FRANCE ENDS STUDENT-PAY PLAN The French government, eager to end a wave of student protests, yesterday suspended its controversial plan to pay young people less than the minimum wage. It gave itself a week to develop another plan to combat 25-percent unemployment among French youth. The announcements came after Premier Edouard Balladur met at his office with leaders of national student organizations that have been campaigning for three weeks against the wage plan. Hundreds of thousands of youths across France have joined protest marches. Mr. Balladur, who completes his first year in office today, has been wary of yielding to the students after caving in to previous mass protest campaigns. US Supreme Court

The Supreme Court yesterday let states abolish the insanity defense. The justices, without comment, let stand Montana's abolition in 1979 of insanity as an affirmative defense for criminal defendants. Although today's action is not a ruling and does not preclude the possibility the high court may some day consider the issue, states are left free to follow Montana's lead. The court also left intact a ruling that let federal prosecutors use an anti-arson law against cross burners. The justices, without comment, refused to hear the appeal of two men convicted of burning crosses at the Keeneyville, Ill., home of a white couple who had entertained black guests in 1989. The men also had mounted a free-speech challenge to use of a federal law banning interference with housing rights to prosecute cross burners. Grumman for sale

The defense contractor Grumman Corporation, faced with competing takeover offers and trying to avoid a protracted bidding battle, said yesterday it is putting itself up for sale and set ground rules for a quick resolution. The company set a deadline of end of business on Thursday for its two suitors, Martin Marietta Corporation and Northrop Corporation, to make their best and highest offers. Burma's isolation ends

Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong arrived in Burma yesterday, ending the military junta's diplomatic isolation since it crushed a national pro-democracy uprising in 1988. Mr. Goh became only the second head of government to visit Burma since 1988. The first was Laotian Prime Minister Gen. Khamtay Siphandone, who came in 1992. Singapore has identified Burma, China, India, and the Indochina region as potential investment areas. Russian weapons

The Russian Defense Ministry, defying President Boris Yeltsin, has secretly developed a new germ-warfare agent for which the West has no antidote, The Sunday Times reported on Sunday. The newspaper said the substance is part of a secret program to develop biological weapons. Mr. Yeltsin had again told former President Bush last year that the program had ended two years ago. Southern storms

A band of storms claimed 43 lives as it pounded the Southeast. Twisters and violent thunderstorms battered churches, houses, and a nursing home on Sunday. Twenty-three people were killed in Alabama, 17 in Georgia, two in North Carolina, and one in Tennessee. More rain fell yesterday.

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