This Week

Issue: "School shooting," Dec. 13, 1997

Generation next

The day before he turned 95 last week, Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) announced he would relinquish his chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee at the end of next year. Saying next year is "the natural time" for him to step down, Mr. Thurmond said he was pleased to "turn the reins of the committee over to the next generation of leadership." That new generation is likely to be represented by 70-year-old John Warner, the senior senator from Virginia who is favored to succeed Mr. Thurmond.

The worth of a life

A Canadian farmer who admitted he killed his disabled 12-year-old daughter to end her pain will serve a light sentence: one year in jail, one year on probation. A judge exempted Robert Latimer from the mandatory 25-year sentence for second-degree murder, ruling that Mr. Latimer had been "motivated solely by ... love and compassion." Advocates for the disabled protested the sentence, saying it sent a message that the lives of the handicapped aren't worth much. Also in Canada, police charged eight teenagers-seven of them girls-in the beating death of a 14-year-old classmate. The dead girl was found floating in a tidal inlet in Victoria, British Columbia. Her alleged attackers range in age from 14 to 16.

A two-way street?

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Does the same law that protects women from sexual harassment on the job also protect men who are the victims of homosexual overtures? That's a question the Supreme Court has agreed to decide; last week the justices heard graphic testimony from a lawyer for a man who so feared threats of homosexual rape that he quit his offshore-oil-rig job. The facts of the man's lawsuit against the drilling company for creating a hostile working environment have not even been heard, because lower courts have held the federal law against sexual discrimination and harassment does not apply to him. A decision is expected next June.

Hold that Asian tiger

Southeast Asia's deepening financial crisis claimed another victim: South Korea, home of the world's 11th largest economy. Buffeted by rising bankruptcies and a falling currency, the nation sought and received help from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the U.S. taxpayer. At $57 billion, the bailout was the largest such economic rescue in history. The loans will help South Korea repay money borrowed from Japan and other countries, perhaps forestalling further spread of the Asian contagion. As part of the deal, South Korea is being forced to cut government spending, restructure troubled banks, and ease import restrictions. In recent months, the IMF also has backed bailouts of Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Upholding military values

Military exchanges began clearing their shelves of sexually explicit magazines after a federal appeals court upheld the Military Honor and Decency Act. Overruling a lower court judge who claimed the act would violate free speech, a panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals instead found the law to be a reasonable way to uphold military "values of honor, professionalism, and discipline." Congress passed the act last year, but sex-magazine publishers blocked enforcement by filing an appeal.

1.21 million abortions

Newly released federal figures show the number of surgical abortions in the United States fell to 1.21 million in 1995, down from a peak of 1.4 million in 1990. But the abortion decline may have been short-lived. Some already available state figures for 1996 suggest the number of children being aborted is on the way up again. The state figures were compiled by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood. In Florida, abortions in 1996 were up 7.1 percent over the previous year. Texas saw a 4.7 percent rise. Illinois had a 2.5 percent increase. Another sobering statistic: According to private researchers, about half of U.S. women now abort at least one of their children. Meanwhile, police in San Bernardino, Calif., arrested a man suspected of dumping the remains of 45 legally aborted children in a field just off a state highway. He's charged with improperly disposing of medical waste.

The caretakers

A New York nanny stands accused of sexual abuse of a toddler-and the evidence appears to be overwhelming. The child's father, concerned about the care his daughter was receiving, set up a hidden video camera. On the tape, he saw the woman forcing his two-year-old daughter to commit acts of sodomy. Police say they also have other evidence in support of the charges. British au pair Louise Woodward, set free by a Massachusetts judge only two weeks after she was convicted in the shaking death of an eight-month-old child, giggled and waved to a friend during a Dec. 3 court hearing. At the hearing, another judge decided Miss Woodward's controversial case should go to the Supreme Court for further review. A Brooklyn jury, rejecting a murder charge, convicted Luis Santiago of manslaughter in the 1995 killing of his girlfriend's 8-year-old daughter. The killing went unreported for more than a year. Administrators at the girl's school never noticed she was missing.


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