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News briefs

Military Joins Fujimori to Rule Embattled Peru

The Washington Post

LIMA, Peru

President Alberto Fujimori joined with the armed forces Sunday night to dissolve the Peruvian Congress, placing prominent legislators and opposition leaders under arrest, suspending civil liberties, and sending armored vehicles into the streets.

Elected president in 1990 with a populist mandate, Fujimori told the nation in a televised address that he and the military would rule "temporarily" by decree because legislative and judicial authorities were hampering his reform efforts.

"Our objective is to achieve ... a prosperous and democratic society," Fujimori said in the same steely, measured tones that on other occasions he had used to announce gasoline price hikes or cabinet nominations. "The current democratic system is deceptive, false; its institutions routinely serve the interests of the privileged groups."

Fujimori's action, which was widely described here as an autogolpe -- a self-administered coup d'etat -- was the latest blow for a country already beset by numbing poverty, a growing leftist insurgency, and the dubious distinction of being the world's leading producer of coca, the plant from which cocaine is processed.

The apparently bloodless power grab was also a slap in the face for the Bush administration, which has staunchly defended Fujimori's record on such issues as human rights and drug trafficking in the face of sharp criticism from U.S. congressmen. Officials said Assistant Secretary of State Bernard W. Aronson, who was visiting Lima at the time of the takeover, would return to Washington without meeting with Fujimori.

The White House Monday called Fujimori's action a "regrettable step backwards." The State Department called for "the full and immediate restoration of constitutional democracy," and said current aid programs would be suspended and requests to Congress reviewed.

Striking Caterpillar Workers Refuse to Return

The Washington Post


Defying a company ultimatum to return to work or risk losing their positions to replacement workers, thousands of striking employees at Caterpillar Inc. stayed off the job Monday in a dramatic struggle that could determine the future strength of organized labor.

Caterpillar officials said roughly 400 workers crossed picket lines and returned to their jobs at the start of the morning shift, only a fraction of the more than 12,000 United Auto Workers members who have been striking the heavy-equipment manufacturer, some of them since last fall.

But with no new negotiations scheduled between the two sides, the test of wills is only starting to build in what is shaping up as the most important U.S. labor-management confrontation since President Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers more than a decade ago.

Supreme Court Limits Government `Sting Operations'

Los Angeles Times


In a surprise ruling that limits government "sting operations," the Supreme Court said Monday that investigators may not seek to trap an "unwary innocent" unless they first have clear evidence that the person is likely to commit a crime.

The 5-4 decision overturns the conviction of a Nebraska farmer who ordered illegal child pornography through the mails, but only after U.S. Postal Service inspectors sent him at least 10 solicitations over 26 months.

"In their zeal to enforce the law, government agents may not originate a criminal design, implant in an innocent person's mind the disposition to commit a criminal act, and then induce commission of the crime so that the government may prosecute," wrote Justice Byron R. White for the court.

"The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was disposed to commit the criminal act prior to first being approached by government agents," he added.

Experts on the so-called "entrapment defense" said Monday's decision does not make new law so much it as strongly restates a position first taken in 1958 by the more liberal court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren.


April Showers

By Michael C. Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

Mild, more spring-like weather is anticipated for most of the week as the coldest air over North America is locked up in northwestern Canada. A "piece" of that cold air might reach the area in time for the weekend. In the shorter range, a cold front approaching from the west tonight will spread rain and rain showers into the area.

Tuesday: Increasing clouds and mild. High 55F (13C)

Tuesday night: Cloudy with rain and rain showers. Low 43F (6C)

Wednesday: Morning rain showers ending followed by clearing. A late afternoon shower possible. High 55-60F (13-16C). Low 30-35F (-1 - 2C)

Thursday: Mostly sunny and continued mild. High around 53F (12C). Low 40F (4C).