News In Brief

Delegates worked quietly on an agenda for a new round of trade talks as protesters took to the streets in full force to disrupt or at least influence the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned of a backlash from developing countries against free trade if they do not get a better deal this time than they have in previous negotiations.

President Clinton proposed new parental-leave rules that would allow states to provide compensation from unemployment-insurance systems to those taking time off from work in connection with a birth or adoption. Parents already are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for this purpose, but a 1996 study indicated many weren't taking time off for financial reasons. Under the proposed rules, which would take effect early next year and don't require congressional action, states would set the compensation levels for parental leave.

The Institute of Medicine called for major health-care changes to cut mistakes in half within five years. The institute is part of the National Academy of Sciences, a private group chartered by Congress to give advice on scientific matters. Its report quotes studies estimating that at least 44,000 - and perhaps as many as 98,000 - hospitalized Americans die annually from medical errors. Describing health care as a decade behind other industries in improving safety, it calls for changes in a "culture of secrecy" concerning errors and for a federal "Center for Patient Safety."

Doctors-in-training can form unions and negotiate working conditions just as other workers do, the National Labor Relations Board ruled. By a 3-to-2 vote, the board overturned a 23-year-old precedent that held medical residents, interns, and fellows to be primarily students, thus denying them collective-bargaining rights. The ruling cites other professions in which individuals serving in traineeships are considered employees protected by federal laws.

Violent crimes against children are reported to police much less often than those against adults - even when a weapon is used or the victim is injured, the Justice Department said. Its office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention cited data from 1995 and 1996 indicating only 28 percent of violent crimes against children were reported to police, compared with 48 percent of violent crimes against adults. It noted that 16 percent of violent crimes against children age 12 to 17 were reported to other authorities, such as school officials.

A Navy specialist has been charged with passing secrets to Russia in 1994, military officials said. Petty Officer First Class Daniel King was in custody in Quantico, Va., awaiting a hearing. At the time of the alleged incident, King was assigned to the Navy's espionage decoding unit at the Fort Meade, Md., office of the National Security Agency, which monitors global communications. The officials said King had admitted passing classified data to Russia but they did not believe it was a major security breach.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute became the nation's first Indian tribe to gain control of a source of water outside a reservation. On the banks of Nevada's Truckee River, government and tribal officials signed an agreement giving the tribe the lead role in scheduling release of water from two of the river's reservoirs to benefit endangered fish. The Truckee ecosystem covers about 100 miles from its origin in Lake Tahoe.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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