Convicted Whitewater partner Jim McDougal is now telling independent counsel Kenneth Starr that then-Governor Bill Clinton knew about an illegal 1986 loan issued to McDougal’s wife at the time, this according to The New Yorker magazine. ABC News reported last night that McDougal has told it the same thing. Both McDougal and President Clinton have testified under oath that Clinton did not know about the loan and was not present at a 1986 meeting where it was discussed, as alleged, also under oath, by David Hale. Hale is now serving a federal prison term after pleading guilty to charges stemming from his issuance of the loan, backed by the federal Small Business Administration, to Susan McDougal.
In the first such program in the United States, hospitals in New York have begun open mandatory testing of all newborns for HIV. The state was already conducting anonymous HIV tests on infants for statistical purposes, but, on February 1, hospitals began mandatory disclosure of the results, this according to The New York Times in today’s editions. Under the new policy, hospitals are required to track down and counsel mothers on their HIV status weeks after they leave the hospital.
In Peru, MRTA rebels holding 72 hostages at the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima and the government of President Alberto Fujimori are ready to return to negotiation to end Peru’s two-month hostage crisis. Fujimori announced yesterday during a visit to London that Túpac Amaru revolutionary movement leader Néstor Cerpa’s lieutenant, Roli Rojas, known by his nom de guerre El Arabe, will meet the government’s negotiator, Domingo Palermo, the Peruvian education minister, tomorrow.
The family of murdered anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko in South Africa said today it is preparing to take legal action to oppose an amnesty bid by five South African policemen seeking absolution for his death. In the first comment by the family since the policemen applied for amnesty at the end of January, Biko’s son said the family met with friends and advisers yesterday to agree on a response to the policemen’s confession. He said in a statement, “The family has been and remains opposed to any application for amnesty from persons who were responsible, individually or in conspiracy, for the killing of Steve Biko.” Steve Biko was immortalized in the film “Cry Freedom.” He died of brain damage in police detention in 1977. It has now come out in the last few days that it’s possible that it was poison that he was administered in addition to a beating.
A prominent South African right-winger was among 12 people arrested today for breaking into an Army base. Police said white right-winger Willem Ratte and 11 people were arrested inside the Pomfret military base, a restricted area in the North West region of South Africa.
Back in the United States, recent allegations of sexual abuse within the U.S. Army were not isolated incidents, but part of a deep-rooted problem, The New York Times is reporting today. The paper says interviews with Army officials and female recruits, a review of Pentagon surveys on sexual harassment, and an examination of cases showed the Army failed to heed signs of sexual misconduct dating as far back as two decades. The paper cited one survey indicating 17 years ago 300 women attached to the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany had been subjected to unwanted physical advances. A majority of the women responding to polls conducted nine years ago and again last year for the Pentagon said they had encountered some form of sexual harassment.
U.S. Marine Corps jets accidentally fired more than 1,500 bullets containing depleted uranium during a military exercise on an island near Okinawa, Japan, in late 1995 and early 1996. This is being reported by The Washington Times today. A U.S. Defense Department spokesperson confirmed the incident and said the bullets had been mislabeled as armor-piercing bullets. He said an expert U.S. team had assessed the environmental and health impact of the accidental use of the radioactive bullets and found there were no health or environmental risks. A U.S. contractor recovered 192 of the radioactive bullets during the March 1996 cleanup, the newspaper said, quoting a U.S. Air Force spokesperson. The level of radioactivity measured on Tori-shima, an isolated gunnery range 54 miles from Okinawa, was reported to be 10 times less than the level under which the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would require a cleanup plan.