NATION/W ORLD The Michigan Daily - Thursday, October 28, 1999 - 9A
Former president, first lady given Congressional medal
WASHINGTON (AP) - Deemed healers of
Americans' bodies and souls, former President
and first lady Gerald and Betty Ford were award-
ed the Congressional Gold Medal yesterday, the
highest civilian award given by Congress.
"It is fitting that these partners in life are
being honored jointly, for their partnership has
riched our Democracy and our time," said
4ouse Minority Richard Gephardt (D-Mo).
It was just more than 25 years ago - on Aug.
9, 1974 - that Ford was thrust into the presi-
dency when President Nixon resigned in the
wake of the Watergate scandal.
Ford, who grew up in Grand Rapids and
attended the University of Michigan, served out
Fords honored with highest civilian award
the final 2 1/2 years of Nixon's second term. His
pardon of Nixon earned him harsh criticism at
the time from Democrats and Republicans alike.
However, many now credit that action and Ford's
quiet resumption of the nation's business with
helping the shocked country move forward.
"It was easy for us to criticize you because we
got caught up in the moment. You didn't get
caught up in the moment and you were right,"
President Clinton told Ford at yesterday's cere-
mony on Capitol Hill.
Betty Ford was recognized for her candidness
about personal frailties, which has been a source
of comfort or enlightenment to many Americans.
"If president Ford helped heal America's soul.
Mrs. Ford helped heal our bodies," Senate
Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) said.
The same year her husband became president,
Betty Ford announced that she had breast cancer
and would undergo a mastectomy, an illness and
procedure not often openly discussed prior to
that. Her action is credited with encouraging
many women to seek lifesaving early detection
of the disease.
Later, Ford shared with Americans how, aftier
her husband lost his 1976 bid for re-election to
Jimmy Carter, she had become addicted to alco-
hol and pills her doctor had prescribed to help
her ease sadness.
After recovering, she became the founder and
president of the now-famous Betty Ford Center
for alcohol and substance abuse in California,
where the Ford's now live.
The ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda
was something of a homecoming for the Fords.
The former president served in the House as rep-
resentative for the 3rd District of Michigan from
1949 and as minorityleader from 1965.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert recalled how
Ford's congressional colleagues voted over-
whelmingly for him assume his fateful vice
presidency under Nixon in 1973, after Spiro
Agnew resigned under the shadow of scandal.
"Gerald Ford did not become president
because of polls, he did not become president
because of campaign promises, he became pres-
ident because of character," Hastert said.
Betty Ford said that in spite of their unexpected
years at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in
the White House, "this House, to Gerry and me,
the people's House, will always be our home."
The bear necessities
Bethlehem marred by clashes as 2000 nears
BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) -
With less than two months to go before
the birthplace of Jesus plays host to the
millennial Christmas bash, the air is
filled not with sweet smells of incense,
but with stinging clouds of tear gas.
The little town of Bethlehem is strug-
gling to pave roads and build new hotel
rooms just as new clashes between
Israeli soldiers and Palestinian stone-
throwers are breaking out, and
Palestinians complain that Israel is try-
ing to scare off pilgrims with an intimi-
dating new military checkpoint.
Bethlehem's business community
watched in horror as the violence has
unfolded so close to what many hope
will be the best Christmas season in
"Palestinians get afraid and don't
come. How can we expect foreigners to
come?" said Karem Canavati, who owns
a souvenir shop near Rachel's Tomb, an
Israeli enclave in Bethlehem.
But an Israeli tour guide of Christian
pilgrims said his clients were not easily
deterred because many have been sav-
ing all their lives to come to the Holy
"They need to come here and see
where Jesus walked," said the guide,
David Dassa, adding that he has not had
cancellations in recent days.
This week's violence was triggered by
the death of a Palestinian souvenir ven-
dor near Rachel's Tomb on Monday. An
Israeli soldier said he shot and killed
Mousa Abu Hilail because the man tried
to stab him. Palestinian officials said he
was shot without provocation.
When news of the death spread, hun-
dreds of angry young Palestinians, some
masked, others twirling slingshots,
threw stones at Israeli soldiers who fired
tear gas and rubber-coated steel pellets.
Several dozen Palestinians were
injured in three days of rioting along the
main road, through which tourist buses
pass on their way to Manger Square and
the Church of the Nativity. This week,
the road was closed and littered with
Yesterday, about 200 Palestinians
hurled stones and empty bottles at
Israeli soldiers in Bethlehem. Israeli
troops responded with tear gas and rub-
ber-coated steel bullets. Eight
Palestinians were hit by the rubber bul-
lets, and 10 demonstrators were treated
were treated for tear gas inhalation.
Almost half the businesses in the
town of 50,000 -- located just five
miles south of Jerusalem - cater to
Keeper Ryan Rappoport weighs the San Diego Zoo's 9-week-old giant panda
cub yesterday during her weekly veterinary exam.
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