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News Briefs, part 1

Fuhrman Completes Testimony

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman, completing a grueling and high-stakes cross-examination at the hands of one of O.J. Simpson's lawyers, left the witness stand in the murder trial yesterday after the lead prosecutor crisply tried to establish that the policeman knew almost nothing about the case at the time when defense lawyers allege he was planting a key piece of evidence.

Simpson lawyer F. Lee Bailey finished his cross-examination yesterday morning by broaching just a few new topics with the detective, who had been on the stand since last week. When Bailey finished, Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark consulted with her colleagues and then posed a short series of questions to the detective, asking him how much he knew about the June 12 slayings when he went looking for the source of mysterious thumping noises at Simpson's estate.

Brian "Kato" Kaelin, Simpson's house guest, described those noises to Fuhrman in the early morning hours of June 13 and said he had heard the thumps at about 10:45 p.m. the night before; the detective went in to search, he testified, primarily because he was afraid another victim might have collapsed behind the house.

Instead, Furhman testified that he found a bloody glove, a key piece of evidence in the slayings of Simpson's former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman.

'39 Pact Casts Pall on 50-Year Anniversary of Nazis' Fall

Los Angeles Times

Like a boorish relative disrupting a lavish wedding, an exhibit of the secret protocols of the 1939 German-Soviet non-aggression pact is inflicting a moment of embarrassment in this season of celebrations marking 50 years since Nazi Germany's defeat.

Perhaps the most dastardly documents penned by dictator Josef Stalin during his three-decade reign of terror: The supplements to the non-aggression pact split Eastern Europe into "spheres of influence," setting up the Nazi invasion of Poland and Soviet annexation of the Baltic states.

The original non-aggression pact concluded between then-Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov and his Nazi counterpart, Joachim von Ribbentrop, is being shown to the public for the first time in its 56-year history in the "Documents of the Great War" exhibit at Moscow's premier art venue, the Tretyakov Gallery.

While the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact disclosure was surprising in itself, it is the long-denied protocols and an accompanying map outlining the dictators' divvying up of whole nations that has cast a spiritual pall over the exhibit and the rare sense of national pride felt by Russians as the half-century anniversary of their triumph approaches.

Cisneros' Payments Had No Effect On Confirmation, Senators Said

The Washington Post

Late last year, in an effort to head off an investigation into payments he made to a former mistress, Henry Cisneros obtained assurances from two key senators that he would have been confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development even if the full extent of the payments had been known.

The letters, from Sens. Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.), and Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-N.Y.), bolstered Cisneros's contention to the Justice Department that the misstatements were not criminal because they would not have actually affected his appointment to the Cabinet.

His lawyers believed that there would be no case if they could show that Cisneros had done nothing that would have influenced his selection as HUD secretary.

The strategy did not work. On Tuesday Attorney General Janet Reno asked for an independent counsel, concluding that Cisneros had made "false statements" to the FBI that could have been "material" to his confirmation - and therefore criminal.