Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Cracking the code," April 29, 2000

Appeals court grants injunction as UN condemns Cuba
Rule of law, not politics
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals handed the Miami relatives of Elián Gonzalez a victory in their quest to keep the 6-year-old Cuban in the United States. The court last week upheld a temporary injunction requested by the Miami relatives pending their appeal against a federal court ruling last month. The same court will hear that appeal on May 11. Lazaro Gonzalez, Elián's great-uncle and temporary guardian, sought the injunction on April 13, after Attorney General Janet Reno ordered Mr. Gonzalez to deliver the boy to federal authorities. "Lazaro Gonzalez has broken the law," said Maria Cardona, a spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, after Mr. Gonzalez ignored the government deadline. The government submitted written arguments, asking that the injunction be lifted and that Mr. Gonzalez be ordered to turn over the boy to federal authorities. The federal appeals court did not agree with immigration authorities and Ms. Reno. "According to the record, plaintiff-although a young child-has expressed a wish that he not be returned to Cuba," the three-judge panel wrote. "It appears that never have INS officials attempted to interview plaintiff about his own wishes." The 16-page ruling bars anyone, including federal agents, from attempting to remove Elián from the United States. But it does not specifically forbid the INS to take custody, and it does not address government efforts to reunite Elián with his father. The court indicated that it is not ready to sign off on the Clinton administration's handling of the case. "The true legal merits of this case will be finally decided in the future.... We intend to hear oral argument," the court said in its ruling. "We need to think more and hard about this case." Meanwhile, at the annual meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, delegates adopted a resolution denouncing Cuba as a repressor of political dissent and religious expression. It said the Castro regime's human-rights record had worsened over the last year, with as many as 600 dissidents arrested in the last five months. The resolution was submitted by the Czech Republic and Poland and was backed by the United States. Passage of the resolution reinforced a new legal front opened by attorneys for the Miami relatives of Elián Gonzalez. They filed a separate suit in federal court in Washington last week, arguing that the boy should not be returned to a country with a poor human-rights record. Ups & Downs of the Week
The Nasdaq: It's up! No wait, it's down. And then up again. And then down again. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index has had more jumps and dips than a swing-era ballroom. Last month the Nasdaq peaked at 5,048.62. But during the week of April 10-14 it lost more than a quarter of its value, finishing at 3321.29. But the next week things started looking up again, with the Nasdaq gaining a record 254.41 points on April 18. The next day the Nasdaq was dropping again, though, down 87.16 points to close at 3706.41. U.S. Army officer retention: Scads of able young Army officers are ditching the military, and the top brass can't figure out why. According to Lt. Col. Russ Oaks, an Army spokesman, 6.4 percent of the force's captains left in 1988, while more that 10 percent left in each of the last three years. Army Secretary Louis Caldera and Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the chief of staff, have ordered two study panels to determine causes for the exodus and recommend solutions. The Vermont Senate last week not only rejected a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, it also voted 19-11 for a bill creating "civil unions" for homosexual couples. The measure, which now goes to the Vermont House for approval, would entitle homosexual couples to all of the 300 or so rights and benefits available under state law to married couples. Homosexual couples still would not qualify for federal marriage benefits. A year after the shootings at colorado high school, Grief has turned to bitterness for many
Remembering Columbine
Some gifts keep on giving. Some grief turns into bitterness. On Thursday, April 20, Littleton, Colo., and the world remembered the deaths of 13 victims and the two perpetrators at Columbine High School a year earlier. The Los Angeles Times reported a sad residue: "In the early days, donations poured in from around the world and the community seemed energized to repair itself. Now, bickering has set in, and backlash, even as ghouls in tour buses shout at students in the Columbine parking lot to point out the school library." The "ceaseless wave of criticism and controversy" has soaked school officials, local police, and the shooters' parents. County Sheriff John Stone faces a recall drive. With state law requiring that lawsuits against the government be filed within one year of disputed actions, at least nine lawsuits against police had been filed by last week's deadline. One suit contends that police passed up a chance to shoot one of the gunmen during the rampage; another claims that a victim died from an officer's bullet. The lawsuits allege that sheriff's deputies failed to rescue students in a timely manner and that deputies, dispatchers, and 911 operators had not been properly trained. They also accuse deputies of ignoring advance warnings of the shootings. "We are confident that the claims are without any legal merit and we will defend them vigorously," said Jefferson County Attorney Frank Hutflies. Meanwhile, some residents complain that much of the $5 million spent by a victims' compensation fund administered by the United Way went to pay for community counseling. Some parents of injured students say that, because of continuing medical costs, they should receive more than families of dead students. Students who survived the nightmare are more concerned about safety than money. "Before everything happened, I had kind of like my kid-protected bubble, that nothing bad was ever going to happen to me," said sophomore Katie Beer. "Now, I still feel safe at school with my teachers and my friends, but I feel like my bubble is gone." On the national front, more than a half-dozen Columbine-related books have come off the presses, including two that memorialize Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott, two of the Christian students killed in the attack. And national politicians are still using the disaster as a political pressure point to push anti-gun legislation. The Clinton-backed gun-control bill stalled in Congress, but the administration decided to mark the anniversary by touting a Housing and Urban Development gun buyback program. Owners get cash or gift certificates ranging from $25 to $150 for each firearm. This "Buyback America" program has attracted 84 cities so far, but many others passed it up because it drains money from local housing agencies. "One of the lessons of Columbine is that we have to stand up to the NRA and the gun industry and get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them," said Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. His opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, countered that though "strict enforcement is important, ultimately the safety of our children depends on more than laws. It depends on the values we teach them, and the kind of culture we create and condone." Faces

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