News Briefs

Supreme Court Blocks Term Limit Measure

Chavis Joins Nation Of Islam

Wellstone Follows In RFK's Footsteps

Vandals Deface Lincoln's Tomb

Winging Toward Cuba

Burton Demands China Papers From Justice

Clinton Asks For Look At Sheep Cloning

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Supreme Court Blocks Term Limit Measure

Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- Without comment, the U.S. Supreme Court today let stand a ruling blocking a term limit ballot initiative in Arkansas. The measure aimed to punish legislators who work against mandatory term limits with a ballot designation that would say, "DISREGARDED VOTER INSTRUCTION ON TERM LIMITS." Eight other states approved similar, so-called "scarlet letter" measures in November, and backers of the Arkansas initiative wanted the high court to take the case to give its blessing to that approach. But today's decision lets stand an Arkansas state Supreme Court ruling that the ballot measure violated a federal constitutional requirement that all amendment-making efforts originate either in Congress or the state legislatures.

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Chavis Joins Nation Of Islam

Chavis

CHICAGO (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- The Rev. Benjamin Chavis, the former head of the NAACP, has announced he is joining the Nation of Islam and becoming a Muslim. "I'm turning to Allah, God bless you," Chavis told a crowd of 6,000 Sunday that turned out for a speech by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Chavis served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for 16 months until he was fired in August 1994 for committing $330,000 without board approval to settle a lawsuit brought against him. Along with Farrakhan, he helped organized the October 1995 Million Man March on Washington, D.C.

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Wellstone Follows In RFK's Footsteps

Wellstone

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) plans to follow in the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's footsteps with a May trip to the Mississippi Delta. Wellstone is positioning himself as the Democrats' liberal conscience, and while some have urged him to run for president in 2000, he denies he is considering it. Wellstone, 52, told The Associated Press he wants to emulate Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, and focus national attention on the poor. "I am going to travel the length and breadth of this country, as Robert Kennedy did 30 years ago and as Eleanor Roosevelt did during the Depression, to observe the face of American poverty -- not from behind a Senate desk, but in the streets, the villages and neighborhoods of those in distress," Wellstone said in a speech recently. Not everyone is happy about his Mississippi trip, though. Charles Evers, brother of the late civil rights leader Medgar Evers, said Wellstone doesn't have to come to Mississippi to find poor people. "I resent our state always being pointed out as the poorest state in the country," Evers said.

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Vandals Deface Lincoln's Tomb

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- Vandals defaced Lincoln's tomb with spray-painted swastikas and obscenities, in the third attack in the past decade. Staff members discovered the damage early Sunday, and covered the graffiti with black plastic until it can be removed. "We are considering it strictly a case of random and mindless vandalism," said Police Lt. Mike Geiger. Lincoln spent most of his adult life in Springfield, where he practiced law before he was elected president. His body was returned to Springfield after he was assassinated April 14, 1865. His monument attracts between 100,000 and 200,000 visitors every year.

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Winging Toward Cuba

Plane

MIAMI (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) - Fifteen aircraft piloted by anti-Castro activists took off for the edge of Cuban airspace today, marking the one-year anniversary of the downing of two similar aircraft by Cuban jet fighters. The flight plan included dropping wreaths to remember the four men killed in the incident. President Bill Clinton also noted the occasion, saying in a statement, "The shoot-down and the Cuban government's continuing repression of human rights activists and independent journalists underscore the need to continue working for a peaceful transition to democracy in Cuba." The downed aircraft were flown by members of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue over the Straits of Florida. Havana claimed the planes entered its territory, but Washington insisted -- and an international aviation organization ruled -- that the planes were in international airspace.

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Burton Demands China Papers From Justice

burton

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, has fired off a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, asking for records regarding White House requests for materials relating to alleged Chinese involvement in Democratic fund-raising. Burton wants the material by 5 p.m. Tuesday. In his letter, Burton asks, "Why is the Justice Department providing open case information to the White House when the nature and extent of contacts between Clinton administration officials and foreign fund sources is not fully understood?"

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Clinton Asks For Look At Sheep Cloning

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 24) -- President Bill Clinton has asked a White House bioethics advisory commission of outside experts to look into ethical, legal and other issues regarding the successful cloning of a sheep in Scotland. "It is a very troubling subject," White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said. The panel, due to report back to the president within 90 days, is not supposed to come up with specific recommendations on the subject. Clinton signed in 1995 a federal ban on the use of human embryos for research, so the commission will mostly be looking at private sector cloning efforts now underway.

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