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World Briefs I

Calif. Affirmative-Action Ban Could Become Law in One Week

the washington post
los angeles

A federal appeals court ruled Thursday it will not reconsider an earlier decision by three of its judges upholding the constitutionality of California's voter-approved ban on preferences based on race and gender. The decision means the affirmative-action ban could become law in a week.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said a request by civil-rights groups for a rehearing on Proposition 209 had failed to win approval by a majority of 18 judges voting on the issue. It did not disclose a voting breakdown.

In a strongly worded decision last April reflecting the politically charged nature of the issue, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit overturned a ban on enforcement of Proposition 209 imposed by a lower court just weeks after its November endorsement by voters. The initiative made California the first state to attempt to roll back affirmative action by barring preferential treatment in public hiring, contracting and education.

Mark Rosenbaum, legal director for the Southern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, said he will immediately ask the 9th Circuit to continue a ban on enforcement of Proposition 209 while he appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. If that fails, Rosenbaum said he will ask the high court to stay enforcement of the measure while it considers whether to grant a review.

If neither court intervenes, the affirmative-action ban can be enforced in seven days, Rosebaum said. In that case, agencies from the state government in Sacramento to the smallest water district would have to re-examine their hiring and contracting practices and attempt to comply.

Dow Goes on Roller-Coaster Ride, Dipping 127 Points Thursday


The bungee jump that passes for the stock market these days plunged again Thursday as the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 127.28 points, ending its record string of three consecutive 100-plus increases.

The Dow has moved more than 100 points, up or down, each of the last five days - including Aug. 15's 247-point plunge. The Dow finished Thursday at 7,893.95, its drop amounting to 1.6 percent.

The Standard & Poor's 500-stock list fell 14.31 to 925.04 and the NASDAQ composite index slid 21.34 to 1,607.36.

A weakening bond market was blamed for Thursday's decline. Bond traders were reacting in part to Wednesday's report that exports were unexpectedly strong. "Good news for the economy is bad news for bonds," because of fears of renewed inflation, said Peter Canelo, investment strategist at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter Discover in Manhattan.

The Treasury's key 30-year bond fell more than a full point, which raised its yield to 6.62 percent from Wednesday's close of 6.54 percent. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

"There is a lot of nervous money in the market," said Robert Froehlich, chief investment strategist for Zurich/Kemper Funds in Chicago, "and we are between seasons waiting for third-quarter earnings. It is a volatile, speculative time."

AMA Asks Sunbeam to Release It From Endorsement Plan

The Washington Post

The American Medical Association, conceding that an agreement to endorse Sunbeam medical products had brought the group's credibility into question, Thursday asked the appliance maker to release it from the heavily criticized plan.

"We did make errors of judgment and errors of process, and on top of that we got a second opinion, a rousing second opinion, from the American people," AMA spokesman Lew Crampton told reporters in Chicago.

Under plans announced Aug. 12, the AMA, one of the nation's most venerated medical groups, would endorse Sunbeam's nine medical product lines, the first such endorsement the AMA had granted any commercial medical product.

The exclusive, five-year agreement would allow Sunbeam products from blood-pressure monitors to thermometers and vaporizers to be sold with the AMA's logo and contain AMA-provided health materials.

The plan was a boost to Sunbeam's stock and its sales prospects. Thursday officials of the Florida-based company said it did not want to end the AMA program and hinted that it might go to court to enforce the agreement.