In Brief

TV viewers vote Stalin third-greatest Russian

MOSCOW: Television viewers have voted Soviet dictator Josef Stalin - who sent millions to their deaths in the Great Purge of the 1930s - Russia's third-greatest historical figure. Rights activists have blasted Stalin's inclusion in the 90-day, nationwide project by the state-run Rossiya channel. They say authorities are trying to gloss over Stalin's atrocities and glorify his tyranny. The project, called "The Name of Russia," culminated with the announcement last night that Russian medieval leader Alexander Nevsky had been voted the greatest Russian, with more than 524,000 Internet and SMS votes. Stalin garnered more than 519,000 votes and even led in early voting. In second place was Pyotr Stolypin, a prime minister early in the 20th century under Czar Nicholas II.


Blagojevich will be gone in weeks, Quinn says

CHICAGO : The lieutenant governor of Illinois said yesterday that he is certain scandal-ridden Gov. Rod Blagojevich will be out of office in less than two months. Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, speaking from Chicago, said on CBS' Face the Nation that he believes Blagojevich will be impeached and convicted by the Illinois General Assembly by Abraham Lincoln's bicentennial birthday celebration on Feb. 12. Blagojevich was arrested Dec. 9 on charges alleging he schemed to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing. The governor has declared his innocence and says he will fight the charges. Quinn described Blagojevich as "isolated" in his decision-making and surrounded by a "tight palace guard" that "tells him what he wants to hear and not what he needs to know." The lieutenant governor, who said he hasn't spoken to the governor since August 2007, would become governor if Blagojevich leaves office. He said he would call for a special election to fill Obama's seat.


U.S. still has problems with race, Rice warns

WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the country is not "race-blind" and "we shouldn't deceive ourselves that we're race-blind," but she said the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president was a key moment in history. "I think all Americans were quite taken with the fact that we were able, after the long history we've been through, that initial birth defect of slavery, that we've elected an African-American," Rice said in an interview taped recently on CBS' Sunday Morning. "And that's enormously heartening for people in the country, but also people worldwide who still have trouble with differences." Rice, who left segregated Alabama to eventually become the first African-American woman to be secretary of state, warned that the United States still has problems with race. "But I do think we've gotten to the place that we don't see a person and say, 'That's a black person, therefore they must be ...' And that's an enormous step forward."

7 killed in series of shootings in Tijuana

MEXICO CITY : Seven people have died in a series of shootings in the Mexican border city of Tijuana during the weekend. Prosecutors in Baja California state say the deaths happened late Saturday and early yesterday in various parts of the city, across the border from San Diego. Two of the dead were found shot to death in a home, two others in the trunk of a car, two in the street and one at a taco stand. In the southern state of Guerrero, the bound bodies of two men were found near the capital, Chilpancingo, and a policeman was shot to death in the resort city of Acapulco. Brutal slayings by drug cartels are on the rise. Officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized crime-related slayings this year.

U.S. police deaths are down in 2008

WASHINGTON : Fewer police officers died in the line of duty in 2008 compared with last year, reflecting better training and tactics, two law enforcement support groups reported yesterday. The findings reversed the trend for 2007 when there was a spike in police deaths, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund and another group, Concerns of Police Survivors. The groups reported fatalities through yesterday. Officer deaths this year totaled 140, compared with 181 in 2007.