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News Briefs II

Army Officers Charged with Rape, Harassment of Recruits

Los Angeles Times

The military was hit by another major sexual harassment scandal Thursday as the Army disclosed it has charged a captain and two sergeants in connection with the rape or harassment of more than a dozen female recruits at a training base in Maryland.

The incidents allegedly occurred at the Army Ordnance Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., which provides 16 weeks of basic training for some 3,500 newly enlisted soldiers at a time.

Those charged include:

-Capt. Derrick Robertson, a company commander at the school, who is accused of rape, adultery, conduct unbecoming an officer and improper fraternization with subordinates.

-Sgt. Delmar Simpson, a drill instructor, who is charged with rape, sodomy, adultery, obstruction of justice and improper fraternization with subordinates.

-Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Beech, also a drill instructor, who is charged with disobeying an order, obstruction of justice and improper fraternization with subordinates.

Army officials said Simpson has been jailed, while Robertson and Beech have been relieved of their duties pending disposition of their cases. All three are said to be facing almost certain courts-martial.

Under military law, a conviction on a charge of rape carries the possibility of a life term. Until a few years ago, the maximum penalty was death, but the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that changed.

Kemp's Future Political Plans Seem Uncertain Right Now

Los Angeles Times

Apparently, Jack Kemp still has a lot to say.

He was back at the podium last night, talking the same talk, almost oblivious to the fact that the election had ended and the Republican ticket on which he was running for vice president had already lost.

In his concession speech Tuesday night, Kemp vowed to remain active in pushing the issues he cares about. Whether he might pursue the White House himself four years from now is anybody's guess.

Many GOP leaders believe Kemp did not hold his own in his nationally televised debate last month with Vice President Al Gore. Not only did Kemp strike some as unprepared, but he was criticized by fellow Republicans for holding his punches in addressing questions about President Clinton's character.

Wayne Berman, Kemp's campaign manager, said he does not think Kemp himself knows exactly what lies ahead of him. "He's going to keep pushing the Republican Party toward the party of Lincoln and away from the kind of exclusionist extremism that it sometimes falls into," Berman said. "He has to decide whether he wants to to do it in the inside or from the outside."

AOL Posts Losses of $354 Million

The Washington Post

America Online Inc. Thursday reported a loss of $353.7 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30 as it implemented a new accounting method. The loss, caused largely by a one-time charge for past expenses, exceeded all the profits the company had ever reported.

AOL reported a quarterly loss of $10.3 million a year ago.

In revenue, the company continued to grow, but its recent explosive expansion appeared to be slowing. Revenue rose to $350 million in the latest quarter from $198 million during the same period a year earlier, an increase of 76.8 percent. During the quarter that ended June 30, the company's revenue was up 120.2 percent compared with the quarter a year earlier.

The company said it experienced a surge in subscribership in October, after the quarter ended, adding 250,000 people in the United States. Worldwide, AOL now claims about 6.9 million members.

For the quarter, however, the company's subscriber rolls appeared to grow at a slower rate on an annual basis. The company said it added 365,000 U.S. subscribers during July, August and September, compared with 710,000 during the same period a year earlier. The July-September quarter was an improvement over the April-June one, when the service added only 312,000 U.S. subscribers.

Honda Plans to Sell Low-Pollution Car That Runs on Natural Gas

Los Angeles Times

Honda Motor Co. said Thursday it will begin selling a natural-gas-powered small car next fall that emits the lowest level of pollutants of any vehicle equipped with an internal combustion engine.

The company, which has made a name for itself in producing low-pollution engines, said it would begin producing the Civic GX in the 1998 model year that begins next September.

The vehicle, which has a 1.6-liter engine, will be built in East Liberty, Ohio, on the same line used to make conventional Civics. It will cost about $19,500, or about $4,500 more than a comparably equipped Civic LX.

Honda's entry into the natural-gas market in 1997 comes as the federal Energy Policy Act takes effect. The statute requires state governments and gas utilities to buy natural-gas vehicles for their fleets.

The company said that the natural-gas vehicle, which has a range of about 260 miles before refueling, will only be sold to commercial users. Officials said the lack of adequate refueling stations makes retail sales difficult at this point.

Natural gas is seen as a good alternative to gasoline because it is cheaper and plentiful in North America. Also because it can be used in today's internal combustion engines with only a few modifications, natural gas is seen as more practical than battery-power cars.