Appealing to the high court
Police no longer have the right to search people and their cars after merely giving them traffic tickets. Such a search-without an officer's having probable cause of other wrongdoing-is unreasonable and unconstitutional, according to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling. The case involved Iowa motorist Patrick Knowles, whose car was searched after he was stopped for speeding (police found marijuana and a pipe). Concern for officer safety may justify ordering a driver and passengers out of the car but "does not by itself justify the often considerably greater intrusion attending a full field-type search," Chief Justice William Rehnquist said. Police may still pat down a motorist if the officer suspects he is armed. "Which of us has not at some point gone over the speed limit or made an illegal left turn?" commented Brooklyn law professor Susan Herman. Chief Justice Rehnquist himself was ticketed in Virginia in 1986 for driving 41 mph in a 30 mph zone. The Supreme Court also denied an appeal by a lawyer who filed a $5.4 million lawsuit after women used men's restrooms during a Billy Joel and Elton John concert at Jack Murphy Stadium in 1995. Lower courts ruled his civil-rights lawsuit frivolous and ordered him to pay $2,000 in sanctions to the city of San Diego, plus $2,000 to the concessions company the man blamed for selling him the beer that made his trip to the men's room necessary.
Fear of phobia
Barnard College changed a promotional brochure that boasted that graduates of women's colleges are more likely to marry and have children than women at coed schools; two students had protested that it makes lesbians feel unwelcome. "Marriage in our culture is seen as the pinnacle," said campus homosexual-rights activist Shannon Herbert, who circulated a petition arguing that the claim reflects an "unfounded fear that attending an all-women's college will inevitably result in lesbianism or spinsterhood." Barnard President Judith Shapiro claims the brochure was intended to fight stereotypes about the school; Barnard has the reputation of producing a bumper crop of ultrafeminist alumnae. Ms. Shapiro says, "The real message we want to send is that women can have it all."
The Warren court
Judge Ray Warren of the North Carolina Superior Court announced his homosexuality after narrowly losing a bid for higher office. Fellow Republicans say he betrayed the party. He separated from his wife in September and left his children, ages 6 and 8, without a father in the home. "Ray Warren stood before the Republican Party executive committee on July 25th and professed to be a born-again Christian," said Lee Currie, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party. "We trusted him." Judge Warren says his political philosophy is "neo-libertarian," but he complains "old Puritans" run the GOP. He also says his political future is cloudy: "As long as Jesse Helms is the senior senator, I probably wouldn't get any federal appointments."
Another court says no
New Jersey lawmakers overrode Gov. Christie Whitman's veto of a partial-birth abortion ban in December 1997, only to have it thrown out by a federal judge. Twenty-eight states have passed similar laws, according to the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy. Pro-abortion legal activists in 19 states have won court or state action to partially or totally block these laws, however, using claims that they are vaguely worded or lack health exceptions. The New Jersey version would not have punished women who receive the abortions, but abortionists risked a $25,000 fine and losing their licenses.
High drama on high crimes
The House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry had its moments-from Chairman Hyde's preventing California Democrat Maxine Waters from turning the hearings into the "Henry and Maxine Show" to Rep. Lindsey Graham's complaint that the president's conduct has loosed a "thousand million" ribald jokes into the public domain. Here are the highlights and lowlights:
- The Humpty Dumpty Award: JARROLD NADLER (D-N.Y.) for turning things upside down. One slice of conventional wisdom in Washington held that President Clinton should simply tell the truth by admitting he lied. Mr. Nadler, however, won White House counsel Charles F.C. Ruff's assent to his proposal that telling the truth would be unethical: "When we hear people saying, forget about these legalisms, forget about the hairsplitting" that would allow the president to avoid punishment, "just say you did.... For the president to do that, that would be betrayal of his oath, would it not?" RUFF: "Indeed, indeed."
- The Super Sleuth Award: LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-S.C.), over Democratic cries of "point of order," for putting forth a theory that President Clinton was behind a White House operation to smear Monica Lewinsky. He described a scheme-to portray the former intern as a sex-crazed stalker-that began with a conversation the president had with aide Sidney Blumenthal. According to Mr. Blumenthal's testimony before the grand jury, the president told him that other interns knew Miss Lewinsky as "the stalker." The president tried to plant a seed in the mind of his secretary Betty Currie that Miss Lewinsky was the one demanding sex from the president. Press stories, sourced to the White House, repeated those false assertions and referred to Miss Lewinsky as a "stalker." Mr. Graham concluded that Miss Lewinsky was saved by a blue dress. Comparing her likely treatment to that of a rape victim in a courtroom, Mr. Graham appealed to all representatives, particularly women, to read Mr. Blumenthal's testimony and compare it to numerous press reports.
- The "We're No Fools" Award: MAXINE WATERS (D-Calif.) for taking umbrage at colleague Lindsey Graham's suggestion that the women of America should take umbrage at the White House strategy of trashing Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Graham, Ms. Waters said, was out of line in suggesting "what every woman on this committee should do and how we should feel." She then went on to make her own suggestion: "I would like to say that every member of this committee should be offended" by Mr. Graham's suggestion. But there was more at work than mere male chauvinism, Ms. Waters suggested. Congressman Graham was "attempting to somehow send a message to Monica Lewinsky that she's been undermined by the president of the United States and thus set her up to be angry at the president in case she's called as a witness. We're no fools."
- The Frankly Speaking Award: BARNEY FRANK (D-Mass.) for admitting that he was not persuaded by White House legalisms on whether the president was ever "alone" with Monica Lewinsky. "I think the president simply wasn't being truthful when he-I think he waffled past the point of the line on that," Mr. Frank said.
- The Save the Children Award: MARY BONO (R-Calif.) for asking presidential lawyer Gregory Craig how he explains to his children "that your president has lied and that it's OK?" CRAIG: "Oh, it's not OK to lie, Congresswoman. I say that it's the most important thing in the world to tell the truth all the time." BONO: "The whole truth and nothing but the truth." CRAIG: "The whole truth. And I tell them that one of the reasons that the president is in such trouble is that he did not. He misled the American people. He misled his family. He misled his colleagues. And that was wrong.... And that's a very important lesson to the children of this country, I think."
- Sky's the Limit Award: CHARLES SCHUMER (D-N.Y.) for taking the risk of speaking extemporaneously and trying to help a witness make his point about the necessity of legal hairsplitting: "The earth has a blue sky except for ... one little square mile way down there in Antarctica where the sky is pink. And you ask a witness, 'Is the sky blue?' And the witness says 'no'-even though it's quite logical that the witness knows the rest of the sky is blue and there is just that one little part that is pink, clearly misleading. But it seems to me, if you value our system of laws, if you are not hairsplitting, that that is not perjurious, per se, unless you could get inside that person's head and know that they never saw the pink square of sky or didn't believe that pink square mile of sky existed. I don't know if that's the right example."
- The Get-to-the-Point Award: BOB INGLIS (R-S.C.) for demanding an honest answer to an honest question: "Did he lie?" Mr. Inglis never got an answer.
First Philip Morris comes out on the losing end of the federal tobacco settlement. Now the company's "living trademark" is dead at age 88. Johnny Roventini became one of the best-known figures in American advertising by yelling "Call for Philip Morris'' on radio and TV ads a generation ago. Mr. Roventini, only four feet tall, always appeared in a red short-jacketed bellboy outfit.
Former Sen. Albert Gore Sr., father of the vice president and a Southern Democrat who rubber-stamped votes for liberal policies for 32 years until he was voted out office in 1970, died of natural causes at age 90.
Former heavyweight champion Archie Moore, who knocked out more opponents than anyone in the history of boxing-141, according to the Boxing Record Book-died at the age of 84.
The no-comment zone
- The NBA cancelled its All-Star Game in Philadelphia as part of an ongoing lockout that scrapped the first two months of the season and may kill the remainder.
- All but 25 pages of the late Frank Sinatra's 1,300-page FBI file were released; one memo contained a section, "Association with Criminals and Hoodlums."
- Gulf Arab countries called on oil-rich nations to slow down production after OPEC leaders failed to agree on measures to halt the ongoing slide in oil prices.
- James P. Hoffa was elected Teamsters president with promises to bring back the glory days of his notorious father Jimmy Hoffa-and critics wonder if he will bring back organized crime and corruption as well.
- South Carolina became the first state to bail out of the antitrust suit against Microsoft, saying America Online's $2.4 billion merger with Netscape shows the software market is competitive after all.
- Supermodel Naomi Campbell denied charges that she punched personal assistant Georgina Galanis and whacked her with a telephone at a luxury Toronto hotel last September while filming a movie.
- Attorney General Janet Reno refused to name an independent counsel to probe the role of the president and vice president in the Democrats' myriad campaign finance irregularities in 1996.
- Former Missouri hospital technician Brian Stewart was found guilty of first-degree assault for stealing HIV-tainted blood and injecting it into his 11-month-old son, who is now dying of AIDS.
The Justice Department is investigating whether the CIA obstructed justice by tipping off Hughes Electronics about questions Senate investigators would ask about the company's dealing with the Chinese. Hughes and other U.S. satellite makers are under investigation concerning whether they provided China with restricted information to improve missiles and military satellites. Valuable military technology allegedly flowed to China as part of commercial satellite deals in which U.S.-built communications satellites were put into orbit on low-cost Chinese rockets. Hughes has a longstanding relationship with the CIA because it builds spy satellites. Not only is Hughes suspected of bulking up the Chinese military against foes abroad; the company has refused to deny its role in strengthening Beijing's domestic surveillance. WORLD reported two years ago (Sept. 14, 1996) that Hughes supplied technology that could be used to crush dissidents and help enforce China's one-child policy.
Sticks, stones, and words
Ultra-Orthodox members of the Israeli governing coalition are making life difficult not just for Prime Minister Netanyahu; they are also creating hardships for Messianic Jews. In Be'er Sheva, Haredim Jews (distinguished by standing apart from mainstream culture in dress and religious practice) threw stones and cursed at a Messianic congregation for more than three hours. The congregation of 30-40, including children, was trapped inside its meeting hall until local police escorted members to safety. Haredim Jews claimed the congregation was planning to baptize Jewish children at the Saturday service. Congregants deny that. The congregation has existed in a mostly Christian area for years but has grown recently with the influx of Russian and Romanian immigrants, sparking opposition. Jim Melnick, head of Virginia-based Friends of Russian Jewry, Inc., told WORLD the incident fits into a larger dynamic "of ultra-Orthodox elements getting stronger and stronger." He said Mr. Netanyahu is trying to keep all corners of his coalition happy. "But the one thing he has not done [for ultra-Orthodox parties] is pass an anti-missionary law," he said. A law prohibiting the proselytizing of Jews is pending in the Knesset.
Not much of a getaway
If Mr. Clinton took to Air Force One to escape condemnation at home, he could not have picked a less bucolic getaway. Leading up to a Dec. 12-15 trip, Middle East politics looked at least as tumultuous as events in Washington. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat continued a crackdown on Hamas and other terrorist leaders in an effort to convince the United States he was serious about implementing the Wye agreement. Nevertheless, Palestinians took to the streets to protest Israel's refusal to release designated Palestinian political prisoners. Seventy people were injured in widespread street violence in the West Bank, less than a week before Mr. Clinton was scheduled to tour a bedecked Manger Square in the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Bethlehem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also in a crisis, yanked between coalition hardliners who want to keep him from ceding land to Palestinians under the Wye agreement and opposition lawmakers who want him to move forward. Israel's cabinet suspended its end of the peace deal last week over continuing Palestinian security violations. Mr. Netanyahu faces a no-confidence vote in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, after the Clinton visit.
Good news, bad news
The bad news of Hurricane Mitch arrived in Honduras six weeks ago, but good news for Honduran national Neftali Mejea of Austin, Texas, (see WORLD, Nov. 21) did not come until two weeks ago. For the first time since the storm, he spoke with his mother, Maria Mejea, a farmer in Honduras' west-central town of Catacamas. She was safe, and her house survived both wind and deluge. But there was bad news to spare. Mrs. Mejea has heard nothing from Mr. Mejea's brother Pedro Gutierrez, a pastor near San Pedro Sula. She cannot phone or travel there because of damaged lines and roads. Her crop of beans, rice, and corn washed away with a good bit of Catacamas' agriculture- and tourism-based economy. Swept away by 17 days of rain were the ancient Talgua ruins, which drew visitors to area hotels and restaurants. When Mrs. Mejea told her son that an adobe house he had built had collapsed, he had a fresh idea of Mitch's power. "The house had 10-inch-thick walls," Mr. Mejea told WORLD. He cut the timber himself, choosing the strongest woods. In Nicaragua, Leonso Morales Ponce farms 10 acres. He raises red beans, corn, and sorghum. Phoenix-based Food for the Hungry reports that the El Jobo farmer lost his first three plantings to El Niño drought. Borrowing seeds for a fourth planting, he could not have known the rain he so badly wanted would come in the form of Hurricane Mitch. Four days of pounding rain from the storm wiped out his vegetable crops, along with most of the chickens he depends on for extra income. Food for the Hungry put holiday retail traffic to advantage for Mitch victims, forming a "used tool drive" with Home Depot stores in Arizona and Nevada.
In a list of humanitarian relief organizations with special programs to aid Hurricane Mitch victims, WORLD neglected to mention Food for the Hungry: 7729 E. Greenway Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260; phone: (602) 998-3100, ext. 126.