News In Brief

The US

President Clinton was set to appoint Bill Lann Lee today as head of the Justice Department's civil rights division - leapfroging the congressional approval process and risking a backlash by Republicans, who consider Lee an affirmative-action booster. Analysts said Clinton aims to woo minority voters and stand up to Republic- ans, who have blocked other appointments.

Most Americans support racial diversity in schools and the workplace but disagree with methods used to achieve it, according to a CBS/New York Times poll. Forty percent of respondents (most of them white) favored phasing out race-based affirmative-action programs. Most Americans support class-based preferences as an alternative to race-based plans, the survey found.

The $1 billion Getty Center opened to invited guests in Los Angles. The 110-acre art-museum complex - with six buildings of limestone, metal, and glass - took 14 years to complete. It opens to the public tomorrow.

University of Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won the Heisman Trophy. He is the first defensive player ever to win the most prestigious individual award in college football. He beat out star Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning by a comfortable 272 points in the voting.

A federal judge ruled that the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park illegal. He said under the Endangered Species Act, the government erred in experimentally introducing wolves to an area near where the animal was already found. A suit was filed by ranchers opposed to the plan, which brought 14 Canadian wolves to the park in 1995. But the wolves won't be sent back right away: The judge stayed his ruling, pending appeals.

The Federal Reserve is likely to hold interest rates steady when its open-market committee meets tomorrow. Although growth of the US economy might tempt the Fed to act, analysts said they assumed it wouldn't risk further upsetting shaky Asian financial markets by boosting rates.

An internal audit by the IRS found "inappropriate treatment of taxpayers," particularly in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Out of 67 cases in which property was seized in those states, 23 were called questionable. The trouble stemmed from pressure to boost taxpayer compliance. In response, the IRS has taken several steps, such as stopping the ranking of its 33 districts based on results.

Marijuana buyers' clubs are illegal, a California appeals court ruled. Such groups - typically used by people diagnosed with AIDS or other diseases - sprung up after voters approved the drug for medicinal purposes last year. The court said the clubs could lead to marijuana being sold in co-ops, groceries, or liquor stores.

Children who own cigarette promotional items, such as T-shirts and caps, are four times more likely to smoke than those who don't, Dartmouth Medical School researchers said. More than one-third of sixth to 12th graders at five schools surveyed said they own such gear. As part of this year's tobacco deal, cigarette firms agreed to drop their logos from such items.

Firms making clothes for four major retailers had help from sweatshops, the Labor Department said. Wal-Mart, KMart, Nordstrom, and Lerner sold clothes assembled by shops in New York's Chinatown that allegedly withheld pay from workers, it said. The retailers said they didn't know sweat- shops were involved.

A mistrial was declared in the case of two white Pittsburgh police officers charged with kil-ling black motorist Johnny Gammage in 1995. A jury deadlocked after two days. Gammage was a cousin of pro football player Ray Seals.

The World

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a key meeting of his Cabinet, saying his country will not "commit suicide" just to please another government. Analysts said his words suggested no decision would be reached on expanding Israel's troop pullback from additional areas of the West Bank despite pressure from US Secretary of State Albright. She and Netan-yahu are due to meet in Paris later this week, and she has demanded he bring a "credible" withdrawal plan to their talks.

Northern Ireland's second-largest city tried to regain a sense of calm after hours of rioting by Catholics over an annual Protestant parade. The violence in mainly Catholic Londonderry injured six people, damaged two banks and a store, and littered streets with burned-out vehicles. Police, who had struggled to keep the two sides apart, made 13 arrests. The march commemorated the locking of the city's gates by Protestants in 1688, triggering a siege that left thousands of people dead.

European Union leaders offered 10 former Communist states and Cyprus the opportunity to seek membership but blocked the entry of longtime NATO ally Turkey. The EU decided Turkey's human rights record, economic problems, and ongoing territorial dispute with Greece made it unfit to join. In Ankara, Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz denounced a lesser EU invitation to attend a regional conference in March.

Chief UN arms inspector Richard Butler headed for a meeting with Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, saying he had been promised a "fuller report" on biological and chemical weapons. They are scheduled to discuss Butler's demand for unrestricted access to suspected storage sites today. But other Iraqi officials said such inspections would not be allowed because the investigators are continuing their work only "for political reasons."

Another murder of a local politician produced a huge outpouring of condemnation in Spain's Basque region. Tens of thousands of people marched in San Sebastian to protest the Dec. 11 killing of Jose Maria Caso, apparently by ETA guerrillas in retaliation for the jailing of their political leaders. It was the strongest anti-ETA protest since a week-long wave of demonstrations in July that followed the murder of Basque official Miguel Angel Blanco.

Russian President Yeltsin was among the few residents who bothered to vote in Moscow's local elections. Yeltsin cast his ballot from a hospital, where he's expected to continue receiving treatment for another 10 days. Otherwise, bitter cold weather and apathy kept the turnout at about 20 percent with polling almost over. The election was seen as a vote of confidence in Moscow Mayor - and presumed future presidential candidate - Yuri Luzhkov.

American government leaders "have fallen behind the times," but some form of dialogue with the US is desirable, Iranian President Mohamad Khatami said. He said Iran's relations with the US remain bitter because America "still imagines it must impose its will on the whole world." But analysts said his remarks were the clearest call for a rapprochement since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Khatami, a relative moderate, is believed to be trying to temper Iran's religious fervor.

Amid reports of widespread irregularities - including children casting ballots and polls remaining open as late as 11 p.m. - President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya of Mauritania was reelected with more than 90 percent of the vote. Despite a boycott by opposition parties, officials put the turnout at 72 percent. Mauritania straddles Arab and black Africa, but Kane Amadou Moctar, the first black to seek the office, drew less than 1 percent of the vote.


"My body just went limp. It was ... a great honor. I really didn't expect to win it."

- University of Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson, the first defensive player to be voted the Heisman Trophy, college football's top individual award.

Picture this scene: A taxi approaches a branch bank on Miami Beach's Washington Avenue. Frantically trying to flag it down is a robbery suspect who'd just fled with all the cash he could carry after persuading the teller he had a gun. Behind him: bystanders who realize the bad guy isn't armed and are just as urgently signaling the cabbie not to stop. He didn't. The suspect was caught on an adjacent street, and the money was recovered.

Russian officials thought they'd seen it all before when Joyce Rodie of Marietta, Ga., appeared in a Moscow courtroom for the formalities in adopting infant twins. That's because her own identical twin, Jane Bragg of Kenesaw, Ga., had been there for exactly the same purpose a month earlier. A phone call to the US agency that arranged the adoptions cleared up the confusion.

Some members of parliament in Belgium are upset about the brand-new headquarters for the European Union Assembly. Why? Because the building in Brussels has 626 bathrooms - one for each of the assembly's elected deputies. Cost: $14,790 apiece.

The Day's List

Eastwood Rises as Most Popular Star in the US

Although he now does as much directing as acting, Clint Eastwood was voted most popular film star in America by respondents to a Harris poll of 1,010 adults. He succeeded Mel Gibson, last year's favorite. Demi Moore was the top woman finisher, but only No. 22 overall. Steven Seagal, Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, and Sylvester Stallone dropped out of this year's top 10. The rankings:

1. Clint Eastwood

2. Mel Gibson

3. Tom Cruise

4. John Wayne

5. Harrison Ford

6. Kevin Costner

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger

tie Richard Gere

tie Sean Connery

10. Denzel Washington

- Associated Press

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