This Week

Issue: "Madness in the Methodist," July 25, 1998

Nation in brief

More black ink, more green
Congressional Republicans received 932 billion more reasons last week to provide tax relief to American taxpayers. The Congressional Budget Office boosted its long-term estimate of federal surpluses to $1.55 trillion from its initial estimate four months ago of $63 billion. President Clinton wants any and all surpluses earmarked for the Social Security program. What part of "NO" don't you understand?
California voters spoke clearly and in plain English: Bilingual education in state schools is prohibited. Federal judge Charles Legge said last week he had no legal reason to suspend the voter-approved initiative, rejecting a court challenge from opponents. He said the prohibition does not discriminate against minorities or violate federal laws. Is Marv back? Yess!
"I will be taken seriously, you know, in time," said disgraced broadcaster Marv Albert, on the announcement last week that he had been rehired by the Madison Square Garden Network to anchor a nightly TV sports show. Just 10 months ago, it had appeared Mr. Albert's career had collapsed in the wake of his guilty plea to sexual assault charges. NBC fired him from his job telecasting NBA basketball and NFL football games. But his charm offensive following the plea-appearing on late-night comedy talk shows and taking abuse from the likes of David Letterman-appears to have paid off. Mr. Albert will anchor "MSG Sports Desk" and do radio play-by-play on half of the New York Knicks basketball games. Compelling situation
Attorney General Janet Reno last week testily defended before a Senate panel her decision not to appoint an independent counsel to investigate the campaign-finance scandal. Sen. Fred Thompson, who chaired the special committee that looked into the scandal last year, confronted Ms. Reno with new details from FBI director Louis Freeh's confidential memorandum to the attorney general. Mr. Freeh argued that "it is difficult to imagine a more compelling situation for appointing an independent counsel." Republicans complained the Justice Department has indicted only those responsible for making illegal campaign donations-such as DNC deep-pocket Pauline Kanchanalak, indicted last week along with her sister-not those who accepted them.

World in brief

Economic fallout
Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto resigned after his Liberal Democratic Party underwent a stunning electoral defeat. "Our failure in the election is my fault and responsibility," said Mr. Hashimoto. The political meltdown was directly tied to Japan's financial crisis, as Mr. Hashimoto became the second Asian leader to fall along with the currency. (Indonesian President Suharto resigned over failed economic policies in May.) Party leaders moved quickly to fill the political vacuum in order to avoid further decimation of the Japanese yen on world markets. They expected to fill the post by the end of July, the same week Mr. Hashimoto had been scheduled to meet with President Clinton in Washington. Bail-out mania
The International Monetary Fund completed a long-negotiated $2.1 billion loan package for Russia just in time to announce it would need a bailout of its own. The United States, along with other industrialized nations, is expected to replenish the fund's main financing pool. IMF officials say it has been wiped out-for the first time since 1978-by the Asian financial crisis. The Senate has approved a White House request for $18 billion for the fund, but the House has held up providing the money without limits on family-planning expenditures. President Clinton opposes those stipulations. Flabbergasting
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott stunned Democrats and the White House with an interim report on the transfer of satellite technology to China and Chinese financing of U.S. elections. In a report based on more than a dozen hearings by four Senate committees, he told senators China has used sensitive technology from U.S. satellite exports to enhance its military capability. He also said that investigators had unearthed "serious and credible charges of direct Chinese financing" of 1996 Democratic campaigns. The evidence, he said, should remove "all resistance" to naming a special prosecutor to look into the charges. White House spokesman Mike McCurry, apparently speaking for the president if not presidentially, dismissed the majority leader's charges as "flabbergasting" and "somewhat amusing." He said they were "not a serious statement by a serious person." Wavering on waivers
The Clinton administration asked Congress to give the executive branch more flexibility to deal with nuclear warriors India and Pakistan. President Clinton was forced under a 1994 law to enact sanctions against the two countries after both tested nuclear weapons in May. Now White House officials say they don't want to end sanctions; they would just like the power to do so. Congress has already joined the wave: The Senate voted, 98-0, to exempt wheat and other agricultural exports from the sanctions because farm-state legislators said those sanctions hurt only American farmers. One-sided peace
Rebels fighting the Muslim-led government of Sudan announced a unilateral cease-fire to allow relief workers to get into areas of southern Sudan where famine is worsening. A spokesman for the rebels said the cease-fire would last three months and would apply to the two worst affected areas, Bahr el-Ghazal province and parts of the Upper Nile region, even though the government had not yet agreed to the plan.

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