News In Brief

Acting on the recommendation of top advisers and the Pentagon, President Clinton decided to defer the controversial sale of four Aegis destroyers to Taiwan. But he did approve a package for the island government that includes long-range radar and missiles. US officials said Taiwan's request for the Aegis warships would be reconsidered next year, pending completion of a comprehensive study of naval defense needs. Meanwhile, the Senate Republican leader, Trent Lott of Mississippi, who has favored selling the Aegis system, was expected to call for a vote on an arms package for Taiwan. The House already has passed legislation, opposed by Beijing and the Clinton administration, that would establish direct military communications between Washington and Taipei.

Dealing a blow to lobbying efforts by the administration, House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt was expected to announce he'll vote against the hotly contested bill granting permanent normalized trade relations to China. But one Democratic Party source indicated the Missouri legislator isn't likely to join a full-fledged effort to defeat the measure. The House is expected to take up the bill in late May. Rep. Robert Matsui (D) of California predicted the bill would clear the House with the support of 70 to 80 Democrats and 150 Republicans. Passage in the Senate is virtually assured.

By the time the International Monetary Fund and World Bank wrapped up their meetings in Washington, about 1,300 people protesting against the global lenders had been arrested, including 600 Monday. Although the demonstrators failed to shut down the meetings, many still claimed success in drawing attention to what they see as detrimental lending practices. Meanwhile, World Bank officials pledged to step up the institution's efforts in the fight against AIDS.

By a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court made it harder for state prisoners to win a federal review of their cases. The ruling potentially affects the 3,600 people on death row across the nation, as well as hundreds of thousands of other convicts. Writing for the majority, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said federal judges may intercede only if a state court "arrives at a conclusion opposite to that reached by this court on a question of law." She also said a federal judge could act if a state court "unreasonably" applied "the correct governing legal principle" from decisions of the top court.

The Army announced it has ordered two panels to study why captains and other junior officers are leaving the force in increased numbers and how they can be retained. The panels will include service people of all ranks as well as academics and corporate experts. They are expected to make recommendations in August.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya smiles after winning the women's division of the Boston Marathon. Elijah Lagat, also of Kenya, won the men's race. Competitors were hot on the heels of both runners, making their finishes the closest in the race's 104-year history.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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