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News Briefs

Cohen Tells Allies of Need for Missile Defense System


Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told the NATO allies Thursday that the United States believes it may soon be necessary to develop a missile defense system to counter threats from “rogue states” with ballistic weapons, but insisted it would be done with allied security interests in mind.

Seeking to convince skeptical European governments, Cohen said the United States and its allies must start to consider how to cope with new challenges besides the nuclear arsenals of Russia and China that will soon include long-range missiles being developed by North Korea, Iran and Iraq that could deliver nuclear, biological or chemical warheads.

“It is important for our allies to understand that the threat (from rogue states) is real, that it will intensify in coming years, and that it will put their own populations and their own forces at risk,” Cohen told reporters after a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Euro Drops Below Dollar for First Time, Hits Record Low


The euro, flagship currency of a more perfect and prosperous union for Western Europe, suffered unprecedented humiliation on Thursday when it dipped below $1 in value for the first time since its creation last January.

In New York trading the new money adopted by 11 member nations of the European Union plunged to a record low of 99.95 cents late in the trading day in New York, down about 17 percent from its starting value of $1.17 at the beginning of the year. It later edged back up to close at $1.002.

The decline in the euro’s value relative to the greenback, largely uninterrupted since the beginning of the year, is a psychological comedown for those European politicians who saw the currency as an instant challenger to the U.S. dollar as a globally accepted means of payment and symbol of a more assertive and influential Western Europe.

In recent days, the euro has also hit rock bottom against the Japanese yen and the British pound.

Hate Crime Charges Filed In Jewish Center Shootings


Federal hate crime charges were filed Thursday against Buford O. Furrow Jr., the man accused of wounding five people at the North Valley Jewish Community Center and later murdering a Filipino-American mail carrier during a shooting rampage in August.

Furrow, who reportedly told FBI agents after surrendering that he wanted to send a “wake up call to America to kill Jews,” was initially indicted only in the postal worker’s slaying, a charge that carries a possible death penalty under federal law.

A superseding indictment returned by a Los Angeles federal grand jury Thursday also accuses the 38-year-old white supremacist of violating all six victims’ civil rights.

U.S. Attorney Alejandro N. Mayorkas said the case “should send a very clear message that we will not tolerate any violation of federal law, particularly when the constitutional rights of our citizens are at stake.”

In addition to the murder and civil rights charges, the new indictment charges Furrow with nine weapons violations.