Minority population gains:The racial complexion of the...

Newswatch ... on last week in review

March 18, 1991

Minority population gains:

The racial complexion of the American population changed more dramatically in the past decade than at any time in the 20th century, with nearly one in every four Americans having African, Asian, Hispanic or American Indian ancestry, according to Census Bureau figures released last week. In 1980, one in five Americans had such minority backgrounds.

Chief promises justice:

Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates has recorded a message to his officers in which he vows to punish all those involved in the beating of a black motorist. On March 3, a witness videotaped the beating of Rodney Glen King after a traffic stop. The message was first shown to police, then released to the media March 10.

* Attorney General Richard Thornburgh last Thursday ordered a Justice Department review of reported complaints of police brutality in Los Angeles and across the nation for possible patterns of misconduct. Thornburgh's announcement came after he met with two lawmakers who urged the Justice Department '' to broaden its investigation of the beating of a motorist by Los Angeles officers to include other allegations of brutality against the city's police. Thornburgh said he ordered the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice to determine if there is a correlation between police brutality and a lack of adequate training and internal disciplinary procedures.

* Four Los Angeles police officers were indicted last Thursday by a Los Angeles County grand jury investigating the beating.

One of the four officers charged in the beating of King, Theodore J. Briseno, was suspended for 66 days in 1987 for excessive use of force after he beat a handcuffed man.

The others indicted were Sgt. Stacey C. Koon and Officers Timothy E. Wind and Laurence M. Powell. Koon and Powell also were charged with filing false reports.

Secretary of State James Baker said last week that the United States has the support of Arab allies for a Middle East peace initiative, but he also said would not ask Arabs to make specific gestures for peace until he knows how far Israel is prepared to go in matching them.

He met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo last Monday, then flew to Jerusalem.

* Baker, finding signs of a more open attitude toward Israel by Arab states, is asking Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir to nudge the peace process forward with a positive response.

* Baker said last Thursday that he saw a "window for peace" in the Middle East after crowning a regional tour with marathon talks in Syria.

Fare increase proposed:

Baltimore taxi rates will increase by 19 percent if the state Public Service Commission accepts a settlement presented last Monday to a PSC hearing examiner.

Trade deficit falls:

The deficit in the broadest measure of U.S. trade shrank to $99.3 billion last year, the first time since 1984 that the imbalance has been under $100 billion, the government said last Tuesday.

State workers' hours extended:

Gov. William Donald Schaefer quietly reissued an executive order Feb. 27 lengthening the workweek for state employees, news of which surprised many lawmakers and union leaders who thought the matter was still under study. Schaefer issued the order without notifying the unions, legislators involved with the issue or even some members of his own administration.

Bomb-case arraignment:

Charles Edward Gresham, a Maryland businessman, and two associates were arraigned last Thursday in federal court in Norfolk, Va., in connection with the attempted bombing of a storage tank that had been leased by Gresham to hold a chemical he was trying to sell.

Palmer calls it quits -- again:

Citing a torn right hamstring, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer ended his comeback attempt with the Orioles in Sarasota, Fla., last Tuesday.

That IRA tax break:

Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, and more than 60 other senators introduced a bill last Tuesday to restore an Individual Retirement Account tax break for all taxpayers regardless of income.

Good economic signs:

Retail sales increased 0.8 percent in February for their first gain in four months, the government said last Wednesday. Inflation at the wholesale level eased for the third straight month in February as energy costs plunged, the Labor Department said last Friday, and economists said the report showed inflation likely to be held in check in coming months.

Briefly noted:

Howard County Executive Charles I. Ecker said last week that he intends to propose a police budget that does not require layoffs of any officers. . . . Two men were killed last Friday in an explosion at Aberdeen Proving Ground while they were loading propellant into a 105mm artillery round, a spokesman said.

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