PAGE 10A Laredo Morning Times Thursday, October 29, 1998 NATIONAL Pressure felt at top ‘Titanic’ obsession nets titanic bat mitzvah bill PITTSBURGH (AP) — A 13-year-old girl Children sat in the “steerage” section with bar- in Glenn spaceflight “obsessed” with “Titanic” got the bat mitzvah of her dreams when a hotel ballroom was trans- formed into the luxury liner, with 12-foot steam- ing smokestacks at the buffet table, phosphores- rels and trunks, while adult tables featured roses, crystal candelabras and replicas of the heart-shaped blue diamond necklace from the movie. The dance floor was hand-painted. BY MARCIA DUNN return to space, just as young- cent artificial icebergs and a “steerage” section “This is incredible,” said Heather Levy, a friend AP Aerospace Writer sters watched on Jan. 28, 1986, for the children. of Lisa’s mother. “A lot of people do things for when schoolteacher Christa The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the their children because they love them, but this CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — McAuliffe soared aboard celebration last Saturday for Lisa Niren was goes beyond all that. I’m just standing here smil- The stakes are higher than ever Challenger. She and the six oth- rumored to cost as much as a half-million dol- ing.” for NASA as it counts down the ers on board were killed when lars. Her father, Dr. Neil Niren, would not confirm The bat mitzvah — or bar mitzvah, for boys — final hours to John Glenn’s her- the shuttle blew up 73 seconds the price tag, but Bonnie Chirigos, who spent a is a religious celebration marking a Jewish alded return to orbit on into flight. year planning the gala, said “it was nowhere child’s 13th birthday. It is the point when the child Thursday, and the man in Up to a quarter-million people near that.” passes into religious adulthood. charge of spaceflight knows it. are expected to converge on Noting that his own parents survived the Lisa’s father, a dermatological surgeon, came “As a person responsible for the area for a glimpse of the Holocaust, Niren said: “Anyone can go down at up with the idea for a Titanic-theme party more this mission, I feel an awesome launch. That doesn’t count the any time. We didn’t want to wait to show how than a year ago while in St. Maarten listening to responsibility and apprehension 3,800 reporters expected for much we love one another.” a recording of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go JOE ROTHENBERG that everything goes well. This liftoff, or the 70 members of Three hundred people came from as far as On,” the movie’s theme song. Spaceflight boss is special,” Joe Rothenberg Congress, or President Clinton Canada, Mexico and Argentina to fete Lisa, who “This was a very unique religious ceremony said after having lunch with the and his entourage. delayed the crew’s training-jet is “obsessed” with the Oscar-winning movie, and a party second,” Niren said. 77-year-old Glenn on Everything seemed to be in session. Glenn opted out of the according to her 15-year-old sister, Leslie. Wednesday. NASA’s favor heading into the jet fright once it was postponed. The piece de resistance was a gigantic photo, As always, Rothenberg said, final hours — the countdown Glenn left the crowd in the 10 feet above the floor, featuring Lisa’s face NASA has done everything was humming along and perfect front passenger seat of a sporty superimposed over actress Kate Winslet’s body possible to ensure the safety of launch weather was forecast. convertible driven by his com- in a famous “Titanic” scene on the prow of the space shuttle Discovery and its “It looks like Mother Nature mander, Curtis Brown Jr. “Hey, ocean liner. Lisa appeared to have teen heart- seven-member crew. But the wants John Glenn to return to buckle up!” Brown shouted, and throb Leonardo DiCaprio smiling over her shoul- fact that one of them is Glenn, space as much as the rest of everyone did. der. the first American to orbit the us,” said Air Force Capt. Clif Rothenberg said Glenn is The movie played over and over again on a 12- Earth and a senator for the past Stargardt, a meteorologist. excited about returning to orbit foot screen above a balcony at the Westin 24 years, has upped the ante if Glenn spent Wednesday, his after 36½ years, but “totally William Penn, one of Pittsburgh’s fanciest hotels. anything goes wrong. last day on Earth for the next composed.” “Isn’t this awesome?” Lisa said, mugging for “Would it be any different from 1½ weeks, reviewing flight “He’s treating it like a profes- snapshots with her family. “I just love the movie. any mission? Sure,” plans and greeting well-wishers sional, like a fighter pilot getting I got the video the day it came out, and I watch it Rothenberg said. “Because like from afar. ready to fly,” Rothenberg said. all the time. This is just amazing!” having a teacher on board, it The seven astronauts stood At Tuesday night’s beach bar- Arriving guests were greeted at the hotel really has got very high visibility near their launch pad, waving becue, Glenn showed off a entrance by a turn-of-the-century carriage and an awful lot of people would and shouting to relatives and photo of himself with his World loaded with hatboxes and vintage suitcases. look at it as something happen- friends kept 20 feet away to pre- War II squadron. One of the Inside, reflective aqua-tinted lighting along the ing to an American hero and we vent the crew from catching a men in the photo, or his family, walls and the phosphorescent blue and green were part of the process. cold. sent Glenn the picture so he icebergs made it appear as if the ballroom was There’s no question about that.” “A little different trip this time,” could autograph it. under water. Glenn was so beloved by Glenn called out in response to “He shared that with the whole America after his 1962 flight, in a question. Then: “Oh, don’t crew,” said Charles Precourt, a fact, that President Kennedy worry, I’ll get some window space shuttle commander who reportedly instructed NASA not time.” On his five-hour Mercury is assisting Discovery’s crew. to fly him again — he didn’t flight, Glenn had almost no time “Since a lot of us are aviators want to risk the astronaut’s life. for sightseeing. and buffs of history and what- Glenn never got to ask Fourteen busloads of people not, that was quite a thing to be Kennedy if this was true; the traveled to the pad to wave able to share with him.” president was dead by the time goodbye and take pictures of Glenn heard about it. the crew. It took longer than Schoolchildren around the planned to get all those people country will be watching Glenn’s where they needed to be, and it Large historian group issues statement against impeachment WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 400 histori- “If carried forward, they will leave the presidency ans issued a statement Wednesday deploring the permanently disfigured and diminished, at the House’s decision to conduct an impeachment mercy as never before of the caprices of any inquiry, saying it could leave the presidency “per- Congress. The presidency ... will be crippled.” manently disfigured and diminished.” The drive drew signatories from more than 130 The House voted 258-176 Oct. 8 for an open- colleges, including some of the country’s best- ended investigation of Clinton’s conduct toward known historians. former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Wilentz said only one historian who was asked to sign declined. He would not identify him. and independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s But he said he suspected “plenty” of charges that Clinton lied under oath and obstruct- Republicans were among the signers and a few of ed justice. The investigation is expected to begin those who signed have called for Clinton’s resig- after next week’s election. nation. A president’s lying about his sex life — even “This was nonpartisan or bipartisan or transpar- under oath — does not constitute grounds for tisan, however you want to put it,” he said. impeachment, the historians said at a news con- Among the signers were: Doris Kearns ference. Goodwin, biographer of Franklin and Eleanor “I do not think the founders would have regard- Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson; Woodward of ed this as a high crime or misdemeanor,” Arthur Yale; Civil War historian James McPherson of M. Schlesinger Jr., a historian who served in John Princeton; Henry Louis Gates of Harvard; civil F. Kennedy’s White House, said at a news con- rights leader Julian Bond of the University of ference. Virginia; Lincoln biographer David Donald of Lying about illicit relations is commonplace, Harvard; journalist and author Garry Wills of even among presidents, said Southern historian Northwestern; John Morton Blum of Yale; Taylor C. Vann Woodward, one of the organizers of the Branch of Goucher College, historian of the civil historians’ petition. “It is easier to think of those rights movement; Alan Brinkley of Columbia; (presidents) who have had illicit sexual relations Sheldon Hackney of the University of in office than to think of the exception,” Woodward Pennsylvania, former chairman of the National said, contending that an action must be “an Endowment for the Humanities; and Jack N. offense against the state” to be impeachable. Rakove of Stanford, winner of a 1997 Pulitzer for The House action “creates a novel, all-purpose history. search for any offense by which to remove a pres- ident from office,” the historians’ statement said. Sean Wilentz of Princeton said the petition grew out of a conversation he had with Schlesinger. Wilentz said he sent e-mails to 30 to 40 histori- ans who would share his view of the impeach- ment proceedings as contrary to the intentions of the Constitution’s authors. “Within three days 300 people had contacted me,” Wilentz said. “It was then that we realized we had touched a nerve.” The statement calls the impeachment proceed- ings “extremely ominous for the future of our polit- ical institutions.
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