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News Briefs I

Bush Is Sworn In as Signs Point to White House Bid

Los Angeles Times

George W. Bush was sworn in for his second term as Texas governor Tuesday, even as sources close to him signaled he was intensifying his efforts to explore a possible bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.

While the focus Tuesday was on the second term that Bush won in a landslide re-election in November, many here viewed the day's festivities as only the overture for a presidential announcement later this year. Aides said perhaps as soon as March, Bush could move closer toward such a race by formally establishing a presidential exploratory committee.

"In March or so, if the answer (about running) is anything other than absolutely not, he's got to let something go forward," said one senior adviser to Bush, who has emerged as the clear front-runner in almost all early polls of GOP presidential preferences for 2000.

Allied Jets in Turkey Brace for Action Over Iraq

The Washington Post
ADANA, Turkey

The co-pilot of a U.S. Air Force EA-6B electronic jamming plane was flying protective cover for several British Jaguars over northern Iraq last month when he was surprised to see the contrails of an Iraqi surface-to-air missile and hear an explosion overhead. Twenty minutes later, another Iraqi missile arced into the sky toward a nearby U.S. F-16, provoking three American warplanes to hurl six 500-pound bombs at their assailants.

The Dec. 28 attack was the first against U.S. aircraft in northern Iraq since August 1993. Since then, Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries have fired on U.S. and British warplanes in northern Iraq twice more and switched on radar at least three times in preparation for possible attacks each time provoking a swift counterattack by air crews under orders from Washington not to let a single assault go unpunished.

None of the Iraqi missile or anti-aircraft fire has struck a target, but three Iraqi batteries have been damaged or destroyed. Over the past month, U.S. officials say, the Iraqi military evidently has laid the groundwork to maintain a robust challenge to allied flights in northern Iraq by moving more than a dozen additional mobile missile batteries into the air patrol zone, which lies between the Turkish border and the 36th parallel.

Hussein Returns to Jordan After Cancer Treatment in U.S.

Los Angeles Times
AMMAN, Jordan

A gaunt but smiling King Hussein returned home Tuesday to elated, rain-drenched crowds and simmering speculation over who will succeed him as the ruler of Jordan, this strategic ally of the United States.

Claiming recovery from cancer after six months of treatment in the United States, the king piloted his Royal Jordanian Air Force jet to a safe landing here. He then rode in a heavily guarded motorcade through the capital, poking his kaffiyeh-clad head through the sunroof of an aging limousine to salute the Bedouins, children, soldiers and other well-wishers who lined the streets.

Hussein's longest-ever absence from the desert kingdom he has ruled for 46 years fed a sense of uncertainty and unease among many Jordanians faced with high unemployment, endemic corruption, new tensions with neighboring Iraq and the stagnation of Israel's pursuit of peace with the Palestinians, who make up a majority of Jordan's population.