Week In Review A Look Back At The Top Stories From The Last Week

SUNDAY, APRIL 20, 1997


Reno says no

It was a week for revisiting political scandals both at home and abroad.

U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno rejected Republican demands that she seek appointment of an independent counsel to investigate possible fund-raising violations during the 1996 presidential campaign.

“At this time, we have no specific, credible evidence that any covered White House official may have committed a federal crime,” said Reno.

To which House Speaker Newt Gingrich responded that Reno’s reluctance to call for an outside investigator brings “into question … whether she is the protector of the president or the enforcer of the law.”

Dole says yes

But Gingrich had his own problems to deal with. And deal with them he did Thursday. Saddled with a $300,000 fine for ethics violations, he turned to the man he once called the “tax collector for the welfare state.” Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole came through with the loan for Gingrich to be able to pay his fine without having to dip into campaign coffers.

“He’s a great patriot … and a close personal friend,” Gingrich said of Dole. That was news.

There goes the government

But U.S. politics paled in comparison to what went on in Israel last week. Israeli police recommended that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for fraud and breach of trust in his failed effort to appoint a political crony as attorney general. It all began three months ago when Israel’s Channel One television station reported that Netanyahu had appointed Roni BarOn as attorney general in exchange for Bar-On’s agreement to reduce criminal charges against Aryeh Deri, leader of the Shas religious party, a key member of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition. Amid such accusations, an indictment may not even be necessary to bring down the Israeli government. By the end of the week, his fragile conservative coalition showed signs of crumbling.


Whooping cough in Idaho

In Idaho, an outbreak of pertussis continued to spread, crossing the state line into the Spokane Valley. The Panhandle Health District scrambled to deal with the consequences of an alarming statistic: Idaho’s 66 percent immunization rate ranks last in the nation. By midweek, nearly one in 10 people tested for pertussis in North Idaho had been found to have the highly contagious whooping cough.

Tobacco industry coughing up

Wednesday saw a breakthrough in a health epidemic on a national scale when the nation’s major tobacco companies finally came to the negotiating table. A settlement was in the works to compensate smokers and taxpayers. In exchange, the industry would be protected from nearly all current and future lawsuits by setting a limit on the industry’s legal liability once and for all, an amount that could be $300 billion or more. The negotiations come as lawsuits by 22 states against the industry headed toward courtrooms around the country.

Get a job

Also last week, Washington Gov. Gary Locke signed into law a bill that ends 60 years of guaranteed assistance to the poor. The law makes welfare temporary, with a five-year lifetime limit on benefits. It also requires a welfare recipient to find a job to continue receiving benefits.

Locke’s signature ends years of gridlock over the issue in the Legislature, but raised inevitable questions, especially in Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, which routinely tops the state in the percentage of residents on welfare.

“Where are the jobs, where will people get the skills to get those jobs, and is there enough child care and medical assistance?” asked one advocate for the poor.


Trials and errors

On Tuesday, the Justice Department’s inspector general cited “serious and significant deficiencies” in work done by the FBI crime lab. The revelations threatened to undermine prosecutions in some of the nation’s biggest criminal cases, including the New York World Trade Center and Oklahoma City Federal Building bombings. It was the latest embarrassment for the FBI and its director, Louis Freeh, whose leadership has been tarnished by incidents such as the mishandling of last summer’s Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.

“I guess a good day is when we’re not in the papers,” said a clearly frustrated Bill Esposito, FBI deputy director.


A hero for the ages

The week also saw a tribute to Jackie Robinson, who 50 years ago became the first black player in the majors. “The day Jackie Robinson stepped on a major league field will forever be remembered as baseball’s proudest moment,” said acting commissioner Bud Selig, who retired Robinson’s No. 42 “in tribute to his great achievements and for the significant contributions he made to society.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: The week in review is compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman. For more information on these stories, see Virtually Northwest, The Spokesman-Review’s online publication, at

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman

The week in review is compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman. For more information on these stories, see Virtually Northwest, The Spokesman-Review’s online publication, at

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman

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