News & Reviews

Issue: "Mid-term, mid-field pileup," Dec. 11, 1999

Protesters against Seattle trade conference riot
Seattle slew
Save the whales, smash a Starbucks. Demonstrations against the World Trade Organization turned violent last week in downtown Seattle as rioters trashed the streets for hours, creating havoc, breaking glass, and spraying graffiti at a meeting of the organization. Police in riot gear fired red pepper spray in plastic pellets as protesters chained their bodies together to prevent officials' motorcades from getting through. Protesters shattered windows from NikeTown to The Gap to Santa's Village outside Nordstrom. While leftist groups denied any connection to the carnage that held up the 135-nation trade gathering, a city that was decked out for Christmas was turned into something resembling a war zone within a few hours. By Wednesday evening, Seattle police, along with 200 National Guard troops and 300 state police officers, had rounded up over 400 demonstrators, including 200 arrested in a city park just two blocks from President Clinton's hotel. Authorities imposed a night curfew and declared a state of emergency. Mr. Clinton, speaking to WTO delegates, condemned "the small number who were violent and who tried to prevent you from meeting," but said he was "glad the others showed up. They represent millions of people who are now asking questions" about the rules of world trade. But delegates snubbed Mr. Clinton's call for the WTO to tie labor and environmental regulations to trade. He received lukewarm applause from the 1,000-plus delegates at the end of his speech. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Thailand's commerce minister, later told reporters that such regulations could prompt trade ministers from developing countries "to walk away from any agreement on a new round" of trade talks. Baseball great wants back in sport
A rose with thorns?
Is Pete Rose headed back to baseball? Ten years after being banned from the game for allegedly betting on the Cincinnati Reds, the team he managed at the time, the 58-year-old's lawyer has a meeting scheduled with Major League Baseball's top lawyer, Bob DuPay. While Mr. Rose called the meeting a first step on the road to reinstatement, Mr. DuPay downplayed the meeting's importance. Mr. Dupay said baseball commissioner Bud Selig would not attend the meeting, and Mr. Selig has said many times that he knows of no new evidence to merit lifting the ban. Mr. Rose recently was one of 25 players elected to baseball's All-Century team. He won the largest standing ovation among the All-Century players introduced at the second game of the World Series. Mr. Rose said his lawyers would attack the evidence against him obtained by investigators 10 years ago. Idahoans rally around symbol
Cross atheists
Is a cross on private property unconstitutional? A former American Atheists spokesman is campaigning against a 60-foot cross that overlooks Boise, Idaho. The Idaho Jaycees built the cross on public land in 1956 and purchased the plot for $100 in 1972 to avoid church-state problems. Chicago talk-show host Rob Sherman wants to sue, claiming the deal was rigged and the First Amendment violated. About 10,000 people marched to the statehouse in protest of his efforts, with support from Lt. Gov. Butch Otter: "It is in private property that the roots of all freedom exist," he told the crowd. "You want to build a church, you want to start a religion, go get yourself a piece of private property." The No-Comment Zone

  • Latrell Sprewell shouted profanities and vulgar remarks toward fans at a New York Knicks game in Oakland; now he must pay a $10,000 fine to the NBA. But this isn't Mr. Sprewell's only controversy. In December, 1997, he choked coach P.J. Carlesimo. At the Knicks game, Mr. Carlesimo approached mid-court in hopes of shaking hands with Mr. Sprewell, but the player turned away.
  • In the latest attack against the missionary activities of the Southern Baptist Convention, a group of liberal religious leaders in Chicago wants the denomination to keep a missionary conference out of their town, claiming it would spark violence against Jews, Hindus, and Muslims. "A campaign of the nature and scope you envision could contribute to a climate conducive to hate crimes," said a letter from the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago to SBC president Paige Patterson. Chicago is one stop in a touring conference called "Strategic Cities Initiative," which is part of a campaign for the SBC to expand outside the South. Other cities include Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Boston.
  • The Denver City Council last week voted to create a registry for unmarried, including homosexual, couples. Approved by a 10-0 vote, the ordinance will not confer any legal rights or obligations, according to assistant city attorney John Eckhardt, who drafted the bill. Still, backers of the proposal rejoiced. "What's important about this is a recognition of our humanity," said Councilwoman Happy Haynes.
  • Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens issued an order temporarily stopping Illinois and Wisconsin from enforcing their partial-birth abortion laws while abortionists seek a high-court review of a federal appeals court decision that upheld the states' laws. Lower courts have gone both ways on this issue. In September, another federal appeals court ruled that similar laws in Nebraska, Arkansas, and Iowa were unconstitutional.
  • Playboy TV and other cable porn channels came under fire from the Clinton administration last week. The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to review a law (struck down by a lower court) to protect children from smut. The law doesn't ban the programs; it only requires cable companies to fully scramble them during the day so kids can't accidentally find them. Playboy calls it a First Amendment violation. A DOJ spokesman says otherwise: The law is Congress' attempt to limit "graphic, sexually explicit adult programming that is available on cable television to children with merely a flip of the dial." Peanuts fans respond with concern
    Schulz has cancer
    Good grief, indeed. For 50 years now (see World, Nov. 13), Charles M. Schulz has dramatized the woes-athletic, relational, and metaphysical-of a doleful round-headed kid, his delusional dog, and his philosophical society of friends. So there has been a real outpouring of concern for Mr. Schulz, now 77, as his health concerns mount. United Media, the syndicate that distributes Peanuts to more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide, announced that when Mr. Schulz sought treatment for a blocked abdominal aorta on Nov. 16, colon cancer was discovered. He underwent treatment and was scheduled for release last week. Meanwhile, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been rescued from cable overkill and oblivion by CBS, which is leading off its "Twelve Days of Christmas" lineup with the biblically oriented special. The program's scene of Linus on a darkened stage, reciting the Christmas story straight from the Bible, may be the clearest presentation of the gospel that CBS broadcasts this year. court: can gov't fund religious schools?
    Supreme deliberations
    When Mary Helms and Marie Schneider learned 14 years ago that Louisiana parochial schools were using federal tax dollars to fund school buses, computers, and libraries, they started a campaign to make sure that only kids enrolled in public schools would receive such basic educational benefits. Last week that case landed in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supremes will consider an appeals court ruling that the program is unconstitutional. The court's decision will immediately affect federal programs that assist religious schools in providing students with Internet access and instructional equipment. Ultimately, the court's ruling will also bear on government funding for vouchers, textbooks, and training for kids with hearing and other physical impairments. groups agree to share power
    Northern Ireland: Peace at last?
    A high-school dropout and former terrorist became Northern Ireland's minister of education. The appointment of Martin McGuinness was one of many bizarre and ironic turns on the road to a historic peace agreement in the Protestant-Catholic battlegrounds of Northern Ireland. The agreement began to take legitimate hold after the British Parliament and Queen Elizabeth gave formal approval to a law ending 27 years of direct rule from London. That action transferred power to the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast, a new legislature that will distribute power between the province's heretofore contentious Protestant and Catholic factions. When the assembly met for the first time Dec. 2, the Protestant-led Irish Republic was set to renounce its claim to the province. At the same time, Sinn Fein and Irish Republican Army representatives were to move forward to disarm paramilitary and terrorist groups. Catholic politician Seamus Mallon was appointed by the legislature as the deputy first minister. Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has already received the top post of First Minister in a 12-member cabinet. World in brief
    Cartel's victims possibly found
    Two days after a search began in Mexico of what may be a mass grave of "los desaparecidos"-"the disappeared"-investigators had unearthed what appeared to be the remains of six people. An FBI informant said as many as 100 victims of the powerful Juarez drug cartel could be buried at the site near Cuidad Juarez and the Texas border. Mexican law enforcement, in conjunction with the FBI, have until now failed to resolve the disappearance cases of 196 people from the area since 1993. Eighteen of the missing are U.S. citizens. Christian group attacked
    Members of a Jewish extremist group attacked the Paris office of Jews for Jesus for the third time in a year, its director said. Seven men entered the office Nov. 24 and beat up Joshua Turnil, an office worker, and threatened to kill him. Youths with iron bars shattered the window of the group's office in Paris six months ago. Muslims take on UN
    Mothers of Srebrenica, an association of relatives representing thousands of Muslims killed by Bosnian Serbs in 1995, is taking legal action against the United Nations. They blame UN officials for failing to stop the massacre. A report by the UN released last month agreed, saying that it failed to support a contingent of Dutch UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica. Prosecutors estimate that about 6,000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, were killed there in Europe's worst massacre since World War II. United nations-Iraqi agreement on oil exports expires
    No crude for food
    The United Nations refused to roll over a six-month agreement, under which Iraq is allowed to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian goods. The "crude for food" deal expired last week, and Iraq has completely halted oil exports as a result. UN delegates are hoping the hold-off will force Iraq to accept weapons inspectors as a condition for exporting crude oil again. But Security Council members are highly divided over how to deal with the Persian Gulf renegade. Russia may not support the new UN resolution, which would insist Iraq accept arms inspectors in return for easing economic sanctions. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz flew to Moscow to try to persuade Russia to reject the draft, drawn up by Britain and the Netherlands. Russia is Iraq's largest buyer of crude reserves. According to one report, many of those reserves, nearly 1 million barrels per day, eventually wind up in U.S. markets. A UN statement suggested that the United States receives the oil through Russian intermediaries. Already, the United States has received 39 percent of the oil Iraq has been permitted to export under the 3-year-old plan. Weapons inspectors have not had access to Iraqi sites since Mr. Hussein faced down the UN's chief weapons inspector, Richard Butler, earlier this year.

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