This Week

"This Week" Continued...

Issue: "38,000,000 Children Killed," Jan. 16, 1999

World in brief

UN peacekeepers shot down over Angola
A UN cargo plane was shot down over Angola Jan. 2 with eight peacekeepers and civilian UN staff on board. It was the second time a UN-chartered plane was downed, apparently by UNITA rebels fighting to overthrow the Angolan government. Multinational agencies have been pulling workers from Angola since a four-year-old peace process reached an impasse last summer. Six planes have disappeared in UNITA territory. First four religious freedom panelists named
Congressional leaders appointed four of six members to a new panel on international religious freedom. Outgoing House Speaker Newt Gingrich named Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Center for Religious Freedom, and Elliott Abrams, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott selected former Sen. Bill Armstrong and John Bolton, a former assistant secretary of State, for the panel. Under a law enacted last fall to monitor religious persecution, President Clinton will also name two members of the panel. Saudi Arabia: No. 1 persecutor
In a report released by persecution watchdog Open Doors, Saudi Arabia again tops the list of nations that persecute Christians. Closely following on the World Watch List is Sudan, then Somalia, Yemen, and North Korea. Others are Laos, Vietnam, and China, rounded out by the tiny Islamic kingdom of Brunei.

500 slaughtered

At least 500 villagers were killed by rebels during a New Year's massacre in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an Italian missionary news service reported. The Roman Catholic agency, Misna, said it had collected first-person accounts of a slaughter from Dec. 30 to Jan. 1, purportedly carried out in retaliation for an attack on rebel soldiers. Over the three days, the rebels methodically hunted down villagers, hacking them to death with machetes or shooting them. American missionaries who worked in Kivu Province, where the massacre took place, said they believe the account. Last August, rebels admitted to a massacre of several hundred civilians in the region.

Whispers in the wind

While the impact of the Y2K bug is unknown, the world seems to be surviving the Year 99 bug well. Some computer programs read the "99" date as an instruction to stop working. There are three big days for this problem. Jan. 1, 1999 (the beginning of the year), April 9, 1999 (the 99th day of the last year), and Sept. 9, 1999 (The four nines of "9-9-99"). Some doomsday watchers saw them as precursors to a Y2K catastrophe. On the first date, however, few problems were found. Computerized taxi meters in Singapore went dead at noon Jan. 1 for about two hours. Police computers in three Swedish airports failed at midnight on Jan. 1 but were fixed in a few hours. And radio station KFQD in Anchorage, Alaska, was unable to receive The Associated Press' newswire when the date changed. The most sensitive problem involved two medical products. A Hewlett-Packard external defibrillator and Invivo's Millennia 3500 multiparameter patient monitor still work properly, but display the wrong time and date if not reset properly. "These are kind of whispers in the wind for what's going to happen in the year 2000," said Chris LeTocq, a corporate Y2K analyst. "If you're hearing stories of software having problems with 1999, that means Year 2000 is real."

Out with the old

Surely no one in America was happier to see 1998 pass into history than Bill Clinton. Yet the president, in Hilton Head, S.C., for his 15th straight Renaissance Weekend, seemed haggard and withdrawn. He opted for golf most of his two days on the island, spending only two hours or so on New Year's Eve with his fellow revelers. He missed the usual soul-searching of the annual liberal conclave, where topics this year included "Spiritual Life in a Secular Society" and "How the Geeks Have Inherited the Earth." Not surprisingly, he was nowhere to be found during a session on "Character: What Is It? Does It Count?" While the liberals were stroking their chins on Hilton Head, conservatives gathered in Phoenix to beat their breasts. At an event formerly titled the Dark Ages Weekend (now known as The Weekend) speakers from Newt Gingrich to Rudolph Giuliani bemoaned the state of the Republican Party, though no one could agree on how to fix it. Serious debate over values was as scarce as Monica gossip in Hilton Head, and some attendees were openly contemptuous of the GOP's religious wing. With nothing seeming to hold Republicans together but their antipathy toward President Clinton, conservatives come 2000 may wistfully sing Auld Lang Syne about 1998.


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