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Settlement Approved In FBI Discrimination Case

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

A federal judge on Monday approved a sweeping settlement in a 10-year-old lawsuit between the FBI and about 500 current and former agents who claim they systematically were discriminated against because they are black.

The agreement requires the FBI to overhaul its promotion, evaluation and discipline procedures by 2004 to address the concerns of black agents. It also could result in the awarding of money damages to individual agents who prove to an outside mediator their claims of discrimination.

Black FBI agents, who supported their claims with statistical models, argued that white agents were much more likely to gain promotions, get high-profile assignments with units such as the SWAT team, earn positive evaluations and avoid disciplinary action for misconduct.

The FBI has condoned a dual-track system that “allowed people to be promoted based on who they knew and not how they did their job,” David J. Shaffer, a Washington attorney who is representing the black agents, said in an interview.

“This goes all the way back to J. Edgar Hoover,” the famed “G-man” who headed the FBI for nearly half a century until 1972, Shaffer said. “White people promoted people who were white, who promoted people who were white, and so on. ... Hopefully, this type of behavior will now be put behind us.”

Bush Taps Former Yale Classmate as Envoy to China

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- WASHINGTON

President Bush announced Monday that he will nominate Clark “Sandy” Randt Jr., a Hong Kong-based business lawyer and his onetime college fraternity brother, as the next U.S. ambassador to China.

A fluent Mandarin speaker, Randt earned a law degree at the University of Michigan after graduating from Yale. He served as U.S. commercial attachÉ in Beijing from 1982 to 1984 and is a partner in the New York law firm Shearman & Sterling.

He has “significant knowledge of China,” said Nicholas Lardy, a China expert at the Brookings Institution. “Sandy Randt brings enormous experience in commercial, legal and business activity in Asia -- a very important part of the bilateral relationship,” Lardy added.

If confirmed by the Senate, Randt, 55, would succeed Joseph W. Prueher as ambassador. A former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command, Prueher played a central role in winning the April 11 release of the 24 crew members of the U.S. reconnaissance plane that collided with a Chinese fighter jet and then landed on China’s Hainan island.