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News Briefs

State Welfare Administrators Criticize GOP Welfare Plan

Los Angeles Times

Issuing a harsh critique of the Republican welfare initiative, state welfare administrators Monday denounced provisions that would limit benefits to unmarried teen-age mothers, legal immigrants and long-term recipients of public assistance.

The resolutions unanimously adopted by directors of state welfare systems during their annual meeting here shows that most states have major reservations about the Republican blueprint for welfare reform.

The administrators were in a hurry to advance their position because the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday launches its debate on the primary elements of the welfare reform proposal.

"We're the people who have to run these programs," said Gerald Miller, director of Michigan's welfare department and president of the American Public Welfare Association, which was holding the meeting. "We wanted to be a major player" in the overhaul of the welfare system for poor families.

The GOP measure, which was passed by a subcommittee earlier this month with virtually no changes, would forge the most dramatic changes to the safety net for poor families in 50 years.

A spokesman for the House committee drafting welfare reform said the GOP proposal represents a revolutionary transfer of power to the states and the administrators' complaints echo the governors' unrealistic demands for federal dollars with no strings attached.

Iraq Covered Up Major Biological Weapons Program, U.N. Says

Los Angeles Times

Four years after the Persian Gulf war's end, U.N. officials disclosed Monday that Iraq covered up evidence behind a biological weapons program to develop cholera, tuberculosis and the plague that was much larger than previously suspected.

In the 1980s, the Iraqi government imported enough material to cultivate up to 3.3 tons of bacteria, far more than it could have needed for peaceful medical purposes, U.N. Commissioner Rolf Ekeus revealed at a closed-door session.

When confronted with intelligence data in talks last week, Iraq claimed the material was long ago distributed throughout the country for medical use. But when U.N. inspectors asked for either the growth media or documentation about it, Iraq claimed both were destroyed during 1991 uprisings immediately after Operation Desert Storm.

The excuses were "lame" and "a joke," U.N. officials said. "Their stories were the most fanciful so far," said one leading official.

The revelation is particularly alarming because, unlike Iraq's other weapons of mass destruction, biological weapons are most effective against civilian targets. And in the past, Iraq has shown no compunction about using equally controversial chemical weapons against civilian targets, notably during its eight-year war with Iran.

Gov. Weld Won't Run For President in 1996

Los Angeles Times

Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld, the Massachusetts Republican who is a potential rival of California Gov. Pete Wilson for the favor of GOP moderates, said Monday that he has decided not to seek the presidency.

Weld, who ran poorly in a recent survey of Republican voters in neighboring New Hampshire, cited family reasons for removing himself from the field.

"I suppose it is possible to be a presidential candidate, governor and father of five teen-agers all at the same time," Weld said at a news conference. "But I think at least one of those roles would have suffered. Probably, all three would have suffered."

Weld, who won a landslide re-election last November, joined a substantial list of Republican notables who have decided not to enter the race, also citing either family or fund-raising pressure. So far, only Texas Sen. Phil Gramm has formally joined the race. Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander plans to announce his candidacy Tuesday and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas has slated his declaration for April 10.