The News in Brief
Suzanne MacLachlan and David Mutch, The Christian Science Monitor
The US Supreme Court heard arguments in a case claiming that the Endangered Species Act does not protect the habitats of endangered species. An appeals court ruled that the law protects activities such as hunting and trapping, but not indirect threats such as habitat destruction.The high court left intact a $420,000 award won against the Duquesne Light Co. in Pittsburgh by a white man who says he was denied promotion because of his race. It refused to reinstate an affirmative-action plan for promoting black fire fighters in Birmingham, Ala. The court agreed to clarify a federal law that adds five years to the prison sentence of anyone who "uses or carries" a gun while engaged in drug trafficking. It also allowed a Secret Service Agent to be sued for damages for inviting a CBS TV crew on a raid so it could videotape a search of a private home.
Henry Foster's nomination for surgeon general is not "viable" and may not even get out of committee, Senator Dole said. Hearings before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee are scheduled to begin May 2. Dole, meanwhile, has flown 187 times since 1993 aboard private jets, most owned by corporations with interest in congressional business, Newsweek magazine reported.
The federal government is to begin scouring state motor-vehicle records for drivers with phony Social Security numbers. Illegal aliens, fugitives from justice, and deadbeat parents often give false social security numbers to get a drivers license and a new identity. Critics of the program say the data could be used to compromise privacy.
Most states are not moving enough unemployed welfare parents into jobs or training to comply with federal laws, the Department of Health and Human Services said. With only 10 states in compliance, experts worry the move to put welfare in the hands of the states is not a good idea.
Women are not as politically active as men because they have less money and are less likely to possess needed communication and organizational skills, says a study by the University of Michigan, Boston College, and Harvard University. More than 2,500 people took part in the study.
House Speaker Gingrich would like to make Washington D.C., a Maryland congressional district and give city residents full representation in Congress, the Washington Times reported. The GOP has opposed proposals to make the capital a state.
Michael Huffington, who lost a $28 million bid for the Senate, has set his sights on the 1998 California governor's race, the Los Angeles Times reported. Huffington said he would not use his own money for the state race.
The US has become the most economically stratified of all the industrial nations, according to new and mostly unpublished statistical research, the New York Times reported. In 1989, the wealthiest 1 percent of US households, worth $2.3 million each, owned nearly 40 percent of the nation's wealth. The richest 1 percent in Britain own about 18 percent of the wealth.
Indian tribes and state lawmakers are heading for a gambling showdown in Connecticut. In return for exclusive rights to operate casinos, the tribes pay the state a share of slot-machine takes. Now the state assembly is considering allowing non-Indian casinos, and the Pequots, who operate the successful Foxwoods casino, might stop payments to the state.
Five people were sentenced in Seattle for smuggling at least 1,000 illegal aliens into the US from India and Pakistan. Four of those sentenced are not citizens and face deportation hearings after serving their time.
The militant Islamic group Hamas is likely to carry out retaliatory attacks after an Israeli ambush killed three of its activists Sunday, the army commander of the West Bank said. Security has been heightened since the ambush, and the Palestinian Authority has condemned the killings. Israeli forces said the Palestinians who were slain were on their way to attack Israelis. …