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

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    News Digest
Bush cousin's
actions at Fox
NEW YORK—Fox News Channel is investigat
ing whether an election night consultant related to
George W. Bush provided his cousin’s campaign with
insider exit poll data.
Meanwhile, the network downplayed John Ellis’
role in helping Fox News Channel declare at 2:16
a.m. on Nov. 8 that Bush had won die presidency.
Ellis was working on a temporary contract, and
his status is under review, said John Moody, Fox
News Channel vice president for news and editorial
Ellis, a first cousin to the Ttexas governor, was die
director of Erne’s decision team on election night. He
was responsible for interpreting election data and
helping Fox News Channel declare states for either
Bush or A1 Gore.
"He was hired by Fox because of his ability, not
his bloodline," Moody said. Ellis worked for 11 years
at NBC News and had an excellent reputation as an
elections returns analyst, he said.
The NewYorker magazine reported that Ellis had
frequent phone conversations with Bush and his
brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, on election night let
ting them know how the vote was going.
Fox is examining whether those conversations
violated rules set by Voter News Service restricting
when exit poll information could be released. VNS is
a consortium that conducts die surveys for five tele
vision networks and The Associated Press.
Ellis, who would not comment, acknowledged
in a letter to The NewYorker that he spoke with
George W. Bush twice on the afternoon of Nov. 7, but
did not share any exit poll data.
"I did tell him I thought the race would be dose
overall, but he was already well aware of that,” Ellis
said in die letter.
Ellis, whose mother, Nancy Ellis, is the sister of
former President George Bush, acknowledged
speaking frequently with both cousins in the
evening - but about vote results, not exit poll infor
mation. Other members of Fox’s election night team
were communicating with Gore’s campaign, he said.
By about 2 am, the statistics were looking good
for Bush, and The NewYorker said this was reflected
in Ellis’ phone conversations.
"It was just the three of us guys handing the
phone back and forth-me with the numbers, one of
them a governor, the other the President-elect,” Ellis
said in die magazine. "Now, that was cooL”
Although Ellis was part of the team calling
Florida, and thus the election, for Bush, Fox News
Channel said Moody made die final decision. ABC,
NBC, CBS and CNN all made the same call within
four minutes.
Ttoo hours later, each network had rescinded its
declaration, and the Florida results are still in dis
Bob Steele, director of the ethics program at die
Poynter Institute in Florida, said he found Ellis’ con
versations with his cousins while working at a news
agency troubling. He called the incident a black
mark on Fox’s reputation.
"His connection with them is so profoundly per
sonal that I don't see that it’s possible for him to wear
a legitimate, detached, professional observer-ana
lyst hat," Steele said.
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Amid chaos, leaders picked
■ The House of Representatives
voted to bring back Dennis Hasten
and Dick Gephardt to its top spots.
WASHINGTON — Proving the
House to be an island of stability in a sea
of political turmoil, Republicans and
Democrats voted Tuesday to return
Speaker Dennis Hastert and Minority
Leader Dick Gephardt to top leadership
positions for the incoming 107th
GOP rank and file also voted by
acclamation for holdover Majority
Leader Dick Armey and Majority Whip
Tom DeLay, both of Texas, and for Rep.
J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, Congress’ lone
black Republican, for the fouith-ranking
job of Republican conference chairman.
On the Democratic side, Gephardt,
of Missouri, will again be joined by
Minority Whip David Bonior of
Michigan and Caucus Chairman Martin
Frost oflfexas.
With the presidency unsettled and
the Senate facing a potential 50-50 tie,
House Republicans portrayed their abil
ity to maintain a narrow majority in last
week’s election as a huge victory over a
determined, well-financed Democratic
effort to regain the control they lost in
“I just wantto declare victory” DeLay
said. “The House held its ground.”
Pending the outcome of unsettled
races in Florida and New Jersey,
Republicans now have an effective 221
212 edge over Democrats in the new
House, counting two independents who
reliably split between the two camps. In
the 106th Congress, die GOP margin was
223-210 counting the independents,
with two vacancies.
Last week's elections left the coming
Senate with 50 Republicans and 49
Democrats, pending the outcome of die
Washington race between GOP Sen.
Slade Gorton and Democratic chal
lenger Maria Cantwell. With 316,000
votes still to be counted, Gorton had a
12,500-vote lead.
Hasten, who succeeded fiery conser
vative Newt Gingrich during the throes
of President Clinton's impeachment cri
sis, said the results would repudiate crit
ics who considered him merely a care
taker speaker facing oblivion.
“This proves we could run this
House. Wfe ran it on a very slim majority,”
said Hasten, R-Ill. “We look forward to
doing the people’s business.”
Top priorities for the next two years,
Hastert said, will include tax cuts, man
aged care reforms and improving educa
tion - and working with either
Republican George W. Bush or Democrat
A1 Gore in the White House.
“We owe it to the American people,
whoever that president is, to dose ranks,
to work together and do the things that
the American people want to see us get
done,” Hastert said
Gephardt, for his part, said he was
gratified that Democrats appear likely to
have gained one or two seats in the elec
tion, and the party has not given up its
goal of winning back the majority.
“Our disappointment is not disap
pointment about winning some political
majority or getting some new titles,”
Gephardt said. “Our disappointment is
in not being able to assert... the issues
that need to be asserted on behalf of the
American people.”
Among those issues, Gephardt said,
are a prescription drug benefit for
Medicare, an increase in die minimum
wage, campaign finance reform, gun
safety and a patient’s bill of rights. He
said Democrats will “reach out on a daily
basis” to the GOP majority to accom
plish these goals.
Marie Wilson/Newsmakers
RECOUNT TALK: Attorneys David Boles (from right) and Dexter Douglass leave the podium with former Ui. Secretary of State Warren Christopher after
meeting with reporters about the presidential recount Tuesday in Tallahassee, Fla.
Clinton: Vietnam decision tough
— Soon to be the first American presi
dent to visit Hanoi, capital of commu
nist Vietnam, President Clinton said
Hiesday he is more sympathetic about
Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war
there. "He did what he thought was
right," said Clinton, a college war pro
tester who avoided military service.
In an interview with The
Associated Press aboard Air Force One
on a trip that will make him the first
American president to visit since the
war ended in 1975, Clinton said, "I now
see how hard it was" for Johnson.
When Johnson took office in 1963,
the United States had 16,000 military
personnel in South Vietnam. U.S.
troop strength grew to 536,100 by time
Johnson left office in 1969 and more
than 30,000 Americans were killed in
action while Johnson was president
“I believe he did what he thought
was right under the circumstances,"
Clinton said. "These decisions are
hard. And one of the things I have
learned, too, is when you decide to
employ force, there will always be
unintended consequences.”
The president avoided saying
whether he holds second thoughts
about his 1969 description of the war
as one he despised. Instead, he said he
is glad “the American people have
been able to look to the future” in rela
tions with Vietnam.
As a student at Oxford University in
England, Clinton was a chief organizer
of two anti-war rallies in London in
1969 and, back home, helped organize
a huge march on Washington.
Clinton spoke en route to an eco
nomic summit in Brunei with leaders
of Pacific Rim nations. Relaxing in a
leather seat, wearing jeans and a jacket
embroidered with his name and the
presidential seal, he was in high spirits
even though it was nearly 1 a.m.
He said the United States does not
owe Vietnam an apology for its
involvement in the war, and no one
should say the 58,000 Americans and
7 believe (Johnson) did
what he thought was right
under the circumstances.”
President Bill Clinton
the 3 million Vietnamese killed lost
their lives in vain. "I don’t think any
person is fit to make that judgment,”
he said.
“People fight honorably for what
they believe in, and they lose their
lives,” the president said. "No one has a
right to say that those lives were wast
ed. I think that would be a travesty.”
Tliming to the Florida election dis
pute, Clinton said he hoped the dead
lock between A1 Gore and George W.
Bush would not lead to a president
crippled by controversy.
“I think it’s too soon to say that bit
terness and partisanship will paralyze
the next president,” Clinton said. “We
don't know that."
Retail sales jump slightly in October
WASHINGTON—Americans, feel
ing the pinch of higher interest rates and
energy bills on their wallets, spent more
selectively last month. They plunked
down money for building supplies,
home furnishings and clothes but shied
away from buying new cars.
Sales at retail stores nationwide
edged up just 0.1 percent in October, fol
lowing a sizzling 0.9 percent jump the
month before, the Commerce
Department reported Tuesday.
It marked the weakest showing since
August, when sales were flat, and rekin
dled doubts about how good a holiday
shopping season retailers will have.
Weakening consumer demand has
been blamed on a variety of factors,
including: higher interest rates, which
makes borrowing more expensive:
volatility in the stock market, which
takes a dent out of consumers’ invest
ment portfolios; and rising fuel prices,
which means consumers have less to
spend on other items.
On Wall Street, stocks rose, conclud
ing a week of declines, as investors were
lured by cheaper stocks and better-than
expected earnings from some of the
nation’s biggest retailers. The Dow Jones
industrial average closed up 163.81
points at 10,681.06.
October's sales were dampened by a
1 percent plunge in purchases of autos,
the poorest showing since an identical 1
percent drop in April. Auto sales had
risen a brisk 1.6 percent in September.
“Between high gasoline prices and
tire recalls, it looks as if people don’t seem
to be overly interested in plunking down
a ton of money for the huge vehicles that
are tethered to the gas pump,” said econ
omist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic
Paul Taylor, chief economist for the
National Automobile Dealers
Association, said larger cars and sport
utility vehicles, or SUVs, sold more slow
ly in October compared with the same
month a year ago, reflecting the impact
of higher interest rates and more expen
sive gasoline.
1116 Federal Reserve has raised inter
est rates six times since June 1999 with
the goal of achieving a “soft landing” -
slowing the economy enough to keep
inflation in check, but not so much as to
cause a recession. Economists believe
the retail sales report is evidence that the
economy is on a smooth glide path.
“We are seeing a soft landing rather
than a hard landing in consumer spend
ing for a couple of reasons,” said UBS
Warburg Economics Group economist
Maury Harris. “First, although job
growth is slowing, wages are still rising...
second, despite recent stock market tur
moil, consumer spirits are holding up
reasonably well.”
Against this backdrop, many ana
lysts believe the central bank will leave
interest rates unchanged when they
meet today.
The Associated Press
■ Washington D.C
Catholic bishops denounce
same-sex marriages
A group of national religious
leaders rejected same-sex mar
riage in a first-of-its-kind
"Christian Declaration on
Marriage” issued Tuesday at the
U.S. Catholic bishops' fall confer
The declaration calls for "a
stronger commitment to this holy
union” and "practical ministries
and influence for reversing the
course of our culture.” The decla
ration defines marriage as "a holy
union of one man and one
Earlier TXiesday, about 200
protesters blasted the Catholic
Church’s stance on gay rights,
demanding that the church stop
"spiritual violence” against gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgen
dered members.
■ Russia
New Mir crew may be sent
to international space station
MOSCOW — Russia may
send a new crew to the Mir space
station on Jan. 18, but the govern
ment hasn’t decided how much
longer to keep the 14-year-old
outpost in orbit, an official said
Four Russian cosmonauts
and one American potential
“space tourist" are preparing for
the flight at the cosmonauts’
training center outside Moscow,
said the center’s chief, Col. Gen.
Pyotr Klimuk, according to the
HAR-lkss news agency.
The American, businessman
Dennis Tito from Santa Monica,
Calif., is hoping to travel to the sta
tion for $20 million.
■ Egypt
Final round of voting
results in violent dashes
EL-AMAR—Police fired live
ammunition and pummeled
opposition supporters with
batons and tear gas in clashes
Tuesday that left five people dead
and 40 injured during the final
round of parliamentary voting.
In the Nile Delta village of El
Amar, 20 miles north of Cairo,
fighting erupted when supporters
of an independent candidate
broke down the doors of polling
stations after they were not
allowed to enter to vote, accord
ing to residents and police speak
ing on condition of anonymity.
Four people were killed and
five injured there.
■ Washington, D.C.
Economists: Fed could
cut interest rates
The Federal Reserve will
almost certainly remain on the
sidelines today in its battle against
inflation given the jitters on Wall
Street about die unresolved presi
dential election, analysts said.
And some economists did not
rule out the possibility that the
central bank could be forced
down the road to start cutting
interest rates if the election uncer
tainty escalates into bigger prob
“The longer this election stays
unsettled, the more likely we are
to get volatile financial markets,
including a weaker dollar,” said
David Jones, chief economist at
Aubrey G. Lanston & Co., a New
York bond firm.
■ United Nations
Iraq seeks more control
over economy, riches
With help trom Russia, France
and the Arab world, Iraq has
ended a de facto air travel embar
go. Now it’s chipping away at 10
year-old U.N. economic sanc
tions and seeking more control
over its oil riches.
Baghdad’s high-profile cam
paign to end its long diplomatic
isolation appears to be gaining
Long-closed borders with
Jordan and Saudi Arabia are
opening up to U.N.-approved
Because of an editing error,
a front page graphic in
Tuesday’s Daily Nebraskan
misidentified the Residential
Learning Center as the
Kauffman Learning Center. The
Kauffman building is already
under construction, while the
other center is not