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News Briefs I

Courthouse Bomber Surrenders In California, Faces Life in Prison

The Washington Post

A felon suspected of engineering a series of bombings at a Northern California courthouse and bank in order to derail a drug trial that could imprison him for life surrendered Monday.

Kevin Lee Robinson, 29, allegedly hired several men to carry out the bombings so he could disrupt his cocaine trial at the Solano County Courthouse in Vallejo, a city north of San Francisco.

Robinson, previously convicted of drug and weapons charges, was facing "a third strike" trial that under California law exposes him to a prison sentence of 25 years to life. Robinson, described as the mastermind behind the bombings, was arrested Monday afternoon. His trial was scheduled to begin Monday.

"We believe it was an attempt to stop pending hearings," Vallejo Police Chief Robert Nichelini told reporters at a news conference today. "What they thought that would accomplish, I'm not sure."

Vallejo police said authorities received a call early Monday morning from someone who reportedly was in contact with Robinson and encouraged him to surrender.

Police arranged to meet Robinson on the street, then brought him in for questioning and placed him under arrest.

Governors Fear States Will Bear Burden of Federal Budget

The Washington Post

President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., provided pledges of cooperation to the nation's governors Monday, but provided few assurances to relieve governors' fears that the impact of balancing the federal budget could fall heavily on the states.

Clinton, who met privately with the governors at the White House, won no fans in the East Room with his plan to impose a cap on Medicaid spending as part of his new budget, a move many governors said would strain their own budgets.

Clinton, who asked the governors for their indulgence until they see his full budget later in the week, tried to lessen the sting by promising again to provide governors with greater flexibility in managing the costly health insurance program for the poor and disabled, including an end to the need to seek waivers to move Medicaid recipients into managed care programs.

"He (Clinton) said he was open to discussion and there will be discussion because depending on how it's written, it could create some some real hardship," said Republican Gov. Pete Wilson of California.

Talk of Troop Reductions in Asia Raise Concerns Among U. S. Allies

Los Angeles Times

In a disclosure that could raise concern among Pacific allies, a top defense official said Monday that the Pentagon is considering scaling back the 100,000-troop deployment in Asia that has been a symbol of American commitment to the region.

Adm. Joseph A. Prueher, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, said Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has made it clear that the size of the deployment is "on the table" in the wholesale review of American military forces now underway.

Prueher reported that Cohen made his views known in a meeting with Pentagon officials last week.

American allies in the region have watched with concern in recent years as U.S. forces have retrenched around the world while Chinese assertiveness and military strength have grown.

To calm allies in nations such as Japan, South Korea, Australia and Taiwan, U.S. officials have cited the continued troop strength as a proof of American commitment.

Only last December, Clinton mentioned it in a speech to the Australian parliament in Canberra, when he declared: "We will maintain about 100,000 troops across the Pacific, just as we maintain about 100,000 troops in Europe. We share the view of almost every nation in Asia that a strong American security presence is a bedrock for regional stability."