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News Briefs, part 1

GOP Manipulation in Jersey Campaign Allegedly Confirmed

Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK

A co-chairman of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey said Thursday that some clergyman have confirmed that they were offered cash donations to cooperate in an effort to hold down the black vote by Republicans working to elect Christine Todd Whitman governor.

Owens, a Camden, N.J., minister, said that so far his group had been able to confirm that attempts were made to enlist clergyman in the northern part of New Jersey. Inquiries are continuing, he said.

The effort to suppress black voter turnout was first disclosed by Edward J. Rollins, Whitman's campaign manager, who later sought to retract his statement.

Democrats have asked the U.S. Justice Department to conduct a criminal investigation for possible violations of the Voting Rights Law. The New Jersey Democratic State Committee plans to go into federal court next week, seeking to subpoena Rollins under oath.

At a breakfast in Washington with reporters earlier in the week, Rollins said Whitman's campaign had funneled about $500,000 in "walking around money" to black ministers and some Democratic organizers to suppress the turnout for Florio.

But a day later, Whitman's chief strategist denied he had ever said it, declaring: "My remarks left the impression of something that was not true and did not occur."

Nuclear Theft Found at Chernobyl

KIEV, Ukraine

The Washington Post

A top official in charge of security at Ukraine's nuclear power stations has painted a picture of dangerously lax conditions and sloppy standards.

As a result, Anatoly Marushchak said in an interview Wednesday, thieves were able to walk out of the Chernobyl nuclear power station with two uranium-filled reactor control rods, officials discovered late last month. "Our atomic power stations are not secure against theft," he said.

Western nations have repeatedly expressed concern about safety and policing standards in Eastern Europe's aging nuclear power industry. Marushchak's comments are likely to increase that concern.

The 3-yard-long zirconium rods and the 454 uranium pellets they contain are valued locally at more than $1 million. "This looks like the work of a specialist, someone who knows the price and value of the fuel rods," Marushchak said.

So far, however, smugglers have not been able to get hold of weapons-grade uranium, according to William Potter, nuclear weapons control expert at the Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif.

Ultraviolet Ray Increase Linked To Ozone Depletion

Los Angeles Times

Measuring radiation over a heavily populated region, Canadian scientists have made a compelling case that links a significant increase in harmful ultraviolet radiation over the past four years to the depletion of the ozone layer.

Scientists Jim Kerr and C.T. McElroy reported Thursday in the journal Science that, from 1989 through 1993, ultraviolet radiation over Toronto rose by 5.3 percent every winter, when the ozone layer is thinnest, and by nearly 2 percent every summer, when ultraviolet rays are most intense.

"We saw large increases in ozone depletion and large increases in ultraviolet radiation over the same period," said Kerr, who heads ozone research and monitoring at Environment Canada, a government agency that overseas the country's weather service. "Before, we didn't have long records (measuring) ultraviolet radiation. This is the first link which attributes it directly to ozone.''

The study, however, notes that the radiation may not continue to increase at such a rapid pace because the ozone layer could begin a slow healing process by the end of the decade. The scientists also speculated that the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philipines may have contributed to the recent ozone loss.