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News Briefs I

Hillary Clinton Goes Solo In Northern Ireland

The Washington Post
BELFAST, Northern Ireland

A cool and polished Hillary Rodham Clinton barnstormed through two European cities Wednesday, meeting cheering crowds that hailed her as a role model for the women of the world.

If the first lady was bothered by the fact that her husband's infidelity has been reported, and ridiculed, around the planet, there was nary a sign of it as she answered questions jointly with Naina Yeltsin, wife of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in Moscow and received boisterous support at two speeches here in Northern Ireland.

In both locales she talked easily about working and traveling with the man she called "my husband."

In her first solo appearance since the president admitted to an improper relationship with a White House intern, Hillary Clinton left Moscow a day ahead of her husband to take part in a conference she initiated here, "Vital Voices - Women in Democracy." She was introduced by Fiona Hughes, a high school junior, who called her "a role model to me and to young women around the world."

The president is to join his wife in Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Among the 300 women from Northern Ireland participating in the three-day event, there seemed to be almost universal admiration for Mrs. Clinton, and a willingness to ignore her domestic problems.

"It's sad that Americans are so focused on my namesake, the younger Monica," said Monica McWilliams, a key female political leader here and one of 14 women elected in June to Northern Ireland's new assembly. "If that were the only problem our media had to report on, we'd consider ourselves lucky."

"I'm not surprised at all that Hillary has decided to stand by her husband," McWilliams said. "Just because he has a past doesn't mean he has no future. My God, people in Northern Ireland understand that well enough."

"When my ex-husband cheated on me," said Francis McDonaghy, a nursing instructor, "I said that a woman would have to be bloody mad to stay with a man like that. But she's in different circumstances than most women. If she can work things out with him, it's her business and nobody else's."

Dry Spell Takes Heavy Toll On Ranchers in Texas

The Baltimore Sun

The plight of the cattle ranchers is no better than the farmers'. Recent rains across parts of central Texas encouraged some grass to grow, giving ranchers a breather. But in the brush country in the northern Rio Grande valley, the dry weather is pushing ranchers out of business. Unlike farmers, no federal assistance is available to them.

With no grass to feed his cattle, Daniel Yturria Butler has been forced to sell off his herd of 2,500. He is down to 700, with plans to sell off all but 50 to 100 head of cattle. Those he'll keep. "For nostalgia," he says.

Butler apologizes for the condition of his herd. Cattle that once grazed in knee-deep pastures now fight over bales of hay - the only food available to them. The weakest cattle wander aimlessly in the dusty soil, their hides scarred and bloody from lost scuffles for hay.

"It's survival of the fittest," Butler says.

The same law holds true for ranchers: Only the most diverse outfits survive droughts. While his profits disappear in the cattle business, Butler is raising javelina, deer, quail, wild turkey, nilgai and other exotic animals for hunting. He also plans to open up his ranch to tourists, who want to experience cowboy life, or at least what remains of it.

These options trouble him. The ranch has been in his family since 1858, when his great-great-grandfather, a banker, bought land north of Brownsville and dreamed of raising large herds of cattle. It's a dream fading quickly. Butler fears his 25-year-old niece will not be able to continue it.

"She has a lot of people watching her from the grave," he says. "We don't want to be the ones who lose this."