Terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan, jumped from their car in rush hour traffic and fired at nearly point-blank range into a station wagon containing four American oil company workers. After riddling the wagon with bullets, the gunmen fled, leaving the Americans and their Pakistani driver dead. Police speculated that the attack was in retaliation for the recent conviction of a Pakistani in the 1993 killing of two CIA employees.
Several parties who hoped to make a killing-financially-with the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 settled their lawsuits against each other. On Nov. 12, businessman Joseph Pike and a Los Angeles investment firm known as the Giant Group worked out their differences. Giant had sued Mr. Pike for fraud, accusing him of mishandling $13 million he had raised for RU-486 investment. Mr. Pike, in turn, had sued Giant for defamation. Giant also settled a suit against the Population Council, the nonprofit that holds the U.S. patent to RU-486. Despite settlement of the suits, which put the drug a step closer to U.S. distribution, some investors in RU-486 still aren't happy. One man who's put $500,000 in the enterprise said no one will tell him what's happening with his investment. "This was supposed be a wonderful drug for American women," he told The New York Times. "Now I think it's just people smelling a lot of money."
A Muslim militant who said he "wanted to make Americans feel terror" was found guilty of masterminding the 1993 bombing of New York's World Trade Center. Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, captured in Pakistan in 1995, faces a life term. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Mr. Yousef intended the parking garage blast to topple one of the center's 110-story twin towers and kill as many as 250,000 people. The jury also convicted Mr. Yousef's accomplice. In California, jury selection began in the trial of Theodore Kaczynski, the academic-turned-hermit accused of being the Unabomber. He faces three charges of murder. Prospective jurors were questioned closely about their views on the death penalty. FBI agents captured Mr. Kaczynski last year after a 17-year manhunt. Saying there was"absolutely no evidence" that a criminal act brought down TWA Flight 800, FBI officials suspended their investigation.
The money trail
In a swank Georgetown home, President Clinton schmoozed about 20 contributors (who paid $20,000 per couple for the privilege) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee, which is $15 million in debt. The Q Street mansion-which features marble pillars, tile floors, an exercise room, and an indoor pool-is home to Reynolds tobacco heir Smith Bagley. It was the first stop in a five-fundraiser, six-day tour from which the DNC expects to take $2 million. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported another FBI misstep in the government's probe into Chinese attempts to buy political influence in Washington. Investigative reporter Bob Woodward quoted "senior U.S. government sources" saying that the FBI "acknowledged overlooking key intelligence information" pointing more clearly to an organized effort by communist officials to buy their way into U.S. politics. Mr. Woodward's story says Attorney General Janet Reno learned of the overlooked intelligence and was "livid" about it. She and FBI director Louis Freeh, the Post reported, apologized to the chairman of the Senate investigation, Fred Thompson, whose hearings ended Oct. 31. Earlier in the week, the President and Vice President answered FBI questions about their fundraising practices. The questioning took place Nov. 11 but was not disclosed until the next day, three weeks before Ms. Reno must decide whether to seek an independent counsel to look into and prosecute if necessary illegal fundraising by Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore. Mr. Clinton's attorneys also dished it out. In Little Rock, Paula Jones faced two days of questioning. Parties to the case are barred by judicial order from discussing the matter publicly, but Mrs. Jones's friend and adviser Susan Carpenter-McMillan said she expected the questioning to be "grueling." The attorney general on Nov. 13 expanded her inquiry into Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and whether he was illegally swayed by political influence when his department refused to allow a Wisconsin Indian tribe to open a casino. As with the preliminary inquiries about the president and vice president, Ms. Reno's investigation of Mr. Babbitt could lead to the appointment of an independent counsel. At issue in the Babbitt probe is whether the Interior Department's rejection of the casino was conditioned in any way on a subsequent $270,000 donation to the Democratic National Committee by a group of Indian tribes that opposed the new casino. The tribes hired Democratic fundraiser Patrick O'Connor to lobby President Clinton against the casino; the two discussed the matter briefly at a Minneapolis function.
Anxious to get out of town, congressional Republicans caved in to White House resolve and dropped measures to provide education vouchers to needy students in the District of Columbia and to keep taxpayer money out of the hands of international family-planning groups that promote abortion overseas. The House voted Nov. 13 to approve a compromise foreign-aid bill without the abortion restrictions, but that same measure cuts out $900 million earmarked to pay American "back dues" to the United Nations. Presidential spokesman Mike McCurry called the UN cut "ill-timed" and "utterly bone-headed" because of U.S. attempts to get the blessing of the UN Security Council to bomb Iraq. On abortion, the president refused to budge, maintaining he would veto the foreign aid bill if it included any restrictions on international family-planning groups. The week before, he refused to offer the foreign-aid abortion restrictions as a bargaining chip to win crucial support for his request for fast-track authority to negotiate trade agreements.
In Miami, trial began in the first suit filed under a new federal law that allows American victims of terrorist nations to seek damages in U.S. courts. Families of three deceased members of the Cuban-American expatriate group Brothers to the Rescue are suing the government of Cuba for $79 million, hoping to receive damages from frozen Cuban assets. The three flyers died when Cuban military jets shot down two unarmed Brothers to the Rescue aircraft over international waters in February 1996. Cuba, refusing to recognize the court's authority, is not represented at the trial.
This present darkness
Italian authorities announced a crackdown on a multi-nation child-sex ring that had been trafficking in Chinese children. Prosecutors said ring members, operating in more than a dozen countries, were sending Chinese children, accompanied by phony parents, to the United States by way of Europe. A Japanese man and a Chinese woman were caught trying to smuggle a 12-year-old Chinese girl to Miami via Milan. The girl told police her parents had sold her.
Not so fast
Alabama attorney general Bill Pryor, calling a federal judge's ruling against religious expression in public schools a restriction of free speech, requested that enforcement of the ruling be delayed. Because of the constitutional issues raised by U.S. District Judge Ira DeMent's ruling, Mr. Pryor urged that it be put on hold until an appeal can be heard by the federal 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last month, Mr. DeMent ordered an end to public prayers at public school graduation ceremonies and football games and cessation of Bible-reading at school-sponsored events.
Gimme three steps
Facing a vote that would have effectively killed the nomination, Democrats employed a parliamentary maneuver on Nov. 13 to block the Senate Judiciary Committee from acting on the nomination of Bill Lann Lee to be President Clinton's top civil-rights enforcer. That tables the nomination for the year, but keeps it alive to fight another day-probably in January. Republicans on the committee oppose Mr. Lee's nomination because he supports racial quotas, which the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional. Democrats accused Mr. Lee's Republican opponents of racism, prompting committee chairman Orrin Hatch to invite any detractors to step outside: "Anybody who doubts that I'm doing this on principle, I'd like to see afterwards." A day before the committee action, the National Council of Churches weighed in. NCC general secretary Joan Brown Campbell denounced the GOP opposition: "We are deeply disappointed at the inordinate politicizing of what has every right to be a straightforward confirmation hearing." That's a turnaround from Ms. Campbell's fondness for "inordinate politicizing" of presidential nominees in 1991 when the NCC opposed the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. The NCC has long been politically active: Last year, Ms. Campbell demanded government action on so-called greenhouse-gas emissions; in 1994, the church group opposed NAFTA; and the NCC called for U.S. military action to reinstall the Haitian socialist regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Although not totally absolving British au pair Louise Woodward of responsibility for the death of an 8-month-old child in her care, Judge Hiller Zobel said the earlier murder verdict had been a "miscarriage of justice" and that it failed to recognize that it was the young woman's "confusion, fright, and bad judgment rather than rage or malice" that led her to injure the baby. Ms. Woodward, released less than two weeks after the murder conviction, insisted later in a written statement that she was determined "to obtain total vindication.... I did not harm, much less kill, Matthew Eappen." In Missouri, meanwhile, a 21-year-old father who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the shaking death of his 3-month-old son faces only probation and a requirement to attend classes on anger control and parenting. Prosecutors had asked that Eric Coffey be sentenced to 20 years. "If our system is not capable of punishing this man, then our system is failing, and failing dramatically," said frustrated prosecutor Claire McCaskill.
Carrying out a repeated threat, Iraq expelled six American members of a UN weapons inspection team. For days, Iraq had refused to give the team access to what inspectors believe is a cache of illegal arms acquired by Iraq in defiance of the international agreement that ended the Gulf War. President Clinton called the expulsion "clearly unacceptable" and pledged "to pursue this matter in a very determined way." Even so, administration officials played down the possibility of an immediate response. The expulsion order came one day after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to tighten post-war sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1991.
Euthanizing states' rights
As supporters of Oregon's first-in-the-nation physician-assisted suicide law clinked champagne glasses in a victory celebration earlier this month, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) were drafting a letter to Washington, D.C.'s top drug-enforcement official. They wanted to know whether doctors in Oregon who prescribed lethal doses of drugs to "patients" would be in violation of federal controlled-substances laws. Last week the two lawmakers, who chair the judiciary committees of the Senate and House, released the Drug Enforcement Administration's official reply. "'Delivering, dispensing, or prescribing a controlled substance with the intent of assisting a suicide is not a 'legitimate medical purpose' allowed by law," DEA administrator Thomas Constantine responded. In other words, doctors who prescribe drugs with the intent to kill risk losing their licenses to write narcotic prescriptions. Local DEA officials were already on the job. "Assuming that the medical examiner or whatever ruled this death to be suicide ... I don't think we would have any choice but to proceed," said the DEA's Arnold Lochner in the Portland Oregonian. Attorney General Janet Reno applied the brakes late last week at her weekly news conference, suggesting Mr. Constantine had spoken too soon: "I think it's important on a legal issue such as this the whole department review it, and we are in the process of doing it." The review should turn on the definition of "legitimate medical purpose" and whether one state's expression of what is "legitimate" overrides the federal government's definition. The same type of issues arise in California and Arizona, where "medicinal marijuana" was legalized, prompting drug czar Barry McCaffrey to threaten federal action. The Clinton administration backed off, and a U.S. district judge issued a restraining order against the government. All this creates a dilemma for states-rights advocates. Remember, it was federal government meddling-through the Supreme Court-that overrode abortion laws in all 50 states. But it's not as if these drug and euthanasia issues create a new precedent. The precedent is already set. The question is whether conservatives want to concede the point.