The Week/the Spin

I’m Melting

One hundred eighty-two people have died in the summer heat wave. Health officials worried about more deaths, and farmers worried about their crops. An Agriculture Department meteorologist said that in some regions “there is a drought that is comparable to the drought of the ‘30s.” (Chatterbox wonders {{how much hotter#2606:Show=7/28/99&idMessage=3295}} it can get.)

{{rudy#32629}} Rudolph Giuliani raised money for his New York Senate campaign in Arkansas. Giuliani insisted that he went “to learn more about the things that unite Republicans,” but the New York Times called it a “brazen publicity stunt.” Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee jested, “He’s never been here before, he’s never worked here, he’s never lived here. … Today he will be announcing his candidacy for some significant major office in Arkansas.” Meanwhile, the New York Times Magazine prepares readers for a {{kinder and gentler#32488}} Rudy.

The FBI will guard computer data essential to the government and major industries. It will monitor nonmilitary government networks and track banking, telecommunications, and transportation networks. Civil libertarians warned the New York Times that the monitoring could be misused for spying on or hacking into private networks.

Eileen Collins became the first woman to command and land a space shuttle. Observers called her landing “beautiful” and “textbook.” NASA later acknowledged that the shuttle suffered a hydrogen leak and a short-circuit as it took off.

Republicans gathered support for a $792 billion tax-cut plan. GOP leaders appeased moderates by agreeing to condition the cuts on yearly reductions in the federal debt. In the Washington Post, House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer, R-Texas, accuses Democrats of supporting “{{big governmentonautopilot#2:}}” and argues that the cuts epitomize compassionate conservatism. But in the same pages, deficit-hawk ex-Sens. Sam Nunn and Warren Rudman assert that the surplus should be used to {{pay down the deficit#2:}}, and Robert Novak advocates a “modest, effective” plan quietly being brokered by Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The paper {{condemns#2:}} the bill as “misshapen,” “unaffordable,” and “a further mortgage on an already overburdened future.” President Clinton warned, “I will not allow a risky plan to become law.” Slate’s William Saletan questions {{whether Alan Greenspan can resolve the debate#32544}}.

A motel handyman confessed to a spate of slayings in Yosemite National Park. He killed three sightseers in February and decapitated a park-employed naturalist last week. After the first killings, the FBI had questioned the killer but ruled him out as a suspect. The Los Angeles Times instructs the FBI to review “{{its every action#2:}}” in the case.

{{hassan#32510}} King Hassan of Morocco died. Arab, American, and Israeli leaders praised his deft leadership, opposition to militant Islam, and brokerage of Middle East peace deals. Everyone wondered why Syrian President Hafez Assad didn’t show up for the funeral (see “{{International Papers#32490}}” for more). The WashingtonPost lauds Hassan’s “moderation and reason” but wishes he had done more to speed his own country’s progress.

China banned the religious sect Falun Gong and arrested 5,000 of its members. Among the detainees are 1,200 government employees, who will be forced to take “re-education” classes. According to “{{International Papers#32427}},” the official paper China Daily accused the sect of spreading superstition, hoodwinking people, provoking unrest, and jeopardizing stability. The New York Times calls the sect harmless and warns China against “returning to the ideological monitoring and indoctrination methods of the past.” Madeleine Albright journeyed to China for the first time since the Belgrade embassy bombing but barely mentioned the crackdown.

Fourteen Serb farmers were massacred in Kosovo. The Kosovo Liberation Army denounced the killings, but the Washington Post attributed the murder to a KLA faction. Observers worried that 1) remaining Serbs will now flee Kosovo; 2) the murders, which happened within earshot of NATO troops, demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the peacekeeping mission; and 3) they demonstrate the ineffectiveness of NATO’s entire campaign, since ethnic Albanians and Serbs are still killing each other. A Post editorial noted that “soldiers are not cops” but urged NATO to {{protect Kosovar Serbs#2:}}.

Ehud Barak pledged to strike peace deals with Syria and the Palestinians within 15 months. Syria responded by asking radical Palestinian groups in Damascus to end their attacks on Israel. His meetings last week with President Clinton and Yasser Arafat were roundly applauded for rebuilding relationships former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had soured, but David Plotz explains in Slate why Israelis are {{less than optimistic#32060}}. In the Washington Post, Henry Kissinger warned Israelis {{not to leave the United States out#2:}} of the peace process, while an op-ed piece in the Israeli paper Ha’aretz cautioned that congressional Republicans, under the sway of the right-wing Israeli Likud Party, will “throw spikes into the newly energized peace train.”

U.S. diplomats will try to soothe tension between Taiwan and China. The island abandoned its “one China” policy, which implied China’s sovereignty over and eventual reunification with Taiwan. “Don’t underestimate the Chinese government’s firm determination to uphold national sovereignty, dignity, and territorial integrity,” warned the Chinese Foreign Ministry in response. An editorial from the Chinese Xinhua news agency vilified Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui for venturing down “a dead alley” and swimming against the “historical tide” of unification. The Weekly Standard argues that America {{should back Lee#2:}} with words now and, if necessary, military force later, but the Washington Post reports that the U.S. envoys will {{pressure him#2:}} to back down. The Wall Street Journal predicted that the spat will blow over when Lee steps down in eight months.

{{990719_Kennedy#32225}} John F. Kennedy Jr. was laid to rest. The ashes of Kennedy, his wife, and sister-in-law were scattered at sea. The Los Angeles Times attributed the crash to a {{piloting error#2:}} by Kennedy, but a tidal wave of eulogies (including {{this one#2:}} from the Washington Post) blamed a curse on the Kennedy clan. Other explanations: The New York Times cited {{hazy flying conditions#2:}}, James Fallows explained the {{obvious danger#2606:Show=7/19/99&idMessage=3235}} of the flight in Slate, the New York Post reported that Kennedy had been obliged to schedule the Vineyard landing {{by his wife#2:}}, and Fortune says that Wall Street is blaming Morgan Stanley for making JFK Jr.’s sister-in-law work late. The Jerusalem Post pointed to a “novelty-seeking and risk-taking gene discovered in Israel” (see “International Papers” for {{more#32201}}). Michael Kelly asks Washington Post readers why “we lard up the sorrow with this {{great and gross festival of national media blah-blah#2:}} about Camelot and royalty and The Kennedy Curse.” In Slate, David Plotz {{examines#32362}} how Douglas Brinkley has cashed in on the death; J. William Medley tells {{how very intimate#32532}} he was with the deceased; and Jodi Kantor wonders how {{the memorial outside his apartment#2606:Show=7/27/99&idMessage=3292}} started.

The Pentagon spent hundreds of millions of dollars on projects unapproved by Congress. According to the New York Times, a congressional report accuses the Pentagon of funding a top-secret Air Force program, an $800 million satellite, a high-tech missile defense system previously rejected by Congress, and other unapproved purchases. The report expresses shock at the flagrant illegality of the expenditures. “Do we get it right 100 percent of the time? Of course not,” the Pentagon responded.

The Senate agreed that a new agency should supervise nuclear weapons research. The agency would report directly to the secretary of energy. Sponsors of the plan say it would institute accountability for security breaches, but the House reportedly prefers an even stronger independent agency.

The New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ market are going public. Supporters say the switch will result in more robust and better-financed markets for investors and entrepreneurs; doubters ask how they will be regulated. The New York Times doubts that they can continue to regulate themselves.

{{Fiorina#32297}}Hewlett-Packard chose a female president and CEO. Carleton S. Fiorina is the first female CEO among the country’s 20 biggest publicly held companies and the third among the Fortune 500. The Wall Street Journal says the choice proves that H-P “is serious about continuing to revamp its stodgy image,” while a New York Times editorial calls it evidence that the glass ceiling “is at least cracking.”

Woodstock ‘99 ended in vandalism, looting, and arson. Concert-goers threw bottles, set fire to 12 tractor-trailers, and recreational bonfires grew into serious blazes. “{{These kids are animals#2:}},” a 36-year-old attendee told MSNBC.

Cigars will carry warnings similar to those on cigarettes. The Federal Trade Commission said the {{current absence of labels#2:}} implies “that cigars are a safe alternative to cigarettes.” Industry honchos protested that “cigar smokers are mature, well-informed adults who smoke on an occasional basis.”

{{lance#32509}}American cyclist Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France. He is a survivor of testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. ESPN, like everyone else, expressed awe at his {{comeback#2:}}. “I’m happy I finished second. No one deserved to beat Armstrong this year,” said the second-place cyclist, Alex Zuelle. The French media implied that Armstrong must have used performance-enhancing drugs. The American media implied that the French were sore losers.