euthanasia in oregon?
Follow the money
Do federal tax dollars cover assisted suicides in Oregon? Rep. Thomas Bliley (R-Va.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, and three other Republicans want the Clinton administration to review whether Oregon includes such euthanasia in its health plan for the poor. Congress in 1997 prohibited the use of federal funds for assisted suicide. The Oregon Health Plan is partially funded by Medicaid. It covers about 350,000 Oregonians, and began covering suicides in December but has not yet had any suicide claims. State and federal officials said these would be covered entirely by the state. This may sound conclusive, but as liberals argue when trying to regulate private schools that get any government funds, money is fungible. If the federal government picks up the tab for any part of the Oregon Health Plan, that frees up state funds to be used for assisted suicide. Fifteen people committed suicide under Oregon's Death With Dignity Act during the law's first year. Two were covered by the Oregon Health Plan, but they died before the plan covered assisted suicides. jane doe #5
Does anyone care?
It's not over. Let's get on with the business of the country, the pollsters reported people saying, and the Senate irresponsibly complied, truncating the impeachment trial despite valiant efforts by the House managers. Here was last week's sad story, as reported on Dateline NBC (after a month-long delay) and now relayed throughout many media: Two decades ago, Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick. WORLD is not going to present the details, and normally would not report a claim like that from 20 years ago, long after the statute of limitations for such a crime ran out. But this story involves the president of the United States, and it is well-enough corroborated-by a woman who after the sexual assault saw Mrs. Broaddrick, and by others-to have impressed liberals at NBC and The Washington Post as well as conservatives at The Wall Street Journal. Controversy about the timing of the Dateline NBC showing, which was held up by network executives, remains. Had the story hit the airwaves when originally scheduled, would the impeachment trial vote have been different? But the sadness of this situation goes beyond politics. The book of Deuteronomy discusses certain sins, including rape, that required the perpetrators to be purged from Israel. America is not Israel and those specific civil laws do not apply, but the general principle does: Evil ignored is evil preserved, and it's not over until cleansing occurs. Now, for almost two more years, we are stuck with a president who no longer has the capacity to surprise us. Charges of lying? No surprise. Rape? No astonishment. Little outrage. Just sadness. Would T.S. Eliot say this is the way America's hope ends: not with a bang, but a whimper? We can't let that happen. This too shall pass; this country has made comebacks before. But while this peculiar gray state lasts for the next two years, words are beginning to fail even those who have been long indignant. It's just so sad. abortion
Underage girls in Virginia still have to tell their parents in most cases that they are about to get an abortion before getting one. The Supreme Court left intact a state law requiring unmarried girls under 18 to tell Mom or Dad at least 24 hours in advance. This Virginia law is about notification, not consent. It can be waived if the abortionist has reason to believe the girl has been abused or neglected. And if the abortion-seeker can prove to a judge that she's mature enough to handle the decision by herself, she can leave Mom and Dad in the dark. Even this was too much for a Planned Parenthood-led coalition of abortionists that challenged the legislation, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted against them last August. greenspan on the economy
Danger signs ahead
The U.S. economy will stay prosperous this year-and Americans "can justifiably feel proud" of that, said Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. "Our economy's performance should remain solid this year," he told the Senate Banking Committee, "though likely with a slower pace of economic expansion and a slightly higher rate of overall inflation than last year." Mr. Greenspan left his options open, though. He said interest rates likely would remain steady, but warned of factors that could move the economy toward recession, requiring lower interest rates, as well as threats that could lead to higher inflation, requiring higher interest rates. Trouble spots include the global economic crunch, the ongoing shortage of skilled workers, a skyrocketing trade deficit, and possible Y2K disruptions. judge slaps two cabinet officials
'Outright false statements'
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth slapped contempt-of-court citations on two Clinton cabinet officials for delays of up to two years in handing over records for a case involving Indian trust funds. Brushing away charges of partisanship, Judge Lamberth ruled that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin must take blame for delays and "outright false statements" in a lawsuit alleging federal mishandling of $500 million in funds. He ordered the administration to pay $500,000 in plaintiffs' legal fees. The Clinton administration apologized for its handling of the suit and pledged its cooperation. The costs of the mess ultimately will be paid by taxpayers. Mr. Babbitt requested $100 million in his 2000 budget toward cleaning up the Indian funds, which everyone involved agrees were mismanaged for decades. Judge Lamberth warned he may impose fines or other punitive damages if matters don't improve. Mr. Lamberth is the same judge who once called Ira Magaziner "dishonest" for withholding White House documents from a doctors' group. "People forget the number of times I ruled against the Bush administration," the judge said. man knows not his time
The lights dimmed for Gene Siskel after 24 years as half of the team that turned the world of movie critics upside down. Just 17 days after taking a leave of absence from his TV slot with Roger Ebert, he died while recovering from brain surgery. Mr. Siskel and Mr. Ebert, critics for competing Chicago newspapers, came together on the PBS show Sneak Previews in 1975. Their love-hate relationship became a hit and they left for commercial TV in 1982. Mr. Siskel and Mr. Ebert became stars themselves, as much a part of the Hollywood scene as the actors and directors. The "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" reviews at the end of their shows became legendary but won groans from other critics (many of whom wish they had thought of it themselves). While the pair argued with each other, their reviews were a good way to test establishment opinion about particular movies. Mr. Siskel's favorites over the years leaned toward the unconventional (like Hoop Dreams, The Ice Storm, and Shoah) and sometimes ghastly (The Last Temptation of Christ, Hair, and last year's tasteless disaster Babe: Pig in the City). He worked a manic schedule, doing reviews for the TV show, the Chicago Tribune, TV Guide, CBS This Morning, and WBBM-TV. Mr. Ebert said his partner focused on his work as he fought a quiet but strenuous battle against complications that arose after a growth was removed from his brain in May. "I can't even imagine what it will be like [without Mr. Siskel]," Mr. Ebert said. "There was a history there, a respect that I'm never really going to replace in my life. It's going to be tough." The no-comment zone
- New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced last week a new city police policy of seizing cars driven by drunk-driving suspects on the spot. Even first offenders risk losing their cars, which can be returned upon acquittal.
- Pat Buchanan stepped away from his Crossfire gig at CNN to consider running for president. But he won't face competition from former California Gov. Pete Wilson, who announced last week he would not enter the race. Gov. Wilson hardly registered in national polls and wasn't expected to beat early front-runners George W. Bush and Elizabeth Dole.
- Steve Forbes's magazine columns were not illegal contributions to his 1996 presidential campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. The agency withdrew a lawsuit in a New York court contending he should have reported their value. The FEC had valued the columns at $94,900. Mr. Forbes spent $38 million of his own money on his 1996 campaign.
- Breaking a record for female artists, hip-hop star Lauryn Hill won five Grammy Awards last week. Another big winner was the Titanic ballad "My Heart Will Go On," which took four awards, including song and record of the year. Ms. Hill took album of the year and best new artist. Madonna won three Grammys, including best pop album. Shania Twain, Stevie Wonder, the Dixie Chicks, and The Brian Setzer Orchestra were all double winners.
- It's a long way from throwing million-dollar punches in glitzy Vegas to throwing TV sets behind bars, but that's how far Mike Tyson has fallen-and he's looking at 20 more days in solitary for his recent outburst of anger. A disciplinary panel ordered the boxer to remain isolated from other prisoners until March 16. He has been in solitary confinement since he threw a TV set in a jailhouse recreation room at the Montgomery County (Md.) jail. He also has lost phone and visiting privileges. y2k: feds are fixing their computers
Now the bad news
The federal government is finally on the road to recovery from the millennium bug, but private companies may not be doing so well, according to two separate congressional reports. Ninety percent of federal agency computers will meet the March 31 deadline for Y2K repairs, according to the latest report card from Rep. Stephen Horn. That's much better than the estimate of 69 percent the California congressman made last November. Separately, a special Senate committee found that while the U.S. is far ahead of the rest of the world in fixing computers, it will face some disruptions in health care, electric power, and food distribution. The Senate report emphasized, though, that it is difficult to know the exact state of readiness, since many companies have been reluctant to reveal their status out of fear of litigation. The country will not face nationwide social or economic collapse, the report says, but "those who suggest that it will be nothing more than a 'bump in the road' are simply misinformed." texas racial murder trial
The father of racist killer John William King pleaded in vain for the life of his son one day after a Jasper, Texas, jury convicted him of first-degree murder last week in the vicious dragging death of James Byrd Jr. "We've invested a lot of love in that boy," a wheelchair-bound and tearful Ronald King said in court. On his way out of the courtroom, Mr. Byrd's daughter, Renee Mullins, hugged Mr. King: "I told him God bless him. It wasn't his fault." The trial featured shocking scientific testimony concerning Mr. Byrd's last moments. A pathologist testified that Mr. Byrd, severely wounded, tried to ease the pain to his torso and elbows by lifting his body as flesh was torn away on the bumpy asphalt road, eventually exposing many of his limbs to the bone. Israelis, palestinians squabble over tourism
Israel's Ministry of Tourism says it will be ready to accommodate millennium watchers, but delicate relations among church groups in the region make it a sensitive subject. More than 500 church leaders met with the ministry in Tel Aviv last week to iron out preparations. One touchy subject: Who will pay for additional emergency exits at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? Government officials say more capacity is needed, but the various churches that oversee the site want others to cover costs. Between 3 and 4 million visitors are expected to travel to Israel for Year 2000 events. On the income side of the ledger, a spokesman for Pope John Paul II, in a separate meeting last week on millennium festivities, urged Israelis and Palestinians alike to share in revenues from the increased tourist traffic. But the two sides were already bickering over pre-millennial arrangements. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Israel was discouraging tourists from spending the night in Palestinian territories. Israel complained that it was not invited to the Catholic-led meeting, which was held in Bethlehem, a Palestinian area. U.S. tax dollars may salve the sore points. The U.S. Agency for International Development announced that it will spend $8 million in Bethlehem on infrastructure improvements. feds fear ritter exposé
The pen and the sword
Former Marine captain Scott Ritter served under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during the Persian Gulf War and received several commendations for his bravery and service under fire. But last week the former officer and UN weapons inspector in Iraq was all but accused of high treason. Pentagon officials hinted that they may file legal action to block publication of Mr. Ritter's book, Endgame, due out next month, because it could compromise national security. Officials of the Defense Department, State Department, and CIA have all requested that Mr. Ritter allow their agencies to vet the book. Mr. Ritter refuses. Mr. Ritter resigned last August from UNSCOM, the UN weapons inspection team in Iraq, because he said the Clinton administration was impeding inspections in order to avoid a confrontation with Iraq. He also contended that CIA operatives were using the weapons team. At the time, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Mr. Ritter "doesn't have a clue" about U.S. policy in Iraq, but U.S. officials later admitted the weapons team had been used for intelligence gathering. Matthew L. Lifflander, attorney for Mr. Ritter, said the security canard is part of a White House policy "of denigrating Scott Ritter because they are embarrassed by his truthful allegations." He denies that the book compromises American security. "There's nothing in there about sources and methods of intelligence that isn't already in the public domain," he said. "Anything he says in there, Saddam Hussein already knows." World in brief
- Kosovo talks go into overtime
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, U.S. officials meeting with Serbs and Kosovo Albanians were able to win only a continuation of the peace process, after a deadline for peace talks in France passed without agreement. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hyped the talks as evidence the two sides were coming together. An hour after the deadline for a settlement, however, negotiators for the Albanians said they could not reach agreement without consultation with the rank and file in Kosovo; and Serbs rejected a U.S. plan for a NATO force in Kosovo. The two-week suspension of talks gives both sides time to shore up their military positions on the ground in the province.
- Famine in the workers' paradise
The population of North Korea has shrunk by as many as 3 million people in four years because of famine, according to a classified North Korean survey. A Public Security Ministry document confirmed that more than 500,000 people have died each year since 1995 from hunger. North Korean officials have long downplayed the famine's widespread consequences, but a U.S. congressional delegation visiting the country earlier this year reported that it believed more than 2 million had died of starvation.