News Briefs I
North Korea Suffering Massive Food Shortages, Deutch SaysLos Angeles Times
In one of the Clinton administration's harshest public assessments of the worsening economic conditions in North Korea, CIA Director John Deutch warned Congress that the isolated Communist regime is suffering massive food shortages that threaten the dictatorship's stability.
Previously, administration officials have privately discussed what they see as the growing possibility that North Korea is in the initial stages of collapse. Deutch's statements put the U.S. intelligence community clearly on the record as warning that a "downward spiral" inside North Korea threatens the stability and survival of the regime of Kim Chong-il.
In the CIA's annual survey of global security threats, Deutch said North Korea still refuses to take steps toward economic reform that might reverse its rapid slide. Although the regime still devotes 25 percent of its economy to maintaining a massive military capable of invading South Korea, Deutch predicted that North Korea will find it increasingly difficult to "insulate the armed forces from worsening economic problems."
He added that social and political instability could bring down the regime quickly if the nation's food shortages spread to front-line Army units.
More Charged in Indian ScandalThe Washington Post
NEW DELHI, India
Government investigators filed corruption charges against 14 politicians Thursday and disclosed plans to prosecute another, an opposition leader who promptly resigned as head of a state government.
The new round of charges increased to two dozen the number of political figures formally accused of accepting illegal payments from a foreign-exchange dealer. The investigation is based on diary entries of accused money launderer S.K. Jain, whose notations indicate a total of $18 million in payments made to 114 persons beginning in 1988.
Of the recipients, prosecutors say 62 were politicians. The most prominent of those named Thursday was Madan Lal Khurana, chief minister of the state encompassing New Delhi, the national capital, and a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In a brief letter resigning the state leadership, Khurana denounced the charges as unfounded and politically motivated.
The 14 others include four cabinet members who resigned earlier this week in anticipation of being charged Thursday at a Supreme Court hearing. Nine of the 14 are members of the ruling Congress Party, three belong to the left-leaning Janata Dal party, one to the Hindu nationalist BJP and one to a smaller opposition party.
Justice, State Department Officials Investigate FarrakhanNewsday
Justice and State Department officials said Wednesday they are awaiting the return of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to determine whether he violated U.S. law while visiting Iraq and Libya to deliver fiery denunciations of U.S. policy.
State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said U.S. passport holders are required to obtain a special passport validation to travel to Iraq or Libya, and there was no indication that Farrakhan or his party of more than 30 had requested such validations.
But Carl Stern, the Justice Department spokesman, said Farrakhan may escape prosecution by not having had his passport stamped. The Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. citizens cannot be barred from traveling to any country but they can be barred from using a U.S. passport on such trips. If Farrakhan did not use his passport or was not asked for it, there would be no basis for prosecution, he said. "But if you have a Libya stamp, then you're in big trouble."
The question can only be determined when Farrakhan returns, expectedly later this week, he said. Burns said there is no restriction on using the U.S. passport to enter Iran, where Farrakhan delivered another anti-U.S. speech.