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Putin: No quick fix for poverty
MOSCOW (AP) - Vladimir Putin,
taking the helm of a weak, unwieldy
Russia as its second democratically
elected president, admitted to voters
Monday that he has no swift solutions
to the poverty and corruption that
bedevil his nation.
Putin ordered the government to
pay off wage debts to state workers, and
said a first order of business after his
convincing victory in Sunday’s election
would be selecting a prime minister.
World leaders cautiously wel
comed Putin’s victory. President
Clinton called Putin to congratulate
him Monday, and used the opportunity
to reiterate U.S. dismay over the war in
Putin has promised to protect dem
ocratic freedoms, but has yet to indicate
how he would carry the sprawling
nation into the post-Boris Yeltsin era.
Putin, 47, was named acting president
when Yeltsin resigned Dec. 31.
Putin visited Yeltsin at his country
house outside Moscow on Monday
“You have taken the correct course.
You are doing your job, fulfilling your
duties,” Yeltsin told his successor after
People are tired and struggling, and
they’re hoping for things to get better,
but miracles don’t happen.”
congratulating him in footage shown
on Russian television.
Many Russians hope Putin will dis
tance himself from Yeltsin, whose
unpredictability and poor health -
along with the allegations of corruption
within his inner circle - contributed to
his political demise.
“New people are likely to appear”
when Putin names his government,
Dmitry Kozak, the government chief of
staff, said Monday.
After he is inaugurated in early
May, Putin will appoint a prime minis
ter, who will then form a government,
the Interfax news agency cited Kozak
as saying. As acting president, Putin
retained the position of prime minister,
which he has held since Yeltsin appoint
ed him in August.
Putin’s levelheaded, firm-handed
approach impressed voters. Russians
like his pledges to restore the country’s
military might, fight corruption, and
battle poverty and social injustice.
They also admire his uncompro
mising stance against rebels in
Chechnya - although ending the war
gracefully could prove a major chal
At a news conference as election
returns were coming in, Putin acknowl
edged the enormity of the task facing
him and said he could promise no quick
“The level of expectations is very
high. People are tired and struggling,
and they’re hoping for things to get bet
ter, but miracles don’t happen,” he said.
Later, Putin met with government
ministers and ordered wage debts to
state workers to be paid in full by April
1, according to Deputy Prime Minister
Viktor Khristenko. Under Yeltsin, the
cash-starved government often let pen
sions and wages go unpaid for months.
With 95.5 percent of the vote
counted, Putin led with 52.6 percent.
Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov,
who put up a stronger-than-expected
election fight, was second with 29.3
percent. Liberal Grigory Yavlinsky was
third with 5.8 percent; eight other can
didates lagged far behind.
Putin said his government would
have to take into account the millions
who voted against him. He said he
would consider bringing opposition
groups into the government if they
shared his views.
“Our policy must be more bal
anced, take into account the existing
realities and aim at increasing living
standards,” he said.
International election observers
deemed the balloting free and fair.
Zyuganov, however, accused the
government of falsifying the results,
saying the Communist vote was more
than 40 percent.
Cuban boy’s relatives seek quick hearing
■ Justice Department
says boy’s relatives failed
to comply with government
WASHINGTON (AP) - The
Justice Department said Monday that
the Miami relatives caring for Elian
Gonzalez had failed to comply with a
government demand that they promise
to surrender him for return to his father
if they lose a court appeal.
Meantime, the relatives filed a
court appeal designed to meet a govern
ment deadline, and the 6-year-old
Cuban boy described in his first TV
interview how the boat bringing him
and his mother from Cuba sank. He
said he doesn’t believe his mother is
Although the relatives asked a fed
eral appeals court to set an expedited
schedule for hearing an appeal, their
letter to Attorney General Janet Reno
did not meet the other demand she
made Friday night
“We do not consider them in com
pliance with Friday’s letter,” said
Justice Department spokeswoman
Carole Florman. “They have not
agreed to provide written assurances
they will comply with Immigration and
Naturalization Service instructions if
they do not prevail in the appeals court
and cannot obtain a stay from the
Florman said the Justice
Department had responded in court to
the family’s request for an expedited
appeal that was not so swift as the gov
emment had hoped and that a new letter
would be sent to the family describing
how the government proposed to pro
ceed from here.
Florman would not describe the
government’s next steps. But in Friday’s
letter, Reno said that if the family did
not comply, it should be available for a
meeting today to discuss Elian’s future
and that the government might change
his status in this country by Thursday,
which could mean INS would try to
move him to different custodians while
the appeal is heard.
Also Monday, about 100 people
gathered outside the Little Havana
home where the 6-year-old boy has
been staying. The Democracy
Movement, a Cuban exile group, has
called for people to form a human chain
around the home of Elian’s great-uncle
in case the government tries to remove
him and send him back to his father in
Elian was kept home Monday and
won’t return to school out of fears that
Cuba might try to force him back to the
island, family spokesman Armando
Facing a noon deadline, Elian’s
Florida relatives filed a motion for an
expedited appeals process to sort out
the international custody dispute.
The motion asks the federal appeals
court to set a schedule for arguments in
the family’s appeal of a federal judge’s
ruling affirming the INS decision to
return Elian to Cuba.
A judge could set the schedule as
early as this week, court officials said.
It could be weeks before the case is
Some teachers wary over bonuses’ meaning
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) -
Eighth-grade English teacher Brian P.
Gallagher does not want the $2,500
bonus his school district is offering if
his students improve their standard
ized test scores.
He says the whole idea is more
trouble than it is worth.
His students are razzing him,
wisecracking about how they hold his
financial fate in their hands.
And since the Colonial School
District’s plan allows only 20 percent
of the teachers to get the extra cash,
his colleagues are becoming reluctant
to share teaching tips, he says.
The opposition is so strong that
nearly all of Colonial’s 350 teachers
have signed a petition saying they will
give any bonus money to charity.
In recent months, schools in
U We have some
Denver, and now Pennsylvania, have
approved bonus plans to improve edu
cation. But many teachers - and the
nation’s two largest teachers unions -
are suspicious of the idea.
“Unfortunately, this has become
the misguided panacea du jour - put
teachers in a competitive situation and
they’ll work harder,” said Darrell
Capwell, a spokesman for the
American Federation of Teachers,
with more than 1 million members.
“What people who talk about
bonuses don’t seem to understand is
that there are so many forces outside
of the teachers’ control that influence
test scores. A better thing to do is to
use the money to hire another teacher
or build more classrooms to support
smaller class sizes.”
Capwell said the bonus plan takes
the familial relationship teachers have
with students and threatens to replace
it with a harsher, more corporate-like
The National Education
Association, which represents 2.5
million teachers, has not taken a stand
on the issue but plans to discuss
bonuses at a meeting July 4 in
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“We have some very serious con
cerns about the idea, but we’re not
ready to throw water on it complete
ly,” said NEA spokeswoman Kathleen
Lyons. “We believe there may be
some forms of bonuses that we could
Some districts around the country
have offered merit increases or bonus
es, but they base the decision on
school-wide achievement or factors
such as a teacher’s work outside the
The Denver and Colonial School
District programs would reward
teachers for how well the children do
in their individual classrooms.
Denver’s program, approved last
fall, is a four-year experiment that
involves a small group of teachers.
i |» f m m | pr™'
high 56, low 36
Iranian oil minister supports
petroleum output increase
VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Iran
accepts the need for OPEC to boost
petroleum output, the Iranian oil
minister said Monday, but the
amount of an increase favored by his
country might not be enough to ease
prices that have soared to nine-year
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan
Namdar Zangeneh spoke before a
formal gathering of all 11 OPEC oil
ministers, who adjourned their first
session without reaching a decision
Zangeneh told reporters he sup
ports some higher level of output
during the second quarter of the year.
However, he refused to say how
much of an increase Iran was willing
“I won’t talk on numbers, but we
don’t want a market shortage,” he
Bodies of 74 people found
in hidden mass grave
RUGAZI, Uganda (AP) -
Prisoners under armed guard
Monday uncovered 74 bodies from a
mass grave hidden at the edge of a
sugarcane field, where authorities
suspect more members of a dooms
day Christian sect remain buried.
Some of the bodies showed signs
of stab wounds while some others
had pieces of cloth wrapped tightly
around their throats. They appeared
to have been dead about a month, a
local doctor examining them said.
The discovery in Rugazi came as
authorities continued investigating
the deaths of at least 490 other mem
bers of the Movement for the
Restoration of the Ten
Commandments of God elsewhere in
the lush mountains of southwestern
Tobacco company to pay i
damages to couple
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - k
jury ordered the nation’s two largest
tobacco companies Monday to pay
$20 million in punitive damages to:a
dying ex-smoker who took up the
habit after the surgeon generalfs
warning began appearing on ciga
rette packs in the 1960s.
The Superior Court jury voted 9
3 to order Philip Morris and R.U.
Reynolds to pay $10 million each to
Leslie Whiteley and her husband.
The same jury awarded the cou
ple $1.7 million in compensatory
damages last week after finding that
the companies deceived the public
about the dangers of smoking.
That verdict was the first for a
smoker who took up the habit after
1969, when tobacco companies, on
the government’s orders, began put
ting warnings about health risks of
smoking on cigarette packs.
Mother pleads guilty
to strangling her sons
DALLAS (AP) - A second-grade
teacher pleaded guilty Monday fo
strangling her two young sons after
they opened their Christmas presents
in an act of vengeance against her ej
Lisa Marie Smith was sentenced
to life in prison after her plea, which
averted a trial and possible dealjh
penalty. Smith, 31, will not be eligi
ble for parole for 40 years.
She told police she killed Willft
Cody Smith, 5, and Tristen Thom^
Smith, 3, because she was distraug
after losing custody of the boys to h^
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