The Week/the Spin

Bullet Points

Kansas will omit evolution from its statewide science curriculum. Individual schools will now decide whether to teach it or not. The New York Times predicts that the decision will discourage schools from teaching it, encourage creationists to introduce their own textbooks, and leave Kansas kids unprepared for college science courses.

The Los Angeles gunman surrendered. Buford Furrow, a neo-Nazi, had sprayed the lobby of a Jewish community center with an Uzi, injuring five. He also allegedly shot and killed a letter carrier. He told investigators “he wanted this to be a wake-up call to America to kill Jews.” Commentators variously tied the incident to recent spates of workplace shootings, school violence, and hate crimes. The Los Angeles Times cited a Holocaust historian’s warnings that ethnic slurs can lead to violence, and the director of the Anti-Defamation League blamed the FBI and the Justice Department for allowing civil liberties concerns to limit their monitoring of hate groups. But the New York Times and Washington Post focused on gun control, accusing Congress of neglect and empty rhetoric.

Boris Yeltsin fired his prime minister and Cabinet again. He replaced Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin with Vladimir Putin, his fifth candidate in 18 months. Yeltsin swore that he would stick with Putin through the presidential elections in 2000. The New York Times wrote that Yeltsin “invites parody when his country desperately needs stability,” and the Los Angeles Times quipped that “Yeltsin changes governments like a man changing shirts.” “International Papers” attributed Yeltsin’s fickleness to his drinking, his background as a Communist party hack, and his country’s failed transition to democracy. The Russian stock market slid, and the ruble fell 5 percent.

A tornado ripped through Salt Lake City, killing one and injuring hundreds. The National Weather Service pointed out how unusual it is for a big tornado to strike an urban center.

An Indian jet shot down a Pakistani military plane, killing all 16 passengers. Each country claimed the Pakistani aircraft had been in its airspace. The New York Times worries about future “volatile confrontations” (read: nuclear warfare), and the Wall Street Journal bets the clash will aid Hindu nationalists in India’s upcoming elections. Read “International Papers” for more on the conflict.

The Navy announced that it may resume supporting the Tailhook Association. The Navy severed its ties eight years ago after reports of sexual abuse at the group’s convention. The New York Times says the Navy’s disclosure of tentative plans is intended to test public opinion for restoring the relationship.

Kenneth Starr will wrap up his investigation of the Clintons’ alleged misdeeds with a final report to Congress. He told the Today show that the purpose of this report, unlike his last one, is to summarize his findings, not to assert wrongdoing.

Gov. George Pataki, R-N.Y., will support Rudolph Giuliani for senator. The press had figured that Pataki would turn his back on Giuliani as a payback for Giuliani’s endorsement of Pataki’s Democratic opponent, Mario Cuomo, in 1994. Pataki’s former protégé, Rep. Rick Lazio, R-N.Y., will run anyway, but the New York Times said his candidacy is doomed. The Times attributed Pataki’s halfhearted endorsement to “pressure from national Republican leaders to head off a fratricidal battle that could only help” Hillary Clinton.

An Army colonel’s wife was caught smuggling cocaine. Laurie Hiett’s husband presides over all U.S. military operations in Colombia. The New York Times and Washington Post noted that the United States has been pressuring Colombia to be more aggressive in its anti-drug campaign. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, writing in the Times, changed the subject to Colombia’s problems with drug traffickers and civil war.

MCI slashed its long-distance rates. It will offer weeknight and weekend calling for a flat rate of five cents per minute. The Washington Post marvels at the fall in long-distance rates since the 1984 breakup of Ma Bell but warns customers to check for hidden fees.

Congress approved the $792 billion tax-cut plan. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Republicans are preparing to call President Clinton “a Scrooge for vetoing this Christmas-in-July package of tax cuts.” The New York Times says that “only high-flying G.O.P. donors and special interests” really want the cuts, and that they’re “designed to please the hard right and force a confrontation with the White House.” President Clinton, comparing the negotiations to those over the 1996 welfare bill, signaled that he will accept a compromise plan. In “Frame Game,” William Saletan explains how the tax cut became a “tax scheme.”

Richard Holbrooke was confirmed as ambassador to the United Nations. His nomination had been held up for 14 months, first on ethics questions and then because of spats between the GOP and the White House. The Washington Post reports that the Republicans gained little for their stonewalling, and the New York Times relays that the holdup made the United Nations feel even more snubbed by the United States.

Dow Chemical will buy rival Union Carbide. The Wall Street Journal predicts the new company will rival DuPont, the largest U.S. chemical maker.