News In Brief

A quip by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, indicating his intention not to launch another long-range test missile, was being taken seriously by Secretary of State Albright, an aide said. Albright, who was wrapping up a historic talk in the capital, Pyongyang, said Kim appeared serious in moving forward with bilateral relations. Six hours of talks also covered terrorism, human rights, and the possibility of diplomatic relations, Albright said. Before returning to the US, she is to stop in South Korea to debrief officials on the talks.

In the wake of the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, American troops in the Persian Gulf states of Bahrain and Qatar were put on the highest possible state of alert, senior defense officials said. Forces in Turkey also were on heightened alert, although reports conflicted as to what degree. Officials, who declined to give details, said the moves were precautionary and in response to "specific threats."

President Clinton was expected to sign a free-trade agreement with Jordan, completing what the administration calls a "groundbreaking pact" that includes labor and environmental standards for the first time and would eliminate all trade barriers between the two nations over the next decade. A US trade official acknowledged the pact was also to further cement ties of allies in the Middle East peace process. If Congress approves the deal, Jordan would become only the fourth country with which the US has a free-trade agreement - after Canada, Mexico, and Israel.

The city council in Santa Cruz, Calif., was expected to pass the nation's highest minimum wage - $11 an hour, or $12 without benefits. The ordinance is in response to the city's proximity to Silicon Valley, where high-tech industry incomes have caused soaring housing prices and costs of living. California's Industrial Welfare Commission, meanwhile, voted to raise the state minimum wage by $1 to $6.75, despite protests from business leaders and farmers who said it will give other states a competitive edge.

Both sides in a bitter Hollywood labor dispute pitting commercial actors against advertisers made key concessions on a tentative pact that could end the six-month talent walkout as early as Oct. 30. The ad industry agreed to continue to give actors residual payments when their spots run on network television, while the talent unions gave up their demand to spread the pay-per-air system to cable TV. The industry also agreed to recognize the union's jurisdiction in Internet ads.

The more than 150 native Americans who were killed in 1864 by the US Army at Sand Creek, Colo., will be memorialized under legislation that cleared Congress Monday, and President Clinton is expected to sign. The massacre, a state historian said, ignited 12 years of wars that culminated in the Battle of Little Bighorn. The legislation will create a historical site southeast of Denver and will be the first to memorialize one of the half-dozen major massacres of peaceful Indians in the West.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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