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Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Briefly

September 4, 2002

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Denver

Police open 'spy files' on peaceful groups

The Police Department opened 3,200 "spy files" on religious, peace and other groups on Tuesday, and activists lined up to see if their names were included.

Denver officials conceded police went too far in collecting information in some cases.

News that religious and peace groups were among those placed under surveillance since about 1999, when the files were computerized, drew charges of police misconduct, an investigation by a three-judge panel and the decision to let some people see their files before the reports are purged.

Mayor Wellington Webb, himself the subject of police surveillance when he was a young activist, has condemned the keeping of files on peaceful protesters and said it violated city policy.

Records of people not suspected of crimes will be released to those named in them, then purged after Nov. 1. However, the city attorney's office will keep copies of all files, including those eliminated by police.

Washington, D.C.

WorldCom executives were warned in March

Two top WorldCom officials apparently were told of potential accounting problems in March, according to an e-mail released Tuesday by a House committee investigating multibillion-dollar errors in the telecom giant's books.

The March 18 message to WorldCom founder and former CEO Bernard Ebbers and ex-chief financial officer Scott Sullivan from another official cites "questions" about accounting issues related to preparation of the company's annual financial report.

WorldCom, which owns the nation's No. 2 long-distance telephone company, MCI, became the biggest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history on July 21 about a month after disclosing it had falsely inflated profits by $3.9 billion by concealing expenses.

New York

Cuomo drops out of governor's race

Just a week before the primary, former U.S. Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo abandoned his sinking campaign for governor Tuesday and threw his support to a fellow Democrat in the race for the job once held by Cuomo's father.

The withdrawal cleared the way for state Comptroller H. Carl McCall to challenge two-term Gov. George Pataki, the Republican who ousted Mario Cuomo eight years ago.

The younger Cuomo had a commanding early lead in the polls, but by the time he dropped out he was trailing McCall by more than 20 points.

Cuomo, 44, had failed to win support from such high-profile Democrats as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and had committed a series of missteps the most visible coming when he charged that Pataki had merely held Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's coat in the aftermath of Sept. 11. Even Cuomo's father called the remark a political mistake.

Washington, D.C.

Jesse Helms returns to finish Senate term

Sen. Jesse Helms returned Tuesday to Washington, less than five months after undergoing heart surgery that forced him to miss much of the legislative year.

While the 80-year-old Helms didn't come to the Capitol, today he will be back in his Dirksen Senate Office Building headquarter ready to conduct Senate business, spokesman Jimmy Broughton said. "He looks great, he's excited to be back and he's looking forward to the next month or so," he said.

Congress is scheduled to adjourn in about a month, although the legislative session usually extends beyond the scheduled adjournment date.

Under doctors' orders, Helms will not immediately take on a full workload this week, Broughton said. Helms will skip Congress' ceremonial session Friday in New York City.

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