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News Briefs, part 2

Dalai Lama Makes Low-Key Visit to White House

Los Angeles Times

The Dalai Lama visited the White House Thursday and got the Salman Rushdie treatment.

In a meeting carefully arranged to minimize offense to China, the peripatetic Tibetan leader was permitted 15 minutes with President Clinton. The session was labeled unofficial and took place not in the Oval Office but down the hall in the West Wing suite of Vice President Al Gore. Clinton had displayed similar caution last November when he met with Rushdie, a British author condemned to death by Iran.

The Dalai Lama's low-keyed, late-afternoon White House reception followed formal protests of the meeting by the Chinese government, which branded the Dalai Lama "a political exile who has for a long time engaged in activities aimed at splitting the motherland."

Despite the White House's skittishness, the International Campaign for Tibet praised Clinton's decision to meet with the Dalai Lama as "an important indication of the administration's continued support for Tibet and for negotiations between the Dalai Lama and Beijing."

It was not the first face-to-face session the Dalai Lama has ever had with an American president. In fact, the Tibetan leader had a comparable "drop-by" meeting with Clinton in Gore's office one year ago and also met privately with President Bush in 1991.

But the session took on added importance now, because the Clinton administration must decide by June 3 whether to renew China's trade benefits in this country.

Teamsters Close to Strike Agreement

The Washington Post

The Teamsters union was close to a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Trucking Management Inc. Thursday that could end the nationwide trucking strike as early as this weekend.

Negotiators for the union and TMI, which represents unionized trucking companies in labor negotiations, were near agreement on a package that both sides hope will help the dwindling unionized sector of the industry remain competitive in a deregulated era.

Negotiations hit a last-minute snag over union demands for amnesty for less than 100 workers who had been arrested during the strike. Sources close to the talks said they were confidant overall agreement would be reached but cautioned that negotiations over the amnesty issue could drag into Friday.

As the strike entered its fourth week Wednesday there were increasing reports of delayed freight shipments, but the walkout never threatened to create a major economic emergency.

The new agreement, which must be approved by the union's rank and file membership, would allow the companies to ship nearly three times as much freight to the railroads as current rules permit. Companies also would be able to make greater use of part-time or "casual" workers at lower wage rates on the loading docks.

Girls Visit the World of Work

The Washington Post

Fourteen-year-old Kristy Roundtree has never driven a car, but Thursday she climbed onto the seat of a grimy forklift and took over the controls. The Nissan 9000 lurched a bit, but Roundtree had no trouble with her assignment: moving nearly a ton of steel tubing across the construction yard at American Ironworks in suburban Bladensburg, Md.

"I don't think it's a job of my interest," she said later, "but it's a good job."

While Roundtree was driving a forklift in Maryland, girls were hanging over the shoulders of dentists in Dallas, listening to debates in Britain's House of Parliament and mixing chemicals at a Cleveland plant.

Organizers of the second Take Our Daughters To Work Day estimated that about 3 million American girls, most of them between the ages of 9 and 15, took off a day from school Thursday to go to work with their parents or other adults and get a closer look at opportunities awaiting them in the real world of work.

And some boys came along this year. Many workplaces, responding to a minor controversy over whether this should be a girls-only event, decided to open up the day to sons and daughters. But the Chrysler Corp. and the city of Bellevue, Wash. opted out altogether, complaining that the emphasis on girls was unfair.

The Take Our Daughters To Work Day, which began as a New York event last year, mushroomed into something of a phenomenon this year, with girls trailing alongside adults in tens of thousands of workplaces. And the Ms. Foundation said the idea was adopted by several other countries, including Japan, Africa, Ireland and Britain.

U.S. Navy Pilot Killed When Jet Crashes in Adriatic

The Washington Post

A U.S. Navy pilot was killed Thursday when his jet crashed in the Adriatic Sea while taking off from the USS Saratoga, in what the military said was the first death among the NATO allies as part of the air operation over Bosnia.

Pentagon officials said they did not yet know why the F/A-18 crashed shortly after 3 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST). A military official said the body of the pilot, who has not been identified pending notification of family, was recovered on the water's surface, leading to the conclusion that he probably ejected from the plane as it was going down.

The pilot was an unmarried lieutenant based at the naval air station at Cecil Field near Jacksonville, Fla., according to a Navy spokesman.

The Saratoga is participating in NATO's "Operation Deny Flight," which for the past year has been enforcing the United Nations prohibition on military flights over Bosnia and providing close air support for the U.N. force trying to contain the civil war there.

The Pentagon said it would not speculate on the causes of Thursday's crash until the Navy's investigation is complete.