News In Brief
The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether police routinely can set up roadblocks in hopes of catching drug offenders. The case focuses on a federal appeals court ruling that said an Indianapolis operation to stem the flow of drugs in the city likely amounted to unreasonable and unlawful procedures. Among other actions, the justices rejected, by a 5-4 vote, an appeal that called death in Alabama's electric chair an unconstitutional "cruel and unusual punishment." Alabama is one of three states - the others are Georgia and Nebraska - that use the electric chair as their sole means of execution.
With polls showing Vice President Al Gore leading in all 15 states whose Democratic presidential primaries are March 7, his rival, Bill Bradley, launched a new offensive at a debate in New York that centered on urban and minority issues. He accused Gore of being a closet conservative, while the vice president charged Bradley with using attack tactics that "divide us Democrats." But each pledged that if elected president, he'd take action against racial profiling - a practice under which police stop motorists based on ethnicity.
Consumer advocate Ralph Nader announced he would seek the Green Party's presidential nomination in his third campaign for the White House. Deploring corporate influence on government and promising to give the people more power, Nader has called for campaign-finance overhaul, environmental protection, workers' rights, and trade-law changes. Three other candidates are bidding for the nomination of the Green Party, which was founded in 1984 to work on environmental issues, homelessness, and equal rights.
A hostage situation at a maximum-security prison near Livingston, Texas, ended without incident after 13 hours. Two death-row inmates, both of whom had taken part in a botched escape attempt more than a year ago, had overpowered and sequestered a female prison guard. They surrendered after being allowed to speak with a group of death-penalty opponents about their demands for better living conditions. Texas, which has executed more people than any other state since the 1980s, has about 28,000 guards watching some 151,000 inmates - 1,700 to 2,000 short of what has been approved by the legislature, prison officials have said.
The union representing about 9,500 Los Angeles police officers called for an independent review of the ongoing probe of corruption in the department. A spokesman said it was the first time the Los Angeles Police Protective League has called for civilian oversight. At least 11 officers have been relieved of duty, and 40 convictions have been overturned as a result of the probe, which has found evidence that antigang officers allegedly framed, beat, and shot innocent people.
President Clinton pardoned a black American who fled to Britain 39 years ago to avoid a prison sentence for draft evasion. The pardon means that Preston King, a professor at Lancaster University, can return to the US this week for the funeral of his brother, civil rights activist Clennon King Jr. Preston King allegedly fled after his draft board, in a racial snub, refused to call him "mister."
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