The smoking gun
For the past month and a half, WORLD has been trying to get a straight answer to a simple question: Are Zondervan Publishing House and the International Bible Society planning to publish a "gender-accurate" (to use Zondervan's term) New International Version Bible in the United States like that published by Hodder & Stoughton in England? Zondervan spokesmen have dodged big time (see the April 19 WORLD). In both Zondervan's and the International Bible Society's "Frequently Asked Questions" postings on the Zondervan website, the answer is murky. Zondervan's FAQ asks, "Is Zondervan planning to publish an 'inclusive-language' or 'gender-neutral' Bible?" Good question, but no answer: "Terms such as 'inclusive-language,' 'unisex language' and 'gender-neutral' are seen by many as negative and politically charged," the response began. After nearly 100 words the company had still not given a yes or a no. The International Bible Society's FAQ asks a similarly clear question, and also gives a similarly unclear answer: "Terms such as 'gender-neutral,' 'unisex' or 'inclusive-language' tend to carry a negative slant." After nearly 100 words, IBS too had failed to answer. And Committee on Bible Translation Secretary Ken Barker, who had spoken frankly to WORLD about his commitment to the inclusive version, seemed to change his story and wrote in a statement posted on Zondervan's web site: "In the U.S. and Canada, however, neither Zondervan Publishing House nor International Bible Society has made a final decision yet as to whether to publish an inclusive NIV for North America." But at long last WORLD finally received a clear answer from an unlikely source: the most recent issue of Priscilla Papers, the quarterly publication of Christians for Biblical Equality. IBS International President Lars Dunberg writes: "I'm happy to break the 'silence' and solve this mystery.... Zondervan and IBS will publish an inclusive version of the NIV in the American market." Interestingly, that letter is dated Jan. 9, 1997. But nearly three months later, Jonathan Petersen, Zondervan's director of corporate affairs, was saying: "No decision has been made to publish an edition of the NIV like the Hodder & Stoughton.... No decision has been made to publish such a Bible." Oops. When asked about Mr. Dunberg's letter, IBS refused to comment further unless it could get questions put in writing. That's probably a good idea. Here's the first question: Does Mr. Dunberg, international president of IBS, speak for IBS?
After carrying water for President Clinton by delivering enough Republican votes on April 24 to ratify a controversial chemical weapons pact unpopular with conservatives, Senate leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) challenged the president to "show similar courage" and defy his party's base to reach agreement on a balanced budget plan. "I've done it and I'm going to take a lot of flak for it," Mr. Lott said. Less than half of the 164 nations that have pledged support have actually ratified the treaty, which would ban the use, development, production, or stockpiling of all chemical warfare agents and require the destruction of existing stockpiles over the next decade. Conservatives argued against the pact on the grounds that it is unverifiable and would open the United States to danger from nations such as Libya, North Korea, and Iraq that refuse to sign the agreement. Mr. Lott denied he swapped his support for the chemical weapons treaty "on a quid pro quo basis" to earn the president's support for a budget deal favorable to Republicans. But he warned that if the White House refused to reach an agreement, "there's going to be trench warfare from here on out, and I don't want that."
Taking a gamble
One day after he pledged his organization's "strong and steadfast opposition" to President Clinton's appointees to the federal gambling commission if they do not meet certain conditions, Ralph Reed announced on April 23 he was leaving the Christian Coalition. Mr. Reed, who led the organization out of obscurity and into mainstream Republicanism, said he planned to start his own political consulting firm, Century Strategies. Much as he did with the Christian Coalition, Mr. Reed said his firm's focus "will be on building a 'farm team' of hundreds of state legislative, school board, and local candidates across the country."
A grander grand jury
The Little Rock grand jury investigating Whitewater crimes will be on the job into November. A federal judge extended the panel's duty-it was set to expire May 7-after independent counsel Kenneth Starr on April 22 said he had uncovered "extensive evidence" of possible obstruction of justice. Mr. Starr wants to bring witnesses and evidence before the grand jury to help answer questions in three new areas: * Did lawyers for the White House or the president seek to exert improper influence over James and Susan McDougal during their 1996 trial? White House officials acknowledge Mr. Starr's staff has inquired about conversations between presidential counselor Bruce Lindsey and Arkansas lawyer Jim Blair. Documents show Mr. Blair was in touch with Mr. McDougal and his lawyer to urge an end to Mr. McDougal's criticism of the Clintons' financial dealings. An unnamed White House official denied any conversations between Mr. Blair and Mr. Lindsey regarding the Whitewater trial in 1995 and 1996. * Did political allies of President Clinton intimidate Whitewater witnesses? The Starr probe is looking into the cases of Harry Don Denton and William Watt, two men who provided Whitewater testimony and who lost their jobs at the hands of politically appointed Arkansas officials. * Did President Clinton commit perjury during the McDougals' trial when he denied knowledge of a fraudulent loan given to Mrs. McDougal? At the heart of this question is the testimony of David Hale, the man who granted the illegal loan-he has testified Mr. Clinton as governor pressured him to make the loan-and now Mr. McDougal's testimony supporting Mr. Hale's story.
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Two Florida Democratic activists pleaded guilty April 23 to individual criminal counts of intentionally disclosing a taped conference call involving House Speaker Newt Gingrich and several top deputies in December. John and Alice Martin, the couple who recorded the conference call after picking up on a portable police scanner the cellular telephone signal of one of the participants, face fines of up to $5,000 each. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose cell phone signal was picked off and tape recorded by the husband and wife team, said he hopes the two are not left as the "patsies" who were "set up to take the fall for more politically influential people," like at least two members of Congress who may have participated in the crime. Mr. Boehner said, "The real perpetrators ... are those who helped the Martins break the law and used their ill-gotten gains for partisan political advantage." The Martins first took the tape to Rep. Karen Thurman (D-Fla.), then to Rep. James McDermott (D-Wash.). Someone leaked the tape to journalists; The New York Times identified the leaker as a Capitol Hill Democrat hostile to Speaker Gingrich. Reps. Thurman and McDermott declined comment on the guilty pleas.
Supreme Court in brief
Justices refuse to consider sex-discrimination ruling that likely will force cutbacks of men's sports programs in American universities. Sixty colleges and universities petitioned the high court to hear Brown University's appeal. By declining the case, the court on April 21 let stand an appellate court's decision requiring quota-based parity among men's and women's athletic programs. At Brown, 51 percent of the student body was female, but women made up 38 percent of campus athletes-which a Boston-based U.S. court of appeals held was illegal discrimination. Many schools will have to cut men's athletics to pay for the required boost in women's programs. The ruling applies only to those schools that take federal dollars. Court puts consideration of line-item veto's constitutionality on rare fast track. The justices agreed on April 23 to decide by July whether to reinstate the presidential line-item veto. They will consider whether Congress was within its constitutional authority to cede to the president the power to veto individual line-items in large appropriations bills without having to veto the entire measure. Republicans approved the line-item veto to help rein in federal spending.
A river runs through it
Warning sirens blared in Grand Forks, N.D., as the Red River-swollen by rapidly melting snow and ice-began to spill over levees and miles of makeshift dikes, forcing emergency evacuation of almost all the town's 50,000 residents. Before the Red finally crested-at 54 feet, five feet higher than original projections-90 percent of Grand Forks was underwater. In some areas, the water level rose higher than street signs, almost reaching sagging overhead power lines. Flood-related electrical fires gutted several downtown buildings, leaving smoking brick skeletons surrounded by a sea of water.
Five days after 1,500 people gathered in Oklahoma City to prayerfully commemorate the second anniversary of the bombing of the city's federal building, opening arguments began in Denver in the trial of accused bomber Timothy McVeigh. Jurors listened grim-faced as prosecutor Joseph Hartzler recounted the the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil. He declared that Mr. McVeigh, in a smoldering rage against the government, carefully planned and executed the attack in a plot to spark a second American revolution. For the defense, McVeigh attorney Steven Jones called his client a victim of false identifications and mishandled evidence. Conceding that Mr. McVeigh has strong feelings of mistrust toward the U.S. government, he said it is nonetheless possible for people to have deep-seated feeling against the government without taking deadly action.
What's the difference?
The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a ruling that turned on the issue of whether a baby in the womb is really a person, said the state's child protection law does not cover the unborn. The case involved a 36-weeks-pregnant cocaine user ordered confined to a drug treatment program to protect her baby. In previous rulings, Wisconsin courts have concluded that a viable unborn child is a legally recognized person if killed in a crime, a car crash, or as the result of medical malpractice. In New York, a 19-year-old Brooklyn woman faces a murder charge for the December killing of her newborn child, minutes after birth. Police say she suffocated the child by wrapping him in a towel and a plastic bag.
Battling against change
Florida officials filed suit against the federal government on April 23 over last year's welfare reform law, which ends cash benefits and food stamps for non-U.S. citizens. Gov. Lawton Chiles called the law "cruel." The Florida suit argues that the cutoff of benefits violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Florida is the first state to challenge the law. Advocacy groups have filed two other suits. In California, a federal judge overturned a voter-passed term-limits measure, saying it imposed a "severe burden" on the right of citizens to vote for the candidates of their choice. The 1990 ballot initiative, which set lifetime limits on state lawmakers, had brought about a complete turnover in the California Assembly, with every current member having been elected since 1992. State Attorney General Dan Lungren will appeal the judge's decision, which he said "fuels [voter] frustration ... toward a judiciary that all too often extinguishes [citizen] mandates."
Hostage ordeal over
In a lightning raid, 140 Peruvian troops stormed the home of the Japanese ambassador in Lima on April 22, freeing 71 hostages held since mid-December by Marxist rebels. One hostage died in the assault, as did all 14 hostage-takers and two Peruvian soldiers. Warned by way of a smuggled-in radio receiver that the raid was imminent, the captives prayed as the rescue effort began. While the rebels busied themselves by playing a game of indoor soccer, soldiers set off an explosion under their make-shift field, killing several of the captors. Then special commandos scurried through a hole in the roof, heading off the remaining hostage-takers, who were rushing upstairs to where the hostages were being held. When the smoke began to clear some 15 minutes after the initial blast, it was all over.
North and South
Under tight security, the highest ranking defector in North Korean history arrived in South Korea on April 20, apologizing for the "crimes" he committed as a senior communist official. Hwang Jang Yop, for years a top North Korean political philosopher and teacher, said he hoped to prevent war between the North and the South. Two days later, a South Korean newspaper published an essay written by Mr. Hwang before his defection in which he implied that North Korea has nuclear weapons with the ability to annihilate South Korea and Japan. North Korean officials repeatedly have denied possessing nuclear weapons.
The bear and the dragon
Signaling a new closeness after decades of mutual suspicion, Russia and China signed a joint declaration that, according to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, will help define a "new international order." The agreement between the world's two largest countries endorses a "multipolar world," a concept aimed at limiting U.S. power and influence.
Looking for a mandate
Risking his legislative majority, French President Jacques Chirac called for a general election in late May, nearly a year before voting is required under the French system. The election gambit is related to France's 1992 decision to enter into a monetary union with other European nations. To join, countries are required to get their economic houses in order. Mr. Chirac hopes the election will give his government a fresh mandate to carry out spending cuts and shrink the nation's budget deficit, thus allowing France to adopt the new European currency, the euro, in 1999.
Israeli prosecutors, citing a lack of evidence, dropped a criminal probe against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Police had recommended Mr. Netanyahu be indicted for his part in a scheme to appoint an attorney general who would end a corruption case against one of Mr. Netanyahu's political allies. While acknowledging that he had "erred" in making the short-lived attorney general appointment, the Israeli prime minister asserted the allegations were "proven to be unfounded." He described the criminal probe as an attempt by "political rivals" to topple his government.