Newswire

Newswire

  • The Law Of Little Things

    Lionel Kunst is on the phone and he's not as excited as he should be about this whole check-bouncing mess. Kunst is a textile manufacturer from Kansas City who spends most of his time running something called the Coalition to End the Permanent Congress, which agitates against the powers of incumbency. So it was curious when he explained that last week's news left him feeling a little empty. "Yeah, we're going to use this in November, but it's peanuts," he said, sounding as disgusted as usual. "Why doesn't the press talk about the real stuff, the big things--the total failure of oversight of the S&Ls, the lousy tax laws where every special interest gets its own special deal?" ...
  • A M*A*S*H Note For Wildlife

    Actress Loretta Swit likes to go with floe, especially in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, near the Magdalen Islands, where harp seals go to give birth. Swit, an animal activist who in the '80s successfully fought to stop commercial hunting of the pups, says, "Everything that moves on this planet we're out to protect." The ban brought hard times to the area, so Swit, hoping to make pups "worth more alive than dead," is promoting Seal Watch, a wildlife project that brings tourists to see the animals. This month, visitors got a bonus: Hot Lips on ice.
  • Political Bug

    President Bush finally beat the flu that caused him to vomit in front of the world. Unfortunately, Japan hasn't. A similar flu strain is rampant there, and now there's an appropriate name for it: Busshu kaze, or "Bush flu." Suffice it to say this particular virus generally provokes a certain unfortunate stomach reflux. According to The Daily Yomiuri, an English-language newspaper, the term is now one of the most popular new buzzwords in the country. It has even been used to describe a malady Japanese officials caught while negotiating trade issues with the United States.
  • A Miracle On Your Doorstep

    MS. WILLIAMSON: I don't think it's that we don't believe in love ... but we don't give it the importance that God asks that we give it which is the same thing as saying we put God first because God is love and when we do not-and that's really what idolatry is. ...
  • Noriega Tells All

    Manuel Noriega's trial isn't over yet, but the former Panamanian strongman is confident about the future. He has taken on literary agent George Englund to shop his story. Publishing sources say Noriega wants 'several million' dollars but so far has been offered less than $500,000. Ironically, Englund was recently involved in a TV project about George Bush in World War II.
  • Breaking Away

    It didn't quite rank with Saint Paul's letters from Ephesus, but Tammy Faye Bakker sent a whopper of an epistle from Florida last week. She told supporters that she and Jim, who is serving 18 years for fraud and conspiracy, are divorcing. "All I have ever been is a normal, down-to-earth person," she wrote. " I am so tired ... I am lonely ... and I am hurting."
  • Rip: The 'Truth' That Lived On Lies

    It's hard to say whether Pravda fell victim to economics, politics, ideology--or all three. The official newspaper of the now defunct Communist Party had last 90 percent of its readers and was flat broke by the time it finally decided to stop the presses last Saturday. The paper went out old-fashioned Soviet style, bashing enemies, congratulating itself. The editors cast themselves as "victims" of Russia's new leader, Boris Yeltsin, and his program of free-market economic reforms. "This is a sad loss for the country," said Deputy Editor Aleksandr Ilyin. "Whatever you think of the paper, it is a national institution." ...
  • Apartheid, American Style

    Andrew Hacker is a political scientist known for doing with statistics what Fred Astaire did with hats, canes and chairs. In Two Nations (25 7 pages. Scribners. $24.95), his new book on race relations in America, he doesn't crunch numbers: he makes them live and breathe. But who would have thought that even Hacker could turn up a dollar figure for what it's worth to be born white? If you're curious, it's $1 million. A year. For life. That's the figure white college students regularly give, when presented with a Kafkaesque parable in which a wealthy and mysterious organization tells them they're about to become outwardly black (inwardly they remain who they were) and offers compensation. That round, very large figure--representing far more than any mere income gap--gives the lie to the notion that simply being black no longer stigmatizes anyone. It also suggests that whites are hardly innocent about the advantages they enjoy. ...
  • A Bloody End For An Anti-Drug Crusader

    Manuel de Dios Unanue had a lot of enemies--drug lords, pushers, hit men, even right-wing Latin death squads. Last week, it seems, one of those enemies caught up with him. De Dios, a crusading editor, journalist and campaigner against drug traffickers, was gunned down in the bar of his favorite restaurant in New York. If the trigger was pulled by a cartel hit man, de Dios would be the first journalist murdered within the United States for taking on the cocaine barons. ...
  • Seen This Painting?

    This Wednesday, readers of USA Today will come across an ad offering a million-dollar reward to anyone with information leading to the recovery of some of the world's greatest art works. A new heist? No, an old one--but a new strategy. ...
  • His Saddest Song

    He has been part, it seems, of almost every imaginable supergroup, from Cream to Blind Faith to AA. But when Eric Clapton went to Los Angeles last summer to score the movie "Rush," he was as humble as the Eric Clapton of the Yardbirds, a guitar genius who couldn't be coaxed to sing. Clapton watched a rough cut of the movie, the story of two undercover cops who become addicted to substances with which he himself has had a nodding acquaintance. He made notes about where the music might go. And then he asked Lili Fini Zanuck, the director, if he might borrow a tape. Three days later when Zanuck came to work the tape was back on her desk. "What I heard," Zanuck says, "was Eric sitting in his hotel room and saying,'If you don't like this, I've got plenty more.' Then he began playing 'Tears In Heaven'." ...
  • Spook Story

    to Washington for help in supervising the KGB. A team of consultants from the American Security Council Foundation, a pro-defense group, has been in Moscow for the past three months explaining how Congress controls the CIA. A Russian delegation will travel to Washington this spring. But the Russians seem to be having trouble with the over-sight concept. One consultant was startled when a Russian legislator asked him how Congress gets the CIA to disclose the size of its budget. It's simple, explained the consultant. Congress approves the money for the CIA budget in the first place.
  • A New Woody--Lost In The Fog

    is Woody Allen's first mystery movie. The mystery: what caused this total breakdown of a unique artist? Possible solution: Allen's well-known influences became dybbuks and took possession of him, turning him into a puppet gone batty with eclecticism. Every few minutes this film upchucks another reference: Bergman, Brecht, Kafka, Fritz Lang--it's as if Allen made his movie not with a script but a library card. Allen plays a schnook named Kleinman (Kafka's K, Woodyfied) who's suspected of being a psycho strangler. On the lam, he splashes into a stewful of refugees from every German expressionist film ever made: a circus girl (Mia Farrow), a clown (John Malkovich), a mad scientist (Donald Pleasance), a metaphysical magician (Kenneth Mars), a hive of philosophical hookers (Jodie Foster, Lily Tomlin, Kathy Bates). Never has such an all-star cast seemed like a no-star cast. (Madonna is reduced to a cleavage and a double-entendre.) Shot on a fogbound set meant to be a nameless European...
  • Hey, Have I Got An Alloy For You!

    There are all sorts of kosher products, from soda to pickles. But kosher steel? As meshuga as it sounds, steelmakers like U.S. Steel are moving to get some of their products certified as kosher (or halal for Muslims). ...
  • A Safety Net Full Of Holes

    It seemed like a good idea at the time. In a speech on March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan described his vision of "intercept[ing] and destroy[ing] strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil ... an effort which holds the promise of changing the course of human history." Nicknamed "Star Wars," the defense shield would replace the terror of mutually assured destruction (MAD) with the promise of demolishing any missiles coming America's way. From the start, though, many physicists and military officers warned that Star Wars was technologically impossible. Now, $30 billion later, there's evidence that the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (SDIO), as the Star Wars command is known, saw the flaws all along--and knowingly masked the program's failures and overstated its progress just to keep the money rolling in. ...
  • Catalunya, Here I Come

    A funny thing happened to Robert Hughes on the way to writing a book about Barcelona's modernista movement--the Catalan art nouveau architecture of Antoni Gaudi and his peers. Hughes got so deeply caught up in the roots of the city's history that he dug back nearly 2,000 years. The result is Barcelona (575 pages. Knopf $27.50), an epic about Spain's least Spanish city, with its own language--Catalan--and its own unique culture. Even in the hands of such an elegant and trenchant writer, the undergrowth of dense detail may nearly defeat many general readers. But a long historic look was probably inevitable: the periods of greatest cultural flourishing in Barcelona's history are also the moments of the greatest struggle for Catalan identity and autonomy. Barcelona is not the Spain of the flamenco and the bullring: the Catalonians were hardheaded, hardworking farmers, merchants, craftsmen and manufacturers, often conservative and deeply Roman Catholic. Hughes traces the history of...
  • The Legacy Of A 'Fighting Jew'

    In a speech at a West Bank settlement in 1975, Menachem Begin described a new kind of human being. " The fighting Jew," he said, "loves books, loves liberty and hates war. But he is prepared to fight for liberty." Two years later, after losing eight consecutive elections, Begin's hard-line conservatives finally overwhelmed their adversaries. The fighting Jews took power. When Begin died of heart trouble early last week at the age of 78, after more than eight years of hermitic retirement, they were still in control. His dour successor, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, promised to "continue the struggle" for the right of the Jewish people to retain "our entire homeland, from the sea to the river." ...
  • Ungagged

    George Bush may have averted a midcampaign fracas over abortion. After the Supreme Court last year upheld Reagan-era regulations barring doctors in federally funded family-planning clinics from counseling patients about abortion, the White House called for new rules based on the court's decision. As a sop to pro-choice activists and doctors, the new regulations, due later this month, will permit doctors in those clinics to refer women who want to end their pregnancies to facilities that perform abortions. But in a nod to pro-lifers, nurses won't be allowed to discuss abortion. Prolifers, who lobbied hard for a gag on both doctors and nurses, say they will accept the compromise regs.
  • 'Whatever It Takes'

    Jesse Jackson was rapping away the other day, cataloging the shortcomings of the candidates, listing all the downtrodden constituencies that are not being sufficiently loved. When his litany reached "our forsaken farmers," the 1992 campaign reached the level of cabaret. ...
  • An American In Paris

    Some might call it culture schlock. "Formidable," the Moulin Rouge revue, features a horse, topless dancers, jugglers, three crocodiles and La Toya Jackson, who rides a flying carpet above the Paris nightclub audience. Jackson sings " The Locomotion!' and, in phonetically learned French (she doesn't know the lingo), the Edith Piaf classics "La Vie en Rose" and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." No wonder: for a year's engagement, Michael's sister (who, yes, stays clothed throughout) is reportedly receiving $5 million. For all that, she could invest in a new number, " Puttin' on Berlitz."