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Briefs (left)

Police Raid in Italy
Shakes Up Olympics

By Lynn Zinser and Ian Fisher

After their raid on Olympic athletes suspected of doping, the Italian police said Sunday that they were testing items seized from the rooms of Austrian Nordic skiers, including syringes, glucose drips and what were described as unprescribed medicine.

The raid was the boldest and most coordinated attack against athletes suspected of cheating at an Olympics and represented the first time that doping control officers had been accompanied by the police. On Sunday night, Austrian Olympic officials said they had fired the coach at the center of the controversy, Walter Mayer, after he crashed his car into a police barrier in southern Austria and was detained.

Police officers in Paternion, Austria, a town about 15 miles from the Italian border, said they had approached a parked car Sunday night after residents said a man was asleep in it. The man, whom they later identified as Mayer, woke up and drove off. The police said they blocked the road with two unoccupied cars. Mayer crashed and refused to take an alcohol breath test. The police said Mayer was slightly injured.

Iraqi Insurgent Attacks Kill 20,
Including a U.S. Marine


At least 20 people were killed in insurgent attacks Monday, including a Marine, as Iraq’s political factions remained at odds, and the American ambassador renewed warnings against the formation of a government based on militias and sectarian movements.

Talks on forming a unity government had stalled over the weekend as deep divisions between different factions had become apparent.

Also Friday, the governor of the province of Karbala in the Shiite south announced that he was suspending all dealings with American troops and barring them from government buildings for “behaving irresponsibly.”

Two suicide bombs accounted for most of the deaths Monday. At about 7:20 a.m., a man blew himself up in a restaurant near a police station in the northern city of Mosul, killing six people and injuring at least six, according to officials from the Iraqi Interior Ministry. At midday, another bomber set off an explosion on a bus in Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 15, the officials said.

The Marine was killed when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb near the southern city of Karbala, the American military said in a statement.

Gunmen killed an employee of a hospital in Baquba in the country’s south, and a car bomb near a construction site in Baghdad injured more than 20 workers, Iraqi officials said.

States Curbing Right to Seize
Private Homes

By John M. Broder

In a rare display of unanimity that cuts across partisan and geographic lines, lawmakers in virtually every statehouse across the country are advancing bills and constitutional amendments to limit use of the government’s power of eminent domain to seize private property for economic development purposes.

The measures are in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last June in a landmark property rights case from Connecticut, upholding the authority of the city of New London to condemn homes in an aging neighborhood to make way for a private development of offices, condominiums and a hotel. It was a decision that one justice, who had written for the majority, later all but apologized for.

The reaction from the states was swift and heated. Within weeks of the court’s decision, Texas, Alabama and Delaware passed bills by overwhelming bipartisan margins limiting the right of local governments to seize property and turn it over to private developers.