Newswire

Newswire

  • The War For The West

    The West has always been a boundless proving ground for the best and worst of the American impulse. Waves of white settlers, lured by the promise of free land, came to test their force of will and character against the frontier. They drained the swamps. They irrigated the deserts. They fenced the range. Those who didn't farm survived by extracting the land's raw wealth. Ranchers raised cattle and sheep. Miners punctured mountainsides in search of gold, silver and copper. Loggers tore hungrily into the dense old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. Later, thirsty new Western cities diverted the rivers with massive dams. They defied the realities of the desert geography. And they thought it would all last forever. ...
  • Rebel Without A Cause

    Gregorio (Gringo) Honasan, leader of the failed 1989 coup against Philippine President Corazan Aquino, may soon turn himself in, Western diplomats in Manila say. The Aquino government recently freed more than 60 military officers jailed for allegedly plotting against Aquino. Honasan demanded the releases as a condition of his surrender. Now, the sources say, the fugitive ex-Army colonel is discussing the terms under which he will give himself up. Honasan's surrender would be a propaganda victory for Aquino-the target of numerous coup attempts--despite the high number of former rebels back in circulation.
  • Any Color So Long As It's Green

    Last week's 54th Frankfurt International Automobile Show made one thing abundantly clear: this was not your father's auto show. Dancers dressed as trash cans and trees bounced around onstage to music in an homage to Mother Earth. An exhibit explained research into alternative energy sources. They were a strange counterpoint to the usual brawny chariots and half-dressed women. In the '90s the auto industry's dominant theme is green, as in ecological. ...
  • Buzzwords

    It's not the first time Supreme Court confirmation hearings have spawned new phrases. Robert Bork gave us "to bork," meaning to torpedo an appointee. David Souter was "the stealth nominee." Now the Clarence Thomas hearings have inspired a clutch of new verbs among D.C. insiders and C-Span addicts: ...
  • Time To Refinance?

    To Scott and Margaret Campbell, the recent decline in home-mortgage rates seemed like a godsend. The couple wanted to consolidate several thousand dollars' worth of consumer debt-and refinancing their New York coop seemed the perfect way to do it. All went smoothly until their lender's appraiser showed up at the front door. He immediately spotted Margaret's home office and declared the dwelling a commercial property, effectively disqualifying them for the loan. Undaunted, the couple spent two weeks reconverting the office into a bedroom and applied to another lender. But that appraiser set the property's value at $180,00--$20,000 less than expected. The Campbells decided to throw in the towel. "Refinancing was a harrowing experience," says Margaret, who spent nearly $2,000 on appraisal fees and remodeling costs. "They make it look easy, but it's more complicated than you think." ...
  • Not-So-Friendly Fire

    When President and Mrs. Bush thanked 79 relatives of British soldiers who died in Operation Desert Storm at the White House last week, a troubling issue was scrupulously avoided: the question of compensation for the families of nine Brits killed by U.S. aircraft in the worst friendly-fire incident of the war. Behind the scenes, the Bush administration is firmly resisting a suggestion from London that the United States pay the families of the friendly-fire victims. Compensation has become a personal cause of British Prime Minister John Major. Major favors a payment of the U.S. Army's standard $105,000 per family, without any admission of blame. The Pentagon fears that would set a dangerous precedent: in the 1989 Panama invasion, U.S. forces are believed to have killed hundreds of civilians. The issue is not likely to go away: several British families have accepted offers from U.S. lawyers eager to represent them in suits against the U.S. government.
  • Flipper Flap

    A sea battle of sorts is raging in New England. Last June, three animal-rights organizations sued the New England Aquarium for dolphin abuse. The aquarium, they charged, violated federal law when it shipped a dolphin named Kama to a classified Navy training program in San Diego. Kama was "violently removed from his family group" and "secretly sent off to war," the groups said. Now, the aquarium has fired back with a $5 million defamation suit against the activists. The aquarium is the "true" animal-rights group, says director John Prescott, who is seeking to halt "misinformation" against his "education and conservation" efforts. The animal activists say they will file a counter-countersuit soon.
  • Playing Chicken In Iraq

    Did George Bush stop the war too soon? At first the question was a mere irritant, like a mosquito at a Fourth of July celebration. Sure, Saddam Hussein was still alive and in power, but his Army was shattered, his weapons destroyed. Well, almost destroyed. There were those troubling reports of a nuclear-arms program that was a little further along than at first thought, and maybe some biological weapons too-not to mention a few dozen Scud missiles to deliver them. But the United Nations was supposed to look into all that, sending inspectors to poke around Saddam's remaining arsenals. ...
  • A Victim Of Preference

    One spring day in 1976, Stephen Carter's phone rang. It was, seemingly, a miracle: a Harvard Law School official, calling to apologize for rejecting his application and to offer him a spot in the class. But the miracle was a stinging insult in disguise. "We assumed from your record that you were white," the official explained. In other words, Carter writes today, "Stephen Carter, the white male, was not good enough for the Harvard Law School; Stephen Carter, the black male ... rated agonized telephone calls urging him to attend. And Stephen Carter, color unknown, must have been white: How else could he have achieved what he did in college? ... My academic record was too good for a black Stanford University undergraduate, but not good enough for a white Harvard law student." ...
  • The Custer Syndrome

    The sun is setting on the old battlefield. From out of the cottonwoods down by the river, a soft breeze blows that Western perfume of sweetwater and hay. As the sky fades from robin's-egg blue to pale violet, the light slanting across the Little Bighorn casts long shadows behind white markers that stick up like broken bones in the brown grass. They mark the spot where the bodies of George Armstrong Custer and the men of the Seventh Cavalry were found. Custer made the one mistake you must never make in the West. He misjudged the landscape. These days jeering magpies flutter over the place where he fell. The Sioux and Cheyenne who left him on his little hill didn't fare much better. Within a few years they were all rubbed out or herded onto reservations. "They call it 'Custer's last stand'," says the park ranger down in the museum where old Yellowhair's size "S" Army-issue jockstrap is now on display. "Really, it was the Indians' last stand." ...
  • Who's Who: 20 For The Future

    Unless you count the spotted owl, the war for the West hasn't really produced any household names yet. But it's not for a lack of candidates. On all sides are colorful, impassioned advocates who use the eloquence of their pen, the clout of their office or just the sheer gutsiness of a nose-to-nose confrontation to score points for their cause. A look at some leading movers and shakers in the West: ...
  • The Forgotten Earthquake

    Every so often, it's worth peeking into history's mirror to re-examine pivotal events that have shaped our times. We are now passing the anniversary of just such an event-but one virtually unknown. Sixty years ago, Britain went off the gold standard. The Bank of England stopped selling gold for paper currency on Sept. 21, 1931. This doomed the gold standard, whose life and death constitute one of the 20th century's decisive upheavals. ...
  • Brother, Don't Spare A Dime

    Homeless people are everywhere-on the street, in public buildings, on the evening news and at the corner parking lot. You can hardly step out of your house these days without meeting some haggard character who asks you for a cigarette or begs for "a little change." The homeless are not just constant symbols of wasted lives and failed social programs- they have become a danger to public safety. ...
  • Something Special In The Air: Grandpa

    When Carl DiFalco read that American Airlines wanted to hire "mature" flight attendants, he was skeptical. But the retired police officer attended the open house-and this month, he graduated from training school at age 56. On one of his first flights, a passenger told him he was the best flight attendant he had ever had. "He made my day," DiFalco says. ...
  • Looking Past Number One

    When the 1992 political campaign begins in earnest-if it ever does-do not be surprised if you hear candidates using slogans like "the politics of generativity" or-better-Vaclav Havel's resonant "politics of trust." These and other serviceable catch phrases turn up again and again in "The Good Society" (347 pages. Knopf $25), a wise, slightly verbose and often passionate exercise in "public philosophy" by the authors of the 1985 surprise best seller, "Habits of the Heart." In their earlier, influential book, sociologist Robert Bellah and his associates, listened closely to a broad range of middle-class Americans reveal how they try to make sense of their lives. (One young nurse, Sheila Larson, memorably described her personal philosophy as "Sheilaism," explaining, "It's just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself.") This time round, Bellah's subject is not the drama of the private self but of those institutions-families, schools, corporations, government, the law, churches...
  • Is The Game Rigged?

    The game is Name That Scandal, and the clues are as follows: powerful securities firms rig one of the world's largest and most important markets; they play the game the way they want to, rules be damned. Government officials are either ignorant of it all or purposefully look the other way. Executives of the firms involved remain defiant in their denials--embarrassingly so, in fact: they have to be muscled from office. And when the dirt finally does come out, it reveals an unfettered flexing of pure market power-the sort that evokes the era of the robber baron in American history. Is the correct answer Japan and Nomura Securities Co., the giant stockbroker? Or is it the United States and Salomon Brothers Inc., the huge investment bank that acknowledged it had bought virtually all the U.S. government bonds sold in a recent auction? ...
  • Livening Up The Past

    Dawn lights the Indian camp in Nevada's Ruby Valley. It is 1790, a morning like those that have greeted the Paiutes for 10,000 years: wind sighs over the marshes, and the calls of mallards and red-tailed hawks fill the air. Up in the next gallery, it is 1826 in southeastern Idaho. The fur trapper's tent is empty. Gunshots sound in the distance. Game-or Blackfeet on the prowl? Move on and you are at Rabbit Hole Springs on the Applegate Trail to Oregon. Keep going and you are 600 feet down in the Gould and Curry Mine of the Comstock Lode, where fuses are set to blast out a rich vein of silver. Back on the surface, it is 1885, Wells Fargo is open for banking, and "the professor" tickles the piano for the soiled doves up at Mona's Place. ...
  • Hold That Deal

    Last month's failed coup attempt in Moscow could scuttle a major military contract between the Soviet Union and China, a Chinese Sovietologist in Beijing says. Military officers of both nations were seriously discussing the sale of 16 advanced Soviet Su-27 fighters to Beijing, the source says. But Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin are now calling for a reassessment of all major defense and commercial deals. And one key player in the deal, former Soviet defense minister Dmitry Yazov, has been detained for his role in the aborted coup.
  • The Superego Colliders

    Bill Moyers and Bob Strauss are both Texans. Beyond that, they have nothing in common except a refreshing willingness to claw each other's eyes out in public. Each represents what the other claims to detest. Strauss sees Moyers as a self-righteous hypocrite. Moyers sees Strauss as a symbol of the greedy parasites who have thoroughly corrupted American democracy. A lot of people think they're both right, though that cop-out neglects both Moyers's enormous contributions to television and the intriguing casting of Strauss as the new U.S. ambassador assigned to teach capitalism to the Soviet Union. (Hey, someone has to look at the bright side.) ...