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News Briefs II

Jackson Says He Is Considering 2000 Presidential Race

The Washington Post

Civil rights leader Jesse L. Jackson said Thursday he is considering seeking the Democratic party's nomination for president in 2000. Jackson traveled to New Hampshire on Thursday to speak to a group of Portsmouth high school students and a business group. While he did not directly address the campaign question in his speeches, he told reporters before and after that he was mulling the race.

In a telephone interview, he said President Clinton will emerge from the impeachment controversy stronger, and that he and Vice President Gore must expand on policy issues that have helped boost the economy. Jackson noted that one-fourth of children still live in poverty, the income disparity gap continues to widen, and millions of poor people still have no health care. Meanwhile, government continues to invest more in jails than in schools, he said.

Gore should not be allowed to inherit the nomination, Jackson said. "I think that a vigorous primary broadens the base of interest of volunteers of registered voters of interested voters," added Jackson, who ran unsuccessfully in 1984 and 1988. "Nobody is coming to a one-person debate."

In his New Hampshire visit, Jackson urged the state to approve the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. He told the students to resist socially destructive behavior and to become politically active. He said he registered 200 to vote on the spot.

Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Call for Protest of High Court

Los Angeles Times

In a campaign that has renewed the battle over Israel's cultural identity, ultra-Orthodox rabbis Thursday assailed the Israeli Supreme Court as a "wicked" institution guilty of making decisions that hurt Jews.

The verbal assault was unleashed by leading ultra-Orthodox rabbis who contend that the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Aharon Barak, represents "judicial activism at its most destructive" and poses a threat to the Jewish nature of Israel.

In unusually bitter language, the "haredim," as the ultra-Orthodox are known, are calling for a massive demonstration against the high court on Sunday. Rabbis are urging religious women and children to join, as well.

Outraged secular Jews, who make up the majority of Israel's population, responded by accusing the rabbis of incitement against the judges in a bid to undermine the foundations of Israeli democracy. Leftist politicians and youths from Israeli kibbutzim planned counterdemonstrations.

The uproar is seen as the latest skirmish in an ongoing war over the identity of the Jewish state, and how to reconcile Jewish law with democratic ideals. It is perhaps the most pressing social question facing the 50-year-old nation: Should Israel be a secular, liberal democracy, or should religion have a major role in determining how the state's citizens live, study and work?

Abortion Foes Face Setbacks in Court but Score on P.R. Front

Los Angeles Times

In a series of remarkably consistent decisions, courts have been blocking state laws that ban so-called "partial-birth" abortions almost as fast as the states have enacted them.

With Congress having failed twice to pass a national ban over President Clinton's veto, more than half the states have enacted such laws. In 18 of the 20 states whose laws have been challenged, courts either have found the laws unconstitutional or ordered the states not to enforce them until a trial is conducted.

But despite their setbacks in the courts, abortion opponents have scored a substantial public relations victory. Abortion rights advocates realize that state legislators, eager to ban partial-birth abortions, may rewrite the laws so that they pass constitutional muster.

The debate over this type of late-term abortion has "made even people who consider themselves pro-choice confront aspects of abortion they haven't before," said Susan Cohen, a legislative analyst at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research center that supports legal abortion.

The laws enacted in more than half the states are intended to prohibit a method of abortion in which part of the fetus is pulled from the womb and into the birth canal before it is killed. The laws' supporters, including the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, have promoted them as affecting only this type of abortion, which usually is performed after about 18 weeks of pregnancy.

New Logging Roads Are Cut Off by Clinton Administration

Los Angeles Times

As part of a Clinton administration plan to reduce environmental damage in national forests, the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday declared an 18-month halt to the construction of logging roads across 33 million acres of forest land.

The moratorium on roads in areas that currently have none will be in effect while a final policy is worked out. It roughly one-sixth of the 191 million acres of timberland in the federal forest system, mostly in the West.

Announcing the plan at a Washington news conference, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, whose department includes the Forest Service, described the moratorium "as an official timeout" while the service brings its management more in tune with forest needs and uses.

"There are 383,000 miles of forest roads already in existence, enough to circle the globe many times," Glickman said. "Less than half of them meet minimum environmental and safety standards," he said, estimating the total repair cost at more than $8 billion.

Glickman said that close to 2 million vehicles traverse forest roads every day, "many of them station wagons with families."