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March 08, 1995 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-03-08

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, March 8, 1995

Affirmative
action sparks
political debate
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - As the debate on affirmative
action strains the relationship between the White House
and civil rights leaders, women's groups, black academ-
ics and ministers are working together to persuade the
administration to hold firm on federal policies intended to
overcome discrimination.
Civil rights activists have met in around of discussions
with Vice President Al Gore, Housing and Urban Devel-
opment Secretary Henry G. Cisneros and White House
staff members in an effort to win over President Clinton.
According to civil rights strategists, who spoke with
the Los Angeles Times on the condition they not be
identified, the activists are saying they will accept nothing
less than full support from Clinton on retention of existing
affirmative action programs.
"The civil rights community has made it clear they will
battle to death on this one," said one administration
official. "They have been pressing the White House to
make a clear statement of intent, whether it is with them
or against them. So far, the administration has held off on
taking that stand."
Affirmative action is the subject of a fierce debate
within the administration, as Clinton's advisers struggle
to deal with an issue that has deep roots in the Democratic
Party but clearly has created a backlash - especially
among white males - that Republicans are stepping
forward to address.
Yesterday, leaders representing the Feminist Majority
Foundation and the National Council of Negro Women
joined with black civil rights leaders in accusing the
administration of employing "divide and conquer" tactics
to pit the interests of women and racial minorities against
those of white men in the affirmative action debate.
"Women in this nation and worldwide face an unprec-
edented backlash that-seeks to roll back the advances of
the last century and to prevent women from moving
forward toward equality," said Eleanor Smeal, president
of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The leaders say they worry that Clinton may be look-
ing for cover to embrace GOP arguments against affirma-
tive action in an effort to prevent Republicans from
capitalizing on growing public sentiment against using
race as a criterion in employment, scholarships and other
social benefits. Many swing voters in the November
election were conservative white men who ardently op-
pose affirmative action policies.
"I can understand the anxieties of Democrats who fear
their elections will be jeopardized if they in fact embrace
affirmative action," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.),
co-chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus' affir-
mative action task force. "They are looking for a way out.
The way out is to educate people...
"The idea that the president and others have quickly
talked about a review signals that perhaps something is
wrong with affirmative action and that it needs to be
'fixed.' I do not want people starting with the idea some-
thing is wrong before first understanding what affirmative
action is and is not."
As they wait for a definitive statement from the presi-
dent, women's groups and civil rights leaders have gone
on the offensive to combat advisers in the White House
who are urging Clinton to reject affirmative action.

Falling value of dollar
may lead to inflation

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON-The dollar continued to
plummet yesterday, again hitting new lows
against the Japanese yen and German mark.
Clinton administration officials remained silent
on the currency's plunge and did not intervene
in foreign exchange markets to try and bolster
its value.
A broad range of analysts said no crisis is at
hand despite the dollar's precipitous drop, be-
cause the currency turmoil has not triggered a
major sell-off in U.S. stock and bond markets.
"I don't think this is a crisis," said William
Poole, a Brown University economist and former
member of President Ronald Reagan's Council of
Economic Advisers. "The dollar has been depre-
ciating against other currencies for a long time."
"To this point, this is not a crisis and there is
no need for big alarm or for a major policy
response," said C. Fred Bergsten, director of the
Institute for International Economics.
Bergsten noted that the markets had driven
up long-term interest rates, which rise as bond
prices fall, only slightly while the dollar has
dropped sharply against the mark and yen. That
indicates that U.S. and foreign investors have
more confidence in the U.S. economy than the
dollar, he said.
Administration officials have not com-
mented publicly on the matter since Friday,
when Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin sought
to talk up the dollar with a statement that a
strong dollar was "in our national interest."
Treasury and Federal Reserve officials have
been in close contact with their counterparts in
Europe and Japan since Friday, but the Fed has
not gone into foreign currency markets to buy
dollars in hopes of propping up the currency
since late last week.
In late New York trading yesterday, it took

90.05 yen to buy a dollar, down sharply from
92.80 on Monday - a 3-pereent loss. At one
point yesterday, the dollar dropped to 89.05
yen. And it took 1.3702 marks to buy a dollar,
down from 1.4048 Monday.
Since the beginning of the year, the dollar
has fallen 11.3 percent against the mark, and 9.5
percent against the yen.
Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman
Sachs International, said the fact "that the U.S.
economy is doing extremely well but the dollar
is still collapsing" underscores the fact that "the
dollar is a structurally weak currency. We have
a critical savings shortfall in this country" with
a persistent trade deficit that must be financed
by an inflow of foreign capital, he said.
On the other hand, currency markets fre-
quently go too far as investors and traders switch
from one currency to another, Hormats noted.
And that means that at some point the United
States and other nations probably will be able to
intervene in foreign exchange markets to halt
the dollar's slide - but not yet, he said.
Foreign exchange experts have advanced a
host of reasons for the dollar's weakness, in-
cluding what Bergsten called "a sharp shift in
market expectations" about whether the Fed
would continue to raise short-term interest rates.
With signs of slowing economic growth
acknowledged by Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan
and his colleagues, many investors and traders
have decided U.S. rates are likely to rise little if
at all.
Some lawmakers questioned whether the
dollar's fall might be a consequence of the
Treasury's commitment of $20 billion of its $25
billion Exchange Stabilization Fund, normally
used to stabilize the dollar, to finance it prom-
ised package of financial aid to Mexico.

/

AP PHOTO
Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (left) speaks with Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar
after asking congress to review affirmative action programs.
Dole calls for heaings of
controversial programs

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON - Senate Ma-
jority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas
called on chairmen of committees with
jurisdiction over affirmative action
programs to hold hearings on the pro-
grams, including whether there are
"other, more equitable ways to expand
opportunities" for minorities and
women.
Dole, who earlier ordered a review
of all federal programs, rules and or-
ders that grant preferences to individu-
als on the basis of race, gender or other
factors, did not propose any specific
changes.
Instead, he asked Labor and Hu-
man Resources Committee Chairman
Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas
and Small Business Committee Chair-
man Christopher S. Bond of Missouri
to hold wide-ranging hearings on pro-
grams within their panels' purview.
"The bottom line is that no federal
program should be immune from con-

gressional scrutiny," he said.
In letters to the two senators, Dole
suggested that the hearings cover such
questions as whetheroriginal purposes
of the programs have been achieved,
whether the programs have "operated
to discriminate on the basis of race or
ethnic background" and whether the
government should be "in the business
of 'presuming' that members of certain
racial and ethnic groups are 'socially
disadvantaged."'
A key question in both letters asked
whether there are "other, more equi-
table, ways to expand opportunity for
all Americans, without resorting to strat-
egies that rely on providing prefer-
ences for individuals simply because
they belong to certain groups."
In the House, the Small Business
Committee held a hearing Monday on
minority contract set-asides, and the
Judiciary Committeeplans toholdhear-
ings on civil rights enforcement by the
Justice Department.

N.Y. brings death penalty
back after 18-year hiatus

Newsday
ALBANY, N.Y. - Eighteen years after
New York's death penalty was struck down as
cruel and unusual punishment, Gov. George
Pataki sat yesterday at a small, makeshift desk
in an ornate room in the State -Capitol, and
signed it back into law.
Picking up the pen of a slain New York City
police officer, Pataki slowly signed "George"
onto the page. With the pen of another, he added
"Pataki," clearing the way for executions to
resume in the state after a three-decade hiatus.
In brief comments during the ceremony, Pataki
said the measure was long overdue and lives
would be saved by the tough new law.
"Our state has traveled along an arduous road
to arrive at this point in history. ..." Pataki said at

the bill-signing ceremony packed with crime vic-
tims and law enforcement officials. "That long
road is now over. Justice will now be served."
Under the new law the death penalty --
defined as "the intravenous injection of a sub-
stance or substances in a lethal quantity into the
body of a person convicted until such person is
dead" - may be imposed on those convicted of
killing police officers, judges, prison guards or
witnesses to crimes, as well as on people who
kill for money, who kill while committing an-
other violent crime or who commit torture kill-
ings or multiple murders, among others. It is to
take effect Sept. 1.
Legal experts have estimated that as many as
20 percent of New York state's 2,400 annual
murders could be classified as capital crimes.

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