Judge kills voucher plan, but schools & parents vow:
We'll work things out
Johnnietta McGrady used vouchers to enroll her two children in St. Thomas Aquinas School, away from the chaos of Cleveland's public school system. But last week, one day before classes started, a federal judge turned her world upside down-issuing a temporary order blocking the voucher program until he can hold a trial to prove the program violates the "separation of church and state." U.S. District Judge Solomon Oliver Jr., who struck down the program, has already declared his position on the question: "The participating schools are overwhelmingly sectarian. Therefore, the Cleveland program has the primary effect of advancing religion." But Ms. McGrady is concerned with advancing the education of her children: "I really can't afford the private school now." Now 56 private, parochial, and independent Christian schools that accepted voucher students are scrambling to find a way not to dump over four thousand students back into the public schools. Several are telling parents to keep sending their kids until things are straightened out. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, which operates many of the schools, said it would maintain the status quo for the time being. Sheila Bolek, principal of Our Lady of Peace, spent a busy day trying to calm down the upset parents of about 80 voucher pupils. "We're not going to turn anyone away. We'll work things out," she said. Many parents expressed a similar confidence that things would work out. Christine Suma told the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "I'm just going to send them and just figure out how to make the payments." Her husband, Steve, the sole breadwinner in the 14-member family, said he'd work more overtime in his job as a corrections officer to offset the $4,000 loss his family will suffer. The voucher program has been mired in controversy from the start. The Ohio Supreme Court this spring considered the voucher plan and struck it down on a legislative technicality but concluded there was no "separation of church and state problem." Lawmakers quickly went to work and rewrote the plan, which was signed into law by Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, only to see it blocked in federal court. Clint Bolick, director of the pro-voucher Institute for Justice, said the institute would assist in the appeal of the case and also intended to raise $8.5 million in private donations to bankroll the voucher program for the remainder of this school year. Rate hike doesn't spook the dow
Alan Greenspan repeated his amazing feat of raising interest rates without scaring Wall Street into a stock market plunge. Just as the Dow hit a new all-time high, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the second time in eight weeks, hiking the amount banks charge each other on overnight loans to 5.25 percent from 5 percent. This is supposed to be an inflation-fighting measure, one that is intended to cool the economy by making it more expensive for Americans to borrow money. The drought of 1999
Worse to come?
This year's drought parched crops from Virginia into parts of the Midwest and forced suburbs from Washington to New York to restrict water use-but experts call it a typical dry spell. Something worse is yet to come, since severe ones (that cover at least one-third of the continental U.S.) come about once a decade-and the last one was in 1988. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman called on farmers to buy more crop insurance: "Drought is like a cancer, slow, insidious and not always easy to detect in the early stages." The No-Comment Zone
- Some of New York's finest protested President Clinton's clemency offer to 16 Puerto Rican terrorists as "really, truly pandering to the Hispanic community" just to win votes for his wife's Senate bid. Former Detective Richard Pastorella, two other former officers, police commissioner Howard Safir, and leaders from the city's five police unions said the convicts should serve their sentences. They are all members of FALN, the Spanish initials for Armed Forces of National Liberation, which staged 130 bombings across America from 1974 to 1983. Blasts attributed to the group killed six people and wounded dozens-including Mr. Pastorella, who was blinded.
- America's oldest senator, Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), collapsed at a reception at the University of South Carolina, leading him to move up prostate surgery, which was successful last week. The 96-year-old Southern stalwart has been hospitalized briefly several times in recent years, including for a day in Washington after he became dizzy during a Promise Keepers rally in October 1997.
- A Los Alamos whistleblower who exposed Chinese nuclear espionage resigned after a Department of Energy report failed to hold senior Clinton officials accountable for security breaches. Notra Trulock had been attacked for naming Taiwanese-born nuclear physicist Wen Ho Lee as the prime espionage suspect. With accusations of racism fluttering around, he was demoted to deputy director last year after serving as the Energy Department's intelligence director for four years.
- Hurricane Bret, the most powerful storm to hit Texas in 20 years, caused the deaths of four in a traffic accident as it sloshed along the Southwest. It could have been much worse. Instead of hitting heavily populated areas of the Gulf coast, Bret slammed into Padre Island National Seashore and then crossed a patch of sagebrush where fewer than 500 people live. Hurricane watchers then turned their attention to three Atlantic storms; Dennis gathered strength and threatened the Carolinas.
- California Indian tribal leaders vowed to fight a court overturning of a referendum that would have brought Las Vegas-style gambling to the reservations. In their 6-1 ruling, state justices said Proposition 5 violates a section of the state Constitution that forbids "casinos of the type currently operating in Nevada and New Jersey." The bill, approved by voters last November, would have allowed 40 tribes with casinos to keep using video slot machines; it also set the stage for more of California's 107 tribes to open casinos with video gambling terminals and card games. The end of tolerance
Reporters puffed a strategy meeting last week of a liberal religious coalition working to promote acceptance of the homosexual agenda among churches. Here's how the Associated Press led the cheers: "Coalition members said support for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals has been strong among religious organizations for years and is growing." The New York Times quoted a pro-homosexual priest who compared pro-gay dissidents who have been disciplined by church authorities to slain civil-rights leader Martin Luther King: "When you stand up, you run the risk of being fired on." But the only ones fired upon at the meeting were Christian activists who by God's grace had left the homosexual lifestyle. Originally, the meeting format included an open microphone at which audience members could ask questions of the panel. But when organizers learned that Focus on the Family staffers Amy Tracy, John Paulk, and Mike Haley, all ex-gays, would attend the forum, the open microphone idea was quickly sacked. Instead, audience members were invited to submit questions on 3-by-5 index cards. "I think the panel feared that with us on an open mike, they might have to deal with some type of rebuttal," Ms. Tracy told WORLD. "This was supposed to be an open forum surrounding tolerance, love, and diversity, but we saw very little of that." Gates charity surpasses Ford
Bill Gates tossed a huge chunk of his massive Microsoft fortune into America's largest nonprofit foundation, the $17.1 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. By comparison, the Ford Foundation is worth $11.4 billion. Not all this money will go to good causes: As WORLD reported last May, Mr. Gates is a loyal supporter of population-control efforts. Millions have flowed from his coffers to support efforts like the United Nations Population Fund and population-control studies at Johns Hopkins University. What the president did on summer vacation
Business & pleasure
Bill Clinton's New England vacation turned out to be one big fundraising, power-brokering session. In his first five days he helped raise $350,000 for his wife's undeclared senatorial campaign. The First Family even skipped a church service photo-op to attend a $1,000-per-plate brunch at the home of Viacom executive Frank Biondi. For their money, Vernon Jordan, Art Buchwald, Alan Dershowitz, and others got to hear the president pick up his sax and play "My Funny Valentine," accompanied by a high-school band. Later, Mr. Clinton pushed the Yuppie button by driving a bronze sport utility vehicle-instead of the usual presidential limo-up to a restaurant that hosted a birthday party for White House aide Kelly Craighead. Onlookers cheered as he hopped out of the SUV and pressed the flesh with the crowd. Soon he headed back to his Oyster Pond vacation home, where a collection of books awaited his thumbing through the pages. Among them were Waves of Rancor: Tuning in the Radical Right by Robert Hilliard and Michael Keith. This leftist tract beat up an assortment of conservative types from Rush Limbaugh and William F. Buckley Jr. to Gun Owners of America and Promise Keepers. It makes the not-so-subtle suggestion that such standard fare is a slippery slope to David Duke and scary kooks. Rancor is itself rancor, of the paranoid type used to defame Robert Taft in the 1950s and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in the 1960s. Coming complete with the endorsement of White House spokesman Joe Lockhart, Rancor assumes that America's greatest threats are two-parent families who attend Bible studies, listen to AM radio stations, and keep a gun around for self-defense. Mr. Clinton tossed some books into his golf bag the next day as he went to play a few holes with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), hoping to dissuade him from retiring from his seat, which would give a campaign advantage in the Senate race to GOP Gov. Christine Whitman (whose liberal politics could siphon votes from the Democrats). The Clintons continued their power blitz for five days until Mrs. Clinton's cold forced the pair to head back to Oyster Pond and prepare for another weekend of non-stop fundraising. arizona ward of the state forced to abort
State knows best
Arizona child welfare officials must drive a pregnant 14-year-old across state lines for a late-term abortion banned in her home state. Why? Judge William Sargeant of Maricopa County Superior Court ordered it, thus defying a new state statute that blocks most abortions performed after 20 weeks. This court-ordered abortion is perfectly proper, according to Arizona Gov. Jane Hull. "The court is acting in the role of the parents," Gov. Hull's spokesman told The Arizona Republic. "The people that are working in the girl's best interests believe this is the best interests. The court agreed and did issue the order." The unnamed girl has lived within the welfare system since age 5. She became a ward of the court after repeatedly running away from foster parents and group homes, according to newspaper accounts. This time Arizona officials will help her make one more run-to the border-even though state law blocks using tax money for abortions unless needed to save the mother's life. The girl's keepers aren't even fighting the decision. In fact, an Arizona Department of Economic Security spokeswoman said that under statutory rape laws, any sexual activity for a 14-year-old can be considered rape, therefore the girl's abortion rights are protected by federal law. Feds back off denials about incendiary devices
FBI reverses on Waco seige
For six years the FBI denied firing tear gas at David Koresh and his followers that may have ignited, setting off the deadly Waco inferno. Now the agency has watered down its denials. "We continue to believe that law enforcement did not start the fire," an FBI spokesman said. "But we regret previous answers to Congress and to the public [about possible use of inflammatory devices] ultimately may prove to be inaccurate." This admission came after Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis J. Freeh ordered an inquiry into the tragedy and ordered every agent at the scene to answer questions about what happened. Officials confessed that two military tear gas canisters, labeled pyrotechnic because of their ability to cause a spark, were fired just after 6 a.m. on April 19, six hours before the fire began. The canisters were fired not at the wooden main structure but at a concrete bunker some yards away. They bounced off its roof and landed in an open field. What was the root cause of the April 19, 1993, disaster? Was it the Feds? Or was it Koresh? FBI bugs recorded Branch Davidians discussing spreading fuel and planning a fire hours before the compound burned. Arson investigators also found evidence that gasoline, charcoal lighter fluid, and camp stove fuel had been poured inside the compound. Candidate explains abortion views
McCain back on the defensive
One week after a WORLD cover story questioned the pro-life commitment of GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, the Arizona senator took pains to declare his "unequivocal support" for overturning the Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. In a letter to National Right to Life Committee president Wanda Franz, Mr. McCain said, "I share our common goal of reducing the staggering number of abortions currently performed in this country and overturning the Roe vs. Wade decision. I truly hope this clarifies any ambiguity on my position." But ambiguities persisted. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, the senator said, "I'd love to see a point where it is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force X number of women in America to (undergo) illegal and dangerous operations." That response raised new questions: Why is abortion "necessary"? What changes in the United States would lead Sen. McCain to believe that it was time to overturn Roe vs. Wade? Mr. McCain insists that his voting record should speak for itself. He sponsored the bill to overturn President Clinton's veto of a bill banning partial birth abortions and has also voted to ban public funding of abortions (except in cases of rape, incest, and a threat to the life of the mother). According to spokesman Howard Opinsky, Mr. McCain "has a 17-year voting record of supporting efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade and simultaneously reducing the abortion rate in America." cruise ship goes bump in the night
Things started falling
A relaxing trip on the Norwegian Dream became a nightmare when the cruise ship collided with a Panamanian cargo ship in the English Channel. Some passengers thought they had been dropped into a disaster movie. "When I heard the bang, I really pictured another Titanic and started running to the deck," said passenger Arielle Adelman, 16, from New York City. "It was really scary.... I was walking down the hall and fell over. The ship started shaking and things started falling." The impact caved in the bow of Norwegian Dream and ignited a fire that raged for hours on the cargo ship Ever Decent. The force of the crash threw three shipping containers onto the 41,000-ton cruise ship. Others fell into the water, while several more caught fire. Only 20 of the mostly American passengers on board were hurt, suffering only minor injuries. Cruise ship passenger Bob Gedan, 62, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said passengers were anxious but never panicked. "Most people were asleep at the time. The TV fell off onto our bed and woke my wife up," he said. "They had us in the emergency stations with our life jackets on at one in the morning." British maritime experts can't explain how a luxury liner carrying 2,400 people could crash in good weather. "There was absolutely no sign of trouble before the collision," said Coast Guard commanding officer Rod Johnson. "No radio messages were taken from either ship." Bye bye, Bonn
Schroeder takes Berlin
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder quietly moved into his new digs in Berlin, becoming the first leader to govern the whole country from that city since World War II. His move from the sleepy former West German capital of Bonn also is intended as a symbolic move away from the scars of National Socialism and East German communism. Even though the new office was opened with only a small ceremony, Herr Schroeder visibly enjoyed moving to the former imperial Prussian capital. "A dozen years ago, anyone who would have predicted this would have been dismissed as crazy," he said, referring to the 1989 destruction of the Berlin Wall. Since his election last fall, Chancellor Schroeder has called for what he termed the "Berlin Republic"-a Germany confident in its democracy and less weighed down by the past. So bye bye, Bonn, and bring back Berlin. Germany's Parliament, which also made the 375-mile trek from Bonn, starts holding sessions next month in the refurbished 19th-century Reichstag building. The move is more metaphorical than political. The chancellor says he has no intention of pushing the now-unified nation away from NATO or European Union. So far, German citizens seem unimpressed by Herr Schroeder's rhetoric. His socialist government-which is bogged down with the massive costs of rebuilding East Germany-has hit its lowest approval ratings since last October's election.