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News Briefs

Sensitive Documents Were Destroyed After Milosevic’s Fall


After the fall of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, but while his former secret police chief remained in office, tons of police documents were destroyed and illegal copies of files on former opposition leaders were spirited away, Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said Thursday.

“The period from Oct. 5 until Jan. 25 was used for the active destruction of evidence,” Mihajlovic told a session of the Serbian parliament’s Defense and Security Committee. “In our ministry, tons and tons of materials were destroyed.”

There also was “unauthorized copying onto CDs of data from the files of all opposition leaders, which was taken away from the service for still unknown reasons,” Mihajlovic said. Charges have been filed against people suspected of responsibility for the destruction and theft, he said.

The decision not to force out former Serbian secret police chief Rade Markovic much more quickly was a matter of bitter dispute among the former opposition figures who came to power in Yugoslavia and Serbia, the country’s main republic, after Milosevic was driven from office in October.

Administration Drops Plans To Eliminate Salmonella Testing


WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration Thursday dropped plans to eliminate salmonella testing of ground beef served to children in federal school lunch programs, reversing a controversial proposal announced by the Agriculture Department less than 24 hours earlier.

The White House and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman said a “low-level” Agriculture Department employee, who was not named, had made the decision without getting proper approval from Veneman or any other high-ranking administration officials.

“The safety of our food supply, particularly school lunches for our children, is an extremely important issue and USDA will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure the safest possible food supply is available for all consumers,” Veneman said in a statement.

In an administration noted for its internal discipline, the abrupt reversal quelled a budding controversy on an issue of food safety that is of concern to parents of schoolchildren across the country. The reversal also comes at a time when officials are sensitive to appearing too closely aligned with industry interests after suspending arsenic restrictions for drinking water and cleanup requirements for mining companies.

Murdoch Purchase Put on Hold


Federal regulators have told lawyers for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. that they’ve temporarily stopped considering his $5.4 billion deal to acquire Chris-Craft Industries Inc.

Regulators said they were waiting for more information from News Corp. about the financial condition of its New York Post.

Murdoch’s lawyers have claimed the New York Post may fail if he is forced to sell it as a condition of his acquisition of Chris-Craft, which owns 10 television stations, including WWOR-TV in Secaucus, N.J., considered part of the New York market.

The Chris-Craft deal would put Murdoch in the unprecedented position of owning two television stations and a newspaper in the same market.

News Corp. said it would quickly comply with the FCC’s request for additional information, which it received in an April 3 letter. “We expected the letter, we will be able to get this information to them quickly,” said News Corp. spokesman Andrew Butcher.