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News Briefs I

White House Steps Up Attack on Starr's Ethics

Los Angeles Times

The clash between Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr and the White House escalated Thursday as new details emerged about Starr's failure to officially disclose that he gave legal advice to the lawyers pursuing the Paula Corbin Jones sexual harassment lawsuit against President Clinton.

At issue is whether Starr should have informed Attorney General Janet Reno that he had counseled the Jones lawyers when he asked her last January to expand his investigation into whether the president lied in his deposition in the Jones case.

Robert Bennett, the president's personal attorney in the Jones case, called on the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Starr may have acted inappropriately by not disclosing that he had earlier had a half-dozen conversations with the Jones legal team.

But Starr responded that he "did not mislead" Reno in his request for an expanded probe, and he once again strongly defended his actions against a barrage of criticism from Clinton defenders.

Hyde, Back in Hometown, Defends Impeachment Inquiry

Los Angeles Times

Returning to his hometown Thursday, a place where many old-timers call him just plain "Hank," Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry J. Hyde carried the entire public debate over impeachment with him from Washington.

Hyde, R-Ill., defended his inquiry at a Chicago Bar Association luncheon, where he was touted even by die-hard Democrats as someone who will give President Clinton a fair shake. But praise was not everywhere. The president of the National Organization for Women needled Hyde in his own back yard about his decades-old extramarital affair.

At the lawyers' luncheon, Hyde said he is being squeezed by both the president's fiercest critics and most loyal defenders as he struggles to set a middle course on impeachment.

Hyde also downplayed recent polls showing declining public support for Congress and its handling of the Monica S. Lewinsky case.

Papal Encyclical Calls for Marriage of Faith, Reason

los angeles times
vatican city

Decrying a skeptical postmodern society that relegates religion and ethics to "the realm of mere fantasy," Pope John Paul II called Thursday for a marriage of faith and rational thought in the search for truth about the human condition.

In an encyclical titled "Faith and Reason," the Roman Catholic leader stressed that the two are not incompatible. But he said it is his church's duty to reject philosophies at odds with "certitudes of faith."

The document lacks the scolding prescriptions of his earlier papal teachings on social justice and sexual morality, and it raises more questions than it pretends to answer.

But "Faith and Reason" underscores a theme running through all the pope's teaching - that humankind can, and must, agree on certain universal truths.

The encyclical laments the rise of nihilism, historicism, agnosticism, relativism and other beliefs "that tend to devalue even the truths that had been judged certain."

This, he wrote, has led philosophy "to lose its way in the shifting sands of widespread skepticism," while ordinary people, especially the young, "stumble through life on the very edge of the abyss without knowing where they are going."