Nation/World

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

POLITICS

Glare of politics

Where the Democratic National Committee’s dicey fund-raising tactics are concerned, White House aides insist that Vice President Al Gore was in the dark, but last week he looked more like a Democratic deer in Republican headlights.

A Senate committee on Wednesday released documents that Republicans said contradicted Gore’s explanation of fund-raising calls from the White House.

The February 1996 memo, by a senior DNC staffer, advised members of the White House that a portion of all money raised during last year’s campaign would be allocated to the party’s “hard money” account to support the re-election of President Clinton and Gore.

Hard money is subject to tight federal regulation, including a prohibition on raising such money on federal property. Republicans insisted Wednesday that the memo, which was copied to the vice president, undercuts Gore’s assertion that he believed the calls he made from November 1995 through May 1996 were legal because he thought he was raising unregulated “soft money.”

A unifying force

U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton has a knack for bringing people together.

Normally independent Northwest Indian tribes, in Spokane last week for their 44th annual meeting, discovered a common bond: outrage over Gorton’s proposal to peel back their sovereign immunity.

Also last week, environmental groups, dozens of Oregon sawmills and the nation’s largest timber workers union came to a mutual understanding: Gorton’s proposal to loosen the ban on log exports will gut forests and cost jobs, they say.

But the Republican senator has been low-key about his ability to develop camaraderie among divergent groups.

In fact, Gorton’s proposal to enable companies to buy federal wood for their U.S. mills while shipping more wood from their own tree farms overseas got no hearing at all.

“There was no public debate. It was a back room deal,” said Whitefish, Mont., environmentalist Steve Thompsonof how Gorton attached the amendment to an appropriations bill.

Unifying the tribes was another achievement Gorton accomplished with little fanfare in the Senate. His proposal on tribal sovereign immunity and another that would distribute federal funds to the tribes based on need were attached to the Interior appropriations bill in much the same way.

“I don’t feel it’s appropriate to have these issues resolved in an appropriations bill without any hearings,” said Rep. George Nethercutt, a fellow Washington Republican, who promised to oppose the Gorton proposals if they make it to the House. “It needs to be analyzed,” he said. “(Tribes) deserve a chance to argue their positions forcefully.”

Trade-offs

President Clinton launched a public campaign for free trade on Wednesday, but opposition from fellow Democrats forced him to delay asking Congress for “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals with Latin America.

To the disappointment of free-traders in Congress and the chief executive officers of six U.S. multinational corporations, who pledged $100,000 each in an effort “to ensure that the voice of the business community is heard” in Congress, Clinton settled for a White House pep talk, leaving his legislative proposals for another day.

The six CEOs wrote: “Without this congressionally granted authority, there can be no expansion of NAFTA to include Chile or other Central and South American countries. There can be no Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.”

Labor and environmental groups, traditional Clinton backers, have indicated they will oppose the fast track unless Clinton makes labor and environmental standards an integral part of any new trade agreements the administration negotiates.

NATION

This man’s Army

Saying that “sexual harassment exists throughout the Army, crossing gender, rank and racial lines,” the Army gave itself a stern dressing-down on Thursday.

A Pentagon study also revealed that sexual discrimination is even more prevalent and the Army’s rank and file “uniformly do not have trust and confidence in their leaders” where the relationship between men and women soldiers is concerned.

The Army accused commanders of ignoring the problems and allowing inappropriate behavior to be “commonplace,” contending leaders were more focused on combat deployments and cutbacks than taking care of the needs of their most vulnerable soldiers.

The service’s largest-ever study of sexual harassment was ordered in the aftermath of the scandal last November at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center in Aberdeen, Md., where drill sergeants preyed upon young female recruits.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

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



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