The Week/the Spin

Juan “Gone” González

T he Immigration and Naturalization Service began to transfer guardianship of Elián González. The INS plans to make the move official next week and will use force if necessary. Cuban-American politicians’ spin: Welcome to freedom, Juan! Defect! Juan González’s spin: You have exploited my child. I’m going back to Cuba with my son. Cuban-American activists’ spin: Elián returns to Cuba “over our bodies.”

Celera Genomics finished sequencing the human genome. The private company took seven months, beating a public consortium, the Human Genome Project, by years. The company said it will publish the blueprint on the Internet, although it will charge for applications derived from that blueprint. Humanists’ spin: We’ve entered a Brave New World. Doctors’ spin: We’ll be able to cure hundreds of thousands of diseases. Wall Street’s spin: Brave New what? Hold on, the stock ticker’s too loud.

The stock market fluctuated wildly. Tuesday and Wednesday saw the Dow and Nasdaq careen down and up but finish about where they started. Thursday saw both indices gain slightly. The Nasdaq has fallen 17 percent since its high on March 9. The Dow has gained 13.2 percent since its low on March 7. Pessimistic spin: We’ve entered a bear market, and the tech sector will never recover. Optimistic spin: This is a correction provoked by the Microsoft verdict. Blue chips have value but not growth. Keep your tech stocks. 

A federal judge will rule on penalties for Microsoft on May 24. Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson also wants to put the appeals process on a ” fast track“ to the U.S. Supreme Court. Earlier this week, Jackson ruled that Microsoft had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Wall Street pre-acted by selling off Microsoft, which dragged down the Nasdaq. Bill Gates’ spin: This case is too complex for a “fast track” appeal. The appeals should continue at least until, say, George W. Bush becomes president. Excuse me while I lunch with President Clinton.

Darva Conger got her marriage to Rick Rockwell annulled. The Who Wants To Marry a Multimillionaire? star claimed that Rockwell misrepresented himself by not telling Fox about his restraining order. Rockwell did not contest the move. Conger’s spin: I didn’t know his background when I married him. Media’s spin: That was the point, dear. (To read Culturebox’s take on the Conger-Rockwell marriage, click here. For more about annulments, click here.)

Yoshiro Mori was made prime minister of Japan. The Japanese Diet elected the party loyalist to replace Keizo Obuchi, who lapsed into a coma early this week. Obuchi was comatose for nearly a day before an interim prime minister announced the news and mentioned that he was in charge. Interim prime minister’s spin: Nothing to see here. Everything is normal. Japanese citizens’ spin: The most important thing is that the corp—er, government appears to function normally. Mori’s spin: Don’t worry, I will continue Obuchi’s policies. West’s spin: Is the finance minister still alive? Phew. For a second there we were worried.

Michigan State won the NCAA basketball tournament. The Spartans trounced the Florida Gators 89-76 despite an ankle injury to star Mateen Cleaves. It was the team’s first title since Magic Johnson helped beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State in 1979. The Spartans won all six tournament games by at least 11 points after closing the regular season with 11 straight wins. Media’s spin: Seven of the 10 Gators were freshmen and sophomores, and it showed. The Gators’ spin: We’ll be back next year. Cleaves’ spin: Boy am I glad I didn’t defect to the NBA this year. (Connecticut drubbed Tennessee, 71-52, for the women’s title.)

America Online is the only Internet company to make the Fortune 500. AOL landed at No. 337 on the list of the nation’s biggest companies, as determined by revenue, not stock-market value. Old-school investors’ spin: The tech companies talk the talk, but the blue chips walk the walk. New-school investors’ spin: We’re talking all the way to the bank.

{{Cult#78374}}Ugandan police have uncovered more than 900 bodies of slain cult members. Since a March 17 fire incinerated more than 300 worshippers locked in a church, authorities have uncovered bodies in several mass graves near buildings used by the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God. Joseph Kibwetere and the other leaders of the apocalyptic sect, spun off from the Roman Catholic Church, may still be at large. Cult members were not allowed to speak or have sex and gave all their possessions to church leaders, who promised that the world would end on Jan. 1. Skeptics’ spin: That’s what you get for trusting a man who claims to speak directly to Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Humanists’ spin: If you were as poor as an East African, you would be prone to false messiahs too.

The Supreme Court upheld a ban on nude dancing. The court ruled 6-3 that an Erie, Pa., law banning public nudity, including that of nightclub dancers, does not violate the First Amendment. Requiring pasties and G-strings “leaves ample capacity to convey the dancer’s erotic message.” Justice O’Connor’s majority spin: “Being ‘in a state of nudity’ is not an inherently expressive condition.” Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas’ concurrent spin: What’s more, a community should be able to declare public nudity immoral. Justice Ginsburg and Justice Stevens’ dissent: Communities can move a strip club across town, but they can’t ban it outright. Analysts’ spin: No-tolerance policing is being written into the Constitution.

OPEC agreed to increase oil production. Under pressure from the United States, the group overruled objections from Iran and raised output by more than 7 percent—enough to lower prices in the West but not enough to replenish inventories. President Clinton’s spin: OPEC agreed with my argument that the current quota would eventually shrink global demand. Globalists’ spin: Money talks, isolationists walk. Economists’ spin: This increase is too late to help summer gas prices.