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News Briefs I

United States Will Push New Sanctions Against Yugoslavia

The Washington Post

The Clinton administration will push next week for new sanctions against the Yugoslav government to protest mounting violence in the Republic of Kosovo, including a stiffer international ban on foreign investments and a freeze on Yugoslav assets held overseas, administration and diplomatic sources said Thursday.

U.S. officials said they expect these and other measures to be approved next Wednesday at a meeting in Rome of the "contact group" of senior officials from the leading Western powers-the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and Italy-involved in international policy toward the Balkans.

The new effort to punish Yugoslavia comes after a series of defiant statements and actions by its president, Slobodan Milosevic, and heightened clashes between ethnic Albanian extremists and units of Serb paramilitary and army troops.

The Contact Group persuaded the U.N. Security Council on March 31 to bar arms exports to Yugoslavia and threatened to impose the additional penalties if Milosevic refused to withdraw special police units from the republic and begin new negotiations with Albanian political leaders about Kosovo's future. Albanians comprise roughly 90 percent of the population of Kosovo, which is a province of Serbia, but they have long chafed under Serb political and military control.

Russia Tries Again to Elect a P.M.

Los Angeles Times

On the eve of a climactic vote, the Russian Communist Party - the largest bloc in the lower house of parliament - pledged to oppose President Boris Yeltsin's choice as prime minister. But there was a growing chorus that urged a vote for nominee Sergei Kiriyenko to avoid dissolution of the chamber.

Yeltsin can disband the State Duma, as the lower house is known, call new parliamentary elections and name his prime minister if the parliament rejects Kiriyenko on Friday, the third such ballot. Such a dissolution would also mean that Russia would be without a parliament for several months, and Yeltsin could rule by decree.

Kiriyenko was rejected twice before, and lawmakers said the upcoming ballot would be close. Kiriyenko needs 226 votes from the 450-member chamber to be confirmed. He got 143 votes for his candidacy on April 10, and 115 votes on April 17.

Still unresolved Thursday was a key procedural issue that will be settled only on Friday morning - whether the vote will be open or secret. An open, recorded vote pressures the members to abide by party discipline, and if the vote is open, Kiriyenko almost certainly would be rejected, lawmakers said.

"If the country works, and lives, without a branch of power, this will throw us back 20 years," said former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Red Cross Set to Deploy New Blood-Scrubbing Technology

The Washington Post

The American Red Cross is getting ready to deploy new blood-scrubbing technology that it hopes will eliminate the already-small risk of catching viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who receive transfusions of blood plasma every year.

The technology, developed by the nation's budding biotechnology industry, is part of a larger program aimed at cleaning blood in Red Cross and other banks of all viruses - known ones and others that scientists haven't yet discovered.

"We feel it's our moral responsibility to make the blood supply as safe as we can possibly make it," said Elizabeth Dole, president of the American Red Cross, in a recent interview. "Lives depend on it."

The new plasma-treatment method awaits approval from the Food and Drug Administration. An FDA advisory committee has voted 13 to 0 in favor of it. Red Cross leaders said they hope to receive final approval this summer. If that happens, the specially treated plasma will be made available to hospitals and blood banks across the nation.