The Week/the Spin


The FBI admitted lying about its actions in the Waco disaster. After six years of denials, the agency confessed it had aimed “pyrotechnic” tear gas at the Branch Davidian compound. “We continue to believe that law enforcement did not start the fire,” said the bureau. Janet Reno commissioned an investigation and vowed to “get to the bottom” of the misrepresentations. She admitted, “I don’t think it’s very good for my credibility.”

The Bank ofNew York may have laundered money for the Russian mafia. Investigators are examining whether mobsters diverted funds–including foreign aid–out of the country through an offshore network built by a former International Monetary Fund official. According to the Washington Post, Steve Forbes and George W. Bush are criticizing Al Gore for naively accepting Russian pledges of economic reform.

SprinterMichael Johnson broke the world record for the 400-meter dash. The Associated Press tallied his long list of medals and called him “the most dominating track and field athlete of the 1990s.” “I can do better,” Johnson commented.

The U.N.war crimes tribunal caught a suspected Bosnian war criminal. Gen. Momir Talic, the highest-ranking Serbian official to be arrested so far, was seized in Vienna. The WashingtonPost predicts that the arrest will remind other suspected war criminals not to travel abroad.

The FederalReserve raised short-term interest rates. The hike was widely expected, but Fed officials surprised analysts by hinting that they may raise rates again in October. The stock market, which had rallied in anticipation of the move, remained stable, and bond prices inched up. The New York Times warned Congress not to sabotage the Fed’s actions by passing tax cuts.

American Airlines employees were caught smuggling drugs to the United States. They stashed cocaine and marijuana in food trays and used their security clearances to transport the contraband.

China will prosecute the leaders of Falun Gong. A government order excused most followers saying they had been brainwashed into joining a subversive political organization.

Samuel Sheinbein will serve a murder sentence in Israel. The American teen-ager had fled to Israel after allegedly committing murder in Maryland. The Israeli Supreme Court refused to let him be extradited back to the States. Under a plea bargain, he will serve 24 years in prison. Prosecutors from both countries decried the way he manipulated the discrepancies between the two legal systems.

Cleveland’s school voucher program was ruled unconstitutional. A Federal judge ruled that the program’s publicly financed scholarships to parochial schools violate the separation of church and state. City officials wondered what to do with the 3,800 students who were scheduled to begin private school classes today. Critics and supporters of vouchers wondered whether the Supreme Court will finally address the issue.

An earthquake in Turkey killed at least 18,000 and possibly as many as 45,000. The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet in effect charged construction authorities with murder, and international papers roundly condemned their shoddy building standards. The London Independent noted that while the Turks “could assault the [Kurdish] PKK with US attack helicopters, they could not even set up soup kitchens for Turkish civilians 24 hours after the earthquake.” David Plotz explains why the Turks need not rush to bury their dead. ” International Papers” reports that the grassroots relief effort could strengthen Turkish democracy.

The Los Alamos whistleblower resigned. Colleagues had called Notra Trulock’s allegations against Wen Ho Lee racist and had said there was not a “shred of evidence” against Lee. Trulock countered that only three of the 12 initial suspects in the case were of Chinese background and called a recent report exonerating the Clinton administration “a whitewash.”

Hurricane Brethit Texas. Meteorologists had predicted the storm would equal 1992’s Hurricane Andrew in power and destruction, but Bret hit the least-populated stretch of the Gulf Coast and was quickly downgraded to a tropical storm.

George W. Bush said he hasn’t used drugs since 1974. After vowing never to discuss his drug history, he admitted that he had “made some mistakes” but said he would have passed a 15-year background check in 1989. The media debated whether Bush’s drug history should be probed. Presidential contenders Gary Bauer and Sen. Orrin Hatch said Americans are entitled to know about felonies committed by a candidate. Time’s John Stacks argued that past dabblings with cocaine could make Bush’s drug enforcement policy hypocritical. Maureen Dowd chastised Republicans for protecting Bush’s past after years of investigating President Clinton’s. William Bennett chastised Democrats for investigating Bush’s past after years of protecting Clinton’s. Slate’s ” Frame Game” blasts the media for hounding Bush while pretending that the story is driving itself.

Three Japanesebanks will merge to create the world’s largest financial institution. Bank executives hope the union will resuscitate the Japanese banking industry and thus the entire economy. The New York Times hails the move as “a long-overdue effort to deal with the realities of an overcrowded market, massive bad loans and woefully low profit margins.”

Scientistsfound evidence of a previously unknown ancient primate. They say that a 15 million-year-old fossil of an African ape provides new evidence of a common ancestor of gorillas, chimps, and humans.

A study allegesthat 6 percent of Internet users are addicted to being online. “Marriages are being disrupted, kids are getting into trouble, people are committing illegal acts,” warns its author. “If you go back far enough, I guarantee that the defenders of cultural normalcy were terrified by the invention of the toaster,” retorts Joel Achenbach on the Washington Post Web site.

French prosecutorsblame Dodi Fayed for Princess Diana’s death. The Guardian reported that Fayed commanded an intoxicated chauffeur to drive them and that both could have survived had they been wearing seatbelts.

Jenny Thompson swamthe world’s fastest 100-meter butterfly race. The record, set by Mary Meagher in 1981, was the second-oldest in swimming.