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World & Nation Briefs and Weather

U.S. to Extend Favored Trading Status to China

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

President Clinton announced Thursday he will extend China's favored trade status for another year but will condition future extensions on human rights progress.

At the same time, Clinton declined to link two other issues with renewal of China's trading privileges. He said U.S. concerns about China's trade practices and foreign arms sales would be negotiated separately with Beijing.

The steps represent a retreat from Clinton's pledges during the presidential campaign, when he endorsed legislation that would tie renewal of China's most favored nation (MFN) status to its behavior on human rights, arms sales and trade with the United States. Clinton had accused President Bush of ignoring China's human rights record when Bush vetoed such legislation last year.

After months of review and unsuccessful diplomatic efforts to press China for cooperation, Clinton altered his approach. During a televised "town meeting" at the White House Thursday, he said the twin goals of supporting market reform in China and ensuring a significant share of Chinese trade for American business influenced his decision.

"But I want to make it clear to them that there has to be some progress on human rights," he added, making specific reference to China's use of prison labor. "Our trade disputes and our disputes about arms sales, I'm going to take out of this issue and negotiate with them directly."

Russian Court Backs Vote to Strip Yeltsin of Media Control

Los Angeles Times

MOSCOW

Russia's Constitutional Court dealt a sharp blow to President Boris N. Yeltsin Thursday by upholding the conservative-run Parliament's vote to strip him of control over state-owned television and news agencies. But whether the court's verdict actually means anything in the confusing turmoil of today's Russian politics became the topic of immediate debate.

The Itar-Tass news agency, the Russian Information Agency and Russian Television -- the affected media -- kept operating as before. Yeltsin's information czar, Mikhail Poltoranin, defiantly mocked the court as a "political tool" of the Congress of People's Deputies, which wholeheartedly opposes Yeltsin.

A more alarmist view came from the Izvestia newspaper, itself the target of an unsuccessful takeover bid by Parliament. The paper declared that Thursday's ruling spells the end of "the time of ephemeral openness, of semi-freedom of speech" in Russian media.

Ironically, the Constitutional Court had ruled in favor of Izvestia's independence last week.

The Congress also voted to shut down Poltoranin's Federal Information Center, which Yeltsin created to orchestrate a nationwide propaganda campaign for his reforms, the new constitution he wants for Russia and a pro-Yeltsin vote in April's referendum.

Mexico Offers $5 Million Reward For Cardinal Killers

Los Angeles Times

GUADALAJARA, Mexico

The Mexican government Wednesday offered an unprecedented $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of some of Mexico's top drug traffickers, including those allegedly responsible for the murders of a Roman Catholic cardinal and six other people.

The killings at Guadalajara's international airport Monday were a tremendous embarrassment to President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who only recently renewed Mexico's diplomatic relations with the Vatican. The incident has unleashed a wave of criticism against the administration for failing to control Mexican mafias.

Deputy Attorney General Antonio Garcia Torres announced the reward at a press conference here and released sketches and descriptions of four of Mexico's mafia chiefs. One high-ranking official said the offer was "a call to society" for help.

"We know they move in and out of that area," said the official, who asked not to be identified. "People must see them. We want to try to get information to capture them."

Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, his driver and five other people died in the airport parking lot Monday afternoon during what officials say was an attempt by one group of traffickers to assassinate leaders of a rival organization.

Weather

Cloudy but not much rain

By Yeh-Kai Tung
staff meteorologist

It seems like Commencement will be spared, after all. The bulk of the moisture associated with the low pressure cell will pass to the north, leaving us with just a few sprinkles. In addition, the highest chance of precipitation will be in the afternoon, so most of commencement will be dry. Behind this system is cooler, dry air, giving us a clear, sunny Memorial Day weekend.

Today: Cloudy with a few light showers possible, especially in the afternoon. Winds shifting from the northwest to the south 5-10 mph (8-16 kph). High 71F (22C).

Tonight: Continued cloudiness with scattered showers. Low 56F (13C).

Tomorrow: Cloudy start, then clearing. High 68F (20C). Low 54F (12C).

Sunday: Sunny. High 65F (18C).