U.N. ambassadors yesterday welcomed the tentative deal for the United States to pay the United Nations nearly a billion dollars in back dues but complained it wasn’t enough and that the agreement contained troublesome conditions. The House and Senate have yet to vote on the payment. The United States is the biggest debtor to the United Nations and must pay $350 million by December 31 to keep its seat in the U.N. General Assembly. The administration and Congress reached the deal Sunday night after Clinton yielded on conservatives’ demands for limits on some U.S.-subsidized abortion activities overseas. In exchange, close to a billion dollars will be provided to pay the U.S. dues.
The breakthrough U.S.-China trade deal signed yesterday creates numerous winners and losers, as it pushes China’s protected state-dominated economy toward a "freer market." Some of the big winners include foreign banks, insurers and service companies that get wider access to China’s 1.2 billion consumers. Elite Chinese companies will get cheaper foreign technology and surer access to export markets. Other winners include China’s small but fast-growing computer and high-tech firms, which will see tariffs on imported technology drop. Casualties of the deal could include China’s farms, which employ hundreds of millions of people. And state-owned banks, which could find themselves beaten out by sophisticated foreign competitors, will be allowed to conduct business in local currency.
Meanwhile, a group of unarmed protesters broke into the World Trade Organization’s lakeside headquarters in Geneva to protest against what they see as a WTO threat to people’s livelihoods. Shouting "Death to the WTO!" a dozen young men rushed past security guards and forced their way into the main lobby of the WTO headquarters, minutes before U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman was due to hold a news conference. The protesters chained themselves to the main staircase inside the WTO building, just outside the main council hall where Glickman was holding talks with WTO officials.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson vowed to force a confrontation after school officials in Decatur, Illinois, refused to reconsider the expulsions of six students involved in a brawl at a football game. At a church rally that drew about 400 people last night, nearly everyone, including the students involved, stood when Jackson asked who was willing to be arrested at Eisenhower High School. Jackson threatened to cross police lines today if the school board doesn’t agree to let the students return to regular school in January, providing they maintain good grades and behavior in alternative school.
Family members of Martin Luther King Jr. hope a trial stemming from a lawsuit they filed will bring out new details about the civil rights leader’s assassination. The family filed the wrongful death lawsuit last year against Loyd Jowers, who claimed on national television in 1993 that he hired King’s killer, and it wasn’t James Earl Ray. Jowers has since refused to discuss his claim. A jury was selected to hear the case yesterday. Jowers has told the Kings the fatal shot actually was fired from a brushy area behind the restaurant and that the shooter handed him the rifle moments after the assassination. Jowers claims he gave the rifle to an unidentified conspirator the next day. He says he was paid $100,000 to hire the killer, whom he refused to identify as a favor to a now-deceased man who allegedly had links to organized crime.
A lieutenant in the Army Reserve, who is also a Republican member of the Arizona state legislature, is facing disciplinary action stemming from the military’s policy on gay men and lesbians. The Army began investigating Steve May after he admitted during a legislative debate that he was gay, in apparent violation of the Army’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy.
The banks have won a round in what’s shaping up as a lengthy legal fight over ATM fees. A U.S. district judge yesterday granted a preliminary injunction to Wells Fargo and Bank of America, which sued to block enforcement of bans on certain ATM fees in Santa Monica and San Francisco.
Voters upset over Governor Jeb Bush’s executive order wiping out racial preferences in Florida’s universities and contracting decisions are being urged to strike back at his brother. Congressmember Corrine Brown said minority voters should not just retaliate against the Florida governor on Election Day but also at Republican presidential front-runner George Bush. She said, "His brother is running, and we’re going to deal with his brother."