News In Brief
The Clinton administration, still searching for the votes it needs to win a congressional OK of a landmark trade deal with China, said it would implement an unprecedented enforcement effort to ensure the Beijing government upholds its part of the arrangement. The plan calls for a "rapid response team" to address concerns and would create a new deputy assistant secretary of commerce for China, to enforce compliance with World Trade Organization rules.
The administration also announced plans to tighten rules for the approvalof new biotech foods. More research on a product's safety, for example, would be required and would be made available to the public. But the plan stops short of what many consumer advocates have called for: mandatory labeling for all products containing gene-spliced ingredients. Instead, the Food and Drug Administration would develop guidelines to label qualifying products as "biotech free." The FDA is under pressure by people concerned about the long-term safety of biofoods to take action. Industry officials dispute the concerns.
A Republican advisory committee recommended a presidential primary system in which small states would vote first in March and clusters of larger states would vote later, through June. The plan is to be considered by the party's rules committee next week and, if endorsed, at the GOP convention in August. Democrats, meanwhile, have elected to stay with their current system, which, with few exceptions, provides for a March-to-June window for primaries.
Black Secret Service agents who helped protect the president and vice president said they were filing a class-action suit charging the agency with more than 25 years of discrimination. The litigation before US District Court in Washington will seek compensation for the agents and an order requiring the Secret Service to reform its employment practices. Earlier this year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed that the agents' complaint constituted a class action, paving the way for the lawsuit.
A cease-fire was called in a corporate fight that temporarily blacked out the ABC television network for 3.5 million Time Warner cable subscribers. Although transmission was restored, Time Warner and ABC's parent, the Walt Disney Co., didn't settle the underlying issue - how much the cable company should have to pay to carry several Disney channels. A July 15 deadline was set for the matter.
The Senate fell three votes short of overriding President Clinton's veto of legislation that called for sending nuclear waste to a central Nevada facility. Congress has been trying for years to establish a temporary storage site for used reactor fuel now kept at numerous power plants around the country.
Mistakes by student builders and poor supervision by Texas A&M University led to the collapse of a five-story pile of logs last November that killed 12 people, school-appointed investigators concluded. The university's president said he would decide by mid-June whether the 90-year-old tradition would continue.
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