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News Briefs I

RNC Search for Head Intensifies As Incumbent Barbour Retires

The Washington Post

With Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour heading back to private life, the debate over who should replace him has begun, with no clear front-runner among the field of contenders.

Worried about the party's big gender gap, some Republicans think it's time for a woman to take over the top job, with Michigan state Chairman Betsy DeVos, the wife of Amway head Rich DeVos, indicating interest. But DeVos faces potential competition inside her state from outspoken national committeeman Chuck Yob.

Retiring New Hampshire Gov. Steve Merrill, who served as general chairman of Bob Dole's campaign, has been urged to run for the job by a number of Republicans, including Dole's top fund-raiser John Moran.

Merrill supporters say he would make an effective national spokesman, but he could be hampered by the fact that President Clinton carried New Hampshire and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen won the gubernatorial race there last week.

Allies Pressure U.S. to Keep Troops In Bosnia Beyond Deadline

The Washington Post

The United States came under intense pressure Monday from its major allies and senior military commanders in Europe to approve a substantial peacekeeping force in Bosnia well into 1997, despite President Clinton's promise to bring the first American troops deployed to Bosnia home by the end of this year.

As ambassadors from NATO's 16 countries met in Brussels to review future military options in Bosnia, senior alliance officials said a strong consensus had emerged in favor of replacing the current 60,000-strong peacekeeping contingent, when its mandate expires next month, with another force about half its size that would include at least 5,000 Americans.

The two-hour meeting included a presentation by Gen. George A. Joulwan, NATO's chief military commander of U.S. and allied forces in Europe, who argued strongly that maintaining a large peacekeeping force on the ground in Bosnia is necessary until next summer to deter further warfare and bolster prospects for stable civilian government in the Balkans.

NASAScientists Propose Mission ToJupiter Moon to Search for Life

Los Angeles Times

Rocket scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., are proposing to send a hit-and-run mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa in hopes of finding signs of life: A small spacecraft would drop a 20-pound ball onto the moon's surface, sending up a plume of icy material that the mother ship would then pass through - soaking up samples like a flying sponge.

JPL researchers are scheduled to formally present their proposal Tuesday at a meeting in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., devoted to Europa. That moon is also the next major stop for the Galileo spacecraft, which is currently touring the Jovian system.

Researchers are scrambling to learn about Europa because its solid ice surface may well hide one of the solar system's most hospitable locations for life - a large underground ocean heated by volcanic vents.

As one of the largest and closest of Jupiter's 16 moons, Europa gets squashed and stretched by huge gravitational forces. A person standing on Europa, said planetary geoscientist Doug Nash, would feel the surface rise and fall as much as 10 yards. The heat generated by this motion "has to escape somehow," he said.

Most likely, it oozes out in underwater volcanoes. Similar deep sea vents on the ocean floor of Earth have proved fertile spawning grounds for strange and unexpected life forms, such as giant tube worms that feed on sulfur fumes.