The News in Brief
Robert Kilborn and Yvonne Zipp, The Christian Science Monitor
More prominent Democrats joined the call for an independent counsel to investigate political fund-raising. US Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin and former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey said on the NBC program "Meet the Press" that such a move appeared to be the only way to "clear the air" over controversial practices linked to the Clinton White House. Democratic national chairman Roy Romer also said he would not oppose the appointment of a special counsel.
A key House Republican accused the Clinton White House of seeking a "heads up" from the Justice Department on possible funneling of Chinese government funds to the Democratic National Committee. The Washington Post reported that Government Reform and Oversight Committee chairman Dan Burton of Indiana wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno expressing "grave concern" that the White House had asked for and received information that could involve top administration officials. China denies making such contributions, which would violate US law. US Rep. John Kasich (R) of Ohio recommended postponing action on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Kasich, who chairs the House Budget Committee, told the CBS program "Face the Nation" that more public support for the measure is needed. The amendment is opposed by the Clinton administration and by most Democrats in Congress. The US Supreme Court declined to hear a dispute over term limits for members of Congress. Instead, the justices let stand an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling on the issue. It invalidated a ballot initiative urging a constitutional amendment that would set the length of time members of Congress could serve. The High Court also declined to rule on whether journalists may record police searches of private dwellings. But they did agree to hear an Illinois case on penalizing companies that fail to meet a set deadline for reporting their use of hazardous chemicals. Some of the women Army recruits who complained of sexual harassment were involved in social relationships with the male superiors they later accused, The Baltimore Sun reported. Basing its account on interviews the Army conducted with 56 of the recruits at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the newspaper said much of the activity involved in the complaints was consensual. Twenty male serg-eants or instructors at Aberdeen have been relieved of duty, and 12 of them face courts-martial. American Electric Power, a holding company for seven US utilities, was expected to bid $2 billion for publicly owned Yorkshire Electricity of Britain, the Wall Street Journal reported. Neither company would comment on the report. The newspaper said American Electric was likely to be joined in the offer by an unidentified partner. The State Department urged caution by all sides as Cuban-Americans planned to commemorate the downing of two civilian planes a year ago by President Fidel Castro's forces. Cuban exiles in south Florida said they would fly dozens of planes over the site where the Feb. 24 incidents occurred and drop flowers into the water. Security procedures at the Empire State Building in New York were being reviewed after a shooting incident that left two people dead and six others hurt. The incident took place on the observation deck, one of the city's most popular attractions. The gunman, who took his own life, carried documents identifying himself as a resident of the Gaza Strip. Except in Western states, gasoline prices across the US have dropped by more than one cent a gallon this month, industry analysts said. The Lundberg Survey of 10,000 service stations said the average price of all grades was just under $1.30 a gallon. Flooding in Illinois forced hundreds of residents from their homes, and officials said many more might need to be evacuated. The Rock River at Erie was more than eight feet above flood stage. The Illinois River was expected to crest nine feet above flood stage at Peoria Thursday. …