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News Briefs I

FAA Orders Controllers Retrained

The Washington Post

Federal regulators have ordered the retraining of 10,000 air traffic controllers nationwide after two passenger jets came as close as 20 feet from hitting each other over New York's La Guardia Airport.

The previously unreported April 3 incident, coupled with an increase in controller errors nationwide, prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to order mandatory proficiency training for controllers working in airport towers handling takeoffs and landings, said Ronald E. Morgan, the FAA's acting associate administrator for air traffic services.

Investigators said their probe has convinced them that it was nearly a miracle that the two jets did not collide. An Air Canada Airbus A320 jet, taking off from La Guardia, flashed directly over a US Airways DC-9 jet as it broke off a landing attempt.

Federal officials for weeks were unaware of the seriousness of the near-collision because La Guardia tower personnel failed to report it and a complaint by a pilot in one of the jets was lost in a bureaucratic mix-up at a regional FAA office. Details of the incident emerged internally over several weeks only after passengers on the planes complained, the FAA said.

A tower supervisor was removed from duty but has since been reinstated after training.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation of the incident.

Clinton, Congress Show Unity in Fight to Save Social Security

Los Angeles Times
Washington, D.C.

President Clinton and Republican congressional leaders joined in a rare show of amity Thursday to proclaim their determination to preserve Social Security for the Baby Boom generation and to scold Americans for not saving more for their own retirement.

Their willingness to cooperate, combined with the robust economy and the growing federal budget surplus, suggests a real possibility that political leaders will act in the next year or two to head off the financial crisis that faces Social Security when all the Baby Boomers have reached retirement age in about 30 years.

But Social Security alone, Clinton told a forum mandated by Congress to address Americans' retirement prospects, is not enough to protect elderly Americans from the ravages of poverty. "Very few people are doing any savings above Social Security and whatever pension they have or don't have for their own retirement," he said.

Emboldened by today's prosperity, Americans have a unique opportunity to assure their future, the president said. "People have the emotional space to think about the long term," he said.

By contrast, he warned, failure to fix Social Security and increase private savings "will undermine the self-confidence we're now enjoying, and it will make some people very short-sighted again."

Serbs Reportedly Intensify Ferocity of Kosovo Operation

Los Angeles Times
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia

The guerrilla war racking Serbia's Kosovo province has exploded into a new phase after a fierce government offensive that killed or wounded dozens of ethnic Albanian separatists sent thousands of refugees over international borders and confounded an alarmed West.

Though portrayed by Serbian officials as a final push to crush the guerrillas, the offensive is the latest military operation in a devastating campaign that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic appears determined to sustain for a long time, military experts and diplomats said.

Fighting that continued Thursday is part of the Belgrade government's largely successful attempt to carve out a "security zone" along Yugoslavia's border with Albania, ridding it of those who want independence for Kosovo and severing rebel supply lines.

Serbian government security forces armed with artillery and flamethrowers were reported moving "bunker by bunker" toward guerrilla strongholds. Albanian sources, who say entire villages have been razed, claimed Serbian shelling on Thursday also targeted fleeing columns of refugees.

Because Serbian forces have sealed off the area in conflict, none of the reports could be independently verified.

"The conflict has reached the stage of free-fire zones, scorched-earth policies and search-and-destroy," Serbian military affairs specialist Milos Vasic said in an interview. "There is no political solution in sight."