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News Briefs, part 2

Italian Voters Rebuff Berlusconi's Free-Market Political Party

Los Angeles Times
ROME

In a major test of its popularity after six months in office, voters widely rebuffed rookie Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's free-market political party Monday in municipal elections that largely favored former Communists and neo-fascists.

As final returns were counted from the Sunday vote, analysts portrayed the results as a protest against billionaire Berlusconi's attempt to impose austerity on a spendthrift national government with painful cuts in pensions and social services.

Some two million voters elected mayors in 239 Italian cities and towns in races that were principally decided on local issues but also were a national barometer of political malaise.

Overall, the former Communists, now called the Democratic Party of the Left, won most votes, sometimes in improbable municipal alliances with supporters of Roman Catholic parties - their former worst enemies. The right-wing National Alliance, which emerged from postwar neo-fascism to become a partner in Berlusconi's right-wing coalition, ran second nationwide.

In Pisa, a leftist candidate won outright election with an absolute majority. Where there was no absolute majority, runoffs on Dec. 4 between the top two finishers will pit leftists against candidates of the right-wing National Alliance in many cities.

The election marked the first rejection of Berlusconi since he entered politics to head off what he feared would be a left-wing, anti-free market victory in the spring election.

Simpson's Defense Hopes To Call Judge's Wife as Witness

Newsday
LOS ANGELES

The defense in the O.J. Simpson murder case wants to call the judge's wife as a witness, another Superior Court judge said Monday after meeting privately with lawyers on both sides.

Judge Curtis Rappe, after a 45-minute meeting in his chambers, scheduled a Dec. 15 hearing on what he said was "a flurry of motions" he had just received.

He did not explain the motions, which were not released, but he gave the defense a week to perfect and file them and prosecutors a further week to respond.

Rappe announced from the bench that he would question Los Angeles Police Capt. Margaret York, wife of Superior Court Judge Lance Ito, later .

Simpson's lawyers have said they want to question York about a decade-old internal affairs investigation of a group of officers called Men Against Women that took place at the West Los Angeles police station when she was a supervisor there. The group was accused of harassing women officers.

A law enforcement source said York had nothing to do with the investigation.

Robert Shapiro, one of Simpson's lawyers, said he requested Monday's hearing to clarify York's role. If she were called as a witness, it could pose a conflict for Ito that could force him to leave the case.