• 'Extinction Spasm'

    How seriously threatened are the world's ecosystems? Edward O. Wilson, a renowned Harvard biologist usually regarded as a conservative, is worried. "We are in the midst of one of the great extinction spasms of geological history," he writes in "The Diversity of Life," excerpted in September's Discover magazine. If current deforestation continues to the year 2022, half of the rain forest will be gone-and with it 10 to 20 percent of all plant and animal species, he says. Biodiversity is key to maintaining the world as we know it, says Wilson. Without the "amenities" provided by the ecosystems, "the remaining tenure of the human race would be nasty and brief," he warns.
  • Sports, Race And Politics

    Jack Kemp had just emerged from the airport terminal in New Orleans when a 6-foot-3, 255-pound black man came up to him, bowing and shuffling his feet, his head tilted down in deference. "Mr. Kemp, sir, is it all right for us, sir, to ride in your cab?" the man asked. The year was 1965 and Kemp, then quarterback for the Buffalo Bills football team, recognized the sarcasm of his friend Carlton Chester (Cookie) Gilchrist, the team's star fullback. "Quit kiddin'," Kemp said. The cabby, Gilchrist explained, said he wouldn't take him as a passenger unless he was with Kemp's group of white men and they didn't mind sitting with a black. "He was very innocent and naive," Gilchrist remembers of Kemp, now secretary of housing and urban development. "He was stunned." ...
  • Making Book Behind Bars

    In prison, some inmates take up ornithology or body-building. But billionaire drug-trafficker Pablo Escobar collected art. Before he broke out of a Colombian jail last month, he gathered up newspaper cartoons of himself for a book and managed to get 5,000 copies printed. The back jacket bears this mid-'80s picture of Escobar and son sightseeing in Washington-an early example of his devotion to family values.
  • Let's Have No More Free-Trade Deals, Please

    The ink isn't even dry on a new trade agreement among Mexico, the United States and Canada, and a waiting line is already forming at the door. A dozen more Latin American countries, from Argentina to Venezuela, want to sign "free trade" deals like Mexico's. President Bush likes the idea, too. He shouldn't. Nothing against Argentina or Venezuela, but the Western Hemisphere's sudden attack of free-trade-itis demands two aspirins and a good night's sleep. ...
  • Car Crackdown

    Oakland drug users now have something to worry about besides prison, overdoses and track marks. Local police, acting in coordination with the FBI, are seizing the cars of suspected drug buyers in an attempt to curb crime in the drug-plagued California city. The new offensive, mounted by Mayor Elihu Harris, is an extreme application of a federal law that allows authorities to confiscate property used in the drug trade. During the first weekend this month, police seized 43 cars in one neighborhood. The ACLU is looking into the program's legality.
  • The Dangerous Power Vacuum

    We can only hope that the tragedy now unfolding in the former Yugoslavia is not a harbinger. If it is, we can expect cascading chaos-driven by ethnic strife, economic collapse and political breakdown-in Eastern Europe and much of the former Soviet Union. Beyond the immediate horrors of Bosnia, the deeper problem is that Western Europe barely seems to care about what's happening in the East. The result is a dangerous power vacuum that encourages all the most destructive forces for social and economic disintegration. ...
  • Jail Break?

    Federal Judge Kimba Wood angered many securities cops last week when she sharply reduced junk-bond king Michael Milken's prison term. Milken, who may be home by March now, earned Brownie points by graciously cooperating with various prosecutors (a point disputed by incredulous Securities and Exchange Commission officials) and by being a nice guy in prison (he tutored fellow inmates). Wood's decision may be puzzling, but this much is clear: Milken lawyer Alan Dershowitz can expect a lot more business.
  • She Gores Al

    Susan Thomases, a high-powered New York attorney, has been a friend of Bill Clinton's since 1970. She and Hillary are especially close. But as chief of scheduling for Clinton-Gore, she has become a source of friction in a campaign that has experienced little infighting. On a recent conference call, for instance, Thomases belittled Al Core's ideas for where the second bus trip should begin. Gore later asked, "Who the hell does she think she is?" Both Gore and Thomases now downplay the incident and say they get along well. And Clinton has always valued tough women flak-catchers. "I'm a New Yorker," says Thomases, explaining her confrontational style.
  • The Crooner Connection

    In a summer of celebrity bios, if Marilyn Monroe is queen, Sinatra (no, not Elvis) must be king. On the 30th anniversary of her death, Marilyn has inspired five books. Frank just keeps popping up in other people's stories. But then, everybody seems to have known everybody else. ...
  • Ethnic Cleansing

    Most of the horror stories were impossible to confirm and came from hurt, frightened people. In the north Bosnian town of Trnopolje, it was said, Serbian irregulars rounded up 100 prisoners for a move from one detention camp to another. Along the way, they pulled about 30 men out of the column and shot them. At a makeshift camp in Prijedor, the family of one starving prisoner tried to bring him a food parcel. The guards took the food and beat the prisoner in front of his relatives. In Doboj, the Serbian irregulars sprayed insecticide on loaves of bread and fed them to Muslim boys, who became violently ill. Near Tuzla in eastern Bosnia, a distraught eyewitness saw three Muslim girls who were stripped to the waist and chained to a fence "for all to use." After three days of rape, the witness said, they were doused with gasoline and set on fire. Doctors reported that other Muslim and Croatian girls had been held for months as sex slaves, and when they became visibly pregnant, they were...
  • Maple Syrup

    "If you wanna bump it, bump it with a trumpet," advises a "Gypsy" showgirl. A Trumpette wanted to bump it in a Broadway musical, and last week she got her chance. Marla Maples, Donald Trump's main squeeze, made her debut as a cartwheeling chorine in "The Will Rogers Follies." Trump confessed that he was even more nervous "than if I were doing it myself." Sorry, but that would be a drag.
  • Peri Picks

    Fifty-plus hours sitting indoors watching the Olympics can make anyone feel like Roseanne Arnold. PERI examines a few health conscious products designed to help you get back in shape after turning into a Barcelona potato. Well, they're healthier than Doritos. But virtually tasteless, except for the salt. Don't skip the hip low-cal dip.Photo: Gutless chips and dips (CASHIN-NEWSWEEK)Slide around on a mat while wearing bootees. Promotes lateral movement. Great if you're a linebacker.Photo: Kneespeed (CASHIN-NEWSWEEK)Claim to better "isolate" muscles. Easy to use, even if these do look like something out of "Blade Runner."Photo: Strongput weights (CASHIN-NEWSWEEK)This year's Thighmaster. Bonus: it's used by movie stars at a grueIing California health spa called the Ashram.Photo: V-Tonner (CASHIN-NEWSWEEK)Sure, the above may look a lot cooler. But for those who really need to strengthen that flexor carpi radialis, the buck stops here. Plus, it's a big hit with domesticated animals.
  • On The Road Again

    He was a farmer, and not given to acts of frivolity. But there stood John Bruce on the shoulder of Highway 61 in Wapello, Iowa, holding his right hand-which had just shaken Bill Clinton's-as if he didn't quite know what to do with it. It was well past dark, not a practical time for a farmer to be out on the highway; but about a hundred of Bruce's neighbors were out there, too, stunned and giddy, their eyes glistening in the television lights: the buses had stopped for them. "I've only been here about an hour," John Bruce said, quietly satisfied that his leap of faith had been achieved more efficiently than many of his neighbors'. "I was following them on the radio, heard when they left Burlington." ...
  • Los Angeles: A Tale Of Two Trials

    The four Los Angeles police officers whose acquittal last spring in the beating of Rodney King sparked the Los Angeles riots were back in court last week. The charge: violating the black motorist's civil rights, most specifically his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable harm while under arrest. Lawyers for the defense labeled it a "political trial," brought under pressure from Washington and black civil-liberties groups. Prosecutors called it a matter of simple justice. Either way, it will be a difficult case. Prosecutors must prove not merely that the officers used excessive force in subduing King-charges that jurors in the first trial concluded had not been proved-but that they deliberately took justice into their own hands, in effect punishing King for a crime before he could exercise his right to a trial. ...
  • Butch's Jeans

    Does Idaho Lt. Gov. Butch Otter put on his pants with a shoehorn? One night recently, the 50-year-old and a few buddies stopped in at a popular Boise nightspot called the Rockin' Rodeo. Before the night was over, Otter-who is considered the likely successor to retiring Gov. Cecil Andrus-won the bar's hotly contested "tight jeans contest." But, alas, the glory was fleeting. Just two days after the victory, he had a run-in with a decidedly less friendly audience. Otter was arrested for drunk driving after his Jeep was seen weaving down the road, according to police, who say the official also failed a breath test. Otter, who has been known to jump onstage and jam with local country bands, says he's innocent of DWI. As for his tight-jeans title, Otter says he won it "on a dare."
  • Old Formulas, New Variations

    The Year of the Woman? In politics, maybe. In Hollywood, however, it's been the year of the demon woman. It started with Rebecca De Mornay's psycho nanny in "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," gathered steam with Kim Basinger's and Sharon Stone's very fatale femmes in "Final Analysis" and "Basic Instinct," and even infested the light comedy "Housesitter," in which Goldie Hawn seemed as unhinged as a horror-movie harpy. Now get ready for Jennifer Jason Leigh's Hedy Carlson, perhaps the most unnerving figure of the lot--a psychic invader whose creepiness is enhanced by her credibility. ...
  • Divided We Fall

    "United We Stand" is the title of Ross Perot's forthcoming book. It's also the name of a group of Perot backers still promoting their hero's ideas. But another group already uses the name-a gay-and-lesbian organization. Now the California-based United We Stand says it may take legal action to make the Perot group change its name. A spokesman says it's "ironic" to see his group's name associated with Perot, who has been accused of homophobia. The Perot people say they may change their group's name.
  • Bright Ideas

    Fans of really dumb TV should enjoy Samuel Goldwyn Television's latest creation, "Why Didn't I Think of That?"--a "Star Search" clone featuring amateur inventors. Publicist Susan Hober says applicants "really feel as if they're going to solve a problem." Hober's favorites: a laser-assisted pool cue, a two-handed tennis racquet for folks with backhand problems and, our favorite, a motorized pasta-twirling fork.
  • What Is The Frequency?

    Bill Frezza is sipping tea at a sidewalk cafe-well, a sidewalk kosher deli, actually, but this is New York. Frezza doesn't pay much attention to his physical location, since he can work just about anywhere. He busily pecks away at the Chiclet keys on his tiny computer, which communicates via radio waves-look, Ma, no phone jack! A group of businessmen finish lunch and head toward the sidewalk, glancing at Frezza in passing. One younger man lingers, techno-lust clear in his eyes. That's the kind of reaction Frezza lives for. An evangelist for wireless technology, he works for Ericsson GE, which makes the little Mobidem that promises a new kind of computer freedom. ...
  • In A State Of Collapse

    It has become an annual rite, as regular as the mating of swallows. Every spring California's Legislature and governor battle over the budget, and every spring they fail to agree by their constitutional July 1 deadline. Things have always worked out in the end, with no one the poorer. But not this year. The nation's once richest state is broke-a fiscal crisis unrivaled since the Great Depression. To pay employees and avoid insolvency, California has been issuing I.O.U.s, promises to pay that were supposed to be as good as a check. Yet as the budget crisis drags into its seventh week, major banks have denounced the I.O.U.s as a sort of funny money-and have refused to go on accepting them. ...