News In Brief

China's status as a signatory to the Warsaw Convention doesn't cover Taiwan, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled. The Ninth Circuit Court decision in the case of a Taiwanese insurance firm that invoked the convention while seeking compensation for goods lost in transit was seen as challenging China's diplomatic dominion over Taiwan - and as heightening already tense relations between the US and China.

The House voted overwhelmingly to note the 10th anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square crackdown and condemn its human-rights abuses. The nonbinding resolution seeks a new official Chinese inquiry into the June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

New Hampshire became the last state to officially recognize Martin Luther King Day. Gov. Jean Shaheen (D) was to sign the bill as soon as it hit her desk after the state's House of Representatives - on a 212-to-148 vote - approved making the third Monday in January an official state holiday.

The Senate barely rejected a bid to bar the use of US combat troops in Yugoslavia without congressional approval. The 52-to-48 vote came three weeks after Senate refusal to authorize the use of ground troops to accomplish NATO objectives.

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr said he would drop the remaining charges against Julie Hiatt Steele and Susan McDougal. He decided against retrial of Steele on charges she lied about knowing of alleged sexual advances by President Clinton in 1993 - and against retrial of McDougal for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the president. Deadlocked juries dealt Starr defeats in both cases.

A majority of House Republicans endorsed Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president. In embracing Bush, the 115 Republicans rejected House budget-panel chairman John Kasich of Ohio, the only member of the chamber seeking the presidency.

A New York police officer pleaded guilty to civil-rights violations for assaulting a Haitian immigrant in a Brooklyn precinct station. Justin Volpe faces up to life in prison without parole for the August 1997 attack on Abner Louima, which created a national outcry against police brutality. Volpe's plea came after several fellow officers testified in court against him. Four other white officers remain on trial in the case.

Former Commerce Department official John Huang will plead guilty to campaign-finance violations, the Justice Department said. Huang was the Democratic Party's chief fund-raiser among Asian-Americans during the 1996 election. He was charged in Los Angeles Tuesday with conspiring with other executives of the Indonesia-based Lippo Group to evade federal election rules by getting fellow employees to make campaign donations and then reimbursing them with corporate funds or funds from Indonesia.

A plan to cut in half the number of highway deaths involving heavy trucks was unveiled by Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. It included shutting down unfit carriers, increasing fines, and doubling inspections. He also pledged to finish soon years of work on new limits on the hours truck drivers work.

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