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News Briefs II

New-Look IRS Faces Problems

NEWSDAY -- WASHINGTON

“Good luck in the bull’s eye,” Sen. Bob Kerrey wrote when he sent his scratchy pencil-drawn organizational chart to newly confirmed Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti 16 months ago.

The IRS commissioner is the bull’s eye in the Nebraska Democrat’s doodle, the target for arrows Rossotti drew in his Senate confirmation hearing two years ago from 16 officials and agencies that have something to say about how the giant tax-collecting agency does its work. They included the treasury secretary, Treasury Department deputy and six assistant and undersecretaries, the vice president’s Reinventing Government task force, the General Accounting Office and six committees of Congress.

After 16 months in office, Rossotti has the drawing framed and hung in his office, although he hardly needs the reminder.

As Americans prepare for their annual rendezvous with the tax collector, Rossotti and the IRS have been peppered with a steady beat of criticism for the agency’s heavy-handed enforcement, for its ongoing problems with administration, financial management and technology, and the substantial obstacles it still faces.


Three New Eastern Europe NATO Members Exposed To Serbs Wrath

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Polish troops are flanked by seething Serbs as they guard a key gateway in the north of Bosnia. Czech soldiers patrol the volatile Serb-held region around Banja Luka. Hungarian forces have drawn less prickly duty with an engineering unit of the international peacekeeping mission here -- small comfort for this new NATO member that suddenly finds itself on the front line of the Yugoslav conflict.

Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic courted membership in NATO with fervor during the first years of freedom from the rival Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union’s tether.

But only days after their induction into the world’s most powerful military bloc, the three Eastern European states, which also serve as part of the international peacekeeping force here, find themselves exposed to the wrath of Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and vulnerable to Yugoslav retaliation for their guilt-by-association in NATO’s bombardments.

The launch of the alliance’s campaign against Yugoslavia -- mere hours after U.S. ceremonies to welcome the three new members to NATO -- has undermined political and popular support for the Balkan actions in those countries. And it has raised doubts about the wisdom of putting the stability of fragile new democracies at risk for the right to share shelter behind NATO’s shield.