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News Briefs 1

Scientist Says He's Confirmed Genetic Link to Homosexuality


A landmark 1993 finding that mothers can pass along a gene that influences the sexual behavior of their sons has been confirmed by further study, according to a scientist who did the initial research.

A study of 32 additional gay brothers from unrelated families "firms up the connection between genes and their association with gay men," said Dean Hamer, chief of gene structure and regulation in the laboratory of biochemistry at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.

"We are excited to see where this leads," he added. Hamer, along with scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., are to report on his latest research Tuesday in the journal Nature Genetics.

Hamer and his colleagues first identified a genetic link on the X chromosome back in 1993, a finding that some activists feared would lead to further stigmatization and the possibility that people would begin aborting fetuses who carry such a gene. Others, however, were heartened to learn that there may be a deeper, more immutable reason that they were gay.

Administration Offers Congress Larger Say on U.N. in Exchange

The Washington Post

Stung by charges that the United States is the biggest deadbeat at the United Nations, the Clinton administration is offering Congress a larger role in approving U.S. participation in peacekeeping operations if Congress will put up the money to pay off overdue U.S. debts to the world body.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher and other senior officials met last week with key Republicans to begin discussion of a three-part plan to pay off the approximately $1 billion in unpaid dues and other U.S. arrears in exchange for guarantees of U.N. reforms and a greater congressional voice in peacekeeping.

The discussions represent a bipartisan effort to settle an issue that the White House, State Department and Congress all agree needs resolving: as the United Nations' biggest debtor, the United States is losing influence with other members. Even close allies such as Britain used the occasion of the U.N. 50th anniversary ceremonies this month to flog Washington for having what the British called "representation without taxation" in the world body.

Under the proposal, Congress would not have a veto over U.S. participation in U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Ames Spy Case Assessment Said To Be Disastrous for CIA

Los Angeles Times

The Central Intelligence Agency has determined that its espionage operations inside Russia in the 1980s and early 1990s were horribly riddled with double agents who fed streams of disinformation back to the United States, going undetected for years until after Soviet mole Aldrich H. Ames was arrested.

What's more, some CIA officials may have realized that their operations had been compromised by the Soviets - and failed to inform the White House or senior U.S. policy makers of just how badly U.S. spy operations had been penetrated.

Sources say those are some of the explosive findings of the CIA's long-awaited internal "damage assessment" of the Ames spy case, to be formally presented to Congress Tuesday.

Sources who have seen the damage assessment said that it represents a devastating blow to the CIA, and could have far-reaching consequences on Capitol Hill. The report also proves that the Ames case was more harmful to the CIA's clandestine operations than has ever been publicly reported in the media.