Clinton: Reject 'Old Fears'

Six months after the shooting at Columbine High School, President Clinton asked 350 students yesterday to help rid society of "old hatreds and old fears" that spur violent children and adults.

"You live in the most modern of all worlds, and yet the biggest problem we've got is the oldest problem of human society: people being scared of people who are different from them. And you can help that," Clinton told the students, who were selected for the two-day conference by 130 members of Congress.

Clinton also asked the students to "speak up" in support of new civil rights protections for homosexuals. Sponsored by House Democrats, the "Voices Against Violence" conference was timed to coincide with the six-month anniversary of the Columbine massacre near Denver, in which two boys killed 11 students and a teacher before killing themselves in the school library.

Three GOP lawmakers sent students to the events--Reps. Jennifer Dunn (Wash.), Sue W. Kelly (N.Y.) and Constance A. Morella (Md.)--but Republicans said that they had not been invited.

"It might have been better to put the politics of party division aside on this solemn day" and invited Republicans to the conference, the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) and Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), said in joint statement.

Dunn heard about the conference when a student from her Seattle area district asked her if he could take part after hearing about it from friends in a neighboring Democratic district, her spokeswoman said.

The students will have a chance during the conference to offer their views on why young people become violent and how to prevent school shooting sprees They will present their findings to congressional leaders Wednesday.

Blood Banks Seek New Rules

Blood bank officials said they want Congress and federal agencies to ease restrictions on some blood donations to help keep nationwide supplies from running short of demand.

"We have been overzealous in our caution," said Celso Bianco, president of America's Blood Centers, which collects half of the nation's blood donations.

The American Red Cross told Congress that donations have risen 8 percent over the past two years. But at the same time, blood distribution to hospitals jumped 11 percent.

The National Blood Data Resource Center has projected that the U.S. blood supply could fall short of demand for the first time in 2000.

Nuclear Agency to Get Chief

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson brought a conciliatory message to Capitol Hill yesterday, telling a Senate hearing that the White House will nominate someone to head the new National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) by March.

Both Republican and Democratic senators warned Richardson against attempting to undermine the new agency, which will run the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories. Congress last month set up the NNSA despite Richardson's objections that it would reduce his authority.

Compiled from reports by the Associated Press and Reuters