And now the most interesting two minutes in television, the latest from Special Report's "Political Grapevine."

Dumped landfill from the list

The Interior Department has hastily revoked a designation of a city dump in Fresno, California, as a national historic landmark.  The 145-acre dump is regarded as the nation's first sanitary landfill, having opened in 1937 and been active for a half-century before closing in 1987.

The problem is that the Environmental Protection Agency has designated it as a Superfund toxic cleanup site because it has polluted groundwater with paint, solvents, and other chemicals, and it emits explosive methane gas.  The National Park Service, which originally recommended the historic designation, urged it be withdrawn.

Took the voting machine for a free ride

Remember Theresa LePore, the Democratic elections supervisor who devised the famous butterfly ballot which some Palm Beach County, Florida, claim confused them into voting for Pat Buchanan?  A Democrat legislator named Irving Slosberg wants her criminally investigated for allegedly failing to shut down malfunctioning voting machines.

This is the same Irving Slosberg, by the way, who was found by a sheriff's deputy driving around with a voting machine in the back of his car four days after the election last November.  Possessing a voting machine is against the law in Florida, but he was not prosecuted because authorities decided he had no criminal intent.

Not bashful with his accusations

David Broder, the esteemed veteran political reporter and columnist for The Washington Post, complains on the paper's editorial page that reports on Republican Senator Jesse Helms' retirement soft-peddled his record on racial issues.

Broder notes that Helms staunchly opposed the Martin Luther King  birthday holiday a year before the 1984 election and warned ominously on election day that Helms -- or near election day that, "block vote might be there against him," presumably meaning the black vote.

Broder, also, notes that Helms used opposition to affirmative action to help win in 1990.  He labels Helms, "the most prominent unabashed white-racist politician in this country."

Raging input on the Middle East

The convicted terrorist and murderer known as Carlos the Jackal has weighed in from his prison cell on the latest round of violence in the  Middle East.

Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, said in an open letter that he "wept bitter tears of rage at the death in an Israeli missile attack of the radical Palestinian leader Abu Ali Mustafa."

"Protracted people's war without boundaries is the way to respond," wrote Carlos, adding "The Yankee should beware."

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has ordered gunmen in the West Bank town of Beit Jalla to stop firing at Israeli forces.  Israel responded that, if calm is restored, it will roll back its tanks.

The tentative cease-fire there took place after Secretary of State Colin Powell told Arafat the U.S. was pressuring Israel to withdraw.  State Department officials also say Powell asked Arafat to restore calm.

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