News In Brief

Jury selection was to begin in the trial of former Ku Klux Klan member Thomas Blanton, charged with first-degree murders in a 1963 bombing in Birmingham, Ala. The blast, which killed four girls and injured 20 other worshippers at the 16th Street Baptist Church, proved to be a watershed event in the civil rights struggle. The FBI compiled a list of suspects, among them Blanton, but then shelved the case. In 1980 the Justice Department concluded that ex-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover had withheld major evidence. The case was later reopened. In May Blanton was named in a Grand Jury indictment. Other suspects have died.

The aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk was headed toward a station in the South China Sea, where it could launch fighter jets to protect US reconnaissance flights off China's coast, The Washington Post reported. Those flights could resume as soon as Thursday in international airspace, about 50 miles off the Chinese coast, following last Wednesday's release of the 24 crew members of a Navy surveillance plane held on Hainan Island. China's leaders oppose the flights, but the US says they are routine.

The Supreme Court rejected a constitutional challenge to a federal law aimed at stopping violent protests that block access to clinics where abortions are performed. Without comment, the justices let stand an appeals court ruling that upholds the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. It prohibits the blocking of access and the injuring or intimidation of abortion-seeking women or clinic staff. Attorneys for anti-abortion protesters in the New Jersey case had argued the law was not valid because conduct could be regulated locally.

The justices also let stand a lower court decision that allows Indian tribal lands to impose air-pollution standards that are more stringent than the rules for adjacent state land. The state of Michigan, business, and utility groups had claimed that applying the strictest standards on Indian lands threatens environmental, development, and energy policies on land outside Indian jurisdiction. They claimed that last year's decision by the US appeals court for the District of Columbia had "fundamentally rearranged the balance of state and tribal jurisdiction."

CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames lost a Supreme Court appeal in an effort to void his guilty plea to spying for the former Soviet Union. The court, without comment turned down Ames's argument that he should be allowed to pursue a claim that prosecutors coerced him into pleading guilty. Ames pleaded guilty in 1994 to espionage and is serving a life sentence in prison.

High-water warnings remained in effect from Minneapolis-St. Paul to northern Iowa, and more than half of Minnesota's counties reported some flooding, emergency officials said. Many of the state's rivers have yet to crest, including the Mississippi. Meanwhile, the Red River Valley, along the Minnesota-North Dakota state line, crested during the weekend and has started to recede.

A citywide curfew in Cincinnati that helped end rioting over the police shooting of an unarmed black man was lifted, Mayor Charles Luken said. At least 837 people were arrested for looting, arson, and curfew violations since protesting began last week.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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