News In Brief

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a law intended to shield children from sex-oriented cable-TV networks violates the free-speech rights of Playboy Television and similar channels. The justices said they will review a Clinton administration appeal aimed at reviving the law. A federal judge in Delaware had struck it down, saying it went too far in trying to prevent children from seeing adult programming on networks that are only partly scrambled for nonsubscribers.

In other actions, the high court: -- Allowed prosecutors to continue offering leniency for testimony of cooperating witnesses. The justices rejected without comment arguments that federal prosecutors commit bribery by granting leniency in exchange for testimony.

-- Upheld the death sentence of a Texas killer who became the first person in the nation condemned under a 1994 federal death-penalty law. On a 5-to-4 vote, the court ruled that the sentence of Louis Jones for a 1995 murder is valid despite the less-than-clear instructions jurors received before voting for the death penalty.

-- Said police generally do not need a warrant to search a car they have reason to believe is carrying illegal drugs. The justices ruled in a Maryland case that a search warrant is not required even if police had plenty of time to get one after receiving a tip that a vehicle would be carrying drugs.

Polygraph tests will be given to some 5,000 nuclear-weapons scientists and other employees of the Energy Department, The Washington Post reported. The newspaper said it was the first time the wholesale use of lie-detector tests had been extended beyond the CIA and the National Security Agency.

The Clinton administration was trying to prevent a Senate vote today on a steel-quota bill that would place limits on imports for three years. Opponents say the measure violates global trade rules and invites retaliation against US exports. Senior White House officials weren't sure whether backers could muster the 60 votes needed to force a vote on the bill - but said they would recommend a presidential veto if it passed. Similar legislation has been approved by the House.

Documents newly passed to the US on President Kennedy's assassination in 1963 concern a trip to the Soviet Union by Lee Harvey Oswald, Russia's Interfax news agency reported. In 1991 Russian intelligence officials declassified - but did not release - their files on Oswald, the man the Warren Commission identified as the gunman who killed Kennedy in Dallas. President Yeltsin gave the files to President Clinton Sunday in Cologne, Germany.

The home-ownership gap between whites and nonwhites widened between 1994 and 1998, even though more members of minority groups were buying homes, the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies reported. It said the US homeownership rate hit a record 66.3 percent last year.

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