News In Brief

The FBI and Justice Department subordinates should have brought their dispute over wiretapping a suspected Chinese nuclear spy up for discussion "at my level" two years ago, Attorney General Reno said. She said "the facts presented in 1997" weren't sufficient to authorize a requested wiretap of Wen Ho Lee. After an initial FBI complaint about the denial, Reno said she did not hear from the agency on the matter again and "assumed it was resolved to their satisfaction." She said she has been told that, despite congressional calls for her resignation in the nuclear spying matter, she still has President Clinton's confidence.

Air Force pilots and enlisted personnel on active duty must remain in uniform until air-strikes against Yugoslavia end or until Clinton lifts a new ban on departures and retirements, the Pentagon said. The ban, which takes effect June 15, does not apply to other branches of the US military involved in the attacks on Yugoslav targets. About 6,000 Air Force personnel had approval to leave for civilian life before the end of the year.

Clinton's public approval rating has plummeted to the lowest level in almost three years, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found. The survey measured approval at 53 percent - a drop of 7 percent since the beginning of May. It has not been that low since August 1996. Respondents who said they were "very confident" in Clinton's ability to handle the Kosovo conflict slid from 27 percent in late March to 17 percent; those who were "not at all confident" grew from 13 to 25 percent.

Violence, profanity, and sex on prime-time TV have increased in the two years since an age-based ratings system was imposed, a media-watchdog group reported. The Parents Television Council said its studies measured a 31 percent increase since the ratings - intended to help filter what children see - took effect in November 1996. Network officials ridiculed the report, calling it "flawed," but some senior members of Congress said it underscored claims that broadcasters were ignoring the public interest.

A string of failed rocket launches ended for NASA as the shuttle Discovery roared into space from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Its crew of five Americans, a Canadian, and a Russian is on a 10-day mission to outfit the International Space Station with a crane, communications gear, and other needs. The space agency has had six consecutive unsuccessful launches of unmanned rockets.

A two-year moratorium on executing prisoners for capital crimes was vetoed by Nebraska Gov. Mike Johanns (R). The measure would have made the state the first to impose a halt on carrying out the death penalty while a special panel studied whether it was being applied fairly. The bill narrowly passed in the state's one-house legislature, which does not appear to have the votes to override Johanns's veto.

Two billion dollars in emergency disaster-relief checks to US farmers will go in the mail next week, after an eight-month processing delay, the Agriculture Department said. It said the tens of thousands of claims received far exceeded the funds OK'd by Congress last year to offset crop losses and a plunge in grain and livestock prices.

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