February 12, 1998

All Things Considered
(entire program)
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An index of the day's stories:

Cohen in Moscow -- In Moscow today, there were echoes of the Cold War in the rhetoric between Defense Secretary William Cohen and his Russian counterpart. The trip had been planned as part of broad talks about U.S.-Russian cooperation and to urge the Russian parliament to approve the START-II nuclear reduction treaty. However, as NPR's Andy Bowers reports from Moscow, those plans were changed by policy differences over Iraq. (3:30)

Russia-Iraq Connection? -- All Things Considered host Robert Siegel talks with R. Jeffrey Smith, the intelligence reporter for the Washington Post. They discuss allegations that the Russian government had an agreement to sell equipment that may be used to develop biological weapons to Iraq. (5:00)

U.S.-Russia Partnership -- NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr says that the much-celebrated "partnership" established between President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the 1990 Helsinki conference must be reassessed. In light of Russia's threats surrounding possible U.S. military action against Iraq, the partnership may be less reliable than previously thought. (3:30)

Persian Gulf Buildup -- NPR's Martha Raddatz has an update on military preparations for any potential strike against Iraq, and how that weapons buildup would be used to accomplish the mission of such a strike. (4:00)

Minimum Wage -- President Clinton went to Capitol Hill today for the Democrats' unveiling of their legislative agenda. The president called for a dollar-an-hour increase in the minimum wage that would be enacted in two steps. Mr Clinton also called on Democrats to work with Republicans to achieve their goals. But Republicans are unlikely to go along with much that the president or Democrats want, including another raise in the minimum wage. NPR's Brian Naylor reports. (3:30)

Indonesia’s Economy -- NPR's Mary Kay Magistad reports that Indonesia's President Suharto has invoked the threat of force to maintain order as the country experiences new violence over rising prices and falling curency values. The Indonesian military is the power behind the president and, while the military has maintained a low profile throughout most of the country's current economic crisis, it has threatened to do whatever is necessary to ensure stability. Magistad examines the Indonesian military's role historically and what it has at stake now, economically and politically. (5:00)

Cuba to Release Prisoners -- Tom Gibb reports from Havana that Cuba will release several dozen prisoners, including some political dissidents, in response to an appeal from Pope John Paul II. During his visit to Cuba last month, the Pope had asked Fidel Castro's regime to free an unspecified number of political dissidents and common criminals. The Havana government also said it would pardon another two hundred prisoners who were not on the list Vatican officials gave to Cuban authorities. (3:00)

Fighting in Sierra Leone -- There are reports that the state house in Freetown, the capital city of the West African nation Sierra Leone, has been taken by Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces. ECOMOG, the West African peacekeeping force, has been trying to oust members of a military junta which had taken control of the country last May. ECOMOG has a regional mandate to restore elected president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. His ouster sparked the most serious conflict in the West African country since it attained independence from Britain in 1961. (1:00)

All Things Considered Mailbag -- Robert and Noah read from listeners' letters. To contact All Things Considered, write to All Things Considered Letters, 635 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest, Washington, D.C. 20001. To contact us via the Internet, the address is atc@npr.org.(3:30)

Prisoners of War -- Twenty-five years ago, the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" -- the Hoa Lo prison camp -- was liberated in Vietnam. More than 130 American prisoners of war who were held and tortured there were released. Today, that release was commemorated at the Capitol. (2:30)

The Dope on Snowboarding -- The sport of snowboarding has made its Olympic debut at the Nagano games in a big way. Canadian Ross Rebagliati was stripped of his gold medal when he tested positive for marijuana, only to have it re-instated by an appeals panel. The Austrian team sent one of its snowboarders home after a rowdy party at the team hotel. Critics say these incidents have raised serious questions about the International Olympic Committee's ability to regulate athletes and their behavior in a consistent manner. From Nagano, NPR's Tom Goldman reports. (5:00)

Line Item Veto Rule Unconstitutional -- A federal judge today declared President's Clinton new line-item veto authority unconstitutional. The judge said the line item veto disrupts the balance of powers among the three branches of government. The issue is expected to go to the Supreme Court. NPR's Chitra Ragavan reports. (3:00)

Lewinsky Allegations-- A former Secret Service agent went to the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. today, where the Whitewater grand jury is looking into allegations that President Clinton lied under oath about a relationship with a White House intern. Former uniformed agent Lewis Fox did not testify before the grand jury, and he had no comment as he left the building. The government is debating whether to let Secret Service members testify in an investigation of the people they're charged with protecting. NPR's Steve Inskeep reports. (3:30)

White House Reaction -- Robert talks with NPR's White House correspondent Mara Liasson about how the White House is reacting to the Lewinsky controversy and how the Starr inquiry is affecting operations there. (5:00)

Thriller Options -- Noah talks with two novelists who've written international techno-thrillers. David Ignatius is a reporter for The Washington Post and author most recently of "A Firing Offense." Dan Silva is the author of "The Unlikely Spy" and the soon-to-be published "The Mark of the Assassin." They offer fictional scenarios on how the U.S. government might deal with Saddam Hussein. (7:30)

More El Niño Storms -- NPR's Dan Charles has the latest on predictions for El Niño from federal weather forecasters. They're not far off what's been predicted before -- more bad weather for California and the Gulf Coast. But now meteorologists say there may be a continuation of unusual weather into 1999 because of the so-called "La Niña"effect. (3:30)

California Mudslides -- All Things Considered host Noah Adams talks with Wayne Haydon, an associate engineering geologist for the California Department of Conservation in the Division of Mines and Geology. They discuss the mudslides at Rio Nido, California, on the Russian River. (4:30)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Quits -- NPR's Eric Westervelt reports on today's resignation of Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Neal. His decision comes at a time when his administration has been under fire for the fact that, despite falling crime rates across the nation, Philadelphia -- the nation's fifth-largest city -- remains plagued by crime. (3:30)

Online Translation -- AltaVista has introduced an new online translation service. It's called "Babelfish," and it provides -- free of charge -- a site for users to translate English text into German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. It also works in reverse, rendering those languages into English. (8:00)

Some stories do not link to audio files because of Internet rights issues.