News In Brief
Sixty-nine percent of Americans think their own moral standards are higher than those of President Clinton, a USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll indicated. However, 54 percent of respondents said Clinton's personal life doesn't matter as long as he does a good job. His overall favorability rating remained high - at 60 percent.
Boy Scout groups can bar homosexuals, agnostics, and atheists, the California Supreme Court ruled, saying local troops are voluntary clubs not covered by state civil-rights laws. In a pair of unanimous rulings, the court said Boy Scout organizations were not "businesses" and therefore were free to exclude whomever they pleased. The court's decision was a victory for the Boy Scouts, who lost a similar case in New Jersey earlier this month.
The Federal Election Commission has ruled unanimously against Ross Perot's claim that he was illegally excluded from the 1996 presidential debates, The Washington Post said. It reported that, in a 5-to-0 decision, the FEC overruled a report by its general counsel, Lawrence Noble, saying the Commission on President Debates and the campaigns of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole violated the law by excluding Reform Party candidate Perot and Natural Law Party's John Hagelin.
Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat warned against punishing Switzerland for its role in the Holocaust, predicting threatened sanctions would be counterproductive. US state and local finance officials agreed in December to postpone a planned boycott of Swiss banks until March 31. It is unclear whether a global settlement can be achieved by that date.
A town-hall meeting in Denver on race relations turned into a shouting match when native Americans protested a lack of representation on Clinton's race advisory board. Energy Secretary Federico Pea tried unsuccessfully to restore order when about 20 protesters, some wearing ski masks, demanded to know why no Indians were on the board.
A former business partner of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said he told her the White House was using trade missions to raise money for the Democratic Party. In an affidavit released by a federal district court in Washington, Nolanda Hill said Brown was angry that US firms were asked for donations in exchange for participation in the missions. Brown died in a plane crash in early 1996 while on a trade mission to Croatia. Hill was indicted last week on charges of diverting $200,000 from firms she controlled, and then failing to report it to on tax returns.
A package mailed to US Sen. John Glenn (D) contained racist rhetoric and a powder that discolored and numbed the hands of three workers. A similar package sent to another senator contained the mysterious substance but was noticed before it injured anyone. The packages, mailed from Vermont, arrived at Glenn's office in Columbus, Ohio, and at the Burlington, Vt., office of Sen. James Jeffords (R).
The cost of raising children rose again last year as parents spent more on child care and housing, the Agriculture Department reported. Middle-income, two-parent families will spend an estimated $153,660 over the next 17 years for a child born last year, up from $149,820 in 1996. Low-income families will spend $112,710 for each child, up from $110,040; and children in high-income families will cost $224,040, up from $218,400.
Two navigation aids that could have helped a Boeing 747 land safely on Guam were not in use when a Korean Air Lines jetliner slammed into a hillside last year, the National Transportation Safety Board reported. It said the plane's data recorder showed Korean Air Lines Flight 801 was flying several hundred feet below the recommended altitude seconds before the crash that killed 228 people on Aug. 6.
Iraq has confirmed the arrest and imprisonment of the scientist who pioneered its germ-warfare program, The New York Times reported. Nassir Hindawi was about to flee the country with a false passport and "military documents" he should have returned to the government, the Times quoted Iraqi sources as saying. Meanwhile, Iraq denied claims that it had plotted to smuggle anthrax toxin into Britain in duty-free cigarette lighters and alcohol, cosmetic, and perfume containers. In London, Prime Minister Blair's office said "authentic" intelligence documents confirmed the plot.
Argument raged in Russia over the dismissal by President Yeltsin of his entire Cabinet and whether it meant the effective end of outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's political career. Analysts cited Cherno-myrdin's growing ambition as a key reason for the move, and officials of a leading party said he would likely be their candidate for president in 2000. Meanwhile, Yeltsin's spokesman said he probably would retain "the lion's share" of Cabinet members when unveiling his new administration.
Kosovo's Albanian leader appeared to yield to foreign pressure, announcing he would join negotiations on the future of the troubled province with Serbian leaders. Ibrahim Rugova named a 15-member advisory team to draw up a position for the talks. But reports of a possible new Serb police attack on ethnic Albanian villages cast doubt on the likelihood that discussions would make much progress, analysts said.
President Clinton dodged controversy and sex-scandal questions on Day 2 of his Africa tour. In Uganda, he sought to call attention to the continent's economic potential and democratic progress, announcing $182 million in US grants for public education, agriculture, and health programs. He also planned to take part in a regional meeting of heads of state today. But at a news conference with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, reporters mostly asked about Clinton's domestic legal problems. He also angered Rwandan government officials by declining to lay a ceremonial wreath at a new memorial to genocide victims.
Ultranationalist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen lashed back at political opponents after his strategy to win unprecedented power in France was thwarted. Le Pen had offered to back struggling conservative parties in a local election in the Ile-de-France region (Paris and environs) if they would support him in the province that includes the Riviera. But the plan collapsed. A conservative candidate withdrew from the Ile-de-France election, handing victory to the Socialist Party of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, its first there. A Socialist also won in the Riviera region. And two new regional officials, elected with Le Pen's help, quit.
A new policy aimed at putting economic power in the hands of the black majority was announced by Zimbabwe's government. It said there is "no question of grabbing existing businesses," many of which remain white- or foreign-owned after 18 years of independence. The government hoped to "create a large indigenous business class" through tax incentives, protecting certain industries, and favoring blacks in awarding contracts, a spokesman said. The government already has announced a plan to seize white-owned farms.
Saying it was time for new and younger "forces" to assume the job of promoting economic and political reform, the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan handed in his resignation. Apas Dzhumagulov had led the government of the former Soviet republic in central Asia since 1993. His successor was expected to be named today, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
"Even though they won, I'm not sure it is [a] victory the Boy Scouts should be happy about."
- Timothy Curran, after California's Supreme Court upheld his 1982 disbarment from the post of assistant scoutmaster when he publicly acknowledged being a homosexual.
There are dumb ideas, and then there is what Dennis Yee did when another motorist cut him off on a Long Island, N.Y., highway. He gave chase and signaled for the driver to pull over, flashing a store-bought police badge - only to discover that, oops, his quarry is a real cop. No, Yee didn't get off with just a warning.
Is the high-heeled pump gone for good? Maybe not, but its days as a fashion statement may be. Of 500 women polled by the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, only 1 in 4 admitted wearing heels higher than one inch to work. Almost as many said they work in sneakers.
The Day's List
Who and What Won Oscars At '98 Academy Award Night
BEST PICTURE: "Titanic"
ACTOR: Jack Nicholson, "As Good as It Gets"
ACTRESS: Helen Hunt, "As Good as It Gets"
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Robin Williams, "Good Will Hunting"
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kim Basinger, "L.A. Confidential"
DIRECTOR: James Cameron, "Titanic"
FOREIGN FILM: "Character," the Netherlands
SCREENPLAY (based on material previously produced or published): Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson, "L.A. Confidential"
SCREENPLAY (written directly for the screen): Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, "Good Will Hunting"
ART DIRECTION: "Titanic"
SOUND EFFECTS EDITING: "Titanic"
ORIGINAL MUSICAL OR COMEDY SCORE: "The Full Monty," Anne Dudley
ORIGINAL DRAMATIC SCORE: "Titanic," James Horner
ORIGINAL SONG: "My Heart Will Go On," from "Titanic," James Horner and Will Jennings
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: "The Long Way Home"
DOCUMENTARY (short subject): "A Story of Healing"
FILM EDITING: "Titanic"
MAKEUP: "Men In Black"
ANIMATED SHORT FILMS: "Geri's Game"
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: "Visas and Virtue"
VISUAL EFFECTS: "Titanic"
HONORARY AWARD: Director Stanley Donen
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL AWARD: Gunnar P. Michelson, developer of an advanced electronic light valve for machines that strike movie prints.