrella group that has long been the union's West Coast power base. The council, which oversees 20 Teamster locals in the region, is headed by Mike Riley, a fierce opponent of current Teamster President Ron Carey.

GOPAC Asks to Halt Inquiries

The Washington Post

The political action committee formed by House Speaker Newt Gingrich is asking a federal judge to stop the Federal Election Commission from contacting its charter members - people who have contributed more than $10,000 to the cause of ousting Democrats and electing Republicans throughout the country.

Beginning the week of Aug. 14, FEC staff members started calling and asking charter members of GOPAC Inc., the political committee that was instrumental in helping Republicans seize control of the House for the first time in 40 years, what they were told when they first became involved with the group.

FEC lawyer Stephen E. Hershkowitz said the agency simply wants to know what the charter members initially were told about GOPAC's mission and what they heard or saw when they attended meetings with the group's leaders.

The FEC wants to know because it is in the middle of a legal battle with GOPAC over whether the group violated federal law by becoming involved in federal elections in 1989 and 1990, before it registered as a federal political committee. A political committee is any group which receives contributions of more than $1,000 or spends more than $1,000 in a year.