New Jersey Governor Appoints Police Chief

TRENTON, N.J.--Seven months after firing her last state police chief for making racially insensitive remarks, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman named a black man to head up the beleaguered force yesterday.

If confirmed by the state Senate, veteran FBI agent Carson Dunbar would become the first African American to head the New Jersey state police. He also would face the daunting task of reforming a military-style police hierarchy that minorities have long accused of discrimination.

Dunbar, who has most recently served as special agent in charge of the administrative division of the FBI's New York field office, was a New Jersey state trooper before he joined the FBI in 1977.

The New Jersey state police became engulfed in racial controversy in April 1998, when two white troopers opened fire on a van of unarmed black and Hispanic men, wounding three. A lengthy investigation brought state grand jury indictments of both officers earlier this month.

Senior state officials also have had to admit that members of the state police engage in racial profiling--a practice in which troopers use skin color as a determining factor in choosing which motorists to pull over.

The force's last superintendent, Carl Williams, was fired by Whitman in February after he told a newspaper interviewer that minority groups were responsible for certain segments of the state's illicit trade in narcotics.

Questions have been raised about Dunbar's credentials. He ended FBI surveillance of Islamic militants just before they set off a bomb in New York's World Trade Center. He contends the decision was correct under the law and regulations in force at the time.

Fire Burns 73,000 Acres in N. California

BIG SUR, Calif.--Stubborn lightning-caused fires burned through more than 73,000 acres of Northern California's forests and forced Benedictine monks to flee their monastery high in the coastal mountains of Big Sur.

The fires were burning in nearly inaccessible terrain in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area about 210 miles north of San Francisco and in Big Sur, more than 100 miles south of the city.

Nearly 5,000 people were trying to contain the two groups of fires, and a fleet of air tankers was dumping water or a mixture of chemicals and water on the blazes.

As many as 250 vacationers and monks at the New Camaldoli Hermitage, a monastery perched 1,300 feet above the Pacific Ocean, were ordered to leave. The Hermitage, reachable by a narrow twisting road from the coastal highway, houses between 30 and 40 monks who maintain vows of silence.

More than 47,500 acres had burned in the Trinity fire, fire spokeswoman Rosemary Hardin said. In Big Sur, blazes sparked on Sept. 8 have burned 25,700 acres of trees and brush.

Cruise Ship Sets Out for Gulf to Avoid Storm

TAMPA, Fla.--A cruise ship left adrift not far from Tropical Storm Harvey got one engine started and headed out into the Gulf of Mexico to escape the tempest. Seas around Carnival Cruise Line's Tropicale swelled up to 12 feet as the vessel, carrying 1,700 passengers and crew members, moved away from the storm's projected path.

A Carnival spokesman said the Tropicale will rendezvous with a tug boat today, and the tug will escort the ship into port in case the engine fails again.

Harvey, which was about 180 miles west-southwest of St. Petersburg late yesterday afternoon, was expected to make landfall in the Tampa Bay area at midday today.