News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, Noel Paul, and Sara Steindorf

The Senate's rejection of a controversial amendment to a landmark trade pact with China was seen by analysts as clearing the way for approval of the overall legislation. The amendment, which was defeated 65 to 32, would have imposed sanctions on China for its alleged role in weapons proliferation. If the amendment had been adopted, the bill would have had to be sent back to a divided House, which approved permanent normal trade relations for China in May. It is considered unlikely that the House would have the time or the will to consider any changes before Congress adjourns for the year next month.

After years of debate over the safety of the rudders on the Boeing 737, the manufacturer agreed to redesign the plane's control mechanism. The Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing already has begun working on the redesign, which includes a retrofit on existing planes. More than 3,000 of the twin-jet airliners are in use and the plane has a good overall safety record. The rudders have been suspect, however, since a fatal accident in Colorado in 1991 and another in Pennsylvania in 1994.

Scientist Wen Ho Lee began his first full day as a free man after nine months of solitary confinement on charges of mishandling US nuclear secrets. A federal court in Albuquerque, N.M., approving the terms of plea bargain in which Lee pleaded guilty to one felony count, said the former employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory had been "terribly wronged." Judge James Parker also harshly criticized the justice and energy departments for their handling of the case. Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh defended the government's dogged prosecution, saying it acted in the interests of protecting national security.

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An investigation was launched and three officers with the Miami-Dade Police Department were reassigned to administrative duty after live TV pictures showed them punching and kicking a prone suspect in the head. The incident occurred after a high-speed chase.

The Army was to announce that its eight National Guard combat divisions will be aligned for the first time with active-duty units. That means guard members are more likely to be called on not only for major wars but also for rotation in peacekeeping operations in places such as Bosnia and Kosovo, officials said. The National Guard has 360,000 members; the active-duty Army 470,000.

Chicago is to be given extra flexibility in meeting clean-air requirements, even though the city is in violation of federal air standards. The Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations that would declare all or parts of the metropolitan area an "economic development zone," making it easier to expand or build factories without running afoul of federal clean-air law. Critics questioned the initiative - a first in the US that may be expanded to other cities - for its timing during a tight presidential race in which Illinois is considered pivotal.

The Latin Grammys, the first awards on prime-time US TV solely for Spanish- and Portuguese-language music, gave top awards to Carlos Santana, Mexican band Mana, and Colombian singer Shakira. The raspy-voiced Shakira won two trophies for best female pop and rock vocal performances.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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