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News in Brief: A Washington Roundup

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Details of Child-Health Initiative Unveiled

President Clinton unveiled details last week of his strategy to extend the umbrella of government-funded medical care to some of the nation's 10 million uninsured children.

During a ceremony at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, Mr. Clinton signed a directive instructing federal agencies that work with low-income families to make efforts to enroll uninsured children in Medicaid programs.

The president also announced that two states, Colorado and South Carolina, had won federal approval to use part of the $24 billion earmarked for children's health in last year's balanced-budget agreement to enroll poor children in Medicaid programs. Mr. Clinton's child-health initiative is designed to insure 5 million more needy children.

"I still have a hard time believing that this country, with the finest health-care system in the world, cannot figure out how to give affordable, quality health insurance coverage to every single child in America," the president said in his speech last week.

Clinton Favors Teen Emphasis in Drug Efforts

President Clinton wants to shift his national anti-drug strategy to focus more attention on quelling drug use among teenagers.

Through a variety of drug education, prevention, and treatment programs, Mr. Clinton said in a radio address this month, the administration hopes to slash adolescent drug use by 50 percent within a decade.

With money drawn from several federal agencies' budgets, including the Department of Education, the proposed $17 billion drug-control strategy for the next fiscal year includes $195 million for anti-drug media campaigns and $50 million to pay for drug-abuse-prevention counselors at 6,500 schools nationwide.

The proposed $17 billion plan would be a new expenditure to supplement existing programs. The plan, which must be approved by Congress, would also pay for a variety of after-school programs.

"Even the most thorough drug-control strategy won't ever do the job unless all of us pass on the same, clear and simple message to our children: Drugs are wrong; drugs are dangerous; and drugs can kill you," Mr. Clinton said in his Feb. 14 address.

First Woman Named To Head NSF

President Clinton has announced his intention to nominate the first woman and first life scientist ever to head the National Science Foundation.

Rita R. Colwell, the president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, would succeed Neal F. Lane as the director of the NSF, an independent federal agency.

For fiscal year 1999, the agency's education and human resources directorate, which is home to most K-12 spending, is requesting $414.9 million for pre-K-12 education programs.

Just last month, Ms. Colwell, a professor of microbiology, had been nominated to be the foundation's deputy director. She must be confirmed by the Senate to the new post.

At the same time he announced the nod for Ms. Colwell, Mr. Clinton said he would nominate Mr. Lane as the director of the office of science and technology policy at the White House.

Mr. Lane, a physicist, would succeed Jack Gibbons in the White House post. Mr. Lane has about 20 months left on his six-year appointment to the NSF director's job.

Agency Launches Community-Service Pilot

The Agency for International Development launched a program last week that seeks to engage American children in community service and international affairs.

The pilot program, Operation Day's Work-USA, will allow students to use one day of classes each year to work at various jobs and earn money for a developing country that they have studied.

Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont, Washington state, and the District of Columbia have been selected to participate in the pilot.

The federal agency's goal is to have Operation Day's Work-USA become a nationwide annual event by 2003.

The program is based on a 32-year-old Norwegian program. Each year, Norwegian students vote to select a developing country to study and assist.

By working in offices, washing cars, and holding bake sales, students in Norway have raised over $3 million a year for the construction of hospitals and schools and for purchasing textbooks. Denmark and Sweden have similar programs.

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