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News Briefs

TV Stations Pull Democrat Ads After Threats from Republicans


Responding to Republican threats, television stations in three key congressional districts have pulled Democratic attack ads on the grounds that they distorted the GOP candidates’ voting records.

Both the cable company Comcast in New Jersey and four network affiliates in Lexington, Ky., have decided in the past week to stop airing ads funded by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee questioning GOP candidates’ votes on education bills. Two Mississippi television stations have temporarily suspended a similar ad targeting an Arkansas Republican’s stand on prescription drugs.

In one ad, for example, Democrats charge former representative Dick Zimmer, R-N.J., “has never voted for a single education spending bill -- not one,” though he supported three separate education measures. In Kentucky, they criticized GOP Rep. Ernie Fletcher for voting “to cut over a billion dollars in education,” though he had in fact supported funding increases that fell a billion dollars short of what President Clinton had requested.

Clinton to Approve $1.3 Billion Colombia Anti-Drug Aid Package


President Clinton plans to sign a waiver authorizing distribution of a $1.3 billion aid package to help the Colombian government fight drug traffickers even though it has not met all the human rights conditions set by Congress, administration officials said Tuesday.

The decision comes one week before Clinton is to make a one-day visit to Colombia to demonstrate his support for President Andres Pastrana’s efforts to combat the country’s drug trade, which is responsible for 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States. Officials said Clinton could formally sign the waiver as early as Wednesday -- the final step in a year-long debate over how best to assist the Pastrana government.

Congress approved Clinton’s request for Colombia aid in July on a bipartisan basis despite the opposition of human rights groups concerned about human rights abuses by the Colombian military. The U.S. plan calls for more than $1 billion to train and equip the Colombian army and police forces, and includes delivery of 18 Black Hawk helicopters and 42 Huey 2 helicopters. The package also provides money aimed at promoting human rights programs, judicial reform and economic development.

Second Study Links Gene-Altered Corn, Monarch Butterfly Deaths


A second study has found that pollen from genetically engineered corn plants can harm monarch butterflies.

About 20 percent of monarch larvae died after being exposed to pollen from corn genetically engineered to produce a pesticide that had blown onto nearby plants that the monarch caterpillars eat, the study found.The finding reignites a heated scientific and regulatory debate over whether biotech crops in general, and the engineered corn in particular, pose heightened risks for the environment, and whether federal authorities have appropriately addressed those risks.

“This takes the monarch research a step further,” said John Obrycki of Iowa State University, who conducted the new study. “We had lab research showing the effect, and now we have a modified field study that shows an effect as well.”

But both the biotech industry and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautioned against making conclusions based on the study, which looked at the effects of corn modified to produce a pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).