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News Briefs

Clinton Signs Spending Bill, But Notes What It Left Out


A subdued President Clinton signed the final budget bill for the new fiscal year Monday, highlighting the places where he prevailed over the Republican-led Congress but giving almost equal attention to those initiatives that fell short.

The $390 billion spending measure includes money for new school teachers, police officers, land preservation and scores of other federal programs. It does not, as Clinton had desired, include a prescription drug benefit for Medicare patients or tougher sanctions for hate crimes.

Assessing the bill that completes the federal government’s spending package for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, Clinton said: “Though it leaves some challenges unmet, it represents real progress. ... As we celebrate what we’ve accomplished, I ask us all to be humble and mindful of what we still have to accomplish.”

He then listed more than a half-dozen White House initiatives that fell by the wayside during the long weeks of negotiating with GOP congressional leaders.

35,000 Falun Gong Members Detained Since July, Report Says


Chinese police detained more than 35,000 practitioners of the Falun Gong spiritual movement in Beijing alone between July 22 -- the day the group was banned -- and Oct. 30, a human rights organization reported Monday.

The Hong Kong-based Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported that the figure was announced here on Friday during a speech to Communist Party stalwarts by Vice Premier Li Lanqing. According to the account, Li described the campaign against Falun Gong as “long term, difficult and complex” and said Falun practitioners were being “stubborn.”

If accurate, the account would be the clearest indication to date of the size of efforts to crush Falun Gong’s enduring opposition to the government ban. The human rights organization reported having three sources for the contents of Li’s speech but did not identify them.

The number of detained people reported in the operation against Falun Gong dwarfs every political campaign in recent years in China except the crackdown on a student-led democracy movement centered on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. An estimated 15,000 people were sent to jail or labor camps within about 50 days of the attack on student demonstrators by China’s army on June 4, 1989.

Clinton Won’t Attend Panama Canal Hand-Over Ceremony


President Clinton will rebuff a personal appeal from the president of Panama and skip next month’s politically freighted ceremony at which the United States will hand over control of the Panama Canal, administration officials said Monday.

Now, just two weeks before the hand-over ceremony, Clinton has decided against personally presiding over an event that will mark the end of 90 years of control over the 51-mile waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The White House said the president simply could not fit the trip into his schedule.

For Latin American experts, the formal hand-over of the 550-square-mile canal zone will mark an acknowledgment that the United States’ relationship with the rest of the hemisphere is moving from overt dominance to a more equal partnership.