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World Briefs I

Amid Crisis, Suharto Accepts Presidential Nomination

Los Angeles Times
JAKARTA, Indonesia

President Suharto accepted the nomination to serve a seventh term as his nation's president Tuesday, despite signs of dwindling confidence from the financial markets and the masses that Asia's longest ruling leader can save the Indonesian economy.

After decades of rule that earned him the title of "The Father of Development," Suharto, 76, suddenly faces unprecedented challenges, as opponents sense opportunity in the country's economic crisis and are calling for him to step down before elections in March.

"People now realize that after 32 years of Suharto, Indonesia is a mess," said Amien Rais, a Muslim leader and political scientist who recently declared his own desire to be president. "It is in multidimensional crisis: political, social and economic. People are aware that Suharto is not the solution, he is the problem."

The rupiah touched a new low of 10,600 per dollar after traders interpreted moves by Suharto and his children to mean that they were not serious about reform. At the current exchange rate, economists figure that the majority of Indonesia's listed companies are bankrupt and will not be able to pay debts estimated at $66 billion.

Supreme Court Rejects Case, Claiming Sex Bias Barred Tenure

The Baltimore Sun

A woman who postponed her college teaching career to raise two children failed to get a hearing Tuesday in the Supreme Court on her claim that her marriage and family were used against her by faculty peers who denied her tenure.

The case of Cynthia J. Fisher, a biology professor at Vassar College, attracted attention among women's rights groups as a major test of the legal hurdles that women - especially married women - must surmount to prove they were the victims of sex discrimination.

Fisher's challenge also drew notice because it involved Vassar, a premier liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., that was founded for women and that promotes itself as an institution where "women and men regard each other truly as equals."

The Supreme Court turned aside Fisher's appeal and those of two other women in somewhat similar sex bias cases. The justices' action leaves unresolved a dispute among lower courts over how hard it is to prove sex discrimination in the workplace.

GOP Unveils Education Package, Including Vouchers for the Poor

The Washington Post

Weary of watching President Clinton roll out popular election-year initiatives while Congress was on vacation, Republican leaders fought back Tuesday by trying to beat him to the punch on one of his favorite subjects: education.

Repackaging and expanding proposals that failed to pass last year, Senate GOP leaders unveiled an eight-point package that would provide tax breaks for private and public school costs, turn $3 billion in federal school spending over to state and local authorities and otherwise "challenge the status quo," as Sen. Paul Coverdell, R-Ga., put it.

The legislation - dubbed "BOOKS" (Better Opportunities for Our Kids and Schools) - would create 20 to 30 pilot programs to finance vouchers to help low-income children at unsafe public schools pay for education at other schools, including private and church-related facilities.

"This comprehensive legislation is designed to help parents send their children to the very best schools possible," said Coverdell, the bill's chief sponsor. "By making sure more money goes directly to the classroom, our proposal gives local school districts greater freedom to solve the specific challenges confronting their communities."

By consolidating about 120 education programs into block grants to states, including Clinton's favorite Goals 2000 program, the legislation could be used to pay the salaries of 50,000 teachers, buy 1 million computers or construct 500 elementary schools, Coverdell said.

Virtually all elementary and secondary school spending, except for aid to help with education of disadvantaged children, would be turned over from the Education Department to the states, according to the Republicans.