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News Briefs

State Department Faces Shake Up In Wake of Security Breach


U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ordered a shake-up in the way her department protects national secrets Monday following the disappearance of a laptop computer loaded with classified information from a supposedly secure conference room.

“Like several other recent serious lapses in security, this is inexcusable and intolerable,” Albright said of the loss of the computer, which contained classified information about weapons proliferation and other matters. “Such failures put our nation’s secrets at risk. They also damage the department’s reputation.”

Albright ordered all of the department’s supervisory personnel to conduct a thorough review of security procedures this week and called on all employees to attend annual refresher courses on safeguarding sensitive material.

She also resolved a simmering bureaucratic turf fight by declaring that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, mainly a law enforcement organization, should have primary responsibility for security, rather than the department’s in-house intelligence analysts.

U.S. Foundations to Give $100M To Promising African Universities


Four of the nation’s most well-endowed foundations announced a joint $100 million investment Monday to help reform and revitalize higher education in select African countries in the largest-ever coordinated U.S. philanthropic effort on the continent.

Leaders of the Carnegie Corporation -- along with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur, the Rockefeller and the Ford foundations -- said they will coordinate with one another as well as with African educational leaders to focus grants that will strengthen universities that already have shown creative promise in their efforts to reform and expand.

The new thrust is designed to support higher education in countries where economic and political decentralization efforts are underway and to help expand the pool of Africans equipped to cope with the continent’s many pressures, including the HIV epidemic, the fragility of democracy and the speed of the global economy that has largely passed Africa by.

Police, Protesters Preparing For Democratic Convention


With images of the disruptive protests during meetings of the World Trade Organization in Seattle and World Bank in Washington, D.C., still fresh in their minds, law enforcement authorities in Los Angeles are quietly launching a full-scale mobilization in preparation for this summer’s Democratic Convention.

Local and national activists, too, are mobilizing for what some are dubbing “the Battle of Los Angeles,” emboldened by their successes in winning international media attention while disrupting the economic summits on both coasts.

Both sides say they hope peace will prevail when Democratic leaders meet Aug. 14-17 at Staples Center to nominate Al Gore as the party’s standard-bearer in the November presidential election.

But, just in case, both sides also are preparing for the worst.

The Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI, the Secret Service and a host of other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have been working together for months to forge a cohesive response plan in case protests get out of hand.