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News Briefs II

South African Muslims Suspect Local Radicals in Bombing

The Baltimore Sun
Cape Town

For two years, the Muslim community here has been shaken by a small violent Islamic faction, which uses the pipe bomb as its weapon of choice in a vigilante crusade against crime and its critics.

When a bomb exploded recently at the Planet Hollywood restaurant, the finger of suspicion almost inevitably and immediately pointed to the radicals.

Unusually, much of the finger pointing came from the Muslims themselves, although there is no evidence to prove their suspicions.

"One can't say it's them," said Imam Rashid Omar, head of one of the oldest of this province's 400 mosques. "But it's not far-fetched. The situation on the ground lends itself to that interpretation."

For three centuries Muslims have been part of local society, first arriving as slaves to the original Dutch settlers, then forming their own community, which now numbers an estimated 400,000 in the Western Cape.

"The Muslim community is really an integral part of Cape Town and its history," said Peter Gastrow, of the South African Institute for Strategic Studies. "They have been here so long they represent a cross section in terms of class, occupation, profession."

Weakened Clinton May Embolden GOP in Congress

The Washington Post

President Clinton's summer of scandal has shaken the ground under the 105th Congress as it prepares to return for its final month, emboldening Republicans and giving them a new edge over a weakened president and his dispirited Democratic allies.

But there are huge risks as well as high political stakes for both parties, creating an anxious, uncertain and volatile atmosphere, according to lawmakers interviewed last week about the likely legislative fallout from Clinton's affair with Monica S. Lewinsky and his belated acknowledgment of it.

To at least some extent, the new dynamic is likely to affect nearly everything on the agenda for Congress' finale: from spending and tax legislation to funding for foreign policy, social programs and a raft of other issues ranging from abortion to campaign finance reform.

Key lawmakers of both parties say it is also likely to reduce further the already low expectations for major legislative accomplishments in the period between Congress' return - the Senate will be back Monday, the House on Sept. 9 - and the planned adjournment in early October.

"We're sailing in waters for which there are no maps," said Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., assistant Senate Democratic floor leader. "None of us have been here before, Republicans or Democrats. We don't know what to expect."

House Republican Conference Chairman John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed. "Certainly, there's been a big change in the political landscape, but, until we get back, we can't possibly know the impact," he said.

Clinton's Ireland Visit Aims To Bolster Pact

The Washington Post

Besides Russia, President Clinton also will visit Ireland and Northern Ireland during the six-day overseas trip that begins Monday and he faces serious challenges in trying to help cement the peace agreement he helped broker to end three decades of sectarian strife in Northern Ireland.

Although initially viewed as a victory lap, Clinton's trip to the island where he traces his family roots has evolved into a more significant visit following recent violence and a political impasse, leaving the president the task of pushing all sides to ignore the obstacles and translate the Good Friday peace pact into reality.

Clinton arrives in Belfast on Thursday and will meet with representatives elected to the newly created Northern Ireland Assembly as well as other leaders. He will go to Omagh to express sorrow and outrage at the recent car-bomb attack that killed 28 people.

That night he will travel south, where over the following two days he will meet with leaders in Dublin, tour a computer plant and play at famed Ballybunion Golf Club in western Ireland before returning home.

Accompanying Clinton on the trip will be 17 members of Congress, but not his newly chosen ambassador to Ireland. Friday, Clinton announced he will nominate former Wyoming governor Mike Sullivan, a strong political ally, to succeed Jean Kennedy Smith.

The new assembly in Belfast is scheduled to convene Sept. 14, but might be thwarted by a political standoff over power-sharing in the new Cabinet and demands that Sinn Fein - the legal, political wing of the Irish Republican Army - declare a permanent end to war and agree to a timetable for decommissioning of weapons. Emotions already roiled by the bombing could be inflamed by the scheduled release of the first IRA prisoners, possibly just as Clinton is arriving.

New Network to Debut Monday

The Washington Post

A new network dedicated to the kind of shows God would tune in to makes its debut this week.

Entrepreneur Lowell "Bud" Paxson says his new network, PAX TV, will not rely on televangelists.

Instead, the new network, which signs on at noon Monday, will offer a mixture of reruns, upbeat original shows and infomercials.

It's billed as a haven from the sex, language and violence that have become the staple of the other broadcast and cable networks.

Paxson, the home-shopping tycoon and born-again Christian, is convinced God helped make the network possible.

"There's no question I have seen the hand of my Lord in my business dealings," Paxson says.