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News Briefs 2

Goldman Family Moves Towards Civil Suit against Simpson

Los Angeles Times

In a groundswell of support, hundreds of Americans disgruntled with the O.J. Simpson verdict have phoned or written to Fred Goldman, father of homicide victim Ronald Lyle Goldman, offering condolences, expertise, and, perhaps most importantly, money for his wrongful-death lawsuit against the former football great.

But the outpouring has remained unchanneled because Goldman has not yet made key decisions, such as whether to expand his legal team, according to his lawyer.

Goldman, known to be consulting with several attorneys, says he hopes to release his plans within the next several days. The announcement will probably include the formation of a Ronald Lyle Goldman Justice Foundation to accept public donations for the civil trial.

Last June - on the anniversary of the slayings of Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson - separate wrongful-death suits were filed by Nicole Simpson's family, by Goldman's father and sister, and by Sharon Rufo, Goldman's mother, who is divorced from Fred Goldman.

In a civil case, the threshold for judgment is lower than it is for a civil case. The plaintiffs need only prove that it is more likely than not that Simpson was the killer. And while a criminal case requires a unanimous verdict, a civil case normally requires only nine of the 12 jurors to agree.

Secretary Brown Finds Business Moves Slowly in China

The Washington Post

When Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown came to China last year, he witnessed the signing of more than $6 billion worth of deals for American companies and proclaimed his visit a triumph for "commercial diplomacy" and the "public sector-private sector partnership."

Then reality set in. After 13 months, contracts worth more than 80 percent of the $6 billion total have yet to get off the ground.

American business executives in China say the result reflects both the slow pace of doing business in China and the eagerness of Brown to boast about the deals, many of which were still in the early stages and based only on memorandums of understanding.

As Brown prepares to return to China next week, two of the biggest contracts, worth a total of $3.7 billion, are stalled as they await approval from China's State Planning Commission. Another deal, worth $1 billion, fell through after the commission put the project on the back burner. And the Export-Import Bank in Washington has held up the financing for yet another contract because it isn't satisfied with Chinese government guarantees for the project.

Undaunted, Brown said he remains "extraordinarily bullish and upbeat about China as far as our commercial relationship is concerned," and he believes that, with one exception, all the deals he witnessed will eventually be fulfilled.

Trial Begins for U.S. Reporter Accused of Provoking Hatred'

Los Angeles Times

The trial of an American reporter opened here Thursday, the first time Turkey has prosecuted a foreign correspondent under controversial laws limiting freedom of expression.

Reuters news agency correspondent Aliza Marcus is accused of "provoking enmity and hatred by displaying racism or regionalism" in a November 1994 report about Turkey's 11-year-old fight with rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party. If convicted, she could face one to three years in jail under laws that have put more than 170 Turkish writers and intellectuals behind bars.

Diplomatic pressure from Western allies - even an intervention with Prime Minister Tansu Ciller by visiting American newsman Walter Cronkite - failed to persuade the Istanbul state security court to drop charges against Marcus, 33, of Westfield, N.J.

The case could hardly come at a worse time for Turkey's image. President Suleyman Demirel is paying an official visit to Washington next week. And the European Parliament is demanding improvements in the nation's human rights record before it will ratify a key customs union.

"This case has been pushed by hidden forces that want to block Turkey's integration with the West," said one Turkish official, who declined to be identified. But he also insisted that Marcus's hard-hitting articles on Turkey's Kurdish problem during her two-year assignment in Istanbul showed that "she wanted to be a hero. Well, she got her trial."

Army Ordered to Cancel Production of Laser Weapon

The Washington Post

The Pentagon's civilian leaders have ordered the Army to cancel production of a laser weapon that was to be mounted atop M-16 rifles, the first casualty of a new Defense Department policy banning use of lasers specifically designed to blind foes.

Army officials had defended the new laser weapon as a high-tech, low-mess way of disrupting enemy night-vision goggles, binoculars and other optical devices on the battlefield. They denied the weapon was intended to cause permanent blindness, although acknowledged it could do so at ranges up to 3,000 feet.

The Army had planned to spend $17 million over the next two years buying 75 of the devices for testing and training. An initial contract for 20 weapons was awarded to a New Hampshire firm Aug. 31, one day before the Pentagon announced its new policy. But after reviewing the program last month, senior Pentagon civilians concluded the weapon was not in keeping with the spirit of the new policy.

"The Army claimed this was an anti-optical system," said an official involved in the decision. "But what's the purpose of temporarily messing up a sensor on, say, an enemy tank when you still have the tank coming at you and you have other ways of eliminating it? For the laser to be effective, it would have to be used to blind the opposition. But trying to blind temporarily is very hard, and trying to blind permanently is not our policy."