• How The Candidates Play To Gays

    Last spring Bill Clinton met in Los Angeles at a gala with 600 gay and lesbian activists. In an emotional speech, he told them, " I have a vision and you're part of it." The dinner raised $100,000 for the Clinton campaign coffers. News photographs showed dozens of gay men eagerly reaching out to touch the candidate. It was an image designed to appeal to a powerful voting block. But the photographs may well be put to another use this fall: as fodder for ads to boost George Bush's re-election chances. ...
  • It Has Four Legs And Starts With 'S'

    The 70-year-old woman had a neurological illness that left her unable to correctly name animals. According to a paper last week in the British journal Nature, she could accurately name pictures of plants, people, building and musical instruments but she couldn't get the word "sheep" past her lips. It's strong evidence, say Drs. John Hart Jr. and Barry Gordon of Johns Hopkins University, that the brain processes information according to surprisingly specific categories-including some with four feet.
  • Swatted By Hurricane Jesse

    Nicaragua took body blows from two forces of nature last week: a tidal wave and Jesse Helms. First Helms, the conservative U.S. senator, issued a report accusing President Violeta Chamorro's government of corruption and complaining that the leftist Sandinistas, whom Chamorro defeated two years ago, retain too much political power. Helms's report recommended that vital U.S. foreign aid, which was suspended last spring, be withheld until Chamorro cleans up her government and cuts off the Sandinistas. Then, two days later, an earthquake stirred up a tidal wave that slammed into Nicaragua's Pacific coast, killing more than 100 people and leaving thousands homeless. Washington quickly sent more than $5 million in humanitarian assistance, but the foreign aid was still frozen. As Chamorro inspected the damage, she lamented: "We just don't have enough [resources] to help even these people who have no bread for tomorrow." ...
  • San Francisco's 'Parking Vigilantes'

    Some people have way too much free time. The San Francisco Parking Vigilantes, a group of more than 30 locals, have taken it upon themselves to make parking in the city even tougher. Fed up with cars parked unesthetically-and often obstructively-on the city's sidewalks, the group has tattled on more than 800 vehicles to the traffic authorities. They're even plotting to smuggle tickets out of city offices-threatening to write out citations themselves if the city doesn't step up enforcement. Tim Johnson, acting executive director of the Department of Parking and Traffic, said he has responded to the group's complaints but is worried about reactions from angry motorists: "They're likely to get a punch in the nose."
  • Whose Gut Is It, Anyway?

    Except for some Greek Republicans, are there any other voters who favored Michael Dukakis in 1988 and now support George Bush? Statistically speaking, that's the essence of Bush's problem. Bill Clinton begins the fall campaign with Dukakis's 46 percent as a rough base line which means that he need only convert about one in 10 Bush supporters in order to win the popular vote. Given last week's sour economic news (more poverty, unemployment), that's not such a tall order. ...
  • Check Mated

    He's back-chunky and weathered after two decades in seclusion but still brimming with nastiness. Bobby Fischer was just 29 when he won the world chess championship in 1972. Last week, ignoring U.N. sanctions against Yugoslavia, he surfaced near Montenegro for a $5 million match with his old foe Boris Spassky. Fischer used the occasion to rant about Jews, chess players and the government. With luck, we'll hear from him again-in 2012.
  • On The Ground At Ground Zero

    Viewed from the air, the destruction in south Dade County looks like a fairground the day after a raucous rock concert. Trailer parks and transmission towers lie crushed, as if trampled by a crowd. Huge sheets of roofing metal are wadded up like tinfoil or wrapped around trees. Then comes a swarm of locusts-helicopters hovering above and military Humvees scuttling below-to help with the formidable task of rebuilding. ...
  • The Caricature Wars

    The presidential race doesn't have a title yet, but here's a fitting one: "All About Bill." The fall campaign isn't really a duel between Bill Clinton and George Bush-it's a contest to define the governor of Arkansas. The Republicans want to frame the election that way, and they have the savvy, the money and the sense of urgency to do so. It's the classic game plan for threatened incumbents: deflect attention from your own stewardship by demonizing the enemy. ...
  • Storm Victim

    Add one more name to the list of those left homeless by Hurricane Andrew: Manuel Noriega, late of Miami's Metropolitan Correctional Center. After winds devastated the prison, SWAT units flew Noriega and a handful of other big-name inmates to Alabama's Talladega prison. Because the new pokey is only medium security, Noriega has had to trade the comfort of his specially built "dictator's suite" at MCC for 23-hour-a-day lock-down and solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Noriega's lawyers will file papers this week arguing that he is a POW and should be held in military custody rather than in a less cozy prison.
  • Putting The Squeeze On Fidel

    Fidel Castro is doomed. From State Department experts to teenage prostitutes on the Malecon, everyone agrees Cuba's Maximum Leader will fall. But nobody knows when. He has already outlived the dire predictions of academics, diplomats and journalists. Despite the end of Soviet subsidies, the fall of communism and desperate food and oil shortages, the old man totters on, scrounging sustenance wherever he can. Most recently, he's been shopping for grain in Calcutta, of all places. His rhetoric is filled with bombast and belligerence, even as Havana buzzes with rumors of purges and arrests. American policymakers would dearly love to turn the talk in the streets to revolution. The question is how: with a carrot or a stick? ...
  • What Johnny Can't Read In School

    People for the American Way, the liberal watchdog group,reported last week that school censorship attempts by conservatives rose 50 percent during the 1991-92 academic year. Forty percent succeeded, making it the worst year on record. Among the offending books: "The Grapes of Wrath;' "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings;' "A Separate Peace"and Maurice Sendak's "In the Night Kitchen;' for its illustration of a naked boy.
  • Paying The Price Of Peace?

    As Daniella Shaul explains it, she didn't settle in the Golan Heights to make a financial killing. "I was attracted by the Golan as a new frontier, full of thorny plants, but where every neighbor is a good friend," she says. Last week, however, Shaul and other Golan settlers suddenly found their homes on the bargaining table. For the first time, Israel accepted the principle of trading land for peace in the Golan Heights-of giving up at least some of the strategic chunk of territory captured in the 1967 war. If the two warring neighbors eventually reach an agreement at ongoing talks in Washington, Shaul and her friends may have to move. That prospect had the 10,000 Jewish settlers on the Golan talking-sometimes bitterly, sometimes hopefully-about the price of peace. ...
  • Family Values?

    In his quest to promote family values, Dan Quayle has said he was raised to believe the gay lifestyle is "wrong." But business is business. The Arizona Republic-owned and operated by Quayle's relatives in the Pulliam newspaper chain--gladly sells classified ads for love-seeking gays and lesbians. Those wishing to take out an ad are asked to check off sex-specific categories such as "Male Seeking Male" and "Female Seeking Female." Ironically, most large metropolitan papers do not carry gay personals. Quayle spokesman David Beckwith said the vice president was "unaware" of the ads and confirmed that Quayle owns "some stock" in the chain.
  • Rattling The Political Cage

    Timely doesn't begin to describe Tim Robbins's political satire, Bob Roberts. This pseudo-documentary account of a 1990 Pennsylvania senatorial race pits a right-wing, folk-singing Yuppie touting "family values" against an aging liberal incumbent who tries to talk about the issues while fending off rumors of a sexual liaison with a teenage girl. From its pointed gibes at the vacuity of TV campaign coverage, its allusions to the then approaching war in the gulf, to its dead-on sendups of the candidates'TV ads, "Bob Roberts" mimics reality so closely it runs the danger of being outdone by the real thing. Which is to say that satirists have a tough job these days. How can you top the absurdities of our current political carnival, in which Newt Gingrich can say with a straight face that the Democrats are following the Woody Allen platform of family values, our Republican president decides he's really the reincarnation of Harry Truman and the religious right is convinced that "militant...
  • She's Cooking

    For Barbara Hershey there are no repeat performances. She has four films ready for release-but she still found time to bake her own wedding cake for her marriage to painter Stephen Douglas. The roles range from a nymphomaniac duchess to the owner of a 1940s nightclub in October's "The Public Eye." Clearly, Hershey has proven she's not just a flash in the pan.
  • A Kopek For Your Thoughts

    They see their husbands just once a month. But don't despair-the wives of 12 Soviet coup plotters now in jail survive just fine. They still live in spacious, wellequipped apartments provided by the old regime. Despite a professed love of Marxism, some also show capitalist tendencies--they now charge a fee for interviews.
  • Changing The Guard

    Acknowledging a "gap between the police and certain communities;' South Africa's government agreed last week to integrate the leadership of its whiteled, but mainly black, police force. The move-including "early retirement" for 13 white generals-clears the way for the appointment of the country's first topranking black officers and creates an independent body to probe complaints against police. The African National Congress--which has accused the 114,000-strong force of brutality, racism and siding with the rival Inkatha Freedom Party-dismissed the reforms as a "face-lift:'
  • Paved With Good Intentions

    It was a peace conference called to end the bloodshed that has racked the warring states of Yugoslavia. But the sham quality of the gathering of European and U.S. diplomats in London last week was underscored when the Balkan war claimed a pair of political victims. One was the European Community's chief negotiator, Lord Carrington, who called it quits after nearly a year of fruitless parlays. Equally disliked by all warring factions, Carrington was tired of watching the many cease-fires he had brokered collapse. His parting wisdom: "Be wary of the willingness of everyone in Yugoslavia to break their word time after time." But it was the departure of a less well known diplomat that really caught the headlines-and betrayed the notion of the United States as enforcer of a new world order. George Kenney, a State Department official in charge of the Yugoslavian desk, resigned last week to protest the Bush administration's "ineffective" and "unrealistic" handling of the bloody conflict. ...
  • Disaster Relief: Fema's Record

    Tracing an arc of destruction from the Virgin Islands to the Carolinas that killed 51 people, Hurricane Hugo put FEMA to the test in September 1989. Victims faced long red-tape delays; South Carolina Sen. Ernest Hollings called the agency "the sorriest bunch of bureaucratic jackasses I've ever seen:'just one month after Hugo's rage Loma Prieta registered 7.1 on the Richter scale, killing 59 and injuring 3,000 more In the San Francisco area. Already strained by Hugo, FEMA was caught unprepared for the inner-city poor and Spanish-speaking Californians. The agency's top medical coordinator went on vacation the day after the disaster.swollen by 14 inches of winter rain in one month, three Texas rivers spilled over their banks in January 1992, causing flooding in a 25-county disaster zone. Fifteen people died and damage to farms and livestock losses were extensive. FEMA imposed building standards on construction it insures in lowlying areas like this, but much of the damage was to...
  • Take The Money And Run

    "Ratings" usually means poll numbers. But to a Thai pol it means money. In a nation notorious for candidates switching political allegiance in exchange for cash, one party has developed its own ratings system: $120,000 for a former M.P.; $200,000 for a winner in the last election, an $280,000 for an ex-minister. Do enticements work? Well, sort of. Two brothers recently jumped ship just long enough to collect their rewards before returning to their original party with the loot.