This Week

"This Week" Continued...

Issue: "Follow the Greenback Road," Jan. 25, 1997

Above the fray

All the fighting on Capitol Hill allowed President Clinton to remain above the fray as he prepared to take the oath of office to begin his second term. As congressional Republicans and Democrats clubbed each other, Mr. Clinton Jan. 17 crowned his political opponent, Bob Dole, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Not that Mr. Clinton spent the week entirely mud-free. On Jan. 13, the president's personal attorney and the solicitor general of the Justice Department appeared before the Supreme Court to argue that the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit should be delayed until 2001. Meanwhile, administration officials Jan. 14 anonymously floated more trial-balloon items of the White House's FY 1998 budget that will be officially submitted Feb. 6: $16 billion more for welfare spending, $100 billion in savings over five years from the Medicare and Medicaid programs, tax cuts, and a balanced budget by 2002.

Who and why?

Less than a week before the 24th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, two bombs exploded outside an abortion clinic in Atlanta. The first blast shattered windows and brought down parts of walls and ceilings, but caused no injuries at the lightly staffed clinic. The second explosion, an hour after the first, injured six--three federal agents, two rescue workers, and a TV cameraman. All had rushed to the scene in response to the first explosion. Pro-life groups, hoping to head off another round of guilt-by-association press coverage, quickly issued statements decrying the bombings: &quotNo pro-life person could be involved in such an act; violence only hurts the cause of the unborn child," said David O'Steen of the National Right to Life Committee. &quotViolence is not an answer to violence," said Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council. Federal investigators, meantime, were unwilling to assume that the clinic was the actual target of the blast, saying the blasts could have been aimed at law enforcement officers. &quotWe are not ruling out domestic terrorism unrelated to clinic violence," said U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander.

Choose or lose

A Wisconsin judge ruled Jan. 15 that the state should not have expanded its school-voucher experiment to include religious schools. Judge Paul Higginbotham said the expanded voucher program--which is limited to poor families in Milwaukee--violates a provision in the state constitution prohibiting tax revenues from being used for religious purposes. Voucher advocates plan to appeal the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Ohio has a similar school-choice program which has already survived one court challenge. In California, the Oakland School Board revised its position on &quotebonics," the fanciful name--a combination of &quotebony" and &quotphonics&quot--given to &quotblack English." The board stirred up a national debate in December when it declared that ebonics was derived from &quotAfrican Language Systems [that] are genetically based." The seven-member board voted unanimously Jan. 15 to drop any suggestion that ebonics is genetic. Also dropped: wording in the December policy statement that implied students would be taught in both ebonics and standard English. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reported that dozens of public schools in Los Angeles--the city with the nation's second-largest school system--have used ebonics-based programs for six years. Test scores at those schools have plummeted, the paper reported, some by as much as 50 percent.

The crime scene

Both sides rested in the O.J. Simpson civil trial, where he is being sued for the &quotwrongful death" killings of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. Mr. Simpson's attorneys portrayed their client--who was acquitted on murder charges in 1995--as a victim of police ineptitude and deliberate wrongdoing. But prosecutors presented strong, new evidence that Mr. Simpson lied under oath when he claimed that he never owned the brand of rare designer shoes that left bloody footprints at the murder scene. There was little light shed on the mysterious murder of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, daughter of a Colorado computer entrepreneur. Two men were charged with peddling stolen crime scene photos to a supermarket tabloid, but no breaks in the actual case were reported. To help crack the case, the girl's parents hired John Douglas, former head of the FBI's behavior science unit. Mr. Douglas was the inspiration for the detective in the movie Silence of the Lambs. California police searched for an unidentified gunman who Jan. 16 shot and killed the only son of comedian and actor Bill Cosby. Ennis Cosby, 27, was gunned down while stopped to change a flat tire on a stretch of road in the Santa Monica Mountains. Police suspect the motive was robbery.

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