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News Briefs I

Israel to Proceed with Controversial Housing Project

The Washington Post

Less than 24 hours after it ratified the latest U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace plan, the Israeli government Thursday took a decisive step toward building a huge new Jewish neighborhood in the traditionally Arab part of Jerusalem despite strong objections by the Palestinians and the United States.

It was Israel's decision to break ground for infrastructure on the disputed hillside two winters ago that prompted an 18-month freeze in Middle East peacemaking. Thursday, despite repeated requests from the Clinton administration that Israel refrain from provocative acts, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government asked for bids to build the first 1,025 homes in a project that would eventually house 30,000 Jews.

The Har Homa housing project, on a pine-covered hill that Arabs call Jabal Abu Gheneim, is the first major effort to change the political geography of Arab-populated East Jerusalem since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began in 1993.

Huge New Dinosaur Species Found

The Washington Post

From beneath the wind-whipped dunes of western Africa, fossil-hunters have unearthed a previously unknown species of dinosaur: a 100-million-year-old predator the size of a city bus with 16-inch, hook-shaped thumb claws and a snout like a mutant crocodile.

At 36 feet long and 12 feet high, with an estimated weight around five tons, Suchomimus tenerensis was at least as big as the average Tyrannosaurus. But its lifestyle was considerably different, presumably preferring a diet of fish.

"It's a dinosaur trying hard to be a crocodile," said Paul C. Sereno of the University of Chicago, who led the international 18-person expedition that discovered the creature's remains in remote central Niger late last year.

The find adds a striking new specimen to a very rare and mysterious splinter group of dinosaurs - the long-snouted, narrow-mouthed spinosaurs - of which only three fragmentary examples were known worldwide before Dec. 4, 1997, when expedition member David Varricchio came across what looked like a spinosaur thumb claw.

It was just sitting there, "exposed over the course of centuries by wind and sand, waiting for anybody to discover it," Sereno said. If the rest was nearby, the world would "have a chance to see finally what one of these strange, fish-eating predators looked like."

Clinton Dispenses $60 Million for After-School Programs

Los Angeles Times

With the Clinton administration's proposed $21.9 billion child-care package largely scuttled by Congress, the president on Thursday unveiled what survived intact and appealed for more.

In a White House event attended by school officials and day-care advocates, President Clinton dispensed $60 million in new funds to establish or expand after-school programs in 600 schools across 44 states.

The money is part of $200 million earmarked by Congress for after-school care in the budget agreement passed last month. The funds established the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, which is expected to help some 250,000 school-age children who attend after-school programs.

But Clinton said that millions of kids whose families are eligible for child-care subsidies still don't get them.