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News Briefs 1

China Demands Recall of Attache

The Washington Post

Chinese authorities have demanded the recall of an American military attache whom they detained for 19 hours last week after arresting him in the vicinity of an air force base in southern China, U.S. officials said Thursday.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said that the Chinese government had given the United States until Friday to recall Lieut. Col. Bradley Gerdes, an assistant air force attache at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Burns accused the Chinese of detaining Gerdes illegally and preventing him from making a phone call to his colleagues in Beijing.

U.S. officials said that Gerdes was accompanied to his trip to the town of Saixi in Guangdong province by a Japanese military attache, who was detained along with him on Jan. 11. The Chinese accused the pair of trying to gain access to an air force installation in Saixi, a charge they denied, and permitted them to return to Beijing on Jan. 13.

The Chinese request for the recall of Gerdes comes against the background of renewed suspicions in Beijing that the United States is violating the proclaimed policy of recognizing only one legitimate Chinese government, in Beijing, and not also the government of Taiwan.

Budget Talks Start Again

The Washington Post

President Clinton and Republican Congressional leaders prepared to resume budget talks Wednesday in an atmosphere of deep skepticism that the session can produce anything but more disagreement.

Republican leaders Tuesday night wrote Clinton to urge him to offer a new budget proposal that can attract bipartisan support. If he does not, the leaders wrote, "there would appear to be little new to discuss" in what many believe will be the last negotiating session, at least for a while.

The letter - signed by Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Tex. - notes that in meetings last week House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., said Clinton's latest budget proposal would be unlikely to get the votes of a majority of House Democrats. If a budget plan is to work, the letter said, it must attract votes.

White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry said Tuesday night that Clinton has new proposals and is confident that any agreement reached in good faith would get sufficient votes to pass Congress.

Gingrich, addressing the Economic Club of Detroit Tuesday, said he holds out little hope for an agreement to balance the budget in seven years, a central GOP goal. The chances he said, are "somewhere between dismal and very bad."

"We're prepared to go back if the president has anything positive to offer," Gingrich said. "But we don't want to be props for a charade."

Affirmative Action Challenge OKed

Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for white men to challenge government affirmative action "goals" in court, even when they cannot show they have been hurt by them.

The court's action, in a California case, will probably widen the legal attack on public programs that steer contracts, jobs or other benefits to racial minorities or women.

In the past, the court had maintained that a plaintiff must have suffered a true loss, such as losing a contract or a job, to have the "standing" to bring a lawsuit challenging a government program as unconstitutional.

But the justices have relaxed that "standing" rule recently in affirmative action cases. White men have a right to challenge a state policy that "effectively encourages, if not compels, (utility companies) to adopt discriminatory programs" that favor minorities and women, wrote a San Diego appeals court justice in a July case.