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HeadlinesJune 29, 1998

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Chinese Students Ask Clinton Critical Questions

Jun 29, 1998

University students in Beijing peppered President Clinton today with polite but critical questions about America’s human rights record, Taiwan policy and views on China, in an exchange televised live across the vast nation. Peking University has been an incubator for political protest since its founding 100 years ago, including the 1989 pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen Square. One student asked why the United States continues to sell advanced weapons to Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province. And another young man in Clinton’s audience questioned whether the United States really was intent on dominating China instead of improving ties. A student told Clinton that democracy, human rights and freedom were of great interest to both the Chinese and American peoples. Then she politely lectured the president, saying, “We should have both criticism and self-criticism,” and asking him, “Do you think that in the United States today there are also some problems?” Clinton said the United States does have problems, including racial discrimination, a legacy of slavery, and high crime rates that prevent some people from feeling free. But the president told the students he never raises the question of human rights when he’s overseas without acknowledging first that, quote, “Our country has had terrible problems in this area.”

It doesn’t appear that President Clinton will make time to meet with Chinese dissidents, despite his public debate with China’s president on human rights. National security adviser Sandy Berger says Clinton has met with a broad range of people and will continue to speak forthrightly, but he didn’t commit to any meetings. Beijing has released four dissidents who were detained in the first city Clinton visited, but a human rights group says a pro-democracy activist has been forced to leave Shanghai ahead of Clinton’s arrival there tomorrow.

Meanwhile, sales agreements signed at a ceremony in Beijing today come to nearly $2 billion. More than a billion dollars of that goes to Boeing for 27 new jets. The man in charge of Boeing’s China operation sums it up by saying, “We are pleased.”

Negotiations Begin on Global Treaty Banning or Reducing “Dirty Dozen” Pollutants

Jun 29, 1998

This news from Toronto: Taking aim at the world’s most toxic chemical pollutants, delegates from more than 100 nations begin negotiations today on the first global treaty banning or reducing the use of the so-called dirty dozen. They include pesticides, such as DDT, as well as industrial products, such as PCBs. At weeklong talks in Montreal sponsored by the U.N. environmental program, delegates will start crafting a legally binding treaty to be in place by the year 2001 that would curb emissions of 12 of the most dangerous human-made substances. Greenpeace, another group actively campaigning for a global ban, warned chemical industry lobbyists would be on hand during the talks to play down the risks posed by the pollutants. Dozens of NGOs are sending representatives to the talks, hoping to use the occasion to intensify pressure for tough action.

Anti-Smoking Organization Accuses Big Tobacco of Illegal Corporate Campaign Contributions

Jun 29, 1998

An anti-smoking organization plans to file a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission accusing the major tobacco companies of making illegal corporate campaign contributions by promising to run political advertisements on behalf of Republican senators. The complaint, prepared by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, refers to news media accounts of a comment made by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to his Republican colleagues at a private meeting. According to the accounts, McConnell told his fellow senators if they voted to kill comprehensive tobacco legislation, the cigarette manufacturers would run TV advertisements supporting them. A few hours after that meeting, the Senate fell three votes short of approving a motion to cut off debate on the tobacco bill. Forty of the 42 votes against ending debate came from Republicans. The effect of the vote was to scrap the legislation.

Cincinnati Enquirer Apologizes to Chiquita

Jun 29, 1998

In one of the largest and most unusual settlements by a news organization, The Cincinnati Enquirer published an apology across the top of its front page and said it agreed to pay Chiquita Brands International Incorporated more than $10 million to avoid being sued for a series of articles that were highly critical of the fruit company’s business. The articles, which appeared in an 18-page special section in May, were partially based on 2,000 internal voicemails that were said to have been obtained from a high-ranking Chiquita executive. But the newspaper, after initially defending its year-long investigation of Chiquita, said yesterday it’s now convinced the voicemails had in fact been stolen from Chiquita and that it had renounced the articles. The Enquirer articles accused Chiquita, formerly known as United Fruit Company, and the world’s biggest banana producer, of a variety of unsavory practices, among them, Chiquita secretly controlling dozens of independent banana companies.

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