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September 08, 1995 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-08

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10-The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 8, 1995
ATF agent says
Weaver spurred
Idaho tragedy

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. WASHINGTON(AP)-Directlydis-
puting Randy Weaver's claim thathe was
set up by law enforcement, federal offi-
cials testified yesterday that the white
separatist took the initiative to sell illegal
shotguns, beginningachain of events that
ended in the Ruby Ridge tragedy.
'Regarding the 1992 killings of
Weaver's wife and son and a deputy
U.S. marshal in northern Idaho, John
Magaw, director of the Bureau of Al-
cohol, Tobacco and Firearms, told a
Senate panel in prepared testimony:
"It was Mr. Weaver's actions that set
this into play."
ATF agent Herb Byerly testified that
Weaver offered to go to work for a
confidential ATF informant posing as
an illegal arms dealer. Weaver has ad-
mitted selling two sawed-off shotguns
to the informant, but denied he wanted
to go to work for him.
Thegovemmentproducedatranscript
ofatape-recorded conversation in which
Weaver allegedly told the informant,
"How many you want ... four or five a
week? ... I'll try to do my best to do
that." Byerly said the tape shows Weaver
was offering a continuous supply of
sawed-off shotguns.
"Mr. Weaver was not entrapped,"
Magaw said in the testimony that was
released even though he did not appear
before the panel yesterday. "He was not

persuaded or coaxed by the govern-
ment to sell illegal weapons. The idea
to supply the weapons originated in Mr.
Weaver's own mind."
However, Weaver's attorney, Gerry
Spence, said in an interview: "What the
ATF is now neglecting to point out is that
ajury acquitted Randy of the gun charge
at his 1993 trial - it was entrapment."
On Wednesday, Weaver told the
Senate Judiciary Committee's terror-
ism subcommittee that the ATF infor-
mant pressed him over a three-year
period to supply a sawed-off shotgun,
and that Weaver acquiesced in a mo-
ment of weakness because he needed
the $450 from the sale to buy groceries
for his family.
Of his tape-recorded comments,
Weaver conceded that while he prob-
ably said something of that nature, he
realized after making them that they
were silly, and that in any event, he
never supplied the weapons.
"Mr. Weaver stated that he wanted to
go to work for the confidential infor-
mant," Byerly said. When Weaver sold
the two sawed-off shotguns, he was
tape-recorded "as saying that he hoped
they would go to street gangs."
The 11-day standoff at Ruby Ridge
started when federal marshal's depu-
ties encountered members of Weaver's

Andrew Vita, assistant director of enforcement for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and Herb Byerly, ATF case
agent on Ruby Ridge, are sworn in prior to testimony yesterday.

family as the deputies scouted his prop-
erty to prepare for arresting him for
failure to appear for trial for selling the
two sawed-off shotguns. Weaver's 14-
year-old son, Sam, and Deputy U.S.
Marshal William Degan were killed in
a shoot-out.
The next day, an FBI sniper killed
Weaver's wife, Vicki. Weaver contends
that shooting was deliberate, but the
FBI denies that assertion, maintaining
the sniper was shooting instead at
Weaver family friend Kevin Harris.
As for how the ATF probe of Weaver

began, Magaw's testimony said it was
"opened only after he offered to supply
illegal firearms toourinformant. Hehadn't
been offered money and wasn't even the
target of any investigation until then."
The informant met with Weaver to
gain his assistance in introducing the
informer to another person, not to buy
guns, said Magaw, who described the
informer as a family man involved in
civic affairs who owns a home, "holds
a job and was not dependent upon the
government for his livelihood."
Magaw said the informer mistakenly

indicated in testimony at Weaver's trial
that his compensation would be based
on whether there was a conviction. The
informer received $5,000 for his ser-
vices and the money was not contingent
on conviction, he said.
At the trial, Weaver was acquitted of
murder in Degan's death but was con-
victed of failing to show up for his trial
on the gun charge.
While ATF was defending its actions
regarding Weaver, Attorney General
Janet Reno defended the performance
of FBI Director Louis Freeh.

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Scientists link volcanic eruption
with great extinction in Siberia

House
votes to
build more
bombers
Legislation would ban
abortions at military
hospitals except to
save mother's life
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House
voted narrowly yesterday to protect a
Republican plan to build more B-2 stealth
bombers and added an anti-abortion pro-
vision to a defense spending bill.
In a 213-210 vote, supporters of the
world's most expensive warplane
blocked an effort to cut $493 million in
B-2 funding from the defense appro-
priations bill even though the Pentagon
said it doesn't need more of the radar-
evading bombers.
The money would enable the Air
Force to begin buying more B-2s than
the 20 already in service or on order.
Because the Senate defense appropria-
tions bill contains no funding for more
B-2s, the issue will have to be worked
out in negotiations.
Debate on the B-2 took place as the
House moved toward completion of a
$244 billion defense appropriations bill
that would add $7.8 billion to President
Clinton's request for the fiscal year
beginning Oct. 1, and $2.5 billion to
this year's spending level.
Later the House voted 226-191 to
add a provision by Rep. Robert Dornan
(R-Calif.) banning abortions at military
hospitals except when the life of the
mother is in jeopardy.
Doman said his proposal was de-
signed to prevent using "taxpayer
money in the shedding of innocent
blood."
Supporters of the bomber invoked
the name of Air Force fighter pilbt Scott
O'Grady, shot down over Bosnia in
June by a radar-guided missile.
"If we don't go with the B-2 bomber,
we are going to see pilots go down just
like Mr. O'Grady went down," said
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.).
B-2 opponents called the plane a
billion-dollar "turkey." The Air Force
estimates that 20 more B-2s would
cost some-$19 billion. When spares,
hangars and maintenance costs are fac-
tored in, the price tag rises above $30
billion.
"I ask you how you go home and
defend a billion-dollar airplane at a
time when we're trying to squeeze sav-
ings out of the budget," said Rep. John
Kasich (R-Ohio).
The coalition opposed to the B-2
included fiscal conservatives such as
Kasich, the House Budget Committee
chairman, and liberal Democrats such
as Rep. Ronald Dellums of California.
They gained some strength in the three
months since the House voted 219 to
203 against a similar attempt to slash B-
2 funding.
But an intense lobbying effort by
Northrop Grumman Corp., builder of
the B-2, and by the Republican leader-
ship prevented any GOP defections. In
yesterday's vote, 81 Republicans voted
against the B-2, the same number as on
June 13.
"It was a full-court press by the Re-
publican leadership, which made it hard
to hang on," said Kasich, one of the few

senior Republicans opposed to the B-2.
Support for the B-2 was particularly
strong in Southern California, the Pa-
cific Northwest and Texas, places where
many B-2 components are manufac-
tured.

WASHINGTON (AP) - A volcanic
eruption that lasted a million years and
flooded Siberia with lava a mile deep
may have killed 80 percent ofthe world's
animals-an extinction farmore deadly
than the later one that claimed the dino-
saurs, researchers conclude.
Precise dating of geologic samples
that mark the extinction 250 million
years ago show the massive die-off
occurred at about the same time a vol-
canic eruption blanketed Siberia with
lava and filled the global sky with chemi-
cals, scientists report today in the jour-
nal Science.
"We have been able to put a very
precise date on the extinction boundary
(formation), something that has not been
done before," said Mark Richards, a

r

I

University of California, Berkeley, pro-
fessor of geophysics and co-author of
the study.
The date of that extinction, which
marks the shift from the Permian to the
Triassic period, was the same, within a
few thousand years, as the Siberian
eruptions. Richards said basalt lava from
deep within the Earth poured out of
fissures in Siberia and flowed like
scorching cookie dough across thou-
sands of square miles. Up to a cubic
mile of lava belched out annually for
about one million years, he said.
Paul Renne, director of the Berkeley
Geochronology Center and also a co-
author, said the extreme volcanic activ-
ity may have set offevents that killed 90
percent of all marine species and 70
percent of all land vertebrates, along
with most of the terrestrial plant life.
"In extreme cases such as this one,
volcanoes in and of themselves appear
to be sufficient to wipe out life on the
planet," Renne said.
The Permian die-off has been de-
scribed by paleontologist Stephen Jay
Gould as "the granddaddy of all extinc-
tions"- far more deadly than the events
that killed the dinosaurs about 65 mil-
lion years ago.
Animals killed in the Permian ex-
tinction, however, were less well-known
than the dinosaurs. The victims were
such things as clams, sponges and trilo-
bites, a type of armored sea animal.
Keith Rigby, a paleontologist at the
University ofNotre Dame, said the study
was "an important advance" and sup-
ports the idea that volcanoes could have
played a central role in the series of
extinction events throughout geologic
history.

"There appears to be a strong corre-
lation between extinctions and volca-
nic events," Rigby said.
The dinosaur extinction has been as-
sociated with the collision on Earth of a
massive meteor or comet. But a huge
volcanic eruption occurred about the
same time, forming a deposit in India
called the Deccan traps.
"That was the same type of lava as
the one in Siberia," said Asish Basu, a
University of Rochester geologist and a
co-author.
Basu said eruptions on the scale seen
in Siberia set off global events that put
extreme stress on animal life.
In the study, the authors speculate
that just before the lava started flowing,
the Siberia ground would have risen by
several hundred yards over hundreds of
miles, setting off an ice age by forcing
formation of vast glaciers. This, in turn,
could explain a 300-foot drop in sea
levels around the same period.
When the lava started flowing, the
researchers said, the sky would fill with
chemicals causing acid rain, radically
change the climate and cause even more
cooling. Eventually,though, the chemi-
cals would cause the Earth to warm, the
scientists speculate, through the green-
house effect.
"A short-lived volcanic winter fol-
lowed within several hundred thousand
years by greenhouse conditions would
fully explain the environmental extreme
that caused the ... mass extinctions,"
the study says.
Keith Rigby Sr., a paleontologist at
Brigham Young University, said the
volcanic activity may have been only
part of a longer decline of the species
that died.

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