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Dispatches The Buzz (Publick Occurrences)

Unfinished business

Even though President Clinton didn't use the campaign to lay out his vision for four more years, last week provided a glimpse of the agenda for special prosecutors during a second Clinton term. The week began Oct. 27 with Democratic National Committee fundraiser John Huang's receiving a subpoena to appear for questioning in a civil lawsuit. Mr. Huang joined the DNC in January after leaving a high-level post with the Commerce Department. Officials there stand accused in the lawsuit of unlawfully using government trade missions to do political fundraising. Mr. Huang is accused of trading on his official position within the Commerce Department to squeeze foreign businesses for contributions to the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, party officials raised more questions about financial irregularities when the DNC ignored a deadline for filing a campaign expenditure report with the Federal Election Commission. Party chairman Chris Dodd explained that as a legal matter, the DNC was not obligated to file the report, because during the 15-day reporting period, the party technically did not spend any money. Republicans claimed the Democrats were trying to hide something; by Oct. 30, embarrassed DNC officials turned over to reporters and the FEC an inch-thick stack of "raw data" with a promise to file a formal report several days later. The unofficial filing shed no new light on the Huang matter. On Oct. 31, Attorney General Janet Reno said she was reviewing the allegations against Mr. Huang to determine whether the Justice Department should open an official investigation. Three days earlier, Miss Reno sought and received the green light from a federal appeals court to expand the scope of Whitewater special counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation. Mr. Starr is now charged with finding out whether former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum lied to Congress about First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's role in the FBI Filegate scandal. Mr. Nussbaum testified under oath before a congressional committee that he had no knowledge of who hired personnel security chief Craig Livingstone, one of the two fall guys in the file flap. An FBI report contradicts that testimony; Mr. Nussbaum reportedly told an FBI agent that Mrs. Clinton "highly recommended" Mr. Livingstone for the sensitive White House post. Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton's former law partner and former assistant attorney general Webster Hubbell, who is in prison serving a 21-month felony sentence for defrauding law clients, worked out a restitution agreement to pay back the Rose Law Firm for his overbilling. The firm is owed $482,410, but accepted a plan for $300,000 in regular payments from Mr. Hubbell beginning 90 days after his release from a federal penitentiary.

FBI coverup uncovered

When the Justice Department in March 1993 ordered the release of all "core documents" pertaining to the bloody Ruby Ridge siege in Idaho, FBI agent E. Michael Kahoe instead dumped all copies, including a computer disk, of a critical report into his "confidential trash" bin for shredding. On Oct. 30, Mr. Kahoe pleaded guilty to federal obstruction of justice charges in connection with the incident in which a young boy and his mother were shot dead by an FBI sharpshooter. He admitted to destroying his own "after-action" critique of the siege, which presumably would have helped defense lawyers for the man whose wife and son were killed. Mr. Kahoe faces a maximum 10-year sentence and $250,000 fine, but sentencing was postponed because the suspended FBI agent is cooperating in the criminal probe. Mr. Kahoe will be suspended without pay, but allowed to retire Jan. 1, 1997, at age 50, which qualifies him to receive a taxpayer-paid pension.

In brief

"The Clinton recovery ended today," a campaigning Bob Dole declared Oct. 30, the day government numbers showed a significant economic slowdown. Economic growth in the summer quarter of the year was less than half that of the previous quarter. The growing threat to America from missile attack continued unchecked Oct. 30 when Russia refused to sign an agreement with the United States that would have permitted some testing of anti-missile defenses. Russians balked at language in the agreement that it take effect immediately. A federal judge's order Oct. 29 brings to an immediate end a Washington, D.C., curfew for teenagers under age 17. The U.S. district judge held the curfew violates the constitution.

Try, try him again

Despite three previous failed attempts to convict "suicide doctor" Jack Kevorkian, a county prosecutor in Michigan is giving it one more try. Oakland County prosecutor Richard Thompson charged Mr. Kevorkian Oct. 31 with violating common law in Michigan by assisting in several suicides. It is doubtful Mr. Thompson will see the case to its conclusion. He was defeated for reelection by a challenger who said the prosecutions were a waste of tax dollars.

Deception and confusion

A Pennsylvania woman who engaged in various deceptions to secure an abortion for her son's 13-year-old girlfriend was found guilty Oct. 28 of interfering with the custody of a minor. Rosa Marie Hartford drove the girl--without her mother's knowledge or permission--from Pennsylvania, which requires parental consent before a teenager can abort a child, to New York, which has no such restriction. Mrs. Hartford's 19-year-old stepson, who fathered the aborted child, is serving a 2-1/2-year sentence for statutory rape. Even though a child in the womb is not legally "alive" in the United States, government safety officials are expressing concern that auto air bags can "kill" the unborn. USA Today reported that investigators "have concluded that an air bag killed an eight-month-old fetus in a low-speed car crash." The story said it is "the first government finding to raise the possibility that unborn children... are at risk from air bags." Federal law requires automakers to put air bags in all new cars.

Taking back the streets

National Guard troops pulled out of St. Petersburg, Fla., Oct. 31, three days after rioters killed 11 people and left 28 buildings burned. The race riot broke out after a white police officer shot and killed a longtime criminal who was black.

An innocent man

Richard Jewell, the former security guard who for nearly three months was the prime suspect in the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing case, officially was cleared Oct. 26. At a news conference two days later, an emotional Mr. Jewell thanked family and friends for standing by him and said his "faith in God" helped him to persevere through the 88-day ordeal. Mr. Jewell's attorneys accused the FBI of being government "bullies" who mounted a campaign of "half-truths" and outright "lies" against their client. "I'm more afraid of the FBI... [than] some nut case with a bomb," said attorney Watson Bryant. At the request of Attorney General Janet Reno, the head of the FBI has ordered an internal investigation into tactics agents used in their initial questioning of Mr. Jewell. FBI agents reportedly lied to Mr. Jewell in an attempt to gain evidence against him.

Fraud and deceit

Lies have tainted a major leukemia research project. Francis Collins, head of the government project to map human genes, announced Oct. 29 he is retracting five research papers on leukemia because a graduate student working on the project fabricated data. A California man was arrested in an elaborate scheme to help students cheat on standardized exams for graduate school. Federal investigators said George Kobayashi concocted an intricate system that provided test-takers with the correct answers to multiple-choice questions on coded pencils. To get answers to the nationally administered tests, Mr. Kobayashi allegedly used a pool of expert test-takers in New York who phoned the answers to Los Angeles, taking advantage of the three-hour time-zone difference. For his services, Mr. Kobayashi reportedly charged each client $6,000.

Parading pinstripes

Following in the tickertape parade footsteps of Charles Lindbergh and Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the World Series champion New York Yankees paraded along lower Broadway in Manhattan Oct. 29, accompanied by the cheers and joyful tears of thousands of New Yorkers. Series MVP John Wetteland, and other Yankees who are Christians, gave God glory in post-game interviews for their athletic talent and their perseverance.

No dissent allowed

The heavy hand of Chinese communism again attempted to slap down dissent, when a Beijing court convicted democratic activist Wang Dan Oct. 30 of "plotting to subvert the government." He was sentenced to prison for 11 years for writing articles for foreign newspapers and magazines about the need for democratic reform in China. The Clinton administration officially "condemned" Mr. Wang's punishment, but said Secretary of State Warren Christopher would not cancel his planned visit to China in mid-November. President Clinton, who came into office promising to link relations with China to improvements in human-rights protections, later chose instead a policy of "constructive engagement."

Fighting back

The families of three Cuban-American pilots murdered by Cuban jet fighters earlier this year filed suit Oct. 31 against Cuba's government and air force. In February, Cuban MiG jets shot down two planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue, a Miami-based group that searches the Florida Straits for people fleeing from the communist-ruled island (see WORLD, Aug. 3/10 and Oct. 12). Family members filed the suit in U.S. district court in Miami under a new anti-terrorist law that allows legal action if the killing of an American outside the United States results from "state-sponsored terrorism." It is not likely any of the named Cuban defendants will do the courtesy of showing up in court.

Moving toward war

In Central Africa, where tribe-against-tribe killing has claimed at least a half-million lives over the past three years, Reuters reported that Zaire and Rwanda were moving toward war. Throughout the week, Tutsi rebels, apparently backed by Rwanda, fought in bloody border conflicts against the weak Zairian military. Caught in the crossfire were tens of thousands of Hutu refugees who fled to Zaire after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. The current round of violence began in September when Hutu-inspired local officials in Zaire stripped Tutsis of their land and tried to expel them from the country. Meanwhile, Rwandan officials called on France, Germany, and Belgium, the former colonial powers in Central Africa, to call a conference to reconsider the territorial boundaries they set up in the region more than 100 years ago.

Disasters

More than 100 people died Oct. 31 when a Brazilian airliner crashed into a densely populated area of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The plane clipped an apartment building, hit the ground, and skidded along the street. Spilled jet fuel ignited cars and houses. In Cairo, Egypt, a 12-story apartment building collapsed without warning Oct. 27, killing at least 25 and trapping as many as 100 people inside. Three days after the collapse, rescuers found a California teenager, bruised and cut, but alive.