News In Brief

The California Legislature could consider a plan today aimed at fixing the state's energy crisis by making government a major electricity broker, officials said. The proposal involves the signing of long-term contracts with electricity wholesalers, which then would be resold at cost to Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric, both of which are on the verge of bankruptcy. The plan emerged after Clinton administration officials ended a marathon negotiating session on the crisis Saturday, saying it was up to California to make the next move.

The US began sending rescue workers and emergency supplies to El Salvador, where a magnitude-7.6 earthquake Saturday killed at least 500 people dead and left 1,200 others missing. The aid, coordinated by the US Agency for International Development, amounted to 25,000 pounds of items such as blankets and medical kits. A USAID spokesman said the US also would supply helicopters to help assess the damage and target relief. (Story, page 1.)

President Clinton has developed a plan to help opposition groups distribute $12 million in humanitarian relief inside Iraq, The Washington Post reported. It said the plan calls for the opposition Iraqi National Congress to operate in northern reaches of the country. In 1998, the US Congress authorized $97 million in arms and military training for Iraqi oppositionists, but the Pentagon - concerned that the groups weren't ready - has allocated only about $2 million. President-elect Bush has pledged to pursue more aggressive policies against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Clinton observed Martin Luther King Day by sending Congress a 26-page blueprint for completing the "unfinished business" of mending race relations. He focused on the criminal justice system, suggesting that racial profiling be outlawed and that federal-sentencing policies be reexamined. Clinton also said Election Day should be declared a national holiday, and he urged the new Bush administration to appoint a nonpartisan presidential commission on electoral reform.

Some 5,000 military personnel participated at dawn Sunday in a full dress rehearsal of Bush's inauguration ceremonies. The festivities, to be held this Saturday on the West Terrace of the Capitol, are expected to draw 150,000 people, plus as many as 20,000 demonstrators - which could be the largest turnout of protesters since President Nixon's swearing-in ceremony in 1973.

The Baltimore Ravens claimed their first Super Bowl berth in the history of the franchise that, until 1996, was known as the Cleveland Browns. They'll face the New York Giants, who engineered the biggest rout in National Football Conference championship game history, 41-0 over the Minnesota Vikings. Super Bowl XXXV will be played Jan. 28 in Tampa, Fla.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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