The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 15, 2000, Page 2, Image 2

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    News Digest
Commercial deals in schools worry Congress
WASHINGTON - Eager for
team uniforms and new comput
ers, the nation’s schools with little
state oversight are making deals
that bring soda machines, PG
rated movie commercials and
marketing surveys onto their
grounds, congressional investiga
tors said Thursday.
“This is a cold, calculated
effort,” said Rep. George Miller, D
Calif., worried that the ads could
promote unhealthy or inappro
priate activities or products for
The report by the General
Accounting Office, the investiga
tive arm of Congress, said little
about whether the school ads
were appropriate. It mainly
looked at how states regulated
things like on-campus soda
machines, company logos on ath
letic scoreboards and television
ads on Channel One or other
commercial stations shown in
Only California, New York,
Florida, Illinois and Maine specif
ically limit certain types of adver
tising and other commercial
activity within their public school
buildings, the report indicated.
Researchers said just 19 state
laws even addressed school-relat
ed advertising.
Company representatives
have defended their contracts and
sponsorships, saying they provide
valuable resources and a high
profile commitment to an embat
tled public education system.
Channel One, a daily news
broadcast that offers free televi
sion sets and satellite dishes to
schools that reserve time for stu
dents to watch the show, earns
high ratings from teachers, says
Eileen Murphy, spokeswoman for
Primedia, Channel One’s parent
She said ads on the show were
approved by a committee of edu
cators. “We have never had a com
plaint,” she said.
The report indicated officials
rarely needed permission from
parents or others to use commer
cial products.
Nearly all of the nation’s
86,000 schools participate in
some type of program where they
get cash or equipment based on
the receipts or proof-of-purchase
No one has made a compre
hensive count of commercial con
tracts in the nation’s schools,
though the report maintains such
deals are growing.
For example, in Grand Rapids,
Mich., a contract with a soft-drink
company guaranteed the district
$30 per student, or 0.4 percent of
the district’s $206 million budget.
In another district, not named
in the report, a school rented its
softball field to a production com
pany shooting an episode of the
former steamy prime-time soap,
“Melrose Place.”
Some districts bowed out of
contracts because parents com
According to the report, cur
rent laws, mainly covering fund
raisers such as candy and gift
wrap sales, were weak, varied and
offered little guidance to schools
boards, superintendents or prin
Sen. Christopher Dodd, D
Conn., was troubled by the find
ing that many companies gath
ered address, ZIP code and pur
chasing habit information from
students, a practice school offi
cials said they were sometimes
unaware of.
"All we’re trying to do is put up
a warning sign," he said. “The
three R’s should not stand for
retail, resale and rebate.”
China executes
senior official
in bribery case
BEIJING - A senior Chinese legislator who took
nearly $5 million in bribes in hopes of marrying his
mistress was executed Thursday in a highly publi
cized case meant to convince an angry public that
communist leaders are stamping out rampant cor
Cheng Kejie, vice chairman of China’s national
legislature, berame the highest-ranking figure put to
death for corruption since the communists came to
j power in 1949.
Hours after the execution was announced, por
tions of the 66-year-old Cheng’s trial in July were
shown on national television, adding to a propagan
da campaign meant to show official determination to
attack abuses at even the highest levels.
Cheng was convicted of extorting $4.9 million
while he was the governor of Guangxi, a poor south
ern region. Earlier reports said that beginning in 1992,
he took payoffs for land deals, building contracts, pro
motions and allocations of subsidized commodities.
The case illustrated the pervasive corruption that
* is costing China’s struggling economy heavily and
undermining public acceptance of communist rule.
A recent series of unusually candid reports by China’s
auditor general accuse officials of stealing or squan
dering billions of dollars in a country with an average
per capita income of about $700.
Almost daily, Chinese state media announce offi
cials being punished for corruption, though most are
low-ranking. More than 132,000 officials received
penalties for misconduct last year that range up to
death sentences, according to the China Daily news
Cheng was put to death by the No. 1 Intermediate
People's Court in Beijing after China’s highest court
rejected his second appeal, the official Xinhua News
Agency said.
It quoted the Sept. 7 ruling by the Supreme
People’s Court as saying Cheng “severely damaged
the normal work order of government agencies and
created an extremely pernicious influence on socie
According to the official account, Cheng’s partner
in crime was his married lover, Li Ping. Li has been
sentenced to life in prison.
Partly sunny Partly cloudy
high 74, low 52 high 79, low 55
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y Copy Desk Co-Chief: Danell McCoy
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kg, General Manager Dan Shattil
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Wen Ho Lee
greets his
friends at a
celebration on
Wednesday at
his next-door
house in White
former Los
Alamos comput
er scientist was
released from
prison after
pleading guilty
to a single
felony count of
weapons data
while working
at the lab.
1. Ji* Raedle/Newsmakers
Clinton rips handling of case
President Clinton said
Thursday he was “quite trou
bled” by the handling of the
Wen Ho Lee case and that the
government could not justify
the way it dealt with the for
mer Los Alamos laboratory
Clinton expressed regrets
just hours after Attorney
General Janet Reno refused to
apologize for the case.
Clinton said he had long
been troubled about the
denial of bail for Lee, released
Wednesday by a federal judge
who said the government’s
conduct had “embarrassed
our entire nation.”
Clinton said it was very
difficult to reconcile the gov
ernment’s positions: “that
one day he’s a terrible risk to
the national security, and the
next day they’re making a
plea agreement for an offense
far more modest than what
had been alleged.”
“I don’t think you can jus
tify in retrospect keeping a
person in jail without bail
when you’re prepared to
make that kind of agree
ment," the president said.
While briefing reporters
later, White House press sec
retary Joe Lockhart said
Clinton’s comments should
not be read as a criticism
directed at the Justice
Department or federal prose
"I think we’ll look to have
more information on this,
but I wouldn’t see it as a blan
ket criticism of anyone,”
Lockhart said, adding that
Reno and Energy Secretary
Bill Richardson retain
Clinton’s support
Earlier in the day, Reno
said she was comfortable
with the government’s han
dling of the case.
Reno said she wished
“with all my heart and soul”
that I^ee early on had provid
ed investigators with infor
mation about seven missing
computer tapes that con
tained nuclear secrets.
“I think Dr. Lee, from the
beginning, had the opportu
nity to answer this, and I
think now he needs to look to
himself,” Reno said.
Parker said the scientist's
detention “embarrassed our
entire nation and each of us
who is a citizen of it”
The judge’s criticism
came as he accepted an
agreement that freed Lee,
7 think we’ll look to have more
information on this, but I wouldn’t see it
as a blanket criticism of anyone."
Joe Lockhart
White House press secretary
who pleaded guilty to a single
count of mishandling
nuclear secrets. In exchange,
the government dropped 58
other counts of breaching
national security.
Reno said federal prose
cutors “had tried from the
beginning” to learn what Lee
did with the tapes, which he
acknowledged he had trans
ferred from a highly secure
computer at the Los Alamos
nuclear weapons lab into
unsecured personal files.
“There was no explana
tion of what the man did with
the information that was so
sensitive,” Reno said.
Reno went through a
point-by-point defense of the
government’s handling of the
case a day after she and FBI
Director Louis J. Freeh
released statements in which
they emphasized that getting
Lee to acknowledge having
transferred the nuclear
secrets was a top priority.
Reno said that the scien
tist likely would have avoided
the jail time had he cooperat
ed in assuring that the tapes
had not fallen into unautho
rized hands. Lee has claimed
all along that he destroyed
the seven tapes.
Lee, 60, a computer sci
entist at Los Alamos since
1980, was indicted in
December on 59 counts of
mishandling secrets and on
the government’s insistence
was refused bail. Prosecutors
argued that freeing him may
give him the opportunity to
dispose of the tapes
Reno said prosecutors
had hoped that Lee “could tell
us if he had conveyed any
information from the tapes"
and had suggested that if he
was cooperative, “we would
reconsider detention. In this
instance, we have now what
we tried to do then.”
Sydney gives torch a golden ello
SYDNEY, Australia - At the opera
house, they packed the water’s edge and
cheered. They watched from buildings,
from a docked oceanliner, even from
atop the steel skeleton of the fabled
Harbor Bridge.
They oohed and ahhed as the
Olympic flame went by.
Ready to greet the world,
Sydneysiders paused Thursday at the
edge of the Olympics to see their down
town awash in fireworks, an Olympic
rings light show and even a big round
moon, delivered against a cloudless sky.
The collective exhortation: Let the
games begin.
“This sj^ows people what we're about
- whatever that may be,” said a smiling
Gloria Garton, pressed up against a bar
ricade with her husband to see blind
Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli pass
the Olympic torch to Australian pop star
Olivia Newton-John.
Australian sprinter Melinda
Gainsford-Taylor, women’s captain of
her nation’s Olympic team, brought the
torch into the Sydney Opera House
grounds at dusk, passing it to Bocelli.
He held it aloft before thousands of
cheering people crowded into
Bennelong Point, then handed it to a
grinning Newton-John. She carried it off
into the night on the last leg of its journey
toward Olympic Park and Friday’s open
ing ceremony. Then Bocelli sang Verdi’s
“Di quella pira.”
With the crowd roaring, the Olympic
rings that hang from the landmark
bridge illuminated as the sunlight faded,
and fireworks shot from the bridge’s
anchorage. Five helicopters and the
Goodyear Blimp - rechristened the
“G’Day Blimp” for the games - hovered
Half of the seats outside the opera
house went to the general public; the
other half went to those attending
Thursday’s opera program. It created an
odd juxtaposition: On one side, rowdy
youths held Australian flags aloft and
chanted “Aussie! Aussie!” while opera
goers in formal garb applauded sedately
on the other.
Bocelli was a surprise guest in the
torch ceremony. The tenor was driven in
a golf cart to the podium, where
Gainsford-Taylor, who will be competing
in the Sydney Games, brought him the
Newton-John, known best in
America for her role in “Grease” and her
hit song “Physical,” then ran in. The three
stood triumphantly, with the torch blaz
The Olympic torch has been making
its way across the world’s only island
continent since June, carried by a variety
of Australians from Aborigines to ath
letes to a 109-year-old man.
Along the way, it has survived a theft
attempt and a teen-ager’s novel, if ill
conceived attempt, to douse it with a fire
Australians who turned out to see the
harbor spectacle Thursday night said
such events could bring people together
and help present their country's best face
to the world.
“Anything important always hap
pens right here at the opera house,”
Garton said. “Nighttime, it’s like fairyland
down here.”
The opera house, Sydney’s signature
landmark, opened in 1973 after 14 years
of construction. Its unique three
pronged design has drawn comparisons
to everything from palm fronds to sails to
a Mayan temple.
The torch, which has consistently
drawn large crowds as it makes its way to
Olympic Park, was passed from Newton
John to tennis pro Patrick Rafter, who
carried it on to Sydney’s Town Hall,
where it blazed overnight
The Associated Press
■ Washington,D.C.
Pregnant woman killed by
street-sweeping truck
Police were investigating
Thursday how a pregnant
woman was killed by a street
sweeping truck that swallowed
her in its brushes and knocked
aside her 4-year-old daughter,
who suffered minor injuries.
The woman, Felisita Sorto,
29, was crossing a street
Wednesday with her daughter
when she was struck and pulled
under, police said.
Sorto, a mother of three, was
pregnant when she was killed,
said David Vega, a lawyer for her
husband, Jose Arbaiza.
Sorto was pronounced dead
at the scene.
Her daughter, Onis
Morlenis-Arbaiza, was struck by
one of the sweeper’s side brush
es and knocked onto the side
walk, said Geoffrey Grambo, a
battalion chief with the District
of Columbia Fire Department.
Israel takes measures
to combat West Nile virus
Anxiety in Israel was grow
ing Thursday after the West Nile
virus killed an eighth victim this •
Hospital emergency rooms
were crowded with people who
feared they had contracted the
mosquito-borne disease.
In two dozen towns in
Israel’s hardest hit coastal plain,
residents closed their windows
this week as machines belched
forth clouds of insecticide
mixed with diesel oil to wipe out
the mosquitoes.
In southern Israel, 3,300
geese were destroyed at a farm
after some of the birds died of
the disease. There were minor
outbreaks among geese at other
farms but no wholesale slaugh
Senate Democrats urge
tuition tax credit
Focusing on a nearly five-fold
increase in college tuitions,
Senate Democrats called on
Republican leaders Thursday to
include a tuition tax credit in any
budget package wrapping up this
election-year session of Congress.
“We should not bankrupt
families for doing what is right for
their children,” said Sen. Charles
Schumer, D-N.Y., who wants to
give parents yearly deductions
that he says would save as much
as $2,800 per student on their tax
According to the Democrats’
survey of 50 major private and
public colleges, the typical tuition
rose from $3,904 in 1980 to
$17,772 in 2000.
Hiition and fees spiked in the
early 1980s, with double-digit
annual rate increases, but such
cost increases have leveled off in
recent years, Jeffrey Penn, an ana
lyst with College Board, which
administers key college entrance
exams and tracks college costs.
Milosevic supporters mob
challenger's rally
Slobodan Milosevic’s support
ers broke up the Kosovo cam
paign rally of his strongest chal
lenger Thursday, pelting the
presidential candidate with
waves of rotten tomatoes and
striking him in the face with a
The melee failed to discour
age opposition candidate
Vojislav Kostunica, who had
traveled to this divided indus
trial city as part of a Western
style campaign tour for the
Sept. 24 election.
Afterward, the soft-spoken
law professor wiped the blood
from beneath a small cut under
his eye and suggested that
Milosevic, the Yugoslav presi
dent, must feel threatened if he
had resorted to violence.
Because of a reporting and
editing error, the Daily
Nebraskan incorrectly stated
the Maya Angelou speech
would be simulcast in the
Kimball Recital Hall. The Daily
Nebraskan regrets this error.