Lame duck on steroids
It was President Clinton’s week to speak in superlatives as he launched a campaign to reinvigorate his presidency with initiatives designed to help the middle class.
With Congress still on an extended recess, the White House seized the policy stage with proposals ranging from the “largest expansion of Medicare in a quarter century” to “the first balanced budget in 30 years” and the “single largest national commitment to child care” in U.S. history.
Clinton’s policy blitz began Saturday, with plans to dramatically increase the size and mission of the Peace Corps, effectively bringing the number of volunteers to 10,000 from 6,500 by the year 2000.
Monday brought the announcement that the budget would be balanced three years ahead of schedule. Tuesday was a proposal to allow the near-elderly to buy in to Medicare.
Wednesday’s $21.7 billion child care plan includes subsidies to help former welfare mothers pay for child care, tax credits to help middle-class families and companies operating child-care centers, as well as more money for Head Start, after-school programs and state enforcement of child care standards.
Jurors call it quits
A frustrated federal jury, unable to agree that Terry Nichols deserved either the death penalty or life in prison for his part in planning the Oklahoma City bombing, Wednesday gave the decision up to U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch.
The judge can impose any sentence but death. Federal law prevents a judge from imposing the death penalty unless a jury unanimously has recommended it.
That Nichols will escape the death penalty was not so stunning as the revelation from the jury forewoman that at the outset of deliberations, “a fair number” of the panel members believed Nichols was innocent.
“The government dropped the ball,” said Niki Deutchman, embracing the belief held by many in the United States that others beyond Nichols and McVeigh helped carry out the bombing.
A week ago, Richard Seed was just another broke, eccentric scientist.
On Wednesday, his face was beamed around the globe as he uttered aphorisms about God, science and reproduction. Overnight, the 69-year-old physicist-turned-biologist became the embodiment of the world’s fears about human cloning by saying he’d like to set up shop and do it, soon.
“Clones are going to be fun,” he said. “I can’t wait to make two or three of my own self.”
Within hours of Seed’s announcement, U.S. politicians were calling for laws to kill the idea before it spreads.
“I for one don’t want to live in a Brave New World of sidewalk cloning clinics,” said House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Seed was unfazed.
“You can’t stop human cloning, it’s inevitable,” Seed said. “Once there are a half dozen happy, healthy, bouncing clones on TV, people will endorse this enthusiastically.”
A great Satan, uh, nation Iranian President Mohammad Khatami publicly extended a hand of friendship to Americans Wednesday.
During a rare interview broadcast on Cable Network News, Khatami asked for “a crack in this wall of mistrust” between Iran and the United States.
“Not only do we not harbor any ill wishes to the American people, but we consider it a great nation,” Khatami said.
In a first for an Iranian official, Khatami also issued a lukewarm apology for the 1979 hostage crisis that led the U.S. to break relations with Iran.
A killer in our midst At least four women have been killed by the “same person or persons” since last fall, sheriff’s Capt. Doug Silver said at a news conference Tuesday. A task force of city and county detectives formed last September is looking for clues that may link other unsolved murders as well. There have been 18 of them since 1984, including seven last year.
The four women whose deaths the task force have been able to connect are Laurie Wason, 31; Shawn McClenahan, 39; Shawn Johnson, 36; and Darla Sue Scott, 29. They all were shot, then dumped around Spokane.
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The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Compiled by news editor Kevin Graman from staff and wire reports.
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