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

Sun., Dec. 21, 1997


Affirmative action

President Clinton named Bill Lann Lee to be acting director of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

Though he still defied Senate Republicans who have blocked Lee’s nomination, Clinton chose a middle course by giving Lee the job in an “acting” capacity rather than making a “recess appointment” that really would have angered Senate Republicans.

While Clinton’s decision was meant to be somewhat conciliatory, it still had an in-your-face quality that upset many Republicans who oppose Lee’s strong support of affirmative action.

“I do not believe Bill Lann Lee should be assistant attorney general - even in an acting capacity - because of his positions advocating racial preferences and timetables,” said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

Gender retreat

While the White House pretty much got its way on race relations this week, it lost ground on gender equity as an advisory panel recommended the Pentagon resegregate men and women undergoing military training.

The committee, led by Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former GOP senator from Kansas, said recent efforts to bring the sexes together in basic training and boot camps have created problems.

The panel’s recommendations would make the Army, the Navy and the Air Force more like the Marine Corps, which has resisted integrating men and women in basic training and which has the worst record of sexual harassment in the armed services.

“This isn’t a step back,” said Kassebaum Baker. “We regard it as a step forward in strengthening the services.”

But Evelyn P. Foote, a retired Army brigadier general who earlier this year served on a separate panel looking into sexual harassment, strongly disagreed.

“I feel like I’m back in the early ‘60s,” said Foote. “It’s going backward.”

Love wins out

New Jersey became the first state in the nation on Wednesday to allow gay, lesbian and unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt children on an equal basis with married couples.

The judgment, in the form of a consent decree with state authorities, resulted from a suit brought by Jon Holden and Michael Galluccio, a homosexual couple who had nursed their foster child, Adam, to a “remarkable recovery” since he was 3 months old, drug-addicted and exposed to HIV.

“This is a complete and total victory for gay families, equal rights and thousands of children in the state waiting to be adopted,” said Lenora M. Lapidus, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey.

Conservative groups denounced the settlement.

“Our position is that adoption should be something that is within the framework of a family, and a family is defined as a husband and wife,” said Arne Owens, the Christian Coalition’s communications director.


Mandela goes out with a bang

President Nelson Mandela has secured his place in history as a champion of peace and reconciliation, but he reminded the party faithful Tuesday that it was the fire in his belly that won him respect and admiration in the antiapartheid struggle in South Africa.

In a stinging farewell speech as head of the African National Congress, Mandela accused some white South Africans of trying to sabotage the country’s young democracy by undermining his ANC-led government.

He said a “counterrevolutionary network” of apartheid-era sympathizers has refused to go along with black rule and is waging a “campaign of destabilization” across the country.

In taking an uncharacteristic hard line against “the architects and beneficiaries of apartheid,” Mandela paved the way for Thabo Mbeki, his handpicked successor.


Return to Ruby Ridge

FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi appeared in a courtroom in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, Tuesday to face charges that he illegally fired the bullet that killed the wife of white separatist Randy Weaver and triggered the end of the infamous siege at Ruby Ridge.

The preliminary hearing on involuntary manslaughter charges marked the first time the Weaver family has testified about the August 1992 standoff that left Vicki Weaver dead, along with the Weavers’ 14-year-old son and a deputy U.S. marshal.

Weaver and his friend Kevin Harris were tried and acquitted in federal court on charges of killing Deputy Marshal William Degan, but this hearing marked the first time in the five-year public debate over the siege that a federal agent has faced criminal charges for the shots fired at Ruby Ridge.

Idaho District Judge Quentin Harden made an initial ruling that Horiuchi had unlawfully killed Vicki Weaver in the operation of a firearm, but he held off on determining whether there was sufficient cause to hold him for trial on involuntary manslaughter charges.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Photos

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by News Editor Kevin Graman from wire reports.

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