PLEASE RETURN TO SENDER

Was an international arms dealer attempting to buy influence with the new Bush administration? That question, NEWSWEEK has learned, recently prompted Republican Party officials to return $100,000 donated by Utah-based diet company Essante.

A New Fight

Media mogul Ted Turner leaked word last week that he's negotiating to buy a 25 percent stake in NTV, Russia's last independent network. The move would give NTV much-needed cash and strengthen Russia's flailing free-press movement.

BLAME GAME

When President Clinton last week expressed "deep regret that Korean civilians lost their lives" at No Gun Ri in July 1950, he hoped to close the door on the tragic event.

Nabbing Nessie

Swedish journalist Jan Sundberg and his Global Underwater Search Team will launch Operation Clean Sweep--a two-week search in March for the mythical Loch Ness monster.

A LOSS OF 'CONSCIENCE'

Just before Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997, a senior Hong Kong official told NEWSWEEK, "Anson [Chan] is like the canary in the mine shaft. If she goes, we will know things are going badly." Last week Chan flew the coop.

THE RETURN OF EUROPHORIA?

Remember the eurocrisis? Last autumn it looked like the single European currency, which had drifted steadily downward from its January 1999 launch, was set for a freefall.

AMAZING GRACE

Ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq enthralled both audiences and George Balanchine in the '40s and '50s. She became his fourth wife and inspired him to create numerous ballets for her.

Terrifying Tally

The world was horrified last year when British general practitioner Dr. Harold Shipman was found guilty of killing 15 patients, and sentenced to life in prison.

LEGAL TROUBLE

As liberal interest groups prepare to challenge John Ashcroft's appointment as U.S. attorney general, Bush officials fear confirmation could be delayed past Jan. 20, when Janet Reno leaves office.

Majority Rules

Joseph Estrada never pretended to be a saint. Last week, two years after the former movie star was elected president of the Philippines, his Senate impeachment trial began.

Winning Ugly

Last week Japanese politics got ozomashii--ugly. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori staved off a parliamentiary no-confidence motion as Liberal Democratic Party rebels abandoned support for an opposition bid to oust him.

The End For An Odd Couple

We should have known they'd be star-crossed lovers. For years Prime Minister Tony Blair and Tory dowager Margaret Thatcher were fiscally conservative soulmates.

A Matter Of Execution

Germany and the United States are battling over an issue of life and death. Early this year German brothers Karl and Walter LaGrand were executed in Arizona for a 1982 murder without being granted the right to foreign legal representation.

Surviving A Legend

Oscar Wilde's wit and flamboyance lived on when he died on Nov. 30, 1900, penniless and disgraced. NEWSWEEK spoke to his grandson, 55-year-old Merlin Holland--who has just published "The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde"--about Wilde's legacy and his infamous aphorisms.

Aping Motion

In a lab in North Carolina, an owl monkey thinks about grabbing a piece of fruit. His brain cells send electric messages to his muscles. He lifts his furry arm--and a nearby robot arm simultaneously mimics the movement.

To Boldly Go Out Of Service

After a 14-year endurance run, Russia's Mir space station has had its last days in the sun. Moscow decided last week that it would not "play Russian roulette," as one official put it, with the rickety, rusting orbiter.

Fire In The Mountain

The underground cable-car catastrophe that shook the Austrian Alps on Oct. 11 and claimed 155 lives is still a mystery. Investigators have determined that the fire started at the rear end of the train, and there is speculation that it was triggered by hydraulic fluid ignited by a hot brake or a spark from a shorted wire.

Human Equality

Australian aboriginal human-rights activist Charles Perkins was seen as his country's counterpart to Martin Luther King, leading a campaign for reconciliation between the races over the last four decades.

Freedom!

Often referred to as "The Father of the Nation," 63-year-old Scottish politician Donald Dewar helped to shape the future of his country by committing to devolution long before the idea picked up steam in Britain.

Periscope

AIR TRAVEL Phantoms of the Skies Nicknamed the "Roanoke Phantom," for nearly six weeks in the early '90s an unidentified man pretending to be an air-traffic controller transmitted bogus radio messages to airplanes above a Roanoke, Virginia, airport.

Mind The Gap

While Prince William is off in the jungles of Belize, hundreds of thousands of European students will be hitting the backpack trail, choosing the so-called gap year squashed between high school and university.

Daljit's New Star Power

Daljit Dhaliwal, the 37-year-old anchor for British-based ITN's overseas World News program, has a huge cult following in America. Her beauty prompted David Letterman to begin chanting her name every night on his show back in June.

Severed Ties?

Lampooned as a lightweight on foreign policy, George W. Bush often touts his ties with Mexico. His family's history with the Mexican political establishment should serve him well.

Seal Slaughter

If seal cubs weren't so cute, there might not be such a fuss over their slaughter. Southern African wildlife groups are outraged over the Namibian government's recent doubling of the annual quota for seal culling along its Atlantic coast.

That Dress

When "Friends" actress Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt in Malibu, California, last month, she called on Lawrence Steele, a young, little-known American designer in Milan, to make her wedding dress.

Chelsea's Turn

It isn't just the New York Senate race that's luring Chelsea Clinton away from Stanford this fall--it's a front-row seat to the final months of her father's presidency.

Putin's Peace With The Oligarchs

Following a crackdown on Russia's freewheeling business tycoons--including the arrest of media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, whose holdings include the country's only independent TV network--President Vladimir Putin may now be making peace with them.

A New Script?

North Korean foreign Minister Paek Namsun received star treatment at last week's ASEAN meeting in Bangkok. And he came away from the party with an impressive list of favors.

Uninvited?

More than 1,000 spiritual leaders have been invited to the United Nations for the Millennium World Peace Summit this month to discuss ways to foster religious tolerance and reduce ancient antipathies.

'It's In The Cards'

Richard Blackwood has been called Britain's answer to Will Smith. The 28-year-old rapper--born and raised in south London--is also a comedian, MTV host and Hollywood hopeful.

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