News In Brief
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji left Washington without the deal he hoped for - an agreement that would help China enter the World Trade Organization. Nonetheless, the US and China reached an accord that opens Chinese markets to US wheat, beef, and citrus. The citrus deal alone is expected to create $1.2 billion a year in trade. Officials also signed accords that will double the frequency of airline flights between the two nations and open China's telecommunications and insurance markets to US companies. Zhu was in Denver Saturday, was to fly to Chicago yesterday, and is expected in New York and Boston this week.
Cleanup efforts were under way in parts of Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio, where storms ravaged homes and businesses. Tornadoes - some packing winds over 200 m.p.h. - killed at least six people and caused millions of dollars in damage. Hardest-hit were three Ohio counties in the Cincinnati area, which were declared a disaster area by Gov. Bob Taft.
The Pentagon said that an additional 82 US planes would join in NATO airstrikes over Yugoslavia - and that President Clinton might have to call up military reserves. Meanwhile, defense analysts estimated US air assaults on Yugoslavia had already cost up to $500 million. The monthly bill could exceed $1 billion, they said. Most new congressional spending initiatives have to be offset by cutbacks in other federal programs. It was unclear whether the GOP leadership in Congress would require offsets for Kosovo-related expenses.
The US may scrap a plan to house 20,000 refugees at its Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base, the coordinator of the administration's Kosovo relief effort announced. J. Brian Atwood said sending refugees to Guantanamo was being reassessed because care for refugees in Albania, Macedonia, and elsewhere had greatly improved.
The US air-traffic control system passed a major Y2K computer test, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported. Clocks on backup computers at several facilities in Colorado were advanced to just before midnight Dec. 31 to see how radar, navigation, and communications systems may work at the end of the year. The FAA said the computers hit 2000 with no obvious errors, although the data still are being analyzed. The FAA was criticized for not meeting a March 31 deadline for completing its Y2K preparations.
A $250-million missile-warning satellite was stranded in the wrong orbit after being launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The Air Force launched an investigation - along with efforts to find a way to shift the satellite into a correct orbit. The incident follows the loss of a similar satellite in an explosion during its launch aboard a Titan 4B rocket last August. The cost of that misfire was estimated at $1 billion.
The government must pay $909 million to a California savings bank for damages as a result of the savings and loan bailout of the late 1980s, the Court of Federal Claims said. The case - brought by Glendale Federal Bank, a unit of Golden State Bancorp - is the first of about 120 similar suits. Glendale was seeking up to $2 billion in damages. An appeal is expected, in part because of the large sums involved and in part because of the precedent-setting nature of the case.