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THE WEEK: JULY 30-AUGUST 5

7 minute read
Kathleen Adams, Nick Catoggio, Wendy King, Lina Lofaro, Lawrence Mondi, Michael Quinn, Jeffery C. Rubin, Alain L. Sanders and Sidney Urquhart

NATION

HOUSE JOINS CALL TO ARMS

Following the lead of the U.S. Senate the week before, the House overwhelmingly voted 298 to 128 to end American participation in the U.N. arms embargo against Bosnia. The White House immediately launched an intensive effort to switch enough votes to sustain a presidential veto.

CLOSE OF BUSINESS

Before adjourning for its summer vacation, the House spent the week passing a series of bills that a patently aggrieved President Clinton has threatened to veto. The chamber approved a dramatically pared-back social-spending bill for next year; the measure nixes more than 100 programs and contains many controversial directives, including one allowing states to deny Medicaid funding of abortions in cases of rape or incest. The House also passed a landmark bill that would broadly deregulate the telecommunications industry. And the g.o.p. leadership succeeded in reversing an earlier vote and steering through a measure that would strip the epa of funds next year to enforce the nation’s major antipollution laws.

THE WHITEWATER HEARINGS

The Administration took its biggest lumps yet at the Senate Whitewater hearings. Former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann testified he had angrily complained to then White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum about the integrity of a search of deputy counsel Vincent Foster’s office that took place shortly after Foster’s suicide. Heymann said it was a “terrible mistake” and a “misuse” of the department to have kept Justice officials sitting and watching while Nussbaum searched through Foster’s papers for clues to his death. The solo search, Republicans charge, may have been part of an effort to keep Whitewater documents under wraps.

NOT WITH A BANG…

Amid continued partisan sniping, the House hearings on the 1993 federal assault against the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended with a whimper, having unearthed few new facts and having elicited no major revelations. Attorney General Janet Reno firmly stood her ground and again defended her decision to go ahead with the tear-gas assault on the complex. “We all mourn the tragic outcome,” she testified, “but the finger of blame points in one direction. It points directly at [sect leader] David Koresh.”

A PACKWOOD OF TROUBLES

On a nearly party-line split, the Senate voted 52 to 48 to back the decision of the Senate Ethics Committee not to hold public hearings in the sexual and official misconduct case of Finance Committee chairman Bob Packwood. Democrat Barbara Boxer, who had pushed for open hearings, called the decision “a miscarriage of justice.” At week’s end the committee announced that two more complaints of sexual misconduct had surfaced against Packwood and that it would investigate the new charges.

TERROR SUSPECT NABBED

Another suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was captured, this time in Jordan, and returned to the U.S. for trial. Eyad Ismoil was charged with driving the van that carried the bomb into the complex. He pleaded not guilty.

SEARCHING FOR THE UNABOMBER

The New York Times and the Washington Post ran excerpts of the Unabomber’s antitechnology manifesto, although they refrained from publishing the full text, which the Unabomber has demanded be printed as a condition for ending his 17-year mail-bombing spree. The decisions to publish came after the fbi sent copies of the manuscript to university professors around the country, seeking possible leads to the bomber’s identity. Meanwhile, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione renewed his offer to print the manifesto’s full text–plus a monthly column from the Unabomber–if the bomber desists from “all terrorist activities.”

PULLING THE PLUG ON SUICIDE

A federal judge struck down Oregon’s ground-breaking Death with Dignity Act, saying it violates federal equal-protection guarantees. Approved by voters last November, the measure would have allowed doctors in some cases to prescribe lethal doses of medication to competent terminally ill patients. But Judge Michael Hogan ruled that “some ‘good results’ cannot outweigh other lives lost due to unconstitutional errors and abuses.” Supporters of the law said they would appeal.

THE SIMPSON TRIAL

The O.J. Simpson legal-defense team mounted a full-scale attack on the reliability of police DNA tests linking Simpson to the murders of his former wife and her friend. A defense expert accused the Los Angeles police lab of having a “substantial contamination problem” because of sloppy procedures. But the most intriguing revelation of the week (made without the jury present) came when the prosecution told Judge Lance Ito it could show that gloves worn by Simpson during football broadcasts were the same as the bloody gloves in evidence at the trial.

WORLD

LIGHTING THE POWDER KEG

Raising the specter of an all-out Balkans war, Croatian armies launched an assault on rebel Croatian Serbs. Croat forces bombarded and then overran the rebels’ self-proclaimed capital of Knin and made significant gains along the rest of a 700-mile front, as they pushed to retake the major part of territory–roughly one-third of Croatia–won by Serbs four years ago. France and Britain, predictably, condemned the offensive; the U.S., cautioning restraint (also predictably), noted that the Croats were responding to Serb aggression.

BITTER FRUIT

China expelled two U.S. Air Force officers on charges of spying. Authorities claimed the men had been caught photographing and videotaping in a restricted military area–an assertion the U.S. denied. The expulsions came one day after Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in Brunei in an attempt to repair relations damaged most recently by the June visit of Taiwan’s President to the U.S. and by China’s detention of human-rights activist and U.S. citizen Harry Wu on espionage charges.

FALLOUT FROM FRENCH A-TESTS

France faced growing international opposition for its decision to explode eight nuclear weapons at its southern Pacific test site, Mururoa Atoll. Antinuclear protesters in several of France’s most important export markets, including Germany and Japan, announced consumer boycotts of French goods, and Australia barred a French manufacturer from bidding on a $740 million contract for jet fighters.

BUSINESS

ABC…SEE YOU REAL SOON!

Wall Street was all ears Monday when the Walt Disney Co. announced it would acquire Capital Cities/ABC Inc. to create the world’s largest and potentially best-integrated media-and-entertainment group. At $19 billion, the deal stands as the second largest corporate takeover in history.

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

Westinghouse Electric Corp. ushered in the second major network acquisition in as many days when it announced it would purchase cbs Inc. for $5.4 billion. Some analysts expect that a higher bidder–Ted Turner, perhaps–may emerge.

SPORT

PLAYERS 9, OWNERS 8

Baseball’s 73-year-old exemption from federal antitrust legislation was placed in jeopardy when the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9 to 8 on a bill to repeal it. The baseball players’ union says the measure, which still requires the approval of both houses, would force owners to bargain in good faith by allowing players the lawsuit option currently available in other professional sports.

HOOP NIGHTMARES

Negotiations between N.B.A. officials and locked-out players broke off Thursday night, leaving the league without a labor contract and endangering the upcoming season. The impasse came just days after the union imposed an Aug. 8 deadline to reach an agreement; otherwise, the union says it will decertify itself, which would free players to pursue an antitrust suit against the owners in court. Talks reportedly disintegrated over the possible elimination of exceptions to the salary cap.

TURNING OF THE TIDE

Alabama officials turned crimson Wednesday when the NCAA placed the school’s storied football program on probation for three years. The most serious charge: the school provided “false and misleading information” about a player who was declared ineligible after signing with an agent. Among the penalties: a ban on postseason play for the coming year.

–By Kathleen Adams, Nick Catoggio, Wendy King, Lina Lofaro, Lawrence Mondi, Michael Quinn, Jeffery Rubin, Alain Sanders, Sidney Urquhart

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