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News Briefs

ATF Head Quits Before Critical Report on Waco Raid Released

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

The director of the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms resigned Monday, just days before the release of a Treasury Department report that is expected to criticize his agency's handling of last February's fatal raid on the Branch Davidian cult headquarters near Waco, Texas.

Stephen E. Higgins, director of the ATF for 10 years, said in his resignation letter to Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen that he realized that "changes in direction and focus" will be called for in the report. But he said he disagreed with some of the conclusions reached in the report.

Joan Logue-Kinder, an aide to Bentsen, said Higgins' decision to retire had been accepted and the report would be made report public this week.

Higgins, 55, said last April that he expected to retire once the Treasury Department had completed its review. He was widely criticized in Congress for the incomplete and confusing statements ATF officials made about the raid and the events that led to it. Of particular concern was whether the agency had been aware of reports that David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidian cult -- had been tipped to the raid in advance.

Congressional sources have said that ATF may have inadvertently alerted Koresh to the raid in the course of seeking media coverage of it.

Imprisonment Delayed In King Beating Case

The Washington Post

LOS ANGELES

The two Los Angeles police officers scheduled to begin serving their sentences at noon Monday for convictions in the Rodney G. King beating case were granted a two-week postponement Friday morning.

U.S. District Judge John G. Davies granted the delay until Oct. 12 so Sgt. Stacey C. Koon and Officer Laurence M. Powell can ask the Supreme Court to grant bail while they pursue appeals. A federal appeals court denied the request last week.

The two officers had already reported to the federal prison camp in Dublin, Calif., where they were to serve their sentences. Powell had surrendered at the minimum-security camp 40 miles east of San Francisco Sunday, and Koon arrived there minutes before Davies's ruling. Both were discharged Monday afternoon.

Last April, a federal jury convicted the two officers of violating King's civil rights in the 1991 videotaped beating that became a worldwide symbol of police brutality.

Congressional Staff Puts Priority On Streamlining Legislation

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Asked what to do to fix Congress, aides who work on Capitol Hill tend to give the same answers as lawmakers, a new survey of congressional staff members shows.

The aides, like their bosses, put as their first priority the issue of streamlining legislation in committee and on the floor. They also overwhelmingly support having Congress abide by federal laws that it is now exempt from. Many of their suggestions for change differed from those promoted by the large class of House freshmen who have formulated their own agendas for reform.

"It is clear that congressional staff's most intense interests are in those reform proposals that would allow Congress to be more focused and orderly as a means of reducing its overwhelming workload," the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress concluded in the latest of a series of surveys that the bipartisan panel commissioned.

Results from a survey of staff attitudes toward 29 possible "reforms" released this weed found that reducing the overlap in committee jurisdiction was the most desired change, with about 87 percent of aides supporting that.

The staff survey was sent by the bipartisan panel to a random sample of 3,500 aides who work for committees or member offices here or in their districts. A total of 1,422 aides returned the questionnaire, a response rate of 41 percent. Those surveyed generally reflected the congressional work force according to party affiliation and employment by the House or Senate.

Weather

Turning Colder

Forecast by Michael Morgan
staff meteorologist

Temperatures will trend downward over the next several days as disturbances embedded in a rather strong autumn jet stream move through the area. With the passage of each disturbance, we'll observe a few clouds, the risk of an afternoon shower, and the day time maximum temperature a few degrees colder than the preceeding day. By Thursday, it will be cold enough in the higher terrain of New England for the first snow showers of the season. Below normal temperatures are expected into the weekend.

Today: Partly cloudy early with increasing afternoon clouds. Winds west 10-20 mph (16-32 kph). High 70F (21C).

Tonight: Clearing, breezy, and cooler. Low 50F (10C).

Wednesday: Sunny early with the risk of a late afternoon rain shower. High 65F (18C). Low 50F (10C).

Thurday: Clouds and sun with a rain shower possible. Turning colder. High 58F (14C). Low 43F (6C).