News Briefs I
Preval Sworn in as Haiti's PresidentThe Washington Post
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Rene Preval was sworn in as Haiti's new president Wednesday, replacing Jean-Bertrand Aristide in the first democratic presidential succession in Haiti's turbulent history.
The peaceful transition culminated a process set in motion when President Clinton sent 20,000 U.S. troops to Haiti in September 1994 to push aside a stubborn military dictatorship and restore the deposed Aristide to power.
The formal turnover took place in the parliament building when Aristide placed the presidential sash across Preval's chest, then embraced him warmly. The ceremony occurred 10 years to the day after Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, president for life, fled in a U.S. C-141 military cargo plane on the way to exile on the French Riviera.
Helping emphasize what many here consider Aristide's greatest achievement since returning to office - abolishing the repressive army - 21 white doves were released at the Presidential Palace instead of the traditional 21-gun salute.
Atlantic and Nynex May MergeThe Washington Post
Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. are in serious discussions about merging most, and perhaps all, of their operations, according to sources familiar with the talks.
With an alliance, the two huge regional Bell telephone companies would hope to become a formidable global competitor and jointly offer long-distance service. President Clinton is scheduled to sign legislation Thursday that would gradually allow the Bells to compete in that $70 billion-a-year market for the first time.
"We're not confirming or denying reports of talks between Bell Atlantic and Nynex, or of a merger, joint partnership or any other machination," said Bell Atlantic spokesman Eric Rabe. But sources familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that discussions are continuing and may come to a close as early as next week.
"There have been no conclusions to any discussions under way," said a source knowledgeable about the talks. But he said the companies appeared to be most closely considering an option of creating a new "holding company" into which Bell Atlantic and Nynex would contribute shares of stock.
Gramm Tries to Court Iow CaucusThe Washington Post
This was the day Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex., was supposed to make a triumphant return to Iowa after an easy victory in Tuesday's Louisiana caucuses. But like so much in presidential politics, it didn't quite turn out that way.
Instead, Gramm, stung by his surprise loss to commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, arrived here facing the grim tasks of rallying his shocked supporters and explaining to Iowa voters why his campaign schedule took precedence over a key Senate vote Tuesday on farm legislation vital to this state's economy.
With his wife, Wendy, at his side, Gramm told a small but noisy group of supporters in the ornate rotunda of the state Capitol here that he was the only Republican who could unite social and economic conservatives to defeat President Clinton. But with Buchanan now posing a clear threat to him, Gramm dropped much of his familiar economic message to concentrate on the social issues that played a major role in the Louisiana outcome.
Gramm also has set a high standard for himself in Iowa, all but pledging to withdraw from the presidential race if he does not finish at least third here. "I think it is clear that if I don't get first, second or third, that is going to knock me out of the race," he said Wednesday.