Pro-life, pro-choiceSaying "Donald Schaefer, the...

Newswatch...on last week in review

September 24, 1990

Pro-life, pro-choice

Saying "Donald Schaefer, the individual, is pro-life, but Donald Schaefer, the governor, is pro-choice," Maryland's chief executive declared Friday that he would veto any legislation that would restrict a woman's right to have an abortion. He also said he would support repeal of a 1968 state law that allows an abortion only under limited conditions.

Tax cap allowed

The Maryland Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld the people's right to limit property taxes at the ballot box, as long as they do not go as far as to propose a tax rollback.

In a compromise, the court took much of the sting out of two proposed charter amendments that originally would have forced deep property tax cuts in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. The court removed provisions to roll back taxes to earlier-year levels and, along with it, the strongest argument against the measures. The court kept language that would cap the future growth of taxes.

SSA furloughs?

John Gage, president of Local 1923 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents most of the nearly 14,000 SSA employees in Baltimore, said last week that the agency is planning on laying off its 63,000 workers nationwide two days each week for 11 weeks, starting Oct. 2. The proposed layoffs are more drastic than had been anticipated if the federal budget summit fails to reach a compromise on the deficit by the start of the fiscal year Oct 1.

Cost of living jumps

Iraq's invasion of Kuwait sent energy prices soaring, pushing the cost of living in the United States up a steep 0.8 percent in August, the government said Tuesday.

In a separate report, the Commerce Department said the U.S. merchandise trade deficit jumped a dramatic 75 percent to $9.33 billion in July, the month before the invasion. Analysts expect the deficit to climb further as the oil shock drives up imports.

The gain in the Labor Department's Consumer Price Index was double the 0.4 percent rise in July and the largest since January, when a severe cold snap pushed costs up 1.1 percent.

A.F. general fired

Air Force Chief of Staff Mike Dugan was relieved of his duties last Monday. The move followed Dugan's blunt comments about U.S. contingency plans for massive air strikes against Baghdad, Iraq.

"[Defense] Secretary [Richard] Cheney took the action . . . after consulting with the President," said a terse, three-sentence statement issued at the Pentagon.

C3 Cheney said Dugan, 53, would be forced to DUGAN retire, ending a 32-year Air Force career that included a stint as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

Cheney also said he would recommend to Bush that Gen. Merrill A. McPeak replace Dugan. McPeak, 54, is commander of Pacific Air Forces, based in Hawaii.

Iraq's Saddam Hussein has recorded a message to the American people, and his government has asked that it be broadcast by television networks in the United States, the Iraqi News Agency said Thursday. The Saddam tape is a response to one by President Bush that was broadcast by Iraqi television.

* On Wednesday, Saddam seized all foreign assets from countries honoring the embargo on trade with his nation. The government in Baghdad said it has seized all cash deposits and property of governments, companies and banks -- private and government-owned -- from those countries.

* Saddam appeared even more determined to hold on to Kuwait, boosting his occupation forces last week to an estimated 360,000 troops.

* Syrian commandos took up defensive positions south of the Kuwait border, saying that they are prepared to do battle against Iraq alongside their former U.S. foes.

* Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said in Moscow that the Saudis would welcome units of the Red Army if Moscow decides to join the multinational force confronting Iraq.

* Iraqi newspapers last Monday derided President Bush for warning in a broadcast message to Iraqis that Saddam was steering them toward war. One declared: "Mr. Bush, we listened to your message, but please shut up."

U.S. cutting troops in Germany

The United States is withdrawing about 60,000 of its quarter-million troops from West Germany as part of a major cutback of U.S. forces abroad, the West German Defense Ministry said Tuesday; the cuts are to be completed by 1993.

UAW accord

General Motors Corp. and the United Auto Workers reached tentative agreement last Monday on a three-year contract covering 300,000 workers in 29 states. UAW President Owen Bieber said he was "very, very satisfied" with the agreement on pensions, and GM vice president Alfred Warren said the contract gives the company latitude to reduce its work force.

According to sources, the agreement provides that:

* GM is free to close plants at will but will spend $4.2 billion to protect the income of employees affected by cutbacks.

* GM will guarantee workers laid off for up to 12 weeks in a year 95 percent of their wages by supplementing their unemployment benefits. Anyone laid off for more than 12 weeks will be guaranteed full pay for the duration of the contract.

UAW members at the two General Motors' facilities in the Baltimore area likely will vote on a tentative three-year contract Sept. 30, UAW Local 239 said.

Postponed again

A leak of hydrogen fuel last Monday aboard the space shuttle Columbia, the third leak this year, forced a postponement for at least 10 weeks of a planned launch of the Astro 1 astronomy observatory. Instead, NASA will concentrate on getting the shuttle Discovery aloft in October.

No retrial for Barry

Federal prosecutors said last Monday that they will not retry District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry on a dozen drug and perjury charges a jury could not resolve earlier.

Atlanta gets '96 Olympics

In Tokyo Tuesday, Atlanta won the right to hold the the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

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