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News Briefs I

Clinton Says Compassion Drove Aides to Help Hubbell

The Washington Post

Two senior White House aides were acting out compassion when they tried to line up lucrative employment for Webster L. Hubbell after his resignation from the Justice Department, President Clinton said Thursday.

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr is investigating whether money paid to Hubbell after he left Justice was intended to buy his silence in the Whitewater investigation.

The White House this week acknowledged that in 1994 two of Clinton's closest aides made calls to business contacts, encouraging them to hire Hubbell, who in March of that year announced his resignation as associate attorney general and nine months later pleaded guilty to bilking nearly $500,000 from his clients and former partners at Little Rock's Rose Law Firm.

The aides were Thomas F. McLarty and Erskine B. Bowles, now Clinton's chief of staff. Clinton said Thursday he saw nothing improper in what Bowles and McLarty did.

"They were people who were genuinely concerned that there was a man who was out of work, who had four children," Clinton said. "And as I understand it they were trying to help him for no other reason than just out of human compassion."

Repeating an assertion offered earlier this week by other White House officials, Clinton said Bowles and McLarty had no way of knowing how serious the allegations were against Hubbell, who later went to prison for 18 months.

Study Shows Day Care Not Harmful To Child Development

The Washington Post

As a group, children in day care learn to think and talk just as well as those cared for by their mothers, a long-term national study has found.

The study, being released Friday by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, did find, however, that the quality of care matters: Children whose caregivers respond and speak frequently to them perform better on thinking and language tests than those in settings where they have less verbal interaction.

The first phase of research, released a year ago, concluded that day care of itself did not harm children's emotional attachment to their mothers.

When it came to intellectual skills, it was clear that the number of hours in care did not have an effect, but quality of care did.

"One very important take-home message is that children in child care are not doing any worse than children not in child care" on cognitive and language skills, said Sarah Friedman, coordinator of the study.

Despite Authorization, DoD Fails To Pay Vietnamese Commandos

Los Angeles Times

The Pentagon has failed to pay restitution to a group of Vietnamese commandos who were left behind in prison camps at the end of the war, despite legislation authorizing it to do so.

Congress approved the legislation last year to compensate a group of about 280 former commandos who had taken part in U.S. spy missions during the Vietnam War.

The former commandos were captured in the 1960s and left behind at the war's end, when most other prisoners of war were freed.

Secret documents released last year at the request of the Los Angeles Times showed that the U.S. government had sometimes declared the men dead, even though government agencies had intelligence reports that they were alive and being held in North Vietnamese camps or prisons.

"This conduct is criminal," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

By a unanimous vote, the Senate authorized the Pentagon to pay the men $40,000 each for the time they spent in prison. But Pentagon spokesman Susan Hansen said the Defense Department believed it could not pay the men, because the language in the bill was unclear.

"We need to ask Congress to clarify the language," Hansen said. "We want to move forward."