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News Briefs II

Democrats Warn of Possible Government Shutdown

The Washington Post

Senate Democrats issued a warning Monday that the government could be headed for another partial shutdown at midnight Friday as Republicans and the White House continue to dicker over the terms of a spending measure to get through the remainder of the fiscal year.

The White House and congressional Democrats are demanding that GOP leaders restore as much as $8 billion that was cut from spending this year for education, environmental protection, job training and scores of other domestic programs.

But Republicans are willing to go along only with roughly half that amount - and only after the White House agrees to offsetting reductions in major entitlement programs and other spending. Democrats have objected to this contingency requirement, and President Clinton has threatened to veto the legislation.

"The Republicans are giving new meaning to March madness," Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., told reporters. "We're five days from the third government shutdown and this situation is every bit as precarious as it was several months ago."

Senate Majority Whip Trent Lott, R-Miss., and other Republicans said they have no interest in taking part in another politically risky government shutdown and that, at worst, Congress and the White House may have to adopt a two-week short-term spending resolution to buy more time to resolve their differences.

Clinton Administration Protests Canadian Trade Policy

The Washington Post

The Clinton administration, eager to show its readiness to break down foreign barriers to U.S. products, filed a complaint Monday with the World Trade Organization alleging that Canada unfairly discriminates against U.S. magazines.

The case involves a steep tax imposed by Canada late last year that is designed to block publication of a Canadian edition of Sports Illustrated. Canada contends that in order to sustain its culture it must protect the nation's magazine industry from American media giants like Time-Warner, the publisher of Sports Illustrated. Washington counters that Ottawa has taken blatantly protectionist action that violates international free trade rules.

"Our action is justified not only on the merits of the case itself, but it is also important in setting a clear precedent that the United States is prepared to act on so-called cultural issues where there is discrimination against U.S. interests," U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said in a statement. "The Clinton administration is committed to combating the growing attack on our country's publishing and entertainment industries, whether from Canada, Europe or Asia."

Monday's case was the ninth the United States has brought to the Geneva-based WTO since it was established in January 1995.

Canadian officials maintain that they were within their rights to slap an 80 percent excise tax on advertising in "split-run" magazines such as Sports Illustrated's Canadian edition, which includes some articles especially for the Canadian audience as well as the magazine's regular U.S. content.