A federal appeals court in Atlanta March 12 overruled a lower court decree that said employers couldn't refuse to employ homosexuals. Lesbian lawyer Robin Shahar, 32, had sued the state's attorney general's office, claiming officials withdrew her job offer after discovering she was planning to be "married" in a lesbian ceremony. A day earlier, Georgia's Supreme Court ruled that the state's sodomy law was a legitimate use of state power to further "the moral welfare of the public," upholding a misdemeanor conviction and $500 fine of a citizen for seeking sex from a sheriff's deputy. In Boston, Jeannine and Thomas Jenei announced they would sue the suburb of Brookline for more than $600,000 for forcing their daughter, Johanna, to listen to a high-school social studies teacher describe her "wonderful relationship with her lesbian partner," Reuters reported. And in Colorado on March 13, legislators passed a bill banning same-sex marriages.
In Austria, more than 20,000 students staged a mass demonstration in Vienna March 14 to protest planned cuts of $170 million in government education spending; more than 80 percent of Austria's 200,000 students are striking overall. Austrian students are currently entitled to taxpayer-funded university training, but the government wants to cut free travel for students who are 19 years or older, and mandated child-support payments of parents to students. Also students would no longer be able to apply university years to their state pension; teaching staffs would face cuts too.
GOP crackup watch
Sen. Bob Dole easily swept primaries in Texas, Florida, and five other states as he continued his march to the Republican presidential nomination. Steve Forbes, whose withering television ads early in his $30 million, $170,000-a-day campaign vilified Mr. Dole as a "Washington politician," folded his presidential campaign and "wholeheartedly" endorsed Mr. Dole. Asked about the inconsistency, Mr. Forbes grinned and said, "Just look at who he's going to be running against in November, for starters." But Pat Buchanan battled on, and threatened March 14 on CNN's Larry King Live to break away from the GOP "if my party takes a sharp turn to the left" at the convention in San Diego this summer. Mr. Buchanan met in Flint, Mich., with members of the striking United Auto Workers, hoping his protectionist message would woo voters who belong to the heavily Democratic union embroiled in a labor dispute with General Motors. On the campaign trail March 16, Mr. Dole tossed some rhetorical bones to both Mr. Forbes and Mr. Buchanan. Of the Forbes flat tax, Mr. Dole declared, "We're now looking possibly, possibly at a single rate." In a nod to Mr. Buchanan's concern for downsized American workforces, Mr. Dole said, "Pat Buchanan has touched a nerve when it comes to people concerned about their jobs, concerned about their future. And we will address that."
One week at a time
Congress sent legislation to President Clinton March 14 to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight the next day. The seven-day spending bill gave lawmakers and the administration more time to settle differences over a $160 billion measure to carry the government through the 6 1/2 months left in fiscal 1996. Mr. Clinton's veto pen last year stopped GOP efforts to balance the budget and avert shutdowns for the next seven years. He declared it "regrettable that I must sign yet another" stopgap bill, and signed the measure
Denver Nuggets basketball star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf was suspended for two days by the NBA after he told reporters on March 12 that he had been sitting out the U.S. national anthem before games due to his Muslim beliefs. Other Islamic athletes, including Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets, disagreed with Abdul-Rauf's opinion, but the Nuggets' guard won back-door support from the likes of long-time NBA star A.C. Green of the Phoenix Suns. "I hope he sticks with his convictions," said Mr. Green, a Christian. Mr. Abdul-Rauf had said he'd quit basketball before compromising his convictions; on March 14, he said he had found "a better approach" to holding his convictions, namely offering an Islamic prayer while standing during the anthem.
Mrs. Graham ill
Ruth Bell Graham, 75, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, remained in serious condition all last week after undergoing surgery to treat spinal meningitis, a dangerous neurological infection. Her husband remained at her side throughout her hospital stay.
Is China playing chicken with Taiwan and the United States, or is it deadly serious? On Sunday, March 10, U.S. officials took to the talk-show airwaves expressing caution about China's wargames. Secretary of State Warren Christopher said China is "a strategic weight of enormous size, and we have to treat it that way," and National Security Advisor Anthony Lake said it was likely that the U.S. government could continue "most favored nation" status to the oppressive mainland giant, which has been threatening action against Taiwan if it holds presidential elections on March 23. Taiwanese president Lee Ten-hui needs to garner 50 percent of the votes to win re-election, and is considered the favorite. China regards the elections as a sign that the island, which has been free of mainland authority since Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists fled there at the end of the civil war in 1949, wants total independence instead of reunification. By March 12, China's navy and air force had begun eight days of live-ammunition exercises in the 90-mile Taiwan strait, a move U.S. officials called "reckless." The United States responded by dispatching a second aircraft carrier, Nimitz, to join the Independence and an Aegis missile cruiser, Bunker Hill. Along with about 10 other warships, it was the largest U.S. armada in the region since 1975 and the Vietnam War. Congress also voted to offer defensive weapons to Taipei, Taiwan's capital. China has more than 2 million troops to Taiwan's 290,000, a navy of 260,000 to Taiwan's 68,000, and a 470,000-man air force to Taiwan's 67,000. However, by March 13, Taiwanese officials said they would defend themselves, and didn't need "foreigners to go to war" for them. Some military analysts began speculating that China might make a grab at an outlying Taiwan island, as it did in 1955. And on March 15, China increased tensions when it announced yet a second round of military exercises planned for March 18-25; moreover, reports began emerging late in the week that some lower-level Chinese officials had threatened the communist country would drop nuclear bombs on Los Angeles if the United States defended Taiwan.
Former Clinton Whitewater business partner James McDougal had to be helped from the courtroom March 14; his lawyer said Mr. McDougal's health was deteriorating under the stress, anxiety, and fatigue of the Whitewater trial. Inside the courtroom, prosecutors had Mr. McDougal's secretary identify a series of documents, hoping to illustrate that Mr. McDougal was involved in day-to-day operations at his Madison Guaranty Savings and Loan. Mr. McDougal's lawyer said he left thrift operations to others and concentrated on developing property. One memo from Mr. McDougal directed Madison President John Latham to gather materials for a meeting Mr. McDougal was going to schedule with Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding matters pending before securities officials. Mr. McDougal and his ex-wife Susan are charged along with Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker with conspiring to misuse $3 million in loans from federally backed lenders between 1985 and 1987. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Democratic dike holding back the raging Whitewater investigation held firm. Republicans failed three days in a row-March 12, 13, and 14-to break a Democratic filibuster preventing a Senate investigation into Whitewater. "There isn't even a fissure in our caucus about this matter," Sen. Thomas Daschle, the Democratic leader, said of his sandbagging troops before the third and final vote March 14. After the vote, Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) threatened to move the investigation to the Banking Committee, which he heads. Mr. Daschle said such a move would be unlawful, but he was overruled by Senate Parliamentarian Bob Dove, who said that since the Banking Committee previously held hearings on Whitewater, which fell within its jurisdiction, it could legally do so again.
Congressional negotiators said March 14 they had reached agreement on a compromise proposal to give the president line-item veto authority. The compromise would end a year-long House-Senate impasse over the "Contract with America" item, which allows the president to eliminate individual items in larger spending bills instead of having to veto legislation in its entirety. President Clinton supports the line-item veto proposal, but the measure still faces trouble in the Senate, where Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and others may filibuster the legislation. The House also voted 229-191 March 14 to approve an anti-crime and terrorism bill, minus several provisions favored by the Senate and White House that would curtail constitutional liberties. President Clinton said he hoped the measure "will be made much stronger" before reaching his desk. The House-passed bill limits appeals by death-row inmates and other convicts and requires criminals to pay restitution to their victims. Speaker Newt Gingrich said he hoped a compromise with the Senate and White House could be crafted before April 19, the anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. "The challenge of a free society is to have a government strong enough to protect itself from danger and carefully enough constrained to not itself be a danger," said Mr. Gingrich.
No work, no welfare
Wisconsin officials on March 14 put into effect a law requiring the heads of households now getting AFDC to take full-time jobs or state-sponsored jobs if they want help in paying for child care and health insurance. Estimates are that about 55,000 women will be put to work under the plan.
Kicked by the habit
Liggett, the nation's fifth-largest tobacco company, jumped ship on March 15, striking an out-of-court deal with five states-Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and West Virginia-to pay portions of each state's Medicaid spending on treatment of cigarette-related illnesses. Two days earlier, Liggett-which makes L&M and Chesterfield cigarettes-settled a class-action suit by the five states, agreeing to pay $10 million, plus 2.5 percent of its profits over the next 25 years, giving those states a stake in the continued profitability of smoking over the next two and a half decades
Former Ohio Republican congressman Donald Lukens was convicted March 15 of taking $15,000 in bribes from the operators of a trade school while he was a congressman. A U.S. District Court jury in Washington deliberated for just one hour before reaching the verdict
In an unprecedented action, leaders of two dozen nations-including President Clinton-and delegates from other Arab countries met March 13 in Egypt at a counter-terrorism conference called by a former terrorist, Yasser Arafat. The meeting's significance did not escape Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who told the gathering of leaders: "For 13 Arab countries to get up and express in a loud voice that their hearts are aching for the victims in Israel-only Israel was mentioned-is something." Meanwhile Hamas continued defending its tactics, as Mr. Clinton on March 14 pledged $100 million in defense support to Israel; two days earlier, FBI director Louis Freeh had told a Senate hearing that Hamas has been raising support in the United States under other names