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News Briefs I

United Nations Begins Review Of Security Operations

Los Angeles Times

After the discovery of four letter bombs hidden in mail here, U.N. officials launched a full review Tuesday of security operations.

Although the world body was not the specific target of the bombs - addressed to the U.N. bureau of the Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat - the Monday incident exposed gaps in security here.

The first of the explosive letters to be discovered had passed undetected through initial screening, including an X-ray; the device was within 20 minutes of delivery to its intended victim before it was intercepted.

Once the first bomb was spotted by a security guard, U.N. officials decided to re-examine every piece of undelivered mail in the building - 80,000 pieces - and found three other letter bombs.

The mail search continued Tuesday, but no more bombs were reported, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said, adding that U.N. Security Chief Michael McCann had begun an internal review.

The U.N. attack was the latest in a mysterious series of letter bombs directed against Al Hayat, a newspaper headquartered and edited in London and circulated around the world. The first bombs arrived at the paper's Washington bureau on Jan. 2, the same day two similar explosives arrived at the parole office at the federal prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Medicaid Cap to be Proposed

Los Angeles Times

President Clinton's budget will propose a spending cap for the first time for Medicaid, the massive federal-state program that helps pay medical bills for 38 million poor Americans, officials said Monday.

The president's proposal would limit the growth in spending for Medicaid to the growth rate of the gross domestic product, the nation's total output of goods and services.

The Medicaid spending restrictions, to be part of the overall budget for fiscal 1998 that Clinton unveils in early February, can be expected to draw criticism from many members of the Democratic Party in Congress who are strong supporters of this key entitlement program for the poor.

Other likely critics include state governors worried about the prospect of a decreasing contribution from the federal government to the costly program. The federal government pays from 50 percent to 70 percent of Medicaid costs, depending on the state.

Rivals Call for Yeltsin's Resignation

The Washington Post

A Communist member of Russia's lower house of parliament set off a stir Tuesday by proposing that the hospitalized President Boris Yeltsin be relieved of his duties because of poor health.

While the suggestion from lawmaker Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the lower house's standing committee on security, has virtually no chance of approval anytime soon, it was the latest sign of political restlessness among Yeltsin's rivals, who have been especially outspoken since he fell ill with pneumonia last week.

After initially saying last week that Yeltsin had the flu, his doctors acknowledged he had "moderately grave" pneumonia in both lungs.

Yeltsin's latest ailment has uncorked the sniping and jockeying from his critics that was so common before his quintuple coronary bypass surgery Nov. 5. Yeltsin has spent little more than two weeks working in the Kremlin since July.

Ilyukhin circulated a draft resolution calling on legislators "to regard the powers of the president as prematurely terminated due to his consistent inability to perform his duties for health reasons," the Interfax new agency reported.