The gulf war:Despite U.S. skepticism, Israeli officials...

Newswatch ...on last week in review

February 04, 1991

The gulf war:

Despite U.S. skepticism, Israeli officials and civilian experts intensified warnings last Monday that Iraq probably will launch missiles armed with chemical warheads at U.S. troops and Israeli civilians.

* As scores of Iraqi pilots swarmed to sanctuary in Iran last Monday, military commanders, administration officials and Middle East analysts scrambled to explain why.

Defection was one popular explanation, particularly early in the day, when central command briefers announced that the number of Iraqi air war quitters had grown overnight from 39 to 69.

That wishful thinking was downed by day's end as the number of neutralized planes rose to more than 80 -- as many aircraft sidelined in 24 hours as allied fliers claimed to have knocked out in 12 days of air attacks.

* The U.S. military said last Monday that an attack by American warplanes apparently halted Iraq's dumping of oil into the Persian Gulf. Iraq contended that an allied attack created a separate spill.

Army Brig. Gen. Pat Stevens 4th said the extent of the giant oil spill -- estimated by the Saudi government at 460 million gallons -- remains unclear.

* The deepening domestic crisis in the Soviet Union and the Persian Gulf war could complicate efforts to pick a new date for talks between President Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

The meeting that had been set for Moscow Feb. 11-13 was put off "by mutual agreement" last Monday, although it was apparent the United States had sought the postponement largely because of its involvement in the gulf conflict.

FDIC funding:

The government's bank deposit insurance fund will run out of money "within a year or so" and require a loan of taxpayer money, congressional budget analysts warned Tuesday.

Congress should quickly lift the $5 billion limit on how much the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. can borrow from the Treasury, Robert D. Reishauer, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the Senate Banking Committee. Without a loan from the Treasury, the FDIC's fund will not have enough money to handle bank failures much beyond Sept. 30, the end of the 1991 fiscal year, he told the panel Tuesday.

Agent Orange compensation:

Congress last week ended a decade-long deadlock with the hTC passage of a bill to guarantee compensation for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Iraq's threat to use non-conventional weapons in the gulf helped spur the overwhelming votes.

Gene therapy:

Two patients terminally ill with melanoma were said to be "doing fine" last week after they became the first cancer patients treated with an experimental therapy that uses genetically altered cells to attack their tumors.

Layoffs at Westinghouse:

The Westinghouse Electronics Systems Group in Linthicum said Friday it is eliminating the jobs of about 1,200 workers as the result of the cancellation of the Navy's A-12 Stealth program. The terminations are effective Feb. 28.

* General Motors plans to lay off 209 production-line workers at its minivan plant in East Baltimore starting today, GM officials said Tuesday. The workers will be on a "long-term" layoff that could last 36 weeks, according to Terry Youngerman, personnel director at the Broening Highway plant.

* In a second layoff in three months, Sinai Hospital gave pink slips last week to about 20 management employees, including the vice presidents for marketing and human resources and four directors.

Jail deadline:

Baltimore County planned to start housing its overflow of jail prisoners on cots in the detention center gymnasium today, as a federal court deadline for emptying police station lockups approached Friday. The lockups held 141 people last Monday, a record number and at least double their center's capacity.

Redistricting plan:

Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke moved ahead last Monday with a redistricting plan that proposes only minor changes to existing councilmanic district lines and seems unlikely to affect the racial composition of the City Council.

Under Schmoke's plan, three of the districts will maintain substantial black majorities: the 2nd, 4th and 5th.

Mencken writings unsealed:

With a crowbar, hammer, screwdriver and wire cutters, officials of the Enoch Pratt Free Library on Tuesday opened the final sealed writings of H.L. Mencken.

Mencken was a writer and editor at The Evening Sun and The Sun for more than 35 years, as well as an influential magazine editor. He died Jan. 29, 1956. He had requested that these seven volumes not be opened until 35 years after his death.

Fewer AIDS cases:

The state AIDS Administration now estimates that between 16,000 to 30,000 Marylanders were infected with the AIDS-causing human immunodeficiency virus at the end of 1990.

The new estimate is far fewer than the previous one of 70,000.

AIDS Administration officials agreed Wednesday that the revised estimate represents a "significant decrease" in numbers, but urged the public not to be lulled into thinking the magnitude of the state's AIDS problem has diminished.

* Glutathione, a natural molecule that is vital to cells in the body, has been found in test tube experiments to powerfully suppress the spread of the AIDS virus, a researcher reported last week.

Tight budget:

Gov. William Donald Schaefer proposed a state budget Friday that contains the smallest spending increase in decades, a move the administration hopes will build support for higher taxes.

Schaefer proposed an $11.56 billion budget for fiscal 1992, which represents an increase of only 1 percent over this year's budget.

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