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News Briefs

High Court Denies Powell's Bid to Remain Free on Bail

Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday denied Los Angeles Police Officer Laurence M. Powell's motion to remain free on bail while he appeals his conviction for violating the civil rights of motorist Rodney G. King, a move that virtually assures Powell will begin serving his prison sentence next week.

The Supreme Court's decision, delivered in a terse, one-line order from Washington, came as a sharp blow to Powell, who had hoped until the last minute that the court might agree to let him remain free pending the outcome of the appeal, said Powell's lawyer, Michael P. Stone.

Although both Powell and Sgt. Stacey C. Koon, also convicted of violating King's civil righs, submitted similar bail motions, Powell's was filed first and was the only one addressed by the court Monday. A ruling on Koon's request is expected this week.

While the order ends the appellate options for Powell, it also makes it unlikely that Koon will prevail in his attempt to stay out of prison while he too appeals his conviction.

Powell and Koon had been scheduled to report to prison on Sept. 27, but U.S. District Judge John G. Davies granted them a two-week extension to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court denies Koon's request as well, the two men must report to prison at noon Oct. 12.

Koon and Powell each face sentences of 30 months. They are expected to serve that time at a minimum-security facility in Northern California.

Quake Toll Climbs Slowly

The Washington Post

SASTUR, India

Five days after tremors demolished two dozen towns and villages and damaged nearly a hundred more, killing thousands of people as they slept, the search for bodies entombed in the collapsed stone houses of India has become increasingly difficult.

Stunned survivors hauled thousands of dead relatives out of the rubble and burned them atop hundreds of funeral pyres in the first day after the quake. But grieving families now have retreated to emergency camps or homes of friends and relatives. It has left the most-devastated villages eerily deserted except for the soldiers doggedly moving rocks, and journalists and curious onlookers from nearby towns.

Goverment authorities still do not have an accurate death toll, although officials said late Monday that 9,454 bodies have been retrieved and burned or buried in mass graves. Indian government news organizations continue to give apparently inflated death tolls -- one claiming it has gone as high as 35,000 -- but Sharad Pawar, chief minister of Maharashtra, the region hardest hit, said Monday he expects the final death count to be about 12,000.

Although government officials announced Monday that the search for bodies is now 95 percent complete, visits to several villages found that soldiers had not yet dug beneath debris several yards thick.

In the last two days, about 20 more bodies have been unearthed, including a 3-year-old girl crushed by huge rocks.

Clinton Urges Californians to Reject School Vouchers

Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO

President Clinton waded into the midst of one of the state's most controversial political issues Monday, urging Californians to defeat Proposition 174 -- the school voucher initiative -- on the November ballot.

"American schools ought to have competition," Clinton said, but the ballot initiative would "throw out the baby with the bathwater" -- taking $1.3 billion away from public schools that already are short of funds and providing the money to private schools without imposing any educational standards or requirements on them.

"Wouldn't it be ironic if, at the very moment we're finally trying to raise standards" for public schools, the government would "turn around and start sending tax money to private schools that didn't have to meet any standards at all?" Clinton said in a speech to the AFL-CIO convention here.

"The people will regret this if they pass it," Clinton said. "If I were a citizen of the state of California, I would not vote for Proposition 174."

Several members of Clinton's Cabinet -- including Californians Leon A. Panetta, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Mickey Kantor, the trade representative -- urged him to oppose the ballot initiative, White House officials said. The subject was a topic of discussion at last week's Cabinet meeting, they said.