News In Brief

In a last-ditch bid to reach an accord on China joining the World Trade Organization, President Clinton sent a high-level negotiating team to Beijing. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky and Gene Sperling, Clinton's chief economic adviser, head the delegation. They apparently are trying to close a deal by the end of the month, when ministers from 134 countries gather in Seattle for a new round of trade talks.

The Senate approved a Republican bill raising the minimum wage $1 over three years, as well as a companion measure cutting small-business taxes $18.4 billion over five years. The 54-to-44 vote to raise the minimum wage from its present level of $5.15 an hour came after a Democratic proposal was defeated on a 50-to-48 vote. It would have raised the minimum wage by $1 over 13 months and have provided $9.6 billion in business tax cuts. Analysts said neither of the measures was likely to be enacted this year.

A flight data recorder from EgyptAir Flight 990 was recovered from the Atlantic. Investigators said it was not immediately clear how some damage to one end of the so-called black box would affect the data it had stored. Safety officials were still seeking a second recorder from the Boeing 767.

A confrontation between Jesse Jackson and the Decatur, Ill., School Board intensified as an attorney threatened to file a lawsuit on behalf of seven black students expelled for two years after taking part in a Sept. 17 melee at a football game. The city's high schools were closed for a second day after Jackson rejected a board decision to cut the expulsions to one year. Gov. George Ryan offered to waive a state law prohibiting expelled students from attending alternative schools.

Chicago public schools dropped riflery training and competition from its Junior ROTC program. Public schools chief Paul Vallas said the marksmanship curriculum could send a "contradictory message" to efforts to discourage the use of firearms.

Satellite TV would be able to offer local channels under an accord reached by House and Senate negotiators. Satellite firms will be able to start providing local stations as soon as the bill becomes law, but will then have six months to reach required retransmission agreements with TV networks. Consumer groups said the bill may not succeed in stimulating competition because satellite firms will lose local channels if they're unable to secure the retransmission accords. Under existing law, companies are barred from carrying local broadcast signals.

Pharmaceutical companies charge less for animal drugs than for equivalent medicines for people, a study released by Rep. Tom Allen (D) of Maine indicated. It says, for instance, that a month's supply of SmithKline Beecham's Augmen-tin cost 163 percent more at drugstores than at veterinary pharmacies. Allen is chief sponsor of a bill designed to lower drug costs for people without prescription-drug insurance.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology received its largest single donation. The $100 million gift came from alumnus Kenan Sahin, who holds undergraduate and PhD degrees from the Cambridge school. A native of Turkey, Sahin is the founder of Kenan Systems Corp., a software company that merged last year with Lucent Technologies.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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