Gulf update:The diplomats worked furiously, though...

Newswatch ...on last week in review

February 25, 1991

Gulf update:

The diplomats worked furiously, though unsuccessfully, last week to avert a ground war. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev last Monday offered an Iraqi envoy a proposal aimed at ending the Persian Gulf war. Gorbachev spokesman Vitaly Ignatenko said it is "fully in line with the Soviet position that there should be an unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait." The Iraqis accepted the proposal, but the United States and other coalition allied did not.

In rejecting the proposal Tuesday, President Bush said there must be no negotiations and no concessions to gain Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said any pause in the war would be hazardous to American lives.

On Friday, Bush delivered a point-blank ultimatum to Iraq, giving Saddam Hussein until noon Saturday to "begin his immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait" or face a decisive ground assault. When no movement was detected by Baghdad, the coalition forces a multipronged ground offensive within hours of the deadline.

Layoff warning:

Mayor Kurt Schmoke has warned leaders of municipal unions and members of the City Council that as many as 2,009 employees could be laid off by July to help eliminate a projected $54.1 million deficit in next year's budget.

And the number could increase to 2,230 if the council approves a bill to repeal the city's beverage container tax, Schmoke told the council members in a private meeting last Tuesday.

* Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms says his office may be unable to prosecute car thieves and non-violent juvenile offenders if a budgetary shortfall forces the layoffs of 21 prosecutors and six support personnel.

* Five top city Recreation and Parks officials are being fired as part of what the agency's director, Marlyn J. Perritt calls an ongoing "downsizing and reorganization" of the department.

* Baltimore schools could be forced to furlough dozens of workers in non-teaching positions if the mayor requires cuts in personnel before the beginning of the new fiscal year, said J. Edward Andrews, the deputy superintendent. A law Congress recently passed to save Medicaid money by cutting the cost of drugs may not be working. The law requires drug companies to give Medicaid the lowest price available on the market. However, many companies now have cut the large discounts they give other big customers.

Recession's end predicted:

A majority of the nation's forecasters are insisting that the recession will end by August, basing their optimism on the behavior of past recessions. By their own acknowledgment, however, the forecasters are playing down the special troubling features of this recession that could prove them wrong.

Blue Chip Economic Indicators, which polls 50 prominent forecasters each month, shows that their consensus prediction in February is for healthy economic growth beginning in the third quarter -- assuming the Persian Gulf war ends by April 1.

Baltimore on infant mortality list:

Eighty-five of 172 cities with populations of 100,000 or more registered infant mortality rates exceeding the national average, and many smaller cities have a worse record than the biggest ones, the Children's Defense Fund has said. Baltimore was fourth on the list of the 10 worst cities with a rate of 19.2 deaths per 1,000 births in 1987. Overall, about 10 of each 1,000 infants born that year in the United States died within a year.

Possible Social Security cuts:

Top officials of the Social Security Administration are predicting that sharply increasing caseloads and expected budgetary restrictions will force them to cut services significantly this year. Officials say their top priority will be getting the monthly Social Security checks out on time.

Schaefer to free 8 women:

Gov. William Donald Schaefer granted clemency to eight imprisoned women convicted of killing abusive husbands or boyfriends, the governor's office announced last Tuesday. The women are victims of what experts call battered spouse syndrome. Under Maryland law, the women were prohibited from raising the syndrome as a defense at their trials. They were released Friday.

Abortion foes plan referendum:

While supporters of a new and controversial abortion-rights law celebrated their victory last Monday, grim-faced abortion foes had one word on their lips: referendum. Opponents of the abortion measure, which Gov. William Donald Schaefer signed into law last Monday night just 35 minutes after it passed the House of Delegates by an 84-52 vote, said they plan to begin collecting the signatures and money needed to petition the law to referendum in 1992. The Senate passed it 29-18 Feb. 11.

Briefly noted:

The U.S. Supreme Court last Tuesday upheld the conviction and sentence of Maryland death row inmate Tyrone Gilliam, convicted of the 1988 shotgun murder of Christine Doerfler, 21, who was murdered during a $3 robbery because she saw the killer's face. . . . Los Angeles Councilwoman Gloria Molina last Tuesday became the first Hispanic supervisor since the 1870s in the nation's most populous county. . . .A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last Friday charges that Maryland has denied special education to as many as 400 state prisoners.

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