- The Washington Times - Friday, March 30, 2001

Court rejects claim of anti-gay bias

SAN FRANCISCO An appeals court ruled yesterday that federal civil rights laws do not protect homosexual workers harassed because of their sexual orientation.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a similar decision in 1979, said the law protects against discrimination only on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never decided whether a worker discriminated against because of sexual orientation can sue under federal civil rights laws.

The case decided yesterday involved a homosexual butler who worked in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. He said that from 1994 to 1996 his all-male co-workers and supervisor subjected him to a hostile work environment, including crude pranks targeting his homosexuality.

The appeals court, ruling 2-1, upheld a 1997 lower-court ruling that said the man, Medina Rene, could not bring a federal case. Both courts concluded the harassment was because of his sexual orientation, not his sex.

Hasidic group charged with racketeering

NEW YORK Fourteen members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish community have been indicted for cheating individuals, banks and insurance companies out of millions of dollars, federal prosecutors said yesterday.
According to a 68-count racketeering indictment, in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., the defendants were based in the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, located in Orange County, 40 miles northwest of New York.
The indictment charges that the group carried out "myriad" financial frauds since 1996, including soliciting individuals for bogus lotteries, defrauding banks with counterfeit checks, submitting false death claims to insurance companies and using false information to get tax refunds.

Weapons lab protests polygraph questions

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. The head of a U.S. nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico supports his scientists' objections to government polygraph tests ordered after an espionage scare, officials at Sandia National Laboratories said yesterday.
Some scientists at Sandia, one of three nuclear weapons research labs run by the U.S. Energy Department, have been boycotting the polygraph tests because they believe questions about medical conditions and medication violate their privacy rights.
C. Paul Robinson, lab president, planned to meet with senior Energy Department officials next week in Washington to discuss removing the detailed medical questions, spokesman Rob Geer said.

Pentagon investigates Navy in spy case

The Defense Department's inspector general is investigating the Navy's prosecution of a sailor who was held for nearly 17 months on suspicion of spying for Moscow before the case was dropped this month, a spokesman said yesterday.
Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters the investigation of the case involving Petty Officer Daniel King began this week on a request from Sen. Richard C. Shelby, Alabama Republican and chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Class-picture tumble hurts 42 students

RICHARDSON, Texas Forty-two students were injured yesterday when temporary risers outside a suburban Dallas high school collapsed under 400 students during a senior class picture, school officials said.
No life-threatening injuries were reported when the semicircle of bleachers collapsed outside Richardson High School.

Specter announces bill on presidential pardons

The leader of the Senate probe into President Clinton's pardon of financier Marc Rich introduced legislation yesterday to force more public disclosure of lobbying related to pardons.
Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, introduced a bill that would force anyone lobbying the White House for a pardon or sentence commutation to register as a lobbyist, and would require disclosure of contributions and fund-raising pledges of more than $5,000 to presidential libraries.
Both moves are in response to lingering questions over Mr. Clinton's last-minute pardon of Mr. Rich, who fled to Switzerland 17 years ago to avoid prosecution on charges of racketeering, wire fraud, income tax evasion and illegal oil trading.

Husband of scholar to become U.S. citizen

The husband of U.S.-based scholar Gao Zhan, who is facing spying charges in China, will be granted U.S. citizenship at a special ceremony today on Capitol Hill, congressional staff and activists said.
Xue Donghua, already a resident of the United States, will officially become a citizen three weeks after he was released from detention in China and allowed to return to his home near Washington with his 5-year-old son.
His wife, who is being held in China on state secrets charges, has become the subject of a diplomatic row between the administration of President Bush and the Chinese government.


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