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News Briefs II

GM to Offer Electric Car in Fall

Los Angeles Times

Saturn Corp. will begin marketing General Motors' cutting-edge electric vehicle in Southern California and Arizona in early November, and officials expect initial consumer demand to outstrip supply.

Already Saturn has received more than 1,000 inquiries from consumers interested in purchasing the GM EV1, the first all-new electric vehicle to be marketed in the United States since the early 1900s, company officials said Tuesday. About 300 of those are considered firm prospects.

"We may have a situation where we will have more demand than supply," said Joe Kennedy, vice president of sales, service and marketing for Saturn, in a news briefing at GM's Milford Proving Grounds.

GM already is producing the tear-drop shaped two-seat EV1 at the Lansing Craft Centre. Officials would not say how many vehicles have been built or provide a yearly sales projection for the sporty, 1997 model.

When the sleek, zippy EV1 goes on the market, GM will become the first auto maker to offer an electric vehicle built from the ground up to consumers in modern times. Honda will introduce a new four-seat electric vehicle next year with a more advanced battery. Ford, Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota all are developing electric vehicles converted from gas-powered chassis, but these models will only be sold to commercial fleets initially.

China's Media Plays Straight On Story of Sentencing in Korea

Los Angeles Times

One of the intriguing questions after the sentencing of former South Korea President Chun Doo Hwan to death and his successor Roh Tae Woo to a long term in prison was how China's official media would treat the story, given the obvious parallels between the Korean case and the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident.

Both Koreans were convicted on charges of treason in the 1980 army massacre in the city of Kwangju of more than 200 pro-democracy demonstrators. In 1989, after China's Premier Li Peng declared martial law, People's Liberation Army troops opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

Some Chinese dissidents and prominent academics have called for a reassessment of the 1989 Tiananmen Square incident, branded by the government as a "counter revolutionary rebellion."

Despite the similarities of the two cases, the Chinese media played the story fairly straight.

The mass audience China Central Television evening news, which reaches a potential audience of 800 million, aired a brief account of the sentencing, with footage of Chun being led into court.

The influential People's Daily newspaper, official mouthpiece of the Communist Party, ran a surprisingly colorful account of the sentencing on its international news pages under a headline declaring it a "historic verdict."

Official Disputes Conspiracy Theory Of Tijuana Prosecutor's Death

Los Angeles Times

A top official said Tuesday that the recent assassination of a Tijuana prosecutor appeared to be linked to disgruntled police who were fired in an anti-corruption purge - not to a conspiracy that claimed the life of a presidential candidate.

Prosecutor Jesus Romero Magana was fatally shot outside his home in Tijuana on Aug. 17. No one has been charged. But the killing rekindled a national furor over whether someone was killing off people who had investigated the 1994 murder of presidential heir-apparent Luis Donaldo Colosio.

Attorney General Antonio Lozano has strongly disputed that theory. On Tuesday, he told foreign correspondents that Romero's death, instead, appeared to be tied to the recent firing of more than 700 federal police - more than 15 percent of the force - who are suspected of corruption.

"We have some information that this person had received some threats" before his death, Lozano said of Romero. Asked who was reported making the threats, he answered, "people of the police there."

Twenty-nine members of the federal judicial police in Tijuana lost jobs in this month's purge, intended to clean up the nation's biggest anti-drug-trafficking force, officials have said.

Son of Family Values Crusader Charged with Manufacturing Drugs

Los Angeles Times

The 19-year-old son of a school board member who espouses conservative family value positions was arraigned Tuesday on charges he manufactured methamphetamine with five other men in the garage of the board member's home.

Jason Stuart Brooks, son of Cathy Ann Brooks, a trustee of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified school district in Orange County, was released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty to charges of manufacturing a controlled substance and possessing a controlled substance.

"(The officer) noticed the garage light on and voices coming from inside," said Placentia police investigator Corinne Loomis. "He peeked through a small hole in the garage door and saw six males inside, passing a container with liquid that was bubbling, and inhaling fumes from the container." A second, clear container contained a white substance, Loomis said.

ne of the more conservative and outspoken members of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified school board, Cathy Ann Brooks opposed a failed 1995 initiative to increase the sales tax to help pull the county out of bankruptcy. She supports back-to-basics teaching programs and family values.