News In Brief

A showdown on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was likely to be postponed, aides to both Democratic and Republican senators said. A vote had been scheduled for early next week. Joseph Biden (D) of Delaware said he had informed the White House that chances were bleak for finding the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty. It has been signed by 154 nations, but only two of the seven acknowledged nuclear powers - Britain and France - have ratified it.

In a rancorous session, senators rejected a judicial nominee for the first time in 12 years. His GOP opponents said Ronnie White, the first black judge on the Missouri Supreme Court, was insufficiently supportive of the death penalty to be a federal district judge. The vote against White was along strict party lines. His rejection was the first such Senate vote since the 1987 defeat of conservative jurist Robert Bork.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush criticized his own Republican Party for negative rhetoric, failing to emphasize inclusiveness, and forgetting that conservative policies should benefit those left behind in an affluent society. "Too often my party has confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government itself," said the front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination in a speech calling for mandatory state exams to gauge the performance of schools nationwide. It was the second time in a week that Bush had challenged his party to rise above perceptions that it is uncaring and mean-spirited.

The Senate approved a $45 billion plan for improving US airports over four years. It provides more than $2 billion a year for improvements, and also would overhaul the air traffic-control system by appointing a chief operating officer and adding an oversight board. The measure drops a "high density rule" set in 1969 to limit flights out of New York's Kennedy and LaGuardia airports by 2007. The rule would be retained for Chicago's O'Hare, which would instead add 30 takeoff or landing slots. Washington's Reagan National would add 24 slots. A similar bill passed by the House would eliminate takeoff and landing restrictions at O'Hare in 2002.

President Clinton signed a defense bill authorizing an $18 billion increase in spending and the biggest military pay raise in 18 years. It includes a 4.8 percent across-the-board raise effective Jan. 1 and a change in pay scales effective next July.

The House voted for deep cuts in foreign-aid funding, including money for debt relief. The compromise bill, forged by House and Senate negotiators, was narrowly OK'd on a 214-to-211 vote. It sets aside $12.62 billion for the new fiscal year - nearly $2 billion less than requested and $2.7 billion less than last year. Clinton pledged last week to forgive $1 billion in debt owed by the world's poorest countries.

Federal prosecutors brought their first charges in the Russian money-laundering case. Indictments were unsealed against three people and three companies charged with illegally moving $7 billion from Russia through the Bank of New York. Mary Jo White, a US attorney, said in New York that more charges were expected and that the worldwide probe was likely to be a long one.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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