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News In Brief

By Robert Kilborn Judy Nicholsand Joshua S. Burek / May 24, 2000



As the clock counted down to today's tentatively scheduled House vote on trade relations with China, the pool of undecided lawmakers shrank. Although about eight to 10 votes were still needed for passage, supporters cautiously predicted victory. But labor unions and other opponents insisted the battle wasn't over. Both sides engaged in intense lobbying. The White House was negotiating with a small group of lawmakers who have demanded special favors in exchange for backing the bill.

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In hopes of gaining the support of minority lawmakers for the China measure, President Clinton and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R) were to announce an economic package for some 40 impoverished areas. The $5 billion to $7 billion legislative proposal, which has broad bipartisan support, would establish a host of tax credits and incentives to spur private investment in selected "renewal communities." Its formal unveiling comes six months after Clinton and Hastert pledged a joint effort to improve economically distressed areas.

A recommendation by an Arkansas disciplinary panel to lift President Clinton's license to practice law was being forwarded to a circuit court judge in Little Rock. If that official moves forward with disbarment proceedings, Clinton said he'd appeal to the state Supreme Court. In its recommendation, the Committee of Professional Conduct cited "serious misconduct" when Clinton testified about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. Disbarment is the harshest sanction that could have been recommended.

Police across the country are sidestepping state laws in order to ensure that millions of dollars seized in drug raids and traffic stops remain in their hands, The Kansas City Star reported. In a year-long investigation spanning two dozen states, the Star found that police often called a federal agency during a drug seizure instead of going to state court. When such an organization accepts a seizure, it keeps a cut of the money and returns the rest to police. Consequently, millions of dollars that lawmakers have designated for programs such drug treatment and education are used otherwise, the newspaper said. Law-enforcement officials said the practice is not illegal and that crime-fighting efforts would be damaged without the money.

The Federal Trade Commission recommended legislation to Congress that would mandate commercial Web sites adopt consumer privacy practices. The FTC found that only 42 percent of the 100 most popular US commercial Web sites currently abide by widely accepted fair information practices. Industry groups said the commission's proposal is unwarranted and burdensome.

Police launched a nationwide special effort to crack down on child seat-belt scofflaws. As part of Operation ABC Mobilization, which is slated to run through next Monday, law-enforcement officers planned to increase patrols and set up checkpoints to target drivers transporting unbuckled children. Every state has legislation that requires young children to ride in car seats or wear safety belts.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society