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Judge Orders Boston Fire Dept. To Hire Four White Men


A federal judge has ordered the Boston Fire Department to hire four white men who successfully challenged the department’s affirmative action policy and award them back pay and the seniority they would have earned had they not been passed over for lower-scoring minorities three years ago.

The ruling marks the first time since the 1970s -- when a federal consent decree forced the city to give minorities preference when hiring firefighters because of past discrimination -- that the city has been ordered to compensate white applicants for violations of their civil rights.

“I think hopefully we’re just going back to normal, the way it was meant to be, so that now they are just hiring the best person, regardless of race or color,” said attorney Harold Lichten, who represents the four men who challenged the hiring plan in court, along with a fifth white man who was recently hired by the Boston Fire Department after earning a perfect score on the civil service exam.

In his four-page decision released yesterday, US District Judge Richard G. Stearns stressed that his order was limited to the four men who sued and wasn’t intended to establish a precedent with respect to other white applicants who were also passed over in Oct. 2000. A Globe analysis showed that some 70 white men and women were bypassed in favor of lower-scoring minorities.

Top North Korea Expert Resigns


A top State Department expert on North Korea has resigned under pressure, just days before the start of six-nation talks in China aimed at compelling the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The State Department confirmed the departure of Jack Pritchard, the special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, but denied that he had been forced out. Pritchard’s departure signals disarray in the administration’s posture toward that country, experts outside the State Department said. It comes at a critical moment as the United States attempts to rally North Korea’s neighbors to persuade the country to drop its efforts to reprocess spent fuel rods for weapons.

Pritchard’s resignation on Friday points to a division in the administration over how best to handle the isolated, unpredictable and highly militarized government of Kim Jong Il nearly eight months after the North expelled foreign inspectors, the experts said.

Pritchard, who has had long experience in talks with the North, including a stint on President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, is identified with a more conciliatory stance toward Pyongyang. He long advocated a carrot-and-stick approach, with incentives to North Korea for good behavior.

Arafat Names New Security Adviser As Hamas Calls for Attacks


Asserting his control over Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, Yasser Arafat appointed a new national security adviser on Monday, while the militant Palestinian group Hamas called for fresh attacks against Israel.

Both developments reflected the edgy, uncertain state of affairs in Israel and the occupied territories, which remained braced on Monday for a possible escalation in violence, and represented potential setbacks for an American-backed peace effort.

The new Palestinian national security adviser, Jibril Rajoub, previously served as the chief of preventive security in the West Bank and developed strong ties with both American and Israeli officials.