This Week

Issue: "Global Warming," Nov. 29, 1997

Law? What law?

Illegal aliens in California will get to keep their welfare benefits a while longer. A federal judge in Los Angeles again blocked enforcement of Proposition 187, a 1994 voter-passed law that sought to deny state-paid welfare and educational benefits to undocumented immigrants. The judge said the law had "obvious flaws" and had been superseded by federal immigration regulations anyway. California Gov. Pete Wilson, a Proposition 187 supporter, called the judge's analysis of the law "as flawed and error-prone as the 1962 New York Mets." He'll appeal the ruling. As for Proposition 209, the court-approved law banning race- and sex-based preferences, USA Today reported that left-leaning cities and counties are trying to find ways to circumvent the law. "We're going to stretch the envelope as far as we can and chip away at 209," promised Nate Miley, vice mayor of Oakland.

Free at last

Prominent Chinese political prisoner Wei Jingsheng, released by his communist captors after 18 years in jail, flew to the United States to live in exile. Wei's release, technically a "medical parole," came after repeated overtures from the United States, including a direct appeal from President Clinton to Chinese dictator Jiang Zemin during last month's U.S.-Chinese summit. The 47-year-old Wei suffers from heart problems, high blood pressure, and other illnesses. An estimated 2,000 dissidents remain in Chinese prisons.

Terror on the Nile

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At an ancient temple in Luxor, Egypt, the same militant Islamic group that assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981 launched a vicious and deadly attack on foreign tourists. Fifty-eight people, most of them Swiss, were cut with knives and riddled with bullets as the attackers killed wantonly in a 45-minute rampage, leaving centuries-old sandstone pillars spattered with blood. The terrorists promised to suspend further attacks if Egypt releases jailed comrades. Also demanded: Release their spiritual leader, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who's serving a life sentence in the United States for conspiring to blow up the World Trade Center.

Barney the matchmaker

At Star Hill Elementary School near Dover, Del., teacher Ede Outten led "wedding of friends" ceremonies for second-grade pupils, pairing boys with boys and girls with girls. A school curriculum panel brushed off parental concerns, voting 9-2 on Nov. 17 to recommend the school district make no changes to the class. Ms. Outten said the mock wedding was simply a creative way to get the students to promise to care for each other as friends, saying the ceremonies were as harmless as the children's TV character Barney's singing, "I love you, you love me. We're a happy family." The teacher mocked parents' concerns: "Even Barney's intentions," Ms. Outten said, "would be suspect in Dover, Del." Tiffany Kelty, who believed the "weddings" promoted homosexuality, had apparently had enough of school officials' arrogance. Calling the curriculum panel (made up primarily of teachers and administrators) "one-sided," she pulled her son, Steven, out of the school. She will teach him at home.

Continuing sagas

It seemed like "deja vu all over again" as top stories from the past again grabbed headlines: TWA 800, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Unabomber. Hoping to lay the TWA story to rest at last, FBI investigators offered a thoroughgoing account of its investigation into the mysterious explosion and crash of the 747 jetliner that went down off the coast of Long Island in July 1996. The centerpiece of the FBI briefing was a CIA-produced videotape, showing a speculative, computer-generated simulation of the explosion. To the accompaniment of ominous-sounding music and dramatic narration, the tape showed the placid and graceful jetliner suddenly transforming into a fireball when the central fuel tank exploded, ripping the front end of the plane from the rest of fuselage. Meanwhile in Denver, FBI agents testified in the Oklahoma City bombing trial of Terry Nichols. Agents said they found bottles of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Mr. Nichols's Kansas home three days after the blast. Bombing investigators believe such fertilizer was a key ingredient in the Oklahoma City bomb. In Sacramento, evidence mounted against Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski. Government prosecutors submitted an excerpt from Mr. Kaczynski's journal in which he said, "I intend to start killing people."

"Serious misconduct"

Teamsters President Ron Carey won't be running for another term after all. A federal election officer barred Mr. Carey from seeking reelection after concluding the union chief had engaged in "extraordinarily serious misconduct" by illegally diverting nearly $1 million in Teamsters funds to finance a previous campaign. AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, in violation of his own union's anti-corruption rules, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify.

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