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News Briefs I

Israel Steps Up Security In Advance of Elections

Los Angeles times

Fearful that a terrorist attack inside Israel might hand upcoming elections to the opposition, the Labor- led government stepped up security measures Monday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel Television said that the intelligence services had reports of a plan by militants in Gaza to carry out a car bomb attack in central Israel, timed to coincide with the February 19 end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the end on Wednesday of 40 days of mourning for Yehyia Ayyash, the Islamic militant who was killed when a booby-trapped cellular phone exploded in his hands.

"We're investing a lot in order not to let the terrorists achieve their goals," said Interior Minister Chaim Ramon. "Their main goal is to kill people and to kill the peace process. They know the sensitivity of Israelis. They will double their efforts and we will triple our efforts not to let those terrible terrorists achieve their goals."

Prime Minister Shimon Peres announced Sunday that he is moving up elections from October to May. In this election, Israelis will, for the first time, elect their prime minister directly, and not merely as head of a party list.

Peres invoked Yitzhak Rabin's memory in his announcement Sunday, and Likud members accused him of trying to extend to himself the slain prime minister's reputation for toughness on security issues. Rabin was gunned down Nov. 4 by a right-wing Jewish law student who said he killed the prime minister to halt peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Seeking to booster his own credentials on security issues, Peres is putting enormous pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was sworn in Monday in Gaza as president of the Palestinian self-governing authority, to crackdown on the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.

Controversy Continues Regarding Forbes' Heavy Spending

The Washington Post

Malcolm S. "Steve" Forbes Jr.'s extravagant spending in his bid for the presidency has reawakened controversy over a Supreme Court decision 20 years ago that allows a candidate to use as much of his own money as he chooses on his own campaign.

While the court in 1976 upheld certain contribution limits and reporting requirements, it ruled that spending limits violate the first Amendment and struck down a provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 barring presidential candidates from using more than $50,000 of their own money on a campaign.

"The candidate, no less than any other person, has a First Amendment right to engage in the discussion of public issues and vigorously and tirelessly to advocate his own election," the court sid in a wide-ranging, unsigned opinion. "Indeed, it is of particular importance that candidates have the unfettered opportunity to make their views known so that the electorate may intelligently evaluate the candidates' personal qualities and their positions on vital public issues before choosing among them on election day."

But, the court said, limiting spending from personal fund does not discourage corruption: "Indeed, the use of personal funds reduces the candidate's dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risks of abuse."

Gore Says GOP May Cripple Science


Vice President Al Gore Monday complained that congressional Republicans were playing politics with the country's scientific future, arguing that the budget cuts they have proposed will leave necessary research crippled beyond repair.

"They are approaching science with the wisdom of a potted plant," Gore told about 1,000 attendees at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a gathering that opened with GOP Rep. Robert Walker's call for a 33 percent cut in research spending by the year 2002.

He said that under current budget proposals, spending could go from the 1990 high of $40 billion to $26.8 billion by 2002. At the same time, Department of Defense allocations for military science could rise from an estimated $40 billion to $60 billion.