This Week

Issue: "Hong Kong," June 28, 1997

Sowing and reaping

At a New Jersey prom, an 18-year-old high school senior gave birth in a bathroom stall, wrapped her 6-pound 6-ounce newborn in a plastic bag, and threw him in the trash. After touching up her makeup the girl went to the dance floor, where she asked the DJ to play "Unforgiven" by Metallica. It begins, "New blood joins the earth and he's quickly subdued." A maintenance worker discovered the dead child. Prosecutors are trying to determine whether to charge the young woman with homicide. Friends and family members said they had no idea she was pregnant. Meanwhile, Amy Grossberg, the 18-year-old college freshman accused along with her boyfriend of killing their newborn son last November and dumping him in a Delaware trash bin, insisted on ABC's 20/20 that she "would never hurt anything or anybody." Miss Grossberg and boyfriend Brian Peterson face charges of first-degree murder. RU-486, the controversial drug that kills children in the womb, faces another delay in getting to the United States market. A European manufacturer has backed out of a deal to produce the drug. The Population Council, the group that owns the U.S. patent for RU-486, had hoped to make the abortion-inducing drug available by December.

Washington in brief

Billing it as a hallmark of his presidency, President Clinton June 13 kicked off a one-year dialogue on America's race problems and promised to outline concrete steps to repair that breach. A dozen white lawmakers, meanwhile, have prepared legislation to apologize officially for slavery. Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio) said he hopes "this apology will be a start of new healing between the races." Newt Gingrich called the proposal "emotional symbolism ... [that] strikes me as a dead end." On June 18, Mr. Gingrich proposed an end to public policies that imply racism: racial quotas, preferences, and set-asides in government contracts, hiring, and university admissions. The day before, Republicans revived a bill, stalled last year, that would eliminate race and sex classifications from federal programs. A bipartisan group of senators gave tentative approval to Medicare reform that requires wealthier seniors to pay more. Since the program began in 1960, rich and poor seniors alike pay the same Medicare deductible, today about $100 per year. Under a Senate Finance Committee proposal approved June 18, Medicare would be means-tested and the age limit for participation would rise from 65 to 67 by the year 2027. "It will be a contest between political timidity and what almost everyone recognizes we need to do," said Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.). The powerful American Association of Retired Persons, which can make senators timid, immediately denounced the proposal. Means-testing would hike annual deductibles to $540 for individuals making $50,000 a year or couples earning $75,000. A similar House Medicare bill does not contain those provisions. The Senate June 17 approved with only five "no" votes a something-for-everyone foreign policy bill. The measure reorganizes and consolidates U.S. foreign policy agencies, authorizes "overdue" U.S. payments to the U.N., and edges the United States closer to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A similar House bill does not include the $819 million for the U.N., which in the Senate bill is conditioned upon U.N. reforms. The provision most bothersome to the White House concerns Jerusalem and the $100 million authorized for the construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. Out of deference to Palestinians, State Department officials regard Jerusalem as "disputed territory" and thus the current American embassy is in Tel Aviv. Although the administration opposes the Jerusalem provisions, Sen. Joseph Biden, a supporter, said, "If the president vetoes over this, I'll eat this microphone."

In brief

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a congressional redistricting plan that left Georgia, which is 28 percent black, with only one black-majority district. Voting 5-4, the court said "redistricting is best left to state legislatures," and it chastised the U.S. Justice Department for pressuring the state to draw additional race-based districts. Georgia has three black representatives, two of whom were reelected without the specially drawn districts. A report from a federal task force set up to investigate church burnings found no evidence to support the theory that most of the burnings were motivated by racial hatred. The National Church Arson Task Force reported on 429 arsons, bombings, and attempted bombings since January 1995. Sixty-two percent of the incidents occurred at predominantly white congregations.

Confession at 10,000 feet

Acting on a tip, four FBI agents sneaked into a hostel in Afghanistan in a predawn raid and seized Mir Amal Kansi, the suspect in a deadly 1993 rampage outside the CIA headquarters in suburban Washington. Mr. Kansi, a 33-year-old Pakistani with an unexplained grudge against the CIA, had eluded an international dragnet for four years. On the flight back to the United States, Mr. Kansi reportedly confessed to the crime. Two people were killed in the shootings and three others injured. A Saudi man, implicated in last summer's bombing that killed 19 American airmen in Saudi Arabia, was deported to the United States from Canada after agreeing to cooperate with the Justice Department's investigation of the attack. Investigators think the man drove the getaway car, but was not part of the group that actually planned the bombing.

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