Newswire

Newswire

  • And What Happens Next?

    At the last, the Soviet Union was no more than a shell: an enormous bureaucratic superstructure encompassing bare shelves, empty slogans and hollow men. Can things really get worse under the Commonwealth of Independent States? In the short term, it is all too possible. But that will only start to become clear this week, when Boris Yeltsin's Russian Republic unilaterally imposes sweeping market reforms, including price decontrols that could send consumer goods beyond the reach of most citizens of the former union. "Everyone will find life harder for approximately six months," Yeltsin keeps repeating. "Then prices will fall and goods will begin to fill the market." But not everyone was so confident, perhaps least of all Mikhail Gorbachev. "If we fail to keep the situation under control, it would be awful, for us and for everyone," he said after stepping down last week. A guide to potential flash points: ...
  • Betting The Bank At First Chicago

    Poor Barry Sullivan. The 9-dignified chairman of First Chicago Corp., one of the nation's largest banks, was all set to retire quietly on New Year's Day, 1992. But Sullivan didn't gamble on the embarrassing revelations that tumbled out at a hearing in a colleague's fraud trial last month in Chicago. It seems that Sullivan and 50 of his top executives had unusual ways of enlivening their workdays and weren't, allegedly, above spending corporate shareholder funds to do it. According to a former Sullivan aide, Jeffrey Tassani, the First Chicago chairman ordered him to organize a $64,000 office gambling pool on the NCAA basketball tournament in 1989. Then, says Tassani, the bankers used company funds to finance graphics displays to track their bets. To celebrate, they threw a party for themselves at Chicago's private Mid-Day Club. U.S. District Court Judge Ilana Rovner, who made Tassani's allegations public, called his story ,'mind boggling." ...
  • Japan's Trade Charade

    As far as Yoshio Kimura is concerned, Americans just don't get it. "What more do you want us to buy from you?" asks the 32-year-old employee at a small finance company in Tokyo. Kimura is standing outside a Chrysler showroom in one of Tokyo's glitzier neighborhoods. Would he consider buying?. "There's no real reason to buy an American car. I'm just not confident that it would be as good as a Japanese car," he says. ...
  • The Fat That's Good For You

    Forty years ago the pioneering nutrition scientist Ancel Keys began traveling the Mediterranean in search of healthy hearts. His experiments with small groups of men back home in Minnesota seemed to indicate a link between diet and cholesterol levels, and now he wanted to learn how rates of coronary heart disease within whole populations might be traced to their fat intake. By 1957 he had discovered Crete, where villagers consumed little meat and few dairy products. "But olive oil!" he wrote later. "It was the only cooking fat; it was dribbled, or poured, on everything served and bread was dunked in bowls of it at the table. Some of the farmers would start the day ... by drinking a wineglass full of it." Keys found that these villagers had very little heart disease and the best longevity rates in Europe. ...
  • 1992: Stranger Things Have Happened

    The Soviet Union died. A tin-pot dictator challenged the United States, lost half his army-and survived. And a respected Hollywood star got paid millions to don tights and prance foolishly in never-never land. The year 1991 was full of improbabilities, and 1992 will offer plenty more. Getting its cracked crystal ball, PERiSCOPE offers some fanciful predictions for the new year. They may seem outlandish, but consider: a year ago, who would have guessed that Boris Yeltsin would have his finger on the button? ...
  • Quid Pro Quo?

    There's a supercollision in Japan over the U.S. Superconducting Super Collider. Two weeks ago it seemed certain that Tokyo would reject U.S. pressure to help fund the multibillion-dollar research project in Texas. With its economy slumping and with plans to boost its own R&D capabilities, Japan opposed pumping money into a U.S. project. But Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa now backs the idea: he wants something to offer George Bush at their meeting next month, perhaps in return for a U.S. commitment to a Japanese R&D project.
  • Selling Ice To Eskimos?

    It's being touted as the largest peaceful real-estate transfer in Canadian history land a model settlement between a government and its indigenous people. Last week Ottawa created a new Arctic territory called Nunavut--it spans more than 770,000 square miles of frozen tundra and wilderness, about one fifth of Canada's total landmass--and gave a chunk of it to the 17,500 Eskimos who live there. If they ratify it, and if the Northwest Territories and Parliament go along, the land-and-cash settlement would end more than 200 years of bad blood between Eskimos, known as Inuit ("the people"), and the descendants of European settlers who arrived in Hudson Bay in 1670. Tagak Curley, chief negotiator for the Tungavik Federation of Nunavut, which represents the Inuit, called the agreement "a fair settlement." ...
  • Rocky Mountain High Life

    Frederick Wiseman seems to be raising his camera sights. TV's most acclaimed documentary filmmaker, who once confined his scathing, cinema verite examinations to the likes of mental hospitals, police departments and welfare centers, has since taken on such temples of nouveau chic as Neiman Marcus. Now, in his 25th film, Wiseman goes even more upscale-- literally. His target is Aspen, and his treatment--once again avoiding narration and interviews--is an eyeful. In the middle of the Colorado town's orgy of glitz and self-indulgence, Wiseman uncovers something no Aspen-basher could have imagined: a quest for the spiritual. Or could that be the biggest high of all? ...
  • 'We Are Taking Over'

    It was only an hour before a crucial meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev, and Boris Yeltsin was in a feisty, confident mood. He was virtually certain that the Soviet president's political surrender was imminent, he told NEWSWEEK in an exclusive interview in Moscow last week. In fact, Yeltsin made it abundantly clear that he was already in charge. At one point in the interview the Russian president even began playing commander in chief, sketching out on a piece of paper how the Soviet armed forces should be reorganized and controlled. Yeltsin's confidence was not misplaced. Immediately after the interview he called on Gorbachev, and they agreed on terms of succession: the Soviet government would cease to exist by the end of the year, its powers would be transferred to Russia and Gorbachev would resign. All that was left for Gorbachev to decide was the timing of his resignation statement. Excerpts from the conversation between Yeltsin and NEWSWEEK Editor Maynard Parker, Moscow bureau chief...
  • New Regime

    John Sununu's departure from the White House has cleared the way for the Bush administration to offer a health-care initiative. Sununu blocked all such proposals from reaching the president, prompting Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan to mail his recommendations to a Kennebunkport postoffice box that Bush set up for ideas from administration outsiders. New chief of staff Samuel Skinner immediately invited Sullivan to the White House to discuss his ideas. Skinner also told budget chief Richard Darman, who shared Sununu's opposition to a quick health-care proposal, that Bush plans to announce an initiative early next year.
  • 1991, Wielding A Blackjack

    By a circuitous route but with wonderful precision, 1991 taught an old truth: Life is indeed a series of dark corners around which Fate lurks, wielding a blackjack. This odd year ends with Saddam Hussein as secure in his job as George Bush is in his. The year began with a bang--lots of bangs--in Baghdad. It ends with the last whimper from what was the Soviet Union. There hunger, disease, crime, collapsing transportation and pandemic incivility show that living under peacetime socialism is like losing a very violent war. ...
  • Can Sunshine Save Your Life?

    Thirty-five years ago, herring fishing was big business in Norway but oncology was fairly slow. Today you could say just the opposite. The annual herring catch has dwindled from more than a million tons to less than 4,000--and the rates of breast and colon cancer have nearly doubled. The increase doesn't surprise epidemiologists Frank and Cedric Garland of the University of California, San Diego. Herring is rich in vitamin D, a nutrient that Norwegians receive only in paltry amounts from the sun. And as the Garland brothers have shown over the past decade, a population's vitamin D intake can be a powerful predictor of two leading malignancies. ...
  • Let Freedom Ring

    In a year that capped a historic decade, symbols of tyranny fell from Central Europe to Kuwait, and the hammer of liberty shattered the Soviet Union. The U.S. triumph ended with a total rout of Iraq's Army in Kuwait, and Washington dreamed of a new world order and a remade MideastFor all his losses, the Iraqi despot remained standing and turned his rage on Iraq's own Kurdish and Shiite peoplesThe old guard rolled out the tanks in Moscow, but after three days the putsch crumbled and even the Army hailed the victory of the peopleAs islanders fled after their leader was toppled, the U.S. offered haven for targets of repression, but not victims of povertyOld hatreds boiled up as central rule collapsed, and funerals become a leitmotif of Croats' daily lifeThe end of the cold war brought a peace deal, but old memories died hard as a Khmer Rouge leader returned to meet a vengeful mob
  • Peter Pan, Get Lost

    In the face of The Prince of Tides' rampant emotionalism you have three options: unconditional surrender, grit-your-teeth resistance or some heart-wavering combination of the two. Everything about Barbra Streisand's adaptation of Pat Conroy's popular novel is Hollywood larger-than-life, from the postcard-perfect sunsets to the swelling score to the overripe lyricism of the narration and the overcooked Gothic secret our hero must face. ...
  • Gm's Day Of Reckoning

    Remember when the opening of a new General Motors plant symbolized nothing but hope and prosperity? That's what it meant for the townsfolk of Arlington, Texas, when GM decided to locate a facility there in the earl 1950s. "It caused the first extras of our little weekly Arlington newspapers to be printed and sold on the streets," recalls Tom Vandergriff, then president of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce. Those were the days when GM's only worry was that it was too successful: it sold one out of every two cars in America, and competitors and federal regulators were beginning to whisper the word "monopoly." ...
  • Christmas Massacre

    The first qualms came in the S&L crisis, when people felt queasy tremors in the financial world. Disquiet deepened as a recession that was supposed to be over dragged on for months, and workers who had always felt safe in their jobs were pounding the pavement. For the second straight Grinchy Christmas, stores became echo chambers for desperate announcements of preholiday knockdowns. There was a string of industrial disasters, from the retrenchment of giant IBM to the final throes of Pan American Airways. And last week General Motors, that icon of American industry, conceded the worst defeat in its 75-year history: 21 plants to be padlocked over the next three years, with 74,000 jobs gone forever. GM's Christmas massacre was a stark symbol, the down-sizing not just of a company or an embattled industry, but of America's expectations. With that, unease turned into a full-blown crisis of economic confidence--and politicians from George Bush on down were scrambling to do something,...
  • Black Or White

    As a decade of momentous change drew to a close, smaller dramas were playing out, too: furious shouts across the gender gap, racial fights on streets and ballots, private feuds and public follies. Some highlights of a lean and angry 1991. ...
  • Hidden Data?

    Did Dow Corning Wright, a leading manufacturer of silicone-breast implants, withhold critical data from the FDA? One member of the FDA advisory committee that recently reviewed the safety of implants, Dr. Norman Anderson of The Johns Hopkins Hospital, charges that the company held back information during the hearings. In a letter to FDA chief David Kessler, Anderson urges that all gel-filled silicone implants be removed from the market until further studies prove their safety. Anderson cites 17 internal Dow memos dating back to 1970 that he says discuss problems with the implants. Though Anderson says Dow denied having data like that discussed in the memos, Dow claims the documents were always available and it never hid anything. After the hearings, the FDA panel voted not to curtail implant sales.
  • It's Not Over Yet

    The $550 million settlement with the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) last week closes the U.S. case against the failed bank. But federal and state prosecutors say the agreement, which requires the cooperation of the bank's liquidators, will aid their criminal inquiries in several other areas: ...
  • Phantasmagoric 'Ghosts'

    The best show on Broadway opened last week 20 blocks north of Times Square, at the Metropolitan Opera. If "The Ghosts of Versailles" were a musical, a producer would exclaim to artistic director James Levine, "We have a hit on our hands, J.L.!" The crime is that it won't draw the vast audience of "Les Miserables" or "Cats": to borrow a line from one of its characters, Louis XVI, "It's only an opera. " ...