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News Briefs II

Court Case Reflects Germany's Unease with Euro Plans

The Washington Post
BERLIN

A group of prominent economists filed a petition Monday with Germany's highest court seeking to block plans for a single European currency on the grounds that it would violate the nation's postwar constitution.

The challenge, posed by four professors, including an ex-member of the Bundesbank, Germany's powerful central bank, argues that the historic project would jeopardize a basic right to economic stability by forcing Germans to swap their revered mark - a symbol of national prosperity for five decades - for the untested euro.

Although the suit is not expected to derail the timetable that calls for European monetary union to start next year, with euro coins and bank notes in full circulation by 2002, the case has underscored apprehensions expressed by Germans who believe they will suffer economic hardship with the euro's launch at a time when joblessness has reached 11.9 percent, a level not seen since the 1930s.

A poll published last week by Der Spiegel magazine showed that opposition to the euro has increased, rising to 56 percent from 49 percent a year ago. Three out of four Germans said they expect the euro will be weaker than the mark; only one in five expect to benefit from the change.

The skepticism reflects the failure of a campaign by Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government to persuade Germans that the euro will nurture European unity. In speeches, Kohl says he believes a single currency could even spell "the difference between war and peace" in the next century.

High School Wrestlers Get Light Punishment for Hazing

Los Angeles Times
Thousand Oaks, California

As punishment for their involvement in a hazing scandal, seven members of the Westlake High School wrestling team have been suspended for five days while four of the team's 30 wrestlers have been barred from participating in any sports until December, a school official said Tuesday.

The seven wrestlers spent Tuesday in "in-house suspension" - at school, but isolated from their classmates. Rather than attending classes, the group spent the day cleaning trash from the campus, doing homework and studying for finals in solitude, parents said.

The students were notified of their discipline Monday for their involvement in the hazing incidents - in which at least three students were grabbed, pinned down and prodded in the buttocks with a broomstick dubbed "Pedro."

An additional 17 wrestlers were "admonished" for being aware of the hazing and not notifying an adult; two students were cleared altogether with the recommendation that they be allowed to finish this wrestling season at another high school.

"Our investigation didn't find any disciplinary issues which merited a recommendation for expulsion," Athletic Director Joeseph Pawlick said. The administrative discipline will likely be the only punishment the students will receive in connection with the hazing incidents, which took place between Sept. 7 and Dec. 7, 1997.