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News Briefs I

Democratic Fund-Raiser Hsia Indicted on Federal Tax Charges

The Washington Post

Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia was indicted on federal tax charges Tuesday just weeks before she is due to go on trial for allegedly disguising illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election effort.

Hsia's attorney, Nancy Luque, said Hsia is innocent of any wrongdoing and portrayed the new indictment as part of a long-standing effort by federal prosecutors to pressure her into pleading guilty to campaign fund-raising misdeeds.

Hsia, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Taiwan, has pleaded not guilty to a six-count federal indictment that charges that from 1993 to 1996 Hsia illegally routed funds from a Buddhist temple in California to support the Democratic Party and several Democratic campaigns. That trial is scheduled to start Aug. 31.

Hsia is best known for escorting Vice President Al Gore to a controversial 1996 campaign event at the temple, which was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in a February indictment.

According to Tuesday's indictment, Hsia illegally failed to file a 1994 income tax return, under-reported her income on her 1995 and 1996 tax returns and filed a false 1995 corporate tax return for her immigration consulting company, Hsia & Associates, Inc., which is based in the Los Angeles suburb of Arcadia. If found guilty on the criminal tax charges, Hsia would face a maximum of 10 years in jail and a fine of $850,000.

Police Brutality Caused by Lack of Accountability, Study Concludes

The Washington Post

Police brutality remains a problem in many American cities because local and federal officials fail to adequately investigate and punish the small number of officers responsible for most abuses, Human Rights Watch charged Tuesday.

Shoddy internal investigations, weak civilian review and limited enforcement of federal civil rights laws by the Justice Department have allowed abuses to recurr, said a report from the New York-based human rights organization that examined how police brutality complaints are handled by the federal government and 14 U.S. cities.

"Police departments like to claim that each high-profile abuse is an aberration committed by a "rogue" officer, but these human rights violations persist because the accountability systems are so defective," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of the research and advocacy group known for reports on human rights abuses around the world.

The Human Rights Watch report did not attempt to draw conclusions about the frequency of police brutality. In fact, it criticized local police agencies and the Justice Department for failing to collect precise data on incidents involving police use of force.

As indicators of the scope of the problem, however, the report noted that in New York civilian complaints increased by nearly one-third between 1993 and 1997, that Chicago has paid out more than $29 million since 1992 to settle civil lawsuits alleging police misconduct, and that Detroit has paid out more than $100 million to settle such suits since 1986.

"Police officers engage in unjustified shootings, severe beatings, fatal chokings, and unnecessarily rough physical treatment in cities throughout the United States, while their police superiors, city officials, and even the Justice Department fail to act decisively to restrain or penalize such acts or even to record the full magnitude of the problem," the report concluded.

The report also alleged that the Justice Department has failed to fulfill a mandate enacted by Congress in 1994 requiring it to collect data on police abuse, declaring: "Without the information requested by congress, and more, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for governments and police departments to craft enlightened policies" on containing police abuses.

Lott Faults Clinton on Taiwan

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., accused President Clinton Tuesday of accepting China's position on Taiwan during his recent meetings with Chinese leaders and called for a prompt vote to put the Senate on record as reaffirming U.S. support for Taiwan.

Lott's sharp criticism of Clinton's remarks, which included a declaration that the United States does not support an independent Taiwan, came after several days of grudging praise by Republicans for Clinton's trip and appeared to signal that GOP critics had found a new focus for their dispute with the president over China.

"Instead of pressing Beijing to renounce the use of force against Taiwan, President Clinton accepted Beijing's position on Taiwan. By ending the ambiguity of the U.S. position, we have harmed democratic Taiwan's position," Lott said.

White House spokesman Michael McCurry said Clinton was simply restating U.S. policy that goes back through several administrations.