This Week

Issue: "Ashcroft 2000?," Oct. 11, 1997

Under a cloud

Indonesia, in a blanket of heavy smoke caused by three-week-old forest fires, closed all its airports after a plane crash in the city of Medan killed all 234 on board. Off Malaysia, a supertanker rammed into a cargo ship in the smoky haze, killing as many as 29. Investigations have not officially determined if the smoke actually contributed to either accident. The blazes were set by plantations and timber companies to clear land. On Oct. 3, Indonesia revoked logging licenses of 29 timber firms responsible for the fires.

Guilty as charged

Convicted by a German court of committing genocide against Muslims during the war in Bosnia, Bosnian Serb Nikola Jorgic headed for life in prison. The court found Mr. Jorgic, who insisted he was a victim of mistaken identity, guilty of 11 counts of genocide and 30 counts of murder. Germany had agreed to try the case because the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague has more cases than it can handle.

Heroin chic

We see you’ve been enjoying the content on our exclusive member website. Ready to get unlimited access to all of WORLD’s member content?
Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.
(Don’t worry. It only takes a sec—and you don’t have to give us payment information right now.)

Get your risk-free, 30-Day FREE Trial Membership right now.

In Switzerland, voters voted down a national referendum that would have reined in the nation's liberal drug policies. Nearly 71 percent of voters gave a thumbs down to a proposal, drafted and promoted by conservative and evangelical groups, called "Youth Without Drugs." The measure would have put an end to Switzerland's experimental "crime fighting" program that provides heroin to hardened addicts. Switzerland has one of the highest drug addiction rates in Europe.

Meltdown at 1600?

Step Two is underway. Attorney General Reno said Oct. 3 that she'll conduct a "preliminary investigation" of Vice President Gore's fundraising activities. If she finds enough "credible" evidence, she's obligated to name an independent counsel to prosecute. The previous day brought news that the vice president is getting his lawyering half-price. James Neal, one of Mr. Gore's two attorneys, confirmed he is charging no legal fees. This is OK with the Office of Government Ethics-as it is with the Republican Party, which is having a field day with the news. The Justice Department announcement itself was anti-climactic, following as it did a week's worth of White House pre-posturing. "It would not be unreasonable," said spokesman Mike McCurry two days before the decision, "if the attorney general wanted to take some additional time to review what the law is." There are just four pieces of "controlling legal authority," to coin a phrase, surrounding the law Mr. Gore probably violated, the Pendleton Act. Under the statute, it is illegal "for any person to solicit or receive any contribution ... in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties...." The only Pendleton case the Supreme Court has considered is from 1908. A GOP official had solicited campaign money from a federal employee by mail. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes noted for the court that the letter was received in a federal building, thereby violating the Pendleton Act. Mr. Gore's defenders have jumped on this point to make their case that because solicitees were not on federal property when the vice president called, Pendleton does not apply. That's a pretty thin argument, given the plain language of the statute and that then-White House counsel Abner Mikva had issued a memo warning, "no fundraising phone calls or mail may emanate from the White House or any other federal building." President Clinton is next. Miss Reno must decide by Oct. 15 whether to give him the same scrutiny she's giving Mr. Gore.

Just say whatever

Concerned about a sharp rise in heroin use among U.S. teens and young adults, more than 500 drug experts from around the nation convened in Washington to talk anti-drug strategy. The stats are grim: America now has more than 600,000 heroin addicts; an estimated 141,000 of those have taken up the habit within the past year. Some users shoot up, but many are now smoking and/or snorting heroin. Use of the drug among high-school students, though still small relative to marijuana and alcohol use, has doubled in the past year. Once a person is hooked on heroin, breaking the addiction is almost impossible, according to a Stanford drug researcher. The relapse rate, he said, is nearly 100 percent.

The nation in brief

Jury selection began in Denver in the trial of Terry Nichols, charged with 11 counts of conspiracy and murder in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. Mr. Nichols's co-defendant, Timothy McVeigh, was convicted in June and sentenced to death. An Idaho magistrate dismissed all charges filed by the state against Kevin Harris, accused for a second time in the shooting death of a U.S. marshal during a 1992 federal siege in Ruby Ridge, Idaho. The judge agreed with defense arguments that since Mr. Harris already had been acquitted in a federal trial, state law prohibited further prosecution. In 1993, a federal jury concluded that Mr. Harris had acted in self-defense.


You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Life with Lyme

    For long-term Lyme patients, treatment is a matter of…


    Job-seeker friendly

    Southern California churches reach the unemployed through job fairs