• U.S.

The Week August 28 – September 3

8 minute read
Melissa August, Tom Curry, Leslie Dickstein, Michael D. Lemonick, Lina Lofaro, Jeffery C. Rubin and Sidney Urquhart


A Deal with Cuba?

As U.S. and Cuban diplomats began talks in New York City on migration issues, more Cubans boarded jerry-built boats to flee starvation in their homeland. Washington proposed an agreement under which the U.S. would accept some 20,000 legal immigrants annually (up from about 2,700 last year). In return, Fidel Castro’s regime would take further steps to deter unsafe rafters from departing Cuba. The 16,000 Cubans now at Guantanamo naval base would have to take their place on a waiting list, meaning they would not enter the U.S. for many years.

U.S. Beefs Up Haiti Threats

Faced with an increasingly defiant military government in Haiti, the Clinton Administration declared an American-led invasion all but certain. Four Caribbean countries — Barbados, Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago — have promised to contribute a grand total of 266 support troops to a “multi-national” invasion force. Earlier in the week, the Rev. Jean-Marie Vincent, a prominent supporter of the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the exiled President, was assassinated, the first priest killed since the military took over in 1991.

Duffer’s Paradise

Ending a bruising summer with a long-delayed vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, President Clinton turned his attention to important, ego-satisfying goals in life, like getting his golf score under 80. He got as close as 82, and spent the rest of the week resting with his family and having dinner with superlawyer Vernon Jordan, Katharine Graham of the Washington Post and novelist William Styron.

Trial for AWACS Crew?

A board of Air Force officers recommended that members of the AWACS radar plane involved in last April’s shooting down of two U.S. Army helicopters over Iraq be court-martialed for dereliction of duty. A Defense Department study found that the AWACS crew failed to warn U.S. fighter pilots that the helicopters were American Black Hawks, not Iraqi aircraft. Twenty-six U.S. and foreign personnel were killed in the incident. An Air Force general must now decide whether the crew will stand trial.

The Cost of Harassment

The price of sexual harassment jumped sharply as a San Francisco jury ordered Baker & McKenzie, the world’s largest law firm, to pay Rena Weeks, who worked in 1991 as a secretary at the firm, $6.9 million in punitive damages in a harassment suit. Weeks accused Martin Greenstein, a former Baker & McKenzie partner, of dropping candies in a pocket of her blouse, groping her breasts and making lewd remarks. The jury found that the firm had failed to take action to stop his behavior. Baker & McKenzie denounced the award as “grossly disproportionate to the compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff,” a mere $50,000.

World War II Revisited

The Smithsonian Institution succumbed to mounting criticism from Congress, veterans and historians and announced it would revise its planned exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary next year of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Originally focused narrowly on the bombings, which killed more than 200,000 Japanese, the exhibit will now cover Japan’s aggression during World War II and factors that influenced the decision to drop the Bomb, including U.S. military leaders’ belief that an invasion of the Japanese mainland would leave hundreds of thousands of dead on both sides.


I.R.A. Declares Cease-Fire

The Irish Republican Army announced a “complete cessation of military operations” in the civil war that has plagued Northern Ireland and killed more than 3,000 people since 1969. Skeptics, remembering two previous cease- fires that unraveled in violence, noted that the I.R.A. has neither handed over its enormous cache of weapons nor specifically declared the cease-fire to be permanent. London and Dublin declared last December that the I.R.A.’s political wing, Sinn Fein, can join talks on Northern Ireland’s future only when a permanent cease-fire has held for three months. Said British Prime Minister John Major last week: “The moment I am clear in my mind that this is a permanent end to violence, then the clock starts ticking.”

Russians Strip German Bases …

Declaring that “today is the last day of the past,” Russian President Boris Yeltsin presided over a Berlin ceremony ending 49 years of Soviet military presence in Germany. The last 1,800 troops — down from 338,000 in 1990 — will leave this month. Ordered by Major General Matvei Burlakov, commander of the Russian forces in Germany, “to take everything with them,” the soldiers stripped their military installations of window frames, toilet fixtures, doorknobs and wiring. After all, Burlakov said, even a cement pole “can be traded in Russia for five pigs.”

… And Depart from Baltics

In nearby Latvia and Estonia, 54 years of occupation by the Soviet (and later Russian) army ended as the last soldiers quietly faded away. Joyous Balts celebrated with fireworks, speeches and a free rock concert at a former Soviet military base in the heart of the Estonian capital, Tallinn. “Today,” said Estonian President Lennart Meri, “signifies the end of the saddest chapter in our history.”

Japan Makes an Offer

The Japanese government said it will spend $1 billion over the next 10 years to pay for research into its wartime activities and to fund cultural exchanges with other Asia-Pacific countries as a symbol of remorse for its wartime atrocities. But groups of women demonstrated at the Japanese embassies in Seoul and Manila, angered that the package contained no compensation for the tens of thousands of Asian women forced into sex slavery by the Japanese army.

Al Gore vs. the Pope

In an unusually personal criticism, Pope John Paul II’s spokesman assailed Vice President Al Gore, head of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Conference on % Population and Development opening this week in Cairo. Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the conference’s draft document, principally sponsored by the U.S., “in reality contradicts Mr. Gore,” who pledged that the U.S. will never try to establish a universal right to abortion.

Mitterrand: Collaborateur?

A new biography of Socialist French President Francois Mitterrand has revealed new information of Mitterrand’s youthful extreme right-wing sympathies and later his role in the collaborationist Vichy government in World War II. Une Jeunesse Francaise (A French Youth), by journalist Pierre Pean, was written with Mitterrand’s cooperation and depicts Mitterrand as a young nationalist with sympathies for fascist regimes and later, as an ambitious official in Vichy. The book also says Mitterrand joined the Resistance only in 1943, later than he has previously claimed.

U.S. to Talk in North Korea

American officials will travel to Pyongyang this weekend for technical discussions as a very preliminary step toward establishing mutual diplomatic recognition. Meanwhile, Kim Jong Il, the communist leader expected to succeed his father as North Korea’s absolute ruler, invited former President Jimmy Carter to mediate talks concerning Pyongyang’s nuclear program, a prospect not favored by the Clinton Administration.

China to Renew Rights Talks

Beijing agreed to renew human-rights talks with Washington, even as Chinese authorities continued their clampdown on dissidents, placing many under effective house arrest. Nevertheless, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, touring China with 24 American business executives, hailed the resumption of talks as proof of “the wisdom of the policy” of separating human rights from trade in dealing with China.

Bosnian Serbs Reject Peace

As expected, Bosnian Serbs voting in a referendum overwhelmingly rejected an international peace proposal. More than 90% opposed the plan, which would have given the Serbs 49% of the former Yugoslav republic, forcing them to give up about a third of the territory won during their 29-month war against Bosnia’s Muslims. As a kind of perverse grace note, the Serbs stepped up a six-week-old campaign of renewed ethnic cleansing in northern Bosnia.


Defense-Industry Merger

In the most significant deal between defense contractors since the end of the cold war, the Lockheed Corp. and the Martin Marietta Corp., the nation’s second and third largest weapons makers, have proposed a $10 billion merger that would make the new company the country’s biggest military contractor. Analysts saw the deal as an effort to increase efficiency and cut costs — and jobs — in the face of an ever shrinking defense industry.

Telecom Merger Goes Bust

Attempts at creating a nationwide wireless network came to a halt when MCI Communications Corp. withdrew its plan to invest $1.3 billion for a 17% stake in Nextel Communications Inc. MCI could not reconcile its differences over the prospect of a 21% investment in Nextel by a third company, Motorola Inc. That investment would have provided Motorola with veto power over future deals and reduced MCI’s share from 17% to about 12%.

Network for Sale?

Numerous reports surfaced that Time Warner Inc. was negotiating with General Electric, NBC’s parent company, about the possible purchase of all or part of the network. Government regulation of the television industry — especially regarding cable systems like those owned by Time Warner — would make almost any kind of deal problematic. Both companies refused to comment.


Another California Quake

A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale struck about 200 miles north of San Francisco on Thursday. The epicenter was offshore in the Pacific Ocean, and while it made buildings sway and groceries fall off shelves, there were no injuries and no major damage. A smaller quake in the same area two years ago hurt 94 people and did $51 million in damage.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com