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News briefs

Supreme Court Refuses to Expand Police Search Powers

The Baltimore Sun


Rebuffing the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court Mondayn refused to consider a request that it give police more power to investigate because of the special needs of the ``war on drugs.''

The department had contended in an appeal that, in order to give officers more leeway in detecting drugs being moved on public highways, the justices should permit officers who stop motorists for traffic offenses to engage in wide-ranging questions about whether they were carrying anything illegal. The case (U.S. vs. Walker, 91-943) grew out of a traffic stop in Utah in 1990.

The Department of Justice gained something of a victory, however, when the court in another case voted to leave intact a lower court ruling that sharing cocaine at parties in one's home can be prosecuted as a conspiracy to distribute drugs. The issue arose in a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, case (Vogt vs. U.S., 91-8435).

U.S., Latin America Summit to Address Expanding Drug Trade

The Washington Post


Two years after President Bush met with leaders of the world's top cocaine-producing nations and declared war on the South American drug trade, narcotics production across the region has surged to record levels and illicit profits are soaring, according to U.S. and Latin American drug officials.

This week, Bush and the leaders of six Latin American nations will meet in San Antonio for another "drug summit'' that White House officials say will highlight progress in the drug war and produce new agreements for regional attacks against the traffickers.

But despite $475 million in U.S. military, law-enforcement and economic aid that has poured into the region since the previous session in Cartagena, Colombia, the drug traffickers have proved far more resilient than leaders in any of the countries have publicly acknowledged, according to U.S. and Latin American anti-drug officials.

"There's no indication anywhere that there's less cocaine coming out of South America than there was coming out three years ago,'' said Stanley E. Morris, who from 1989 to 1991 was deputy director for supply reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Supreme Court to Hear Fairness Challenge to Proposition 13

Los Angeles Times


Proposition 13 protected California homeowners from the hyperinflation of the 1970s that sent their property tax bills, along with their home values, soaring upward.

But it has not done as much to shield new buyers in the 1980s and early `90s, who on top of higher home prices have been forced to pay much steeper taxes.

Over time, the contrast between long-time owners and recent buyers has grown`extreme: One Beverly Hills mansion valued at nearly $4 million gets a smaller tax bill than a cramped Los Angeles bungalow worth less than $400,000.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether that kind of tax discrimination violates the U.S. Constitution and its guarantee of the "equal protection of the laws." The case is, quite simply, the stiffest legal test ever of the famous tax-cutting initiative.

If the justices strike down California's method of taxing property, the fallout would be dramatic. Lawmakers could find themselves this summer with the daunting task of redesigning a system that collects $16 billion a year in property taxes.

Homeowners and businesses whose taxes have been held down by Proposition 13 could face thousands of dollars in tax hikes, while property owners who have bought more recently could receive significant tax relief.

Proposition 13, approved by California voters in 1978, decreed that the assessed value of property would no longer be adjusted every year to reflect current market value. For those residents who owned property in 1978, their assessed value was rolled back to the 1975 market value. For those who bought later, the purchase price became the new assessed value. Each time another ``change of ownership'' occurs, the assessed value is adjusted to the new purchase price.


Rainy and cool

By Michael Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

Cyclones along a stalled front to our south will enhance our chance for precipitation through midweek. A cyclone approaching from the west threatens more precipitaion by sunset Thursday.

Tuesday afternoon: Cloudy and chilly with rain developing, Rain may be mixed with ice pellets and snow on the outset. Highs around 40F (5C).

Tuesday night: Cloudy with more rain possibly freezing on some surfaces, cold. Low 32-35F (0-2C).

Wednesday: Mostly cloudy early, with a few showers then decreasing clouds and chilly. high 40-44F (5 - 7C) Low 27F(-3C)

Thursday: Increasing clouds with rain or snow developing. High around 38F (4C). Low 30F (-1C).