The Week/the Spin

The End Really Is Near

Kosovo update:Yugoslav generals signed a military accord agreeing to withdraw from Kosovo. To reach the settlement, NATO conceded to Yugoslavia’s request for longer than a week to pull out. Next steps in ending the conflict: 1) The U.N. Security Council will plan to vote on a G-8-drafted resolution on ending the conflict (click {{here#1652:Show=6/9/99&idMessage=2960}} to read Scott Shuger’s explanation of the details in “Today’s Papers”). 2) The Yugoslav military will sign a technical agreement detailing the terms for the pullout. 3) When the withdrawal begins, NATO will halt its bombing campaign. 4) The U.N. Security Council will actually ratify the G-8 resolution.

Most movie theaters will require photo IDs from unchaperoned teen-agers attending R-rated films. A trade association representing two-thirds of the nation’s screens announced that it will enforce the age guidelines set in 1968 by the Motion Picture Association of America. Spin 1) This is the entertainment industry’s post-Littleton attempt to address the issue of violence’s impact on youngsters. Spin 2) This is the entertainment industry’s post-Littleton move to pre-empt legislation restricting what it can market to minors. The cynical adult prediction: The rule will make R-rated movies even more alluring to teens. The skeptical teen-ager prediction: Duh, the rule will encourage us to purchase tickets for PG films at the multiplex and then duck into the R screenings.

Sen. James Inhofe vowed to block Senate confirmation of presidential nominees. Inhofe is protesting President Clinton’s use of “recess appointment” power to bypass the Senate in confirming James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Inhofe will hold up confirmation of all candidates–including Lawrence Summers as treasury secretary and Richard Holbrooke as U.N. ambassador–until the president agrees to vet all nominees with the Senate. Inhofe and some fellow Republicans previously objected to Hormel’s appointment on the grounds that he is openly gay. Inhofe’s charge: Clinton is abusing his recess appointment privilege. The administration’s countercharge: Clinton has used the privilege far less frequently than his Republican predecessors. The partisan fallout: Senate Democrats may counter by blocking Republican legislative business. The financial fallout: the dollar slid upon the news that Summers’ appointment will be delayed.

{{Abner#30263}}A second NYPD officer was found guilty of torturing Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted of assaulting the immigrant. The acquitted, unlike the guilty, benefited from the fact that no police officers confirmed Louima’s allegations of assault. The prosecutor’s explanation: It’s impossible to win convictions in police abuse cases based on a victim’s testimony alone. The defense’s explanation: Louima is a sketchy witness who exaggerated his ordeal to win public sympathy.

Indonesia held its first free elections in four decades. The optimistic spin: Suharto is gone, the massive political reforms implemented in his wake are working, and democracy is on the way. The pessimistic spin: Sure, the elections for parliament are democratic, but the president will be selected by parliament and a nonelected body in a five-month process sure to involve backdoor politics.

{{hills#30005}}Hillary Clinton will form an exploratory committee for a Senate run in New York. Nita Lowey, the backup candidate, bowed out in expectation that the first lady will run. The cautious disclaimer from the Clinton camp: The committee is just a preliminary step. The disclaimer to the disclaimer: It’s very rare to turn back after starting a committee. Click to read pundits handicap her candidacy in this weekend’s opinion pages of the {{Washington Post#2:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/m-outlook.html}} and the {{New YorkTimes#2:http://www.nytimes.com/library/opinion/dowd/060699dowd.html}}.

{{aggs#30006}} Sports update: Andre Agassi won the French Open, becoming the fifth man to win all four Grand Slam tennis titles. The athletic explanation: He’s finally triumphed after years of inconsistent play. The tabloid spin: He’s finally triumphed after leaving Brooke Shields. Charismatic didn’t win the Triple Crown. The horse fractured his left front leg in the final moments of the Belmont Stakes, and Lemon Drop Kid won the race. The spin: The injury cost him his chance to make racing history. The counterspin: No, it didn’t; he was already trailing when he broke his leg.

{{tin#29879}} China suppressed commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square uprising. The police arrested dissidents, disbanded a public memorial service, and excised all mention of the anniversary from the media. The Chinese spin: President Jiang Zemin made no mention of the date’s significance but stressed the importance of “stability above all else.” To survey the current American spins on China, see this week’s “{{Strange Bedfellow#29775}}” column by David Plotz.

Japan legalized the Pill. Health officials approved birth control pills after several decades of debate. Women’s groups asked why it has taken so long. Answer 1: The Japanese government is hostile to women’s concerns. Answer 2: The Japanese government is hostile to foreign medicines in general, even Tylenol isn’t on the market yet. Answer 3: Then why was Viagra legalized after only six months?

{{ewing#29880}} NBA playoffs news: New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing will miss the rest of the NBA playoffs because of a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Knicks and the Indiana Pacers have split the first two games of their NBA semifinals series. The injury deprives Ewing of his last best chance to play for the NBA championship, which he has never won during his 14-year career. The sentimental spin: The Knicks can’t afford to lose Ewing’s fire and courage. (He’s been playing hurt for months.) The realistic spin: The Knicks are younger, faster, and better without him. The cynical spin: This is the first interesting story of the playoffs.