Mich. Court Allows Drive

To End Affirmative Action

LANSING, Mich. -- An appeals court has reinstated a petition drive for a ballot proposal to end affirmative action at public universities and other agencies.

The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned an earlier ruling that the petition was improperly worded and likely to confuse voters. The decision removes a major obstacle for the campaign led by Ward Connerly, who championed a successful ballot initiative dismantling most affirmative action programs in California.

A spokesman for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, the group circulating the petition, said that although it is elated by the decision, it may have come too late to salvage the petition drive for the 2004 ballot.

"We may have to switch gears for 2006," spokesman Chetly Zarko said. "But this gives us a major boost of momentum to continue."

Jennifer Gratz, the group's executive director, told Sunday's Detroit News that a decision on when the initiative will go forward will be made this week.

Affirmative action supporters say they likely will appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court.

A lower court had ruled that the form of the petitions should not have been approved by the Board of State Canvassers.

Circuit Court Judge Paula Manderfield said the petition did not reflect that the proposal would alter existing provisions in the state constitution related to equal protection and discrimination. Michigan election law says that if a petition's aim is to change a part of the constitution, it should say so.

The petition effort comes after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last June that the University of Michigan Law School could consider race to create a diverse population.

The court struck down the university's undergraduate policy for ensuring a mix of students as too formulaic. University officials revised the policy last fall to include a more comprehensive review of each application.

2 in Fla. Indicted in Staging

Of Sailboat Races to Cuba

MIAMI -- Two residents of Key West, Fla., repeatedly "traded with the enemy" when they arranged three sailboat races between Key West and Cuba, according to a federal indictment.

The indictment unsealed Thursday charges that Peter Goldsmith, a Key West Sailing Club member, and Michele Geslin, head of Geslin Sailmakers, violated the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba by organizing annual regattas without the federal government's permission.

By doing so, Goldsmith and Geslin allegedly acted as illegal travel agents for Americans bent on having a good time in Cuban waters. The pair organized the regattas despite several warnings from Washington that they were violating the law, according to the indictment.

The races started and ended in Key West, but the regatta included port calls and races in Havana and Varadero, Cuba's famed resort town.

* LOS ANGELES -- The internationally built Cassini spacecraft completed a flyby of Phoebe, Saturn's largest outer moon, as it prepared to enter a four-year orbit to study the ringed planet, NASA officials said.

-- From News Services