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Briefs2

Other Nations Accept but Punish Military Gays, Experts Say

Newsday

WASHINGTON

America's shaky temporary compromise on allowing homosexuals to serve in uniform -- in effect, "we won't ask, you don't flaunt" -- has become the pattern in several foreign forces that officially welcome but actually punish avowed gays, the Senate Armed Services Committee was told Thursday.

As hearings resumed on whether Congress should accept President Clinton's plan to lift the Pentagon's longtime ban on gays in July, two military manpower experts testified that few gays and lesbians "come out" in some allies' ostensibly permissive armed services because of discrimination against them in practice.

Another witness, retired Army Lt. Gen. Calvin A.H. Waller, who was No. 2 commander of Operation Desert Storm, argued that lifting the ban would result in "second-rate armed forces." But he said he could "live with" perpetuating the interim agreement reached in January between Clinton, committee chairman Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and the restive Joint Chiefs of Staff. Under this compact, which is unpalatable to gay and lesbian activists, recruits no longer are asked their sexual orientation. But gays who don't stay "in the closet" can be separated from active duty.

Except in the armed forces of Holland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, which offer full equality to gays, that's largely the way Europe and Israel balance gays' rights with worries about small-unit morale, the sociologists Charles Moskos of Northwestern University and David Segal of the University of Maryland testified.

Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., said his own findings on a recent study trip to Britain, France, Germany, Holland and Canada do not "provide a basis for lifting the ban" that the United States now has in common with just 12 countries, including Iran, Libya and South Africa.

In lone contrast, Florida International University political scientist Judith Stiehm said the ban must go. She reported that Canada and Australia have suffered no military gay-bashings or mass resignations since changing their policies.

ATF Director Considers Resigning

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Director Stephen E. Higgins said Thursday he accepts full responsibility for his agency's aborted Feb. 28 raid on the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas, and will consider resigning following the completion of an internal Treasury Department investigation.

After weeks of criticism over a series of confusing and apparently conflicting statements by ATF officials about the Waco matter, Higgins also acknowledged that an ATF public-affairs officer had "at some point" alerted news reporters in Dallas to an impending agency operation shortly before the raid was launched.

Higgins said the notification provided no specific details about the time and location of the raid. But members of Congress said Thursday they believed the agency's own attempts to attract media publicity may have inadvertently compromised the operation, leading to the deaths of four federal agents and the wounding of 16 others.

"I think it's absolutely clear I'm responsible in this case," said Higgins, who has previously acknowledged approving the Waco operation and informing senior Treasury officials about it two days before it was launched. "My actions should be examined, like everybody else's and if I did something wrong then I should answer for it."

Weather

A Squeeze Play

By Marek Zebrowski
staff meteorologist

Thanks to a blocking pattern, we shall have a very enjoyable weather for several days to come. (Please note that this is a rare treat: slow-moving patterns during spring usually cause raw and unsettled days in our region!) A high pressure ridge will generally keep on holding over the eastren seaboard, whilst an ocean storm off the Atlantic coast will slowly drift northeastward -- its cloudy fringes just nicking outer portions of the Cape. To our west, a low pressure over the eastern Great Lakes will move to our west and north; the cold front associated with it, currently stretched over the Ohio and Mississipi Valleys, will have only limited moisture when it passes through our area on Saturday afternoon. Another surface ridge from Hudson Bay area will follow the front and get established over the Northeast. As winds will tend to be more northwesterly, the biting seabreazes of the last few days are less likely, and a gradual warming trend is expected. There are even some indications that by mid-week this high will be positioned offshore just to our southeast and, if such is the case, a truly warm weather will follow for the second part of next week.

As we part with April, some statistics: last Tuesday morning's 2.2 in. (5.6 cm) of snow pushed our seasonal total to 83.9 in. (213.1 cm), making it one of the snowiest winters on record! April temeperatures were very close to normal (about 0.4F warmer per day), the precipitation totalled 4.86 in. (12.3 cm) for the month, well over an inch above the average.

Today: Mostly sunny with high clouds increasing from the west throughout the day. Temperatures around 60F (16C) near the shore (even cooler on the Cape) to around 70F (21C) well inland. Winds north to northeast 10-15 mph (16-24 kmh).

Tonight: Partly cloudy, lows around 50F (10C), light onshore winds will continue.

Saturday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of a sprinkle associated with the passage of a cold front, then clearing later in the day. Highs in mid 60s (17-19C) locally to low 70s (21-23C) away from the coast.

Sunday: Fair and warmwer with highs touching the 70s (21-23C) in the metropolitan area and mid to upper 70s (23-26C) well inland.