Bush, DeLay and the 'Dynamite Factory'
One administration official likened the GOP declaration to a "hand grenade tossed into a dynamite factory." White House officials were furious last week after House GOP leaders issued a statement warning President George W. Bush not to lift a ban on federal funding for research using stem cells derived from human embryos. The incendiary letter, released by Texas Reps. Dick Armey and Tom DeLay and Oklahoma Rep. J. C. Watts, accused researchers of relying on an "industry of death" and said "the federal government cannot morally look the other way." It came as a deeply divided White House was debating the explosive issue, which pits some--but not all--pro-lifers against the scientific community and a majority of Americans. Bush is expected to make a decision soon. To calm the tensions, Vice President Dick Cheney made a round of calls to Capitol Hill, with little effect.
Meanwhile, other House Republicans, even some who oppose federal funding for stem-cell research, castigated DeLay, Armey and Watts for the letter. "I think you want to be very careful with the tone unless you want to say that Connie Mack and Orrin Hatch are shills for the industry of death," says Rep. Peter King of New York, referring to two staunchly pro-life Republicans who have urged Bush to back stem-cell research funding. The stem-cell fight is the latest in a series of issues in which House conservatives are trying to keep Bush firmly on the right, even as his approval ratings fall and pressure builds for him to move to the center. Bush has had rocky relations with the House's GOP firebrands, particularly DeLay. During the campaign he angered DeLay by suggesting some Republicans were trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. Lately, DeLay and Armey have been pressuring Bush not to compromise on campaign-finance reform and the patient's bill of rights. Last month, NEWSWEEK has learned, Bush reached out to DeLay, inviting him and his wife, Christine, to a cozy dinner at the White House residence. "It was an attempt to have a more intimate relationship," says one source. But last week's Dear George letter put a chill between the two men once again.
Will the Committee Opt In?
When the senate Commerce Committee takes up the issue of Internet privacy this week, the game will have the same players, but the roles will have changed. Last session GOP Chairman John McCain sponsored a so-called opt-out privacy bill, meaning Web-site owners could share a customer's personal information unless the user tells them not to. Now the new Democratic chairman, Ernest Hollings, is expected to use this week's hearings to push his "opt-in" version, placing all information off-limits without a user's permission. But Hollings could have a tough time getting his bill out of committee. Sen. John Kerry was a cosponsor of McCain's bill, and Sens. Ron Wyden and Conrad Burns had a separate measure of their own. The industry, which favors no legislation at all, may wind up the winner. Says one Hill staffer: the committee is "all over the map on this."
He Wants Our Love; We Want Our Money Back
The boy is creepy. His mother's mean. And Jude Law doesn't even look hot. No wonder a talking teddy bear steals Steven Spielberg's "A.I." Despite a slew of glowing reviews, some audiences are finding it more artificial than intelligent. Here's why:
I See Dead Robots
'It's a sadistic spectacle.' (Baltimore Sun) Despite talking dolls, this fairy tale's scenes of loss and abandonment are too dark for kids-- you almost hope Haley Joel Osment closed his eyes during filming.
'E.T.' Grows Up
Sure it's problematic and messy; that's why the usually slick director deserves our praise. Spielberg's made 'a movie to be respected, not adored.' (St. Petersburg Times)
Sometimes regular blokes reject what experts say we'll love (remember New Coke?). Let critics call it genius; 'I'll use other words ... like "do not see A.I." ' (Chicago Trib.)
Too Many Cooks ...
So much has been made of the Kubrick collaboration, but to what end? The movie's too light for Stanley, too dark for Steven. 'It's a coupling from hell.' (San Francisco Chronicle)
Mordecai Richler, 70, used to say he was a minority within a minority. Richler, author of "The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz," meant he was a Jewish Anglophone from French-speaking Montreal. But the great gadfly of Canadian literature was an all-purpose outsider who outraged Jews, Quebecois, feminists--just about everybody but the children who loved his books about Jacob Two-Two, the kid who said everything twice.
The master saxophonist and composer Joe Henderson, 64, came of age just as jazz's avant-garde was burning out. In the 1960s he played both hard bop and free jazz with notable taste and intelligence; in the '90s he won three Grammys, including one for "Lush Life," his tribute to Billy Strayhorn. David Gates
From Scientist To Sommelier
We all know wine can enhance romantic chemistry. Apparently, chemistry (and biology) can do the same for wine. Ben-Ami Bravdo's Hebrew University lab has genetically engineered a yeast that strengthens wine's aroma. Bravdo has also cultivated a unique vine that grows in salt water and yields tasty Cabernets and Chardonnays. And other Israeli scientists have concocted a sweet white wine they claim is as healthful as red, which may stave off heart disease and cancer with antioxidants called polyphenols. The dessert wine should hit U.S. shelves by 2002. Meanwhile, a drier healthful white is in the works. For the nondrinking crowd, Arkopharma offers alcohol-free polyphenol pills made from French red-wine extract. They might not work--one Harvard doc calls them "quackery"--because alcohol, not polyphenols, is probably the active ingredient for a healthy heart. But at least they don't cause hangovers.
What About Hagar the Horrible?
With a name like Thor, you too might think you could prove gods were human. Thor Heyerdahl, the Norwegian explorer best known for sailing across 4,300 miles of the Pacific Ocean in a raft called the Kon-Tiki, is testing a 13th-century text that claims the Viking god Odin was a king who lived in Russia in the first century B.C. Digging at a site in Azov, Russia, Heyerdahl's crew hasn't found any clues of Odin yet, though it has unearthed pottery from the first century B.C. Critics think the anthropologist is cracked. Undaunted, the 86-year-old is already planning his next project: to disprove the existence of Atlantis. Perhaps he'll have more luck than the movie.
SWEAT 'N SNIFF
The Scent of Summer
Summer's here, but for many workaday Janes, these weeks are about perspiration, not vacation. Still, these cosmetics confectioners harness the season's signature odors--from fresh fruit to sandy surf--allowing us all to enjoy some olfactory escapism: (graphic omitted)
An estimated 23% of the survey results sent to PERI were not interesting. Here are some that were:
17% wouldn't part with their favorite Life Saver flavor. (Life Savers)
Popcorn eaters were three times more likely to cry in movies than non-eaters. (Screenvision Cinema Promotions)
Fewer than 1% noticed a car alarm and called police. (Progressive.com)
Bringing Colleges Up to Code
A 122-student plagiarism investigation at the University of Virginia has drawn attention to cheat-catching, essay-comparison technology. But some colleges believe trust means never having to say "just checking." Instead, they're stressing basic academic honesty. This fall U. of Maryland students will be asked to write and sign an honor pledge on each of their assignments and exams. The UC, Davis, newspaper runs a weekly column detailing acts of cheating. Erin Brockovich will headline U. of Penn's "Integrity Week" in October. Sustaining student interest is an uphill battle, however. This spring, Duke's honor council sponsored an ethics essay contest with a $500 prize. Officials received one entry.
How much would you pay to lie next to Marilyn Monroe? UCLA hopes $150,000. The last crypt in Norma Jean's Westwood mausoleum was donated to the school for scholarships. But advertising the property has been tricky. "We don't want to be crass," reps say.
Special Foul Play Edition
"Law & Order writers have doubtless already penned the Levy-condit story--except for the end. but could he be the Beltway's Richard Jewell? This one's better than reality TV.
Bush = "43" vistis "41" on 55th. Tips from Poppy on regaining popularity? Wouldn't be prudent. Condit - About time you admitted affair--now aren't you sorry you didn't get this over with sooner? Milosevic - Hitler wanna-be comes out swinging in The Hague. Fortunately, he doesn't have a bat. Stem cells = Bush must decide: Religious right or people with incurable dieseases. Can he fudge it? R. Iler - "Sopranos'" Anthony Jr. charged with N.Y. mugging. Back to the military academy? John Adams + Best-selling book as 2d prez soaring in polls. Paul Newman, call your agent.