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News Briefs 2

Perot Expected to Endorse Drive For a Third Party

The Washington Post

Ross Perot is expected to endorse a drive to form a third political party in California and perhaps throughout the nation, in a move with the potential to change the basic framework of the 1996 elections not only for President Clinton but virtually every office holder on the ballot.

The move does not mean that Perot himself will enter the presidential race, but it significantly increases the likelihood. In some respects, the call for creation of a third party is an ideal way for Perot to test the enthusiasm of his own backers, and to determine whether they are prepared for a second presidential bid. The Texas billionaire, who drew 19 percent of the vote as an independent candidate in the 1992 presidential race, was expected to discuss his plans during an appearance Monday night on the "Larry King Show."

"This is a great political awakening," declared Don Torgersen, executive director of the Illinois branch of United We Stand America, the organization established by Perot during the 1992 campaign. "United We Stand is the major political thrust in America, it is the driving force," he said, comparing what Perot is doing to the religious Great Awakening..

The creation of official third parties with clear identification on the general election ballot is a huge undertaking in many, if not most, states, requiring large numbers of signatures. If successful, such a drive would be a major mobilizing tool to rebuild and strengthen the Perot organization from 1992.

Clinton Declares Victory In War on Funk'

The Washington Post

President Clinton declared victory in his war on "funk" Monday without firing a shot.

Less than 72 hours after telling reporters aboard Air Force One that his new mission was to "get people out of their funk" about the dislocations and disturbances that are part of this period of rapid change, the president changed his mind.

"Funk," he said, "was a poor choice of words." If folks were ever out of sorts, it was a year ago - when they voted for all those Republicans - not now. Now the country is more upbeat than ever.

"I feel very optimistic about the country," Clinton said. "If you were betting on what country is likely to be in the strongest shape 20 or 30 years from now, you'd have to bet on the United States."

The fuss over "funk" began Friday when the president, in the course of a long conversation with reporters traveling with him from California, said that he found so many people confused and upset by the side-effects of the changing economy and culture that he realized he should work harder "to get people out of their funk."

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary gives two meanings for "funk:" "a state of paralyzing fear" or "a depressed state of mind."

When the news stories about the Clinton soliloquy appeared Sunday, White House message mavens realized they were treading dangerously close to the word "malaise," indelibly associated with President Jimmy Carter and the 1979 speech in which (without actually using the M-word) he blamed a sour public mood for the travails of his administration.

Gingrich's Plane Collides With Geese on Takeoff

The Washington Post

A jet carrying House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), his wife and two bodyguards collided with two geese on takeoff from a small Michigan airport Monday and the plane slid off the end of the runway after the pilot aborted the takeoff.

No one aboard was injured, but a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said one of the Cessna 550's engines was damaged.

She said the plane was taking off from the Mackinac Island airport at 4:50 p.m. when one goose was sucked into the right engine and another hit the left wing. The plane was below takeoff speed, but the pilot was unable to stop before running about 30 feet beyond the runway.

The plane is owned by Meijer Inc., a grocery chain based in Grand Rapids, Mich. The airport has no tower or other air traffic control facilities.

Operations Will Continue at Major Nuclear Weapons Labs

Los Angeles Times

President Clinton on Monday ordered the U.S. Energy Department to continue operations at all three of the nation's major nuclear weapons labs, rejecting recommendations to phase out nuclear bomb research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory near San Francisco.

The decision was an outgrowth of Clinton's announcement last month to support a comprehensive ban on all future nuclear testing, which prompted bomb experts to recommend against any major reduction in weapons research, Energy Department officials said.

The announcement will save more than 3,000 research jobs in the Bay Area community of Livermore, as well as appease senior Pentagon officials who have argued vehemently to preserve Livermore's role in nuclear weapons.

Clinton's decision was kept under close wraps until Monday, leaving even Livermore officials in the dark about what was coming. Livermore executive officer Ron Cochran said the lab had worked hard for 18 months to demonstrate that its expertise was still needed.

In the aftermath of the Cold War, the nation's nuclear laboratory complex was expected to be sharply curtailed. Clinton's decision means that the system put in place after World War II will be largely kept intact.

Clinton said preserving Livermore is essential to insuring the reliability and safety of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, the size of which is classified but widely estimated at roughly 6,000 bombs.