- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

Bloomberg narrows gap in N.Y. mayor's race

NEW YORK Media mogul Michael Bloomberg closed to within four percentage points of Democratic front-runner Mark Green in the race for New York mayor and the job of leading the city's recovery from the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a poll published yesterday.

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion survey found that Mr. Green has the support of 46 percent of the city's likely voters in Tuesday's election compared with 42 percent for Mr. Bloomberg, who is running as a Republican even though he has been a lifelong Democrat.

Twelve percent were undecided, according to the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based institute's poll. It said the poll was conducted Oct. 29 to 31 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Other polls have shown Mr. Green with a large lead over Mr. Bloomberg, a billionaire who has spent $40 million of his own money on the campaign. A Quinnipiac University poll published Oct. 24 showed Mr. Green leading Mr. Bloomberg by 16 percentage points.

Court throws out sentence for shoplifter

SAN FRANCISCO A federal appeals court yesterday threw out a shoplifter's 50-year sentence under California's "three strikes" law as "grossly disproportionate" a ruling that could lead to hundreds of challenges from defendants who received near-life terms for petty crimes.

In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Leonardo Andrade's sentence violated the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Andrade got 50 years in prison for stealing nine videotapes, valued at $153, from a Kmart. The court noted that kidnappers and murderers could receive less time than Andrade, who had a record of several nonviolent, petty crimes.

Had Andrade's prior convictions not made him subject to the three-strikes law, he would have faced six months at most.

Cincinnati jury acquits white police officer

CINCINNATI A white police officer was acquitted yesterday of misdemeanor assault in the case of a black man who died last year after a struggle with officers.

A jury deliberated two hours before clearing Patrick Caton, one of two officers charged after Roger Owensby Jr.'s death.

Police had stopped Mr. Owensby on Nov. 7 to ask him about drug trafficking. Officers said he fled and that they wrestled him to the ground in a parking lot and handcuffed him. He died of asphyxiation while in custody.

The other officer charged, Robert Jorg, was acquitted Tuesday of misdemeanor assault. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter, resulting in a mistrial. Prosecutors had not decided whether to retry Mr. Jorg.

In Mr. Owensby's case, the coroner had ruled the death a homicide, saying asphyxiation could have been caused by a choke hold or the weight of officers piling on and smothering Mr. Owensby.

Cambodia removed from drug list

Cambodia was removed yesterday from the list of the world's largest drug traffickers after President Bush determined that the amount of heroin smuggled out of that country no longer posed a threat to the United States.

The removal of Cambodia from the drug-certification list reduces to 23 the number of nations remaining, and includes Afghanistan.

Cambodia was added to the list in 1996, but Mr. Bush said the country "no longer meets the standard for a major drug-transit country." He said the United States would keep Cambodia "under observation as a country of concern." Being named can lead to economic sanctions if the State Department determines a country's government is not cooperating with U.S. counternarcotics agencies.

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