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News Briefs II

Malcolm X Stamp Greeted Warmly

The Washington Post

There was time when the idea of a postage stamp for Malcolm X, one of most controversial African-American leaders of the 1960s, would have never made it out of the U.S. Postal Service's conservative bureaucracy. But Thursday, when plans for the stamp were announced, there was much praise for it.

Groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and B'nai B'rith International, which had been highly critical of Malcolm X when he preached racial separatism, welcomed the decision. His former critics noted, however, that Malcolm X had made an abrupt change late in his life and began advocating what the Postal Service described as "a more integrationist solution to racial problems" before he was murdered in 1965.

Richard D. Heideman, president of B'nai B'rith International, said the stamp should "remind all Americans of the possibility of change and reconciliation between people previously divided by racial hatred."

Malcolm X is the 22nd person to be honored on the Postal Service's Black Heritage Series. The new 33-cent stamp, which features a news photograph of Malcolm X, will be issued early next year.

California Eases Limits on Spray Paints

Los Angeles Times

Spray paints got a reprieve Thursday from stringent anti-smog limits as the California Air Resources Board rolled back standards that were supposed to go into effect in a year.

If the limits set in 1995 were enforced, most popular aerosol paint products would have to be taken off store shelves because no company has found a way to comply, air board officials said.

But the relaxation of the smog rules means an additional 5 tons of smog-forming emissions will be polluting California's air each day - a significant setback in a state struggling to clean its air.

In California, spray paints each day emit about 21 tons of volatile organic compounds - a major constituent of smog - about twice as much as the area's oil refineries. In its report, the board acknowledged that the changes "will have an adverse environmental impact."

From hair spray to paints, aerosol products have proved to be one of the most challenging sources of air pollution to clean up.

Paint manufacturers have reduced emissions 30 percent since 1989 by switching to acetone, which is less reactive than other solvents, and by increasing the volume of paint solids. But adding too much acetone or solid paint hampers the ability to spray evenly. Air board officials hope that companies can eventually develop low-polluting pumps or other containers to replace spray cans.