• 'Bitchier Than Usual'

    At last: 16 months after succeeding Margaret Thatcher with the promise of a kinder, gentler Toryism, and nearly a year after his public approval soared in the wake of Britain's contribution to the Persian Gulf War, John Major called an election. It is an inauspicious moment. A nagging recession has eroded the Conservative prime minister's popularity. On one flank of his party, there are mutters that he has forsaken Thatcher's rightist principles and red-meat style. Others wonder about his possession of what his friend and political stablemate George Bush calls "the vision thing." Polls show Neil Kinnock's Labor Party holding a slight lead heading toward the April 9 vote. Major thus becomes the first prime minister in the postwar era to go to the country with his party behind. Papers from The Daily Telegraph on the right to The Guardian on the left said his move was "the most conspicuous election gamble in recent history." "I don't feel like a gambler," he told NEWSWEEK (box). "I am...
  • Kiss Kiss Slash Slash

    In a more sensible era, Joe Eszterhas's script for Basic instinct at best might have been grist for a tawdry little B movie about murder and sexual obsession, the kind of cheapo noir thriller cranked out in the '40s and '50s. Instead (for this is a deeply silly era in Hollywood) Carolco paid Eszterhas a record-breaking $3 million for his highly improbable scenario, signed on Michael Douglas to star for a cool $15 mil, brought in the supercharged Dutchman Paul Verhoeven ("RoboCop," "Total Recall") to direct and ended up with a $49 million movie about a woman who likes to tie her lovers to a bedpost and hack them to death with an ice pick. And you wonder why Carolco is in deep financial trouble . . . ...
  • '92 Campaign Edition

    Per "Casablanca " the CW is shocked, shocked and dismayed about the negative tone of the campaign. It hopes, at the very least, to repossess Buchanan's Mercedes. CANDIDATES Conventional Wisdom Bush + Bouncing checks help GOP. But using sex against Clinton? Wouldn't be prudent. Buchanan - Listen, little fella, you're confused. And stop complaining about your Cadillac. Clinton + Campaign moves toward nomination; waistline moves toward nomination; waistline moves toward Marlon Brando. Brown + Turtleneck's hep under that UAW jacket, Gov. Panderbeam. Next: Zen bowling. Tsongas - Not many Volvos in Flint. And your message got lost when you hit the low road. Dark Horse - Perfect moment for Richard Gephardt or other Capitol Hill insider to enter. Not!
  • Buzzwords

    As more and more Americans get laid off, headhunters get busier. Here's what they're saying after you walk out the door: A job hunter who wants a job for which he isn't qualified.Laid-off defense workers.Someone who lives off his severance pay. A person who waits until the last minute before severance runs out before looking for a job. Usage: "How does that midnighter expect me to find him a job tomorrow?"
  • Digging For Dirt

    Look for the Democratic presidential campaign to turn nastier. Someone from the Tsongas campaign last week phoned the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette looking for dirt about Bill Clinton. The caller asked that articles on two Clinton-era mini-scandals be shipped to Tsongas's Boston headquarters. One case involved a nursing-home financing scheme. The other request was for stories about the use of a local airport for shipping guns to the Nicaraguan contras. The paper's managing editor, who reported the incident in his column, said he threw out the request. A Tsongas spokesman said the call wasn't authorized by the campaign.
  • A Guillotine For Lawyers?

    Lawyers, watch thy necks. The French Revolution, say the alarmists, has come to American legal practice. ...
  • Moose Beams

    Alaskan motorists occasionally have a problem: they crash into moose, destroying car and beast. Now there may be a solution. Swedish carmakers Volvo and Saab are developing ultraviolet headlights that make moose and other animals glow in the dark up to 200 yards away. Still, it may be years before the headlights are marketed in America because of concerns that the beams will cause sunburns or cancer. Others worry they just won't work. " When that moose decides to sit on your windshield," says an Alaskan Saab dealer, "there's not a lot that will help."
  • A Church That Needs Healing

    For the Christian Science Church, money has become the root of all evil. Since last spring, dissidents have been complaining that church officials were squandering money on a new cable TV channel. To make matters worse, critics charged that the church had even published a heretical book in order to win a $97 million bequest. Last week the dissidents appeared to have won a battle-- although the war was far from over. Harvey Wood, board chairman of the Mother Church in Boston, resigned and several of his allies were reassigned. The cable operation, the Monitor Channel, was put up for sale. Some members were mollified, but others thought it was too little too late. "As the dust settles," says church historian Stephen Gottschalk, an outspoken critic, "we see that the real story is that people in power are holding on while giving the illusion of significant change." ...
  • Between Limbo And Hell

    Nguyen Thi Thuy doesn't want to go home. " We came looking for the freedom to talk and think the way we want--and for a better, happier life," says the 30-year-old native of Hanoi as she pounds pig intestines into a gruel for her baby. Dinh An, 31, doesn't want to go back, either. " I left Vietnam because I had no job, no education and no prospects," says An, who lost an eye in a U.S. bombing raid in 1972. " I don't know what I'll do when I get back." Neither do the other 743 residents of Hong Kong's Lo Wu Detention Center for Vietnamese boat people. They've all volunteered to return to the land they risked their lives to escape. Better to face certain poverty and possible persecution in Vietnam than to rot indefinitely in Lo Wu, surrounded by a double fence topped with concertina wire and patrolled by armed guards. Once the stop-off point for Vietnamese refugees on their way to new lives in the West, Lo Wu--along with the other nine squalid detention camps in Hong Kong that house...
  • The World

    It's a typical weekend morning at the local Toys "R" Us. Legions of seasoned extortionists, masquerading as adorable children, are dragging their parents through the cavernous store, registering their demands: Nintendo games, Ninja Turtles, Monopoly sets, Barbie dolls, Barbie everything. Under threat of tears and tantrums, the beleaguered parents cave in--and cash registers begin to jingle. General manager Thomas Shek finds the scenario pleasantly familiar. " Every Sunday is just like Christmas," he says. ...
  • The Method In His Madness

    If you hadn't accessed Jerry Brown until recently, you'd think the photograph on the right was weird. Wasn't Brown supposed to be the mad monk of presidential politics, the scourge of Democratic power brokers? Wasn't he the anti-candidate of late-night cable and the 800 number? So what was he doing with a United Auto Workers' jacket over his famous turtleneck sweater, applying the old-fashioned Big Schmooze to the labor skates? ...
  • Thirty Seconds Over Medellin

    It appeared to be a bizarre murder plot, even by the standards of Latin America's two most violent countries. Last week a senior air force officer from El Salvador was charged with stealing four U.S.-made 500-pound bombs. The purpose, according to the Salvadoran government: to kill Pablo Escobar, the billionaire kingpin of the rival Medellin cartel, now held in luxurious Envigado prison on the outskirts of his hometown. ...
  • Boca Raton Is Talking ...

    For years, Countess Henrietta de Hoernle, 79, was one of the biggest philanthropists in the Florida resort town. She and her husband, Count Adolph, donated millions to the city. Then the Boca Raton News reported that the de Hoernles bought their titles from a con man for $20,000--a charge they deny. The countess, in turn, changed her will and put the $22 million she had bequeathed to local charities into an undesignated trust. She later willed it back to charity.
  • Housecleaning

    Who's clean and who's not? Congressional records show that 296 of the 440 members and delegates overdrew their House accounts in varying amounts. A Newsweek team contacted every lawmaker and found more than 140 who admitted to overdrafts. Some also confessed to local news media, and a list of 21 of the worst offenders was leaked to the AP. A state-by-state tally: Alabama ...
  • 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."