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Bush aide details alleged vandalism



Published: Sun, June 3, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Bush aide detailsalleged vandalism

WASHINGTON -- White House officials released a list Saturday of damage that they say was done by outgoing staffers of former President Clinton, including obscene graffiti in six offices, a 20-inch-wide presidential seal ripped off a wall, 10 sliced telephone lines and 100 inoperable computer keyboards.

For months, Democrats had questioned the administration's credibility because officials refused to document charges of vandalism they made in the week after President Bush's inauguration. In April, the General Accounting Office said it was unable to confirm damage, in part because of what it called a "lack of records" from the White House.

Most of the incidents described Saturday by White House press secretary Ari Fleischer were said to have occurred in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House.

Pornographic or obscene greetings were left on 15 telephone lines in the offices of the vice president, White House counsel, scheduling and advance, Fleischer said. As a precaution, all phones were disabled and reprogrammed, he said.

Museum dedicatedto famed cellist opens

EL VENDRELL, Spain -- A hometown museum dedicated to cellist Pablo Casals opened Saturday with traditional Catalan folkloric dances and performances by cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and soprano Monserrat Caballe.

Some 500 celebrities and dignitaries, including King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, toured the museum, whose 17 rooms each represent a different stage in the musician's life. The museum, 40 miles south of Barcelona in Spain's Catalonia region, opens to the public Monday.

It is housed in the renovated house where Casals lived until he went into self-imposed exile in 1939 to avoid living under the dictatorial regime of Gen. Francisco Franco.

"He was a man of personal warmth and a generous spirit who firmly believed in peace, in justice and freedom," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a letter read by his envoy, Silvia Fuhrman.

Born in 1876, Casals was a child prodigy who grew into a virtuoso cellist, a brilliant conductor and composer. A fierce supporter of human rights, he refused to play in countries that were not democracies.

Bush urges actionon education proposal

WASHINGTON -- President Bush urged Congress on Saturday to build on the momentum of his tax cut package and move ahead with an overhaul of public school education.

"We are within reach of historic education reform; so far, the signs are very good," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "Both parties have been working together and I hope both parties will vote together as well."

Last weekend's passage of the $1.35 trillion tax cut bill was "an important bipartisan achievement," the president said. He is expected to sign the legislation this week.

The House has passed a $24 billion education package that requires schools to test the reading and math skills of students in grades three through eight. Schools that do not sufficiently improve test scores after one year would qualify for extra federal aid, but could be forced to replace some staff.

Also, low-income students in schools receiving federal funds would have the choice of transferring to another public school.

Exchange of prisoners

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The Colombian government and leftist guerrillas agreed Saturday to swap sick prisoners in what would be the first major breakthrough since peace talks began more than two years ago.

The agreement was reached following a meeting Saturday between government peace envoy Camilo Gomez and Manuel Marulanda, chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the official state news agency said in a statement.

Although it wasn't immediately clear how many prisoners would be freed, the first captive slated to be liberated is police Col. Alvaro Acosta, who was captured by the rebel army more than a year ago when his helicopter crashed. Acosta was critically injured in the crash.

The announcement did not specify when the swap would begin, but FARC spokesman Raul Reyes had said Friday that it would happen a few days after an agreement.

The 16,000-strong FARC, the nation's largest rebel army, is holding some 500 police and soldiers caught during fighting. Some have languished in the open air jungle pens for years.




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