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News Briefs, part 1

Clinton Signs Education Reform Plan into Law

Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO

President Clinton signed into law the framework for his administration's nationwide education reform Thursday, telling hundreds of elementary students here that the country now will have "world-class standards for what every child in every American school should know."

Students at San Diego's Zamorano Fine Arts Academy sat on a black-top play area to witness Clinton signing the Goals 2000 Act, which will create a new hands-on role for the federal government in local schools across the country.

The act provides $700 million in federal funds in 1995 for those states and school districts that voluntarily adopt standards to meet new federal guidelines for what students should be achieving at each grade level. The administration intends to ask for $1 billion in subsequent years.

Goals 2000 establishes voluntary guidelines in both academics and occupational skills, providing a yardstick so that parents and educators can judge whether their schools measure up.

Clinton Tries to Calm Stock-Market Jitters

Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

President Clinton sought to calm a jittery stock market Thursday, saying that "these corrective things will happen from time to time, but there's no reason to overreact."

Clinton's remarks were aimed at preventing a panicked reaction by small investors, many of whom have little experience with the stock market, and reflect concern among his advisers that the recent decline could get much worse if individuals who have invested in mutual funds over the last two years begin to pull out in large numbers.

"What I'm trying to do is to reassure people so that we don't go beyond skittishness," Clinton told reporters after visiting an elementary school in San Diego, where he is vacationing. "No one believes that there's a serious problem with the underlying economy. It is healthy, and it is sound."

After more than three years of fairly steady increases, the Dow Jones average has declined roughly 9 percent in the last two months as interest rates have begun to climb. Despite Thursday's trading, in which the market closed slightly higher after an initial sharp fall, administration analysts believe further declines are all but certain.

U.S. Issues Annual Critique Of Foreign Trade Barriers

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration issued the annual critique of foreign trade barriers Thursday, providing a bill of particulars for future trade sanctions if Japan fails to meet U.S. demands to make its markets more open to American goods and services.

Like an indictment in a criminal prosecution, the 281-page report is the first step leading toward possible trade sanctions under Section 301 of U.S. trade law and other statutes.

The report provides clues of future U.S. actions against Japan in its pointed criticism directed at a handful of industries, including supercomputers, medical and telecommunications equipment and industrial window and automotive glass.

Some of the criticisms in the report border on the trivial, such as the complaint that Japan hampers imports of industrial nailing and stapling tools by regulating them under its restrictive "Gun and Sword Law." Others, such as that of Japan's keiretsu industrial network, go to the heart of the tensions between the countries.

But no conclusions can be drawn from the report about where the United States might aim sanctions, cautioned Ira Shapiro, the U.S. Trade Representative's general counsel. Many of the foreign practices cited in the report have been mentioned in eight previous annual reports.