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News Briefs I

U.S. Clash Shows Iraq's Frustration

Los Angeles Times

A U.S. warplane fired a missile at an Iraqi antiaircraft radar installation Tuesday, punctuating a low-intensity but potentially lethal conflict made increasingly dangerous by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's growing level of frustration.

In the second such incident in two days and the sixth in just more than two weeks the F-16 fired a radar-seeking rocket at an Iraqi ground-to-air missile site in the "no-fly" zone in Iraq's north after the installation signaled hostile intent by training its radar on the plane, the Pentagon said.

U.S. officials said such military face-offs are a symptom of the Iraqi leader's attempts to break out of the strategic box that has confined him since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Hussein's regime clearly has the power to bar the inspectors, but Washington and London insist that unless UNSCOM certifies that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction have been dismantled, the sanctions will remain in place.

Hussein has signaled his intention to challenge the no-fly zones imposed after the Gulf War to prevent him from attacking restive Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south.

In response, Kuwait authorized the United States to base eight F-16 warplanes on Kuwaiti territory.

Barr's Divorce Answers Draw Fire

The Washington Post

In a bit of televised theatrics, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt Monday night accused Rep. Robert L. Barr Jr., (R-Ga.) of hypocrisy for refusing to answer questions in a divorce proceeding about his relationship with the woman who is now his third wife.

Flynt contrasted Barr's invocation of a judicial privilege under Georgia law with the congressman's harsh criticism of President Clinton for evasive testimony under oath about his relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky. Barr is one of the 13 House "managers" who will present the case for Clinton's impeachment at the Senate trial.

Flynt, whose investigations of Republican politicians' personal lives have made him the focus of enormous media attention, leveled his charge on CNBC's "Rivera Live" and planned to repeat it at a Los Angeles news conference (which C-SPAN executives canceled plans to air after watching the Rivera broadcast).

"I believe that Congressman Barr has taken a moral and ethical position that is inconsistent with the position he's taken as a congressman," Flynt said.

Senate Sets Legislative Agenda

Los Angeles Times

Caucusing behind closed doors, nervous Senate Republicans Tuesday began crafting a legislative agenda for the new Congress, vowing to cut taxes, reform Social Security and Medicare even as they start the year with the impeachment trial on whether to remove President Clinton from office.

"The people's business will go forward," said Sen. Larry E. Craig, (R-Idaho) chair of the GOP policy committee. "You're going to see a very busy Senate during the period of the impeachment (trial) and following that."

But such work, at least for several weeks, will have to be scheduled around the trial, which is to start Thursday afternoon and may go well into the evening on most days.

With less than 48 hours before the trial's opening arguments, the Senate's 55 Republicans met with some sense of urgency to talk issues lest they come across as single-minded partisans out to remove a Democratic president from office.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). said, "We're not going to allow our legislative agenda to be sidetracked by this trial."