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News briefs, part 1

Packwood Enters Alcohol Diagnostic, Treatment Facility

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.), under fire for allegedly making unwanted advances to female staffers and lobbyists, checked into a alcoholism diagnostic and treatment program over the weekend and hired a lawyer to represent him before the Senate ethics committee.

An aide to Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) said Monday that the ethics committee likely would begin a preliminary, staff-level investigation this month, and leave the final disposition of the case to a newly reconstituted committee that will take over in January when the 103rd Congress convenes.

"It's Senator Mitchell's hope and expectation that a review would begin promptly with the current makeup of the committee," the aide said. "As far as when that could be completed, there's no way of knowing."

Mitchell and Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) said Sunday that they would welcome an immediate ethics investigation of Packwood.

Women's groups and Oregon Democrats have mobilized to pressure the Senate to investigate the incidents and to try to force Packwood -- who has been considered a champion of women's rights -- from office. The coalition is planning a recall drive and has set up a telephone "hotline" for women who were harassed or victimized by Packwood.

"We appreciate the fact that Packwood may be trying to deal with his problem, whatever that problem may be, but we don't see this as an alcohol problem. We see it as an abuse of power," said Betty Roberts, a former Oregon Supreme Court justice who is heading the coalition. "In many instances, there was no alcohol involved."

Packwood, 60, who narrowly won election to a fifth term Nov. 3, said Friday he would request and cooperate in an ethics committee investigation of the women's accounts of his actions.

Packwood also said he would seek counseling for what he described as his "problems" with alcohol, suggesting that a drinking problem may have affected his judgment and conduct.

The Washington Post reported Nov. 22 that since Packwood's earliest days on Capitol Hill, he has made uninvited sexual advances to women who worked for him or with him, including 10 women who gave specific accounts.

Josie Martin, Packwood's press secretary, said Monday that the senator "voluntarily" entered a treatment facility on Sunday and that he would undergo tests and evaluation for a week before deciding whether to seek longer-term treatment.

Packwood's office, citing his right to privacy, declined to identify the facility other than to say that it is located somewhere outside the Washington area.

Federal Government Moves Toward Resuming Executions

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The federal government, which has not put a prisoner to death since 1963, took the first step Monday toward resuming the practice by specifying the circumstances under which executions would occur and choosing lethal injection as the method.

A Department of Justice rule outlining the procedures to be followed in future federal executions was published in the Federal Register by Attorney General William P. Barr. It is scheduled to take effect after a 30-day public comment period.

The rule-making comes as the federal government prepares to begin carrying out death sentences following a 29-year hiatus. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down existing capital punishment laws two decades ago, and Congress was slow to revise federal law to conform to the standards articulated by the court.

One federal prisoner currently awaits execution for violation of a 1988 drug law, and the government is seeking the death penalty for nine others under the same statute. Citing the growing number of cases under the law, the Department of Justice said that "the need for the rule has become imperative."

Opponents of the death penalty denounced Barr's action as premature and politically motivated. They argued that the Bush administration should leave to the next Congress the selection of what method to use for executing prisoners.

Barr's chief spokesman, Paul McNulty, rejected the criticism, saying that the proposed rule is "a regulatory follow-up that will effectuate their (Congress') decision" to restore the federal death penalty. Responding to suggestions that the timing of the rule-making might represent a parting shot by outgoing Bush administration officials, McNulty added: "I don't know what they expect the incoming (Clinton) administration to do differently."

Weather

Clouds and Sun

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

The weather for the first few days of December will slowly take on a more winter-like feel as temperatures gradually fall. A series of disturbances every day or two will threaten the area with rain or snow -- but amounts should be light.

Today: Clouding up with a flurry or sprinkle possible after dark. High 42F (6C).

Tonight: Clouds diminishing toward dawn. Low 32F<\p>(0C).

Wednesday: Increasing clouds with light snow or rain arriving from the west late. High 42F (6C). Low 28F (-2C).

Thursday: Partly sunny and chilly, with highs near 40F (4C). Low 25F (-4C).