Citizens in Yugoslavia have escalated their campaign to oust Slobodan Milosevic. They’ve issued an ultimatum for him to step down as president and are staging massive protests, largely ignoring police. Angry crowds marched on the parliament building in Belgrade today. Some tried to fight their way inside. They were driven back by police who fired tear gas. But in some places, the crowds have been too big for police to even try to stop. In one town, protesters used a front-end loader to push aside sand trucks that police had set up as barricades. A Belgrade rally set for today will coincide with the ultimatum deadline. An opposition leader says if Milosevic doesn’t step aside, quote, “a flame will engulf the whole of Belgrade.” A Yugoslav judge, meantime, says there will have to be all new elections. He has nullified the elections that took place last week.
With the death toll at 65, Israel has withdrawn dozens of tanks from two West Bank flashpoints. The gesture is the result of a verbal agreement reached between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Paris. But there’s no deal on paper, and it’s not clear yet if the bloodshed is over. Although it’s been relatively quiet so far today, the violence in the Palestinian areas tends to intensify in the afternoons and evenings. Again, that death toll of 65, overwhelmingly it’s Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli fire.
The New York Times today reports that a federal probe has determined that an elite undercover unit of the police department engaged in racial profiling while conducting an aggressive campaign of street searches. The inquiry began just weeks after the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo, the unarmed African immigrant killed by four members of the police department’s street crime unit. The U.S. attorney’s office is meeting with the mayor’s office to try to negotiate changes that would avert a lawsuit. If talks fail, the Justice Department could go to court and ask a judge to order broad changes in the operations of the unit and possibly oversight by a federal monitor.
A federal appeals court yesterday granted expedited review of a case brought by Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and voters challenging the corporate financing of the presidential debates. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Boston in June, seeks to strike down Federal Election Commission regulations which have allowed a small handful of U.S. corporations to contribute millions of dollars to help stage the debates. If successful, the case could have a dramatic impact on the structure of the remaining presidential debates this month. The hearings begin today.
The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica has stretched over a populated city for the first time, after ballooning to a new record size, according to New Zealand scientists. Previously the hole had only opened over Antarctica and the surrounding ocean.
It’s an issue that has been debated for years. Though Puerto Ricans can vote in the presidential primaries, they cannot vote in the general election. Today a federal appeals court is being asked to change that, a request that, if granted, would let 2.4 million voters in Puerto Rico help choose between Al Gore and George W. Bush. The plaintiffs argue they are being denied a right available to other citizens. But the Justice Department maintains the U.S. Constitution allows electors for the Electoral College to be picked only by those who live in states, not by those in U.S. territories. Congress made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens in 1917. The territory has 3.5 million residents.