Newswire

Newswire

  • If A Movie Usher Answers...

    Let us go, armchair traveler, to where no man has been before: the ladies' room at the Nordstrom department store in Lynnwood, Wash. Suzanne Fletcher of nearby Whidbey Island has just entered stall number one when, suddenly, stall two erupts with a surprising yet familiar electronic bleating. The smoke alarm? A device designed to alert people that Chuck Berry is making videos in the immediate vicinity.? No, just a call coming in on her next-stall-neighbor's cellular phone. And not even the kind of important call where the other person says, "I hope you're sitting down." ...
  • The Last Grande Dame

    Edith Wharton should have invented her, Carole Lombard might have played her. Then again, any force this original probably would defy impersonation. Marietta Peabody FitzGerald Tree, who died of cancer last week at the age of 74, didn't just it between the worlds of wealth, society, business, politics and public service. She inhabited each as assuredly as she would settle into her Rolls-Royce on her way to a slum project. She was, she once guessed, on a first-name basis with 100,000 acquaintances. Another estimate put the figure at 500,000. Proper WASP that she was, she loathed overstatement. ...
  • Death Squads

    Is an international team of forensic experts working in Guatemala in danger? In the village of Chontala, experts from Argentina, Guatemala and the United States have exhumed the remains of almost 30 Indian peasants in mass graves. They expect that 80 more bodies of missing peasants will be found soon. The peasants are believed to have been massacred in the 1980s by right-wing squads still terrorizing the country. Death-squad members are seething over the effort, prompted by calls from human-rights and widows' groups. Faced with continuing death threats from armed patrolmen, the Argentines plan to leave this week despite heightened security.
  • By Our Writers

    Streets With No Names By Stryker McGuire 291 pages Atlantic Monthly Press. $21.95 In 1987, NEWSWEEK'S Stryker McGuire, now chief of correspondents, found himself deskbound. His solution: quit the magazine for a year or so to roam Latin America in a Toyota Land Cruiser, leaving his journalistic detachment back at 444 Madison Avenue. "Streets With No Names" is an impassioned, opinionated account of what he saw-and, more important, whom he met, from gauchos to guerrillas. "I was looking for liberation," he writes, "and my real liberators were, of course, people."
  • What Is Leisure Anyhow?

    The Greeks had their festivals, the Jews their Sabbath, medieval Christians their saints' days. We have the weekend-a hammock of hours strung between the millstones of the workweek. On the whole, the ancients had it better, as Canadian architect Witold Rybczynski makes clear in his lovely book-length essay, Waiting for the Weekend (260 pages. Viking. $18.95). They had more "free" days than we moderns do, and knew how to celebrate those timeless moments as literal gifts of the gods. But we, the secular citizens of consumer societies, "spend" weekends like currency: time, we say, is money, and for that reason, valuable. ...
  • Money Down The Drain?

    It has been nearly two years since President Bush launched his Andean drug strategy. But his administration still has no way of ensuring that the more than $260 million in U.S. aid to Colombia's military is being used to fight drug traffickers and not local guerrillas, according to a draft of a General Accounting Office report obtained by NEWSWEEK. The critical report concludes that U.S. officials still do not have "sufficient oversight" over American assistance to Colombia's military to ensure "that the aid is being used as intended for counternarcotics purposes and is not being used primarily against insurgents or ... to abuse human rights." The report also said statistics the White House uses to demonstrate it's winning the war on drugs are misleading. ...
  • 'Billy Jack' Goes To Iowa

    Is America ready for another actor turned president? Earlier this summer, Tom Laughlin-star of the "Billy Jack" movies of the '70s-met with several Washington politicos leaving the impression he was planning to run. Last week the actor visited traditional campaign stomping grounds in Iowa, but explained he was gearing up for a movie about a presidential candidate. He now says he hopes to spark a populist uprising, then lure Bill Moyers or Norman Schwarzkopf into the race. He says he plans to run ads summoning disaffected voters to rallies in the Midwestern state. If his preferred candidates demur, the actor says he may run: "I was astounded at the encouragement I received on my trips to Washington."
  • The Statue Sweepstakes

    Have you ever been to Gettysburg battlefield? It is a solemn carnival of marble, granite and bronze, a jumble of monuments to particular states, military units and heroes. These material residues of 19th-century passions are a kind of noble clutter. Well, war is untidy and perhaps battlefields should be, too. But do we want the center of the nation's capital, and especially the Mall, to look like that? ...
  • Old, Sick And Far Away

    You're chained to your desk, struggling with a project that's due in the morning. The phone rings. It's your aging mother's next-door neighbor. Your mother hasn't picked up her mail in two days and isn't answering her doorbell. Has she fallen? Is she sick? Is she dead? She lives halfway across the country. What now? ...
  • Prime Time For Crime

    In the imitative world of TV, real-life crime shows are multiplying faster than amebas in a petri dish, But at least none involve talking infants or home videos. Some of the hottest tickets: Cheesy graphics and languid plots. But what guests! Ronald Reagan introed a re-creation of his near assassination.Video verite. But too many kids crying over handcuffed parents.Still the king. Redeeming feature: it catches killers.Overseas specials (such as to the U.S.S.R.) bond America with global crime. But beware bobbing-camera-induced nausea.
  • A Little Quiet Diplomacy

    How do you negotiate without negotiating.? That question has plagued Washington ever since the hostage nightmare began in Lebanon nine years ago. Opposed on principle to dealing with terrorists, the United States is nonetheless obligated by politics and humanity to try to liberate its citizens. What's the best way to resolve the contradiction? It's not enough to lie. The Reagan administration's arms-for-hostages debacle proved that. ...
  • Volcanic Air Conditioning

    When the great volcano Pinatubo erupted two months ago in the Philippines, it released thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere. In the intervening months, that gas has combined with water to form an aerosol mist of sulfuric acid. Now, according to photos released last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a growing aerosol band girds the earth's equatorial regions, and it will likely expand to cover the globe. The cloud will have some impact on the global-warming trend that has alarmed scientists. NOAA says the aerosol will reflect incoming sunlight back into space, cooling the planet by 1 degree Fahrenheit. After El Chichon in Mexico erupted in 1982, temperatures fell by a few tenths of a degree. Still, the '80s were the hottest decade on record.
  • One Bluff Too Many

    In the mid-1980s on Wall Street, nobody symbolized the era's unruly passions better than Salomon Brothers chairman John Gutfreund. With his social-climbing wife, Susan, he helped define the decade's passion for conspicuous consumption: the couple spent some $20 million to refurbish a six-bedroom Fifth Avenue apartment, threw lavish, caviar-and-champagne-filled fetes for Manhattan high society and feuded bitterly and publicly with neighbors over their attempt to hoist a 22-foot Christmas tree by crane into their East River duplex. A gruff, cigar-chomping bulldog of a man, Gutfreund transformed the once staid brokerage house into a machismo-fueled money bazaar-and the most profitable firm on the Street. His defining moment was captured in Michael Lewis's best-selling "Liar's Poker," in a scene in which he challenged Salomon vice chairman John Meriwether to a betting match tied to the serial numbers of dollar bills. "One hand. One million dollars. No tears," Gutfreund dared. Meriwether...
  • What On Earth Is A Wetland?

    John Pozsgai cleared out a dry stream bed last year in Morrisville, Pa., removing a mass of rusty junk and rotting tires so he could build a mechanic's shop. For his labors, Pozsgai, a Hungarian immigrant, was sent to jail, convicted on 40 felony counts of knowingly filling in five acres of federally protected wetland-on his own property. Besieged by supporters of unlikely felons like Pozsgai-and by the oil, gas and real-estate industry as well-the Bush administration has announced a proposal to restrict dramatically the criteria for protecting millions of acres of U.S. wetlands. Although landowners and developers may be gratified, indignant conservationists charge that the White House plan is based more on politics than on science. ...
  • Still Psychic Captives

    When the wheels lifted off the runway there was a great shout of rejoicing. "We are off! We are free!" I think lifting off that runway was the greatest thrill of my entire life. It was a moment of pure joy... ...
  • The Lawsuit Cha-Cha

    In New Hampshire, the parents of a 9-year-old knew what to do when their 88-year-old neighbor refused to return their boy's ball after it rolled into her yard. The judge awarded them damages of $30.20. In Ohio, Lou Piniella, the hotheaded manager of the Cincinnati Reds, accused umpire Gary Darling of bias against his team. Darling's feelings were too hurt to settle the matter on the diamond; instead, he pitched a $5 million defamation claim. In Florida, a man innocently asks his barber for a haircut. And what happens? It's too short on top, too long on the sides. How bad was it? So bad, he said in court papers, that it deprived him of his right to happiness.It was no less an authority than Carl Sandburg, the poet and Lincoln biographer (Lincoln, the hero, not Lincoln the great trial lawyer of his era), who declaimed that no tears are shed as the lawyer's body is borne to the grave. Attacking lawyers is more American than apple pie, which frankly is suspect in some quarters now that...
  • Buzzwords

    knows "PC" means Politically Correct. More new slang: Together, as in "Felix is really grounded now that he has kids."Cool, as in "Hey man, stupid shirt."Really, really cool.Goodbye. Usage: "Talk to you later. Peace out, man."Attached, in a relationship.Passe, no longer happening. Usage: "This party is played. Let's go home."Used like "Really.?" Usage: "They've been having an affair for months." Reply: "Straight?"Compliments, as in: "We got lots of dap last night at the club."A lot of time (derived from 24 hours, 7 days a week). Usage: "Ever since they met, they've been together 24/7." Go back to sleep.
  • Banner Year

    People who live along the California coast spend a lot of time looking up and swearing. The skies are filled with noisy planes flying bulky banners plugging everything from burgers to condoms. Hermosa Beach residents are calling for a boycott of banner-flying businesses. And L.A. county officials are considering banning banners altogether.
  • Balancing The Checkbook

    What happens when the elephants stampede? The rush to merge among the behemoths of banking has left many bank customers asking something similar. Last week it was BankAmerica Corp's turn to shake up the list of the nation's largest banking companies (chart), proposing to buy Security Pacific Corp. to create a $193.6 billion institution that would overshadow competitors from Albuquerque to Seattle. Immediately, customers started worrying about the impact. "It will be an octopus bank, less responsive to needs and more immune from complaints," warns Mark Foster of Consumer Action in San Francisco. Maybe so. But while the megamergers sweeping banking could put the squeeze on some consumers, the problems can be fixed-if the Federal Reserve Board wants to fix them. ...
  • Public Enemy Number One

    As they watched the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, China's aging leadership became convinced that the man most responsible for the party's sudden fall from grace was none other than Pope John Paul II. Last summer, internal party documents accused him of directing "reactionary and subversive" forces against communists everywhere. And now, in their determination to remain the last important communist power in the world, the Chinese are attempting to rout out all papal loyalists in their midst. ...