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News Briefs II

Administration Scrambles for New Census Plan

Los Angeles Times

As the question of how to count the United States' population heads to the Supreme Court for a likely fall hearing, the Clinton administration is scrambling for a last-minute plan to improve the 2000 census without using its preferred method, statistical sampling.

Legal scholars say the conservative high court is likely to uphold Monday's ruling by a three-judge panel that blocked sampling, a decision that found that such extrapolation violates federal law governing the census.

While the Census Bureau and independent demographers agree that sampling is not only the most cost-effective but perhaps the only way to get an accurate picture of the population, these experts say there are a few expensive, narrowly focused programs that could slightly improve the data in hard-to-count places.

"It's going to cost a tremendous amount of money to do any alternative to sampling, and you're not going to be as accurate as sampling is," said Tony Coehlo, a former California congressman who now represents Democrats as co-chairman of the Census Monitoring Board, which Congress set up to oversee the upcoming tally. "But if sampling is rejected by the court, are Republicans prepared to put the money where their mouths are? Are they really sincere about counting the undercounted?"

Allies of Kabila Help Push Back Rebels

The Washington Post

With Angolan and Zimbabwean troops and warplanes providing the muscle, forces loyal to Congolese President Laurent Kabila have dealt heavy blows to Rwandan-backed rebels, staving off the seemingly imminent fall of this capital city and altering the course of Congo's three-week-old conflict.

Kinshasa residents turned out to welcome Kabila back to the capital Tuesday after a week-long absence, lining his motorcade route to applaud the way the president - who sported a black cowboy hat on his return - has handled the war.

The government has claimed over the past three days that its forces had recaptured the towns of Kitona, Moanda and Banana, near the mouth of the Congo River, as well as the city of Boma farther inland.

Since taking up arms in eastern Congo on Aug. 2 and ferrying their forces quickly across Africa's third-largest country in commandeered jets, the rebels had quickly captured those coastal towns and began a seemingly inevitable march on this capital city. Along the way, they took the Congo River port of Matadi, through which the country's food and oil supplies are imported.

But Kabila rallied several other African nations to his side last week. Now, with Angolan ground forces and tanks hammering them from the Atlantic coastal regions, government and Zimbabwean troops pressing them near Kinshasa and MiG fighters of unspecified nationality hitting them by air, the rebel forces are increasingly hemmed in. The fighting reportedly reached within 30 miles of the capital.