The Republican leader of the Senate yesterday served notice that he had all 50 Republican votes behind President-elect George W. Bush’s choice for Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and warned that Democratic efforts to derail the nomination could poison the effort to set a new cooperative tone on Capitol Hill. At the same time, conservative groups, in a counteroffensive of internet organizations, news conferences and phone banks, vowed to redouble their effort to build grassroots pressure for Ashcroft’s nomination. Several conservative women’s groups planned a news conference in support today. Pat Robertson, president to the Christian Coalition, is to deliver a telephone message on behalf of Ashcroft to half-a-million supporters across the next few days. Bush advisers said the President-elect would fight vigorously for Ashcroft, in contrast to the situation with Linda Chavez, who did not give Bush or his aides an early warning that she had allowed an undocumented immigrant to live with her in the early 1990s.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and about two dozen other demonstrators were arrested last night outside a prison, protesting the scheduled execution of Wanda Jean Allen, an African American woman. Tracy Rice, Jackson’s attorney, said the civil rights leader planned to stay in Oklahoma County Jail overnight. She said Jackson hoped to meet with corrections officials about witnessing the execution today by injection of Allen. A federal judge denied a 30-day stay of execution for Allen last night. Allen’s lawyers said they plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. Allen was convicted for the fatal shooting of her lover, Gloria Leathers, outside the Oklahoma City police station in 1988.
A New York State judge declared the state’s method of financing public schools illegal yesterday, saying it deprives New York City students of the sound basic education guaranteed by the state constitution. The judge handed the state legislature the delicate task of coming up with a new system by September 15 or facing judicial intervention. The judge found the school financing system also violated federal civil rights laws because it disproportionately hurt minority students. More than 70 percent of the state’s Asian, black and Hispanic students live in New York City. New York is the latest of more than two dozen states forced by courts to grapple with the job of assuring that poor students get an education that passes constitutional muster.
In New Jersey, all the attention focused on racial profiling hasn’t reduced the percentage of minorities stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike. According to data collected under terms of a federal consent decree, 40 percent of the motorists stopped by state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike during the six months ending last October were black or Latino. Statistics for the previous four months indicate 38 percent of those stopped were minorities. Black and Hispanic community leaders have charged that New Jersey state troopers overwhelmingly target minority drivers on the Turnpike.
President Clinton will not declare the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska a national monument. Using the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act, Clinton has created a dozen federal monuments this year by executive order, but the White House says Clinton won’t do the same thing for the Alaska land, because the officials claim it is already protected from development by law. The Arctic refuge has an abundance of migrating birds, polar bears, musk oxen, grizzly bears and other wildlife. It is also home to a herd of caribou, which comprises 80 percent of the diet of the Neets’aii Gwich’in tribe. President-elect Bush has advocated drilling in the reserve as a way to increase energy supplies.
The United States and South Korea have concluded, after 15 months of investigation, that American soldiers killed “an unknown number” of refugees during the early days of the Korean War at No Gun Ri. President Clinton has refused to apologize and, instead, plans to express regret over South Korean civilian deaths at American hands in a statement later today, after the results of the investigation are officially released in Washington and in Seoul. A joint statement of mutual understanding says the investigations found no proof of direct orders to fire on civilians, but the report cites military documents that U.S. troops in the war zone at the time were operating under what it calls “guidelines on shooting refugees” to prevent them from crossing U.S. front lines.
Philip Morris and other tobacco companies waged successful campaigns to undermine Swiss health measures, including smoke-free areas in restaurants and offices and cigarette advertising bans, according to a new study published today. The report says the tobacco industry exploited Swiss traditions of consensus democracy and enjoyed important support from politicians and other allies. It also said public health advocates underestimated the power of the industry and now need to do more to uncover its tactics.