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World Briefs I

IMF Effort Not Working, Suharto Tells Clinton

The Washington Post

In an ominous sign for the international rescue of Asia's ailinge conomies, Indonesia's President Suharto told President Clinton in a weekend phone call that the International Monetary Fund is failing to stem his country's financial crisis - and that the rescue's failure explains why he is planning a drastic change in Indonesia's monetary system.

The account of the phone conversation, which took place Friday night Washington time, was provided by Steve H. Hanke, a Johns Hopkins University economist who is in Jakarta advising Suharto, and confirmed by a senior administration official.

After Clinton reiterated objections that had been raised by the IMF to Suharto's plans for a new monetary regime, Suharto retorted that "the current IMF program hasn't been a roaring success," according to Hanke. He said Suharto demanded that Washington propose an alternative, "because what you've got here now isn't working."

Suharto's statements to Clinton underscore the desperation of the situation in Indonesia, which looms as a potential disaster for the IMF-led effort to stabilize the Asian economies. Despite a $43 billion international bailout, Indonesia's crisis has failed to abate and the nation's currency, the rupiah, has remained severely depressed.

The rupiah fell another 14 percent Monday against the U.S. dollar, closing at 9,800 rupiah per dollar.

Legal Basis for a U.S. Attack on Iraq Is Debated

The Baltimore Sun

Within the next few days, the United States will have all the equipment in place that it needs to launch a military strike against Iraq.

But critics are arguing that Washington doesn't have the legal authority to carry out its threat without new action both by Congress and the United Nations Security Council.

The legal basis for any new air or ground assault is now being debated actively, in Congress, in the international community, and among scholars. The issues are closely parallel to questions raised before U.S. bombs struck Iraq seven years ago to open the gulf war.

The more basic question is whether an American president ever needs approval, at home or internationally, to send U.S. forces into action abroad. The more specific question is whether the 1991 endorsements were meant only to rescue Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion, or were broad enough to last for years and cover later and very different U.S. military measures, such as those now planned.

The Clinton administration, echoing the view of President Bush and earlier presidents, contends that it has no real need for authorization from either Congress or the Security Council, but would welcome any encouragement either could offer.

FDA Didn't Disclose Diet Drug Company's Attack on Critics

Lexington, Mass.

In a move labeled "very questionable" by one scientist, the Food and Drug Administration kept secret a critical drug company "dossier" that attacked five scientists who opposed government approval of the company's Redux diet pill.

The FDA never made the scientists - who thought the drug might cause brain damage - aware of the charges contained in the document from Interneuron Pharmaceuticals of Lexington, Mass., and gave them no chance to dispute them, two of the scientists said in recent interviews with Newsday.

Nonetheless, the dossier was accompanied by a letter from Interneuron's president telling how he "appreciated" a decision by an agency official to keep several of the targeted scientists from speaking at a key Nov. 16, 1995, public hearing where an FDA committee recommended Redux for approval.

Redux and another diet pill, Pondimin - sometimes used in combination with the drug phentermine in the so-called "fen-phen" combination - were pulled off pharmacy shelves on Sept. 15, 1997, after being linked to serious heart-valve damage.