Worst since WWII
More than 1,000 workers in central Germany clawed through debris in search of victims-and clues-in Germany's worst train disaster since World War II. At least 100 passengers were confirmed dead after the country's fastest train, the ICE, derailed near Eschede. The lead locomotive of the Munich to Hamburg express broke loose at 125 mph last week, leaving behind 12 passenger cars and a second locomotive that left the tracks and smashed together like an accordion. Nearly inaccessible to rescuers were a dining car and a first-class compartment, wedged under a collapsed overpass. Police gave differing accounts of how the accident occurred, indicating that an automobile on the track or the overpass may have caused the derailment.
Death of a pioneer
Barry Goldwater rode out of the West in 1964 and forced conservative views into national prominence when he ran for president. The Cold War right lost that time but gained a thirst for victory that was finally quenched by Ronald Reagan in 1980. Too bad that by the '80s the Arizona senator had metamorphosed into a talking head for the political establishment that once wanted him guillotined. Mr. Goldwater died at age 89 and was buried last week. Upon his death, "Mr. Conservative" was called "a great patriot and a truly fine human being" by Bill Clinton. Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt mourned him, saying, "He may very well have been everything the founding fathers had hoped for in a political leader." But back in 1964, things were different for the man known by the chemical symbol AuH2O. Mr. Goldwater called for states' rights, wanted Social Security made voluntary, and talked of lobbing a bomb into the men's room at the Kremlin. Back then, the Republican party was run by a cadre of East Coast liberals who loved big government but didn't feel guilty enough to become Democrats. The establishment figured that since JFK had just died, nobody could pull the presidency away from Lyndon Johnson. That opened the door for Mr. Goldwater and his anticommunist, anti-big government message. He upset liberal Nelson Rockefeller for the GOP nomination, famously telling the convention that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Liberals wasted no time painting Mr. Goldwater as just that-an extremist. One shrill Johnson campaign ad juxtaposed a shot of a little girl picking daisies with a nuclear explosion. The message: Barry Goldwater wants to blow up the world. Nothing the Republican nominee could do with his dedicated but outmaneuvered campaign team worked. He lost by 16 million votes and carried six states. Yet the Goldwater movement pushed on toward Ronald Reagan. The aftershocks never stopped; even today the most liberal Republicans must pay lip service to conservative ideals. After his defeat, Mr. Goldwater himself went back to the Senate and fought the Cold War as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Over the years, conservatives noticed something different about their hero. The political world was changing. The Roe vs. Wade decision reminded the right that America's moral decline was now a bloody mess. But Mr. Goldwater was nowhere to be found. He began to "grow," as the liberals say, and started taking shots at the same sort of conservatives who made him a national icon. The loose cannon pointed in the wrong direction. Mr. Goldwater gave soundbite after soundbite opposing social conservatives, especially Christians. "His social views were like what you would find in The Washington Post," says Paul Gottfried, author of The Conservative Movement. Instead of Mao, Khrushchev, and Ho Chi Minh, he declared war on Jesse Helms, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. "Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy," he said in 1992. Mr. Goldwater campaigned against school prayer and lobbied for abortion, gays in the military, and forced busing. When he endorsed a Democrat in a 1992 congressional race over Christian conservative Doug Wead, Arizona Republicans considered removing his name from party headquarters. "He was a politician, not a consistent thinker," said columnist Joseph Sobran of Mr. Goldwater. "I want to remember him the way he was in '64."
Big government. Now understandable.
A governmental initiative has been undertaken wherein plain language, shorter sentences, and active voice is required for use by bureaucrats in communication with the citizenry. Vice President Gore-who last year added the incomprehensible "no controlling legal authority" to the Beltway lexicon-said last week executive agencies will have until Oct. 1 to make the change. The new policy applies to all new federal documents that explain how to get a benefit or service or how to comply with an agency requirement. "Short is better than long. Active is better than passive.... Clarity helps advance understanding," Mr. Gore said of his campaign against government language gobbledygook. The rule will not immediately apply to new federal regulations, however; reg-writers have until New Year's Day 1999 to eschew obfuscation.
Chin music and divine protection
Two months into the major-league season, the New York Yankees are sporting the best record in baseball, and one of their best players has been Andy Pettitte, a 25-year-old left-handed starting pitcher who is open about his Christian faith. Mr. Pettitte and the Yankees are keenly aware that other teams are gunning for them now and are trying to intimidate them. Recently, after he gave up a home run, Baltimore Orioles reliever Armando Benitez intentionally hit a Yankee player with a pitch just below the back of his neck. The on-purpose plunk caused both benches and bullpens to empty, and a full-scale brawl worthy of promotion by Don King ensued on the field and in the visitors' dugout at Yankee Stadium. When WORLD caught up with Mr. Pettitte during a Yankee stop at Boston's Fenway Park, he said that he was "not really a fighter," but he defended the involvement of Christians in such bench-clashing battles. "Nothing happened to me personally in that Orioles game," Mr. Pettitte noted, "but something happened to my teammate. It looked like someone was trying to hurt one of my teammates. The Lord doesn't want me to be a wimp, or to just say, 'Go ahead and keep drilling us. We're going to keep taking it.' You have to take a stand sometimes. You do have to control your emotions a little bit, but you also have to let the other team know that you're not real happy about what they're doing." What about brushback pitches and beanballs? Should a follower of Christ be pitching inside and administering a little chin music to batters, a la Armando Benitez? "It's part of the game," Mr. Pettitte answered. "The Lord wants me to do my job on the mound to the best of my ability, and if a guy gets in the batter's box and feels too comfortable against me when I'm pitching, then I'm not going to be able to pitch to the best of my ability. So I'm going to throw inside just as much as anybody else does. I'm not trying to hit anybody, but sometimes when you pitch inside you're going to hit someone." WORLD also asked Mr. Pettitte about being struck by line drives hit back to him. Pettitte was recently hit twice, on the right knee and on the right leg, and he pitched poorly in subsequent appearances. Is there a fear factor involved while pitching, or concern that a career could be snuffed out with one swing of a bat? "No," Mr. Pettitte replied. "Before every start I ask the Lord to watch over me and to keep me safe. I never ask for wins. I just pray that I can stay healthy and not do anything to let my testimony for him down. I just pray that he will take care of me on the mound."
Viagra: Leading men into temptation?
Did your boyfriend dump you? Maybe Viagra made him do it. Seventy-year-old construction executive Francis Bernardo popped the tiny blue pill last month. Two days later, he left his common-law wife in search of someone new. He even left her a note bragging about his new energy. The pair had been shacking up since they first met at a Hilton Head country club in 1988; now it's over. So says the longtime companion, Roberta Burke. That's why she's suing her man for $2 million. She claims the impotence drug led him to infidelity. "I was looking forward to our old age," she says, "holding hands and walking on the beach." Widower Bernando says his thrice-married live-in just wants his money. "Have you ever heard of an inanimate object breaking up your marriage?" says his lawyer, Raoul Felder.
Nation in brief
Drudge in the lions' den
Matt Drudge, the gadfly Internet journalist no journalist in Washington will call a journalist, met the "mainstream" press last week on its home turf, the National Press Club. Mr. Drudge held court during the lunch hour, delivering a short speech and parrying mostly hostile questions to some laughter and smatterings of applause. He was introduced by Doug Harbrecht, Washington news editor of Business Week, who duly noted Mr. Drudge's unpopularity with the group. But Mr. Harbrecht noted, "My children, ages 20 and 17, know who Matt Drudge is, but they don't know who David Broder and Helen Thomas are, two of Washington's legendary journalists." MFN: Mustn't forget nukes?
As his high-profile trip to the edge of Tienanman Square in Beijing edged closer, President Clinton urged Congress last week to renew Most Favored Nation trading status for China. Mr. Clinton argued MFN would help during this time of tension in Asia, especially between India and Pakistan. On Capitol Hill, human-rights activists and lawmakers marked the ninth anniversary of the Tienanman Square massacre (June 4, 1989) with anti-Beijing rallies and congressional resolutions. The president's MFN request, said Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council, "overlooks the fact that stability in Asia has worsened, the transfer of weapons of mass destruction has continued, and now, thanks to his policies, Chinese missiles are better able to target Americans." Fat and fatter
Americans may not necessarily be getting fatter, but the government threshold for fat got slimmer last week. A panel of government experts concluded that a person with a body mass index as low as 25 should be considered overweight and anyone with a body mass index of 30 or above is obese. Using those new guidelines, about 55 percent of the population would be considered overweight or obese. March for Jesus
Local March for Jesus rallies captured the attention of newspapers across the country last week; most of the papers noted the ecumenical spirit of the events, which drew an estimated 1 million Americans in 700 U.S. cities and some 10 million other believers in 160 countries. The Kansas City Star, the Omaha World-Herald, and Denver's Rocky Mountain News called particular attention to the denominational diversity. Theological distinctives were often swept aside, several papers noted. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported two Protestant ministers led the local throng in prayers for the persecuted church in China, parts of Africa, and the Middle East; later a Roman Catholic led a prayer for Christian martyrs, past and present.
A failing grade
Report cards came in for the federal government-and D.C. gets a big fat "F" for failing to fix the 2000 bug. The computers running many large federal agencies are on a collision course with the millennium unless things change fast. "We must not panic," said Rep. Steve Horn, R-Calif., as he announced the grades. He said President Clinton must mount the bully pulpit and make the bug a national priority. A House panel flunked the EPA, along with the Departments of Transportation, State, Energy, and Health and Human Services. The worst case is the Agency for International Development, which won't be fully ready until 2019. On the other hand, the State Department is in better shape; its computers will be ready for 2000 by the year 2005. Overall, 13 of the 24 biggest agencies are set to miss the big deadline. The Social Security Administration was the star pupil, earning an "A+" from the subcommittee. But that doesn't necessarily mean Grandma will get her monthly check, because they're issued by the Treasury Department, which earned a "C." The bug comes from faulty computer software, especially the programs that run on musty old mainframes in bureaucratic offices. Cryptic computer codes must be tediously rewritten in time for the millennium. Also, electronic equipment with bad microchips must be hunted down and replaced. The FAA alone says it has 10,000 devices with these problems. Another sector checking heavily for the Y2K bug is banking. Banks are in much better shape, according to the FDIC. Bank examiners reviewed more than 6,000 institutions and found 88 percent are making satisfactory progress at fixing computers. These banks aren't out of danger, but they're making headway. Still, the FDIC threatens action against those who don't make repairs on time. "We consider Year 2000-associated risks to be the No. 1 safety-and-soundness concern for the banking industry," says Nicholas J. Ketcha Jr., director of the FDIC's Division of Supervision.
CEOs mean business
When President Clinton last month vetoed for the second time legislation that would have given publicly funded school vouchers to 2,000 of the poorest children in the nation's capital, some observers wrote that school teachers' unions had once again received a payback for their generous support to Democrats in the 1996 election cycle. Yet if the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, so is the price of keeping inner-city kids imprisoned in bad schools: New voucher plans continue to emerge. This fall 150 low-income children in Memphis and 300 in Louisville will attend private schools through vouchers provided by new private voucher programs in those cities. These students join more than 12,000 children nationwide who have received privately funded vouchers since 1991 at a cost of more than $45 million. The biggest plan, San Antonio Edgewood, has already garnered some publicity (see WORLD, May 2). The plan promises to spend $50 million over the next 10 years to offer vouchers worth up to $4,000 for high school to any interested low-income student in the Edgewood district. More than 30 other private voucher programs are based on a model advanced first in Indianapolis in 1991 by the Golden Rule Insurance Co. and now affiliated with the Bentonville, Ark.-based CEO Foundation, which is funded partly by Walmart heir John Walton. Although critics still accuse the programs of skimming able students from the public schools, the CEO-affiliated programs provide scholarships (typically worth $1,000 to $1,500) on a first-come, first-served basis to children eligible for federal free or reduced-price lunches. Demand for the vouchers outstrips available resources: There are more than 45,000 kids nationwide on waiting lists in the communities where voucher programs exist; the list includes large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, and smaller cities like Indianapolis, Little Rock, Albany, Austin, and Milwaukee.
Just say no
Taxpayers in Ohio said no to higher taxes to benefit public schools, rejecting by a lopsided margin of 80 percent to 20 percent a plan supported by the Republican governor and GOP-controlled legislature to raise the sales tax from 5 to 6 percent. Even though voters were promised that half of the increase would go toward reducing property taxes, they were unwilling to give more money to education without accountability. The Ohio affiliate of the National Education Association supported the measure, but the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO opposed it. Ohio voters also said no-but by a smaller margin-to plans to fund low-interest loans for school construction, a measure similar to that proposed by President Clinton as part of his supposedly popular federal education agenda. Meanwhile, the Buckeye Institute, a think tank based in Dayton, Ohio, has proposed what The Wall Street Journal called "child-centered" education. Instead of money going from the state to school districts, $4,000 in "opportunity grants" would follow students to whatever school, public or private, their parents choose.
Phonics is back-and many teachers aren't happy about it. State legislators, impatient with declines in reading scores, have begun to try to legislate phonics from the statehouse. Education Week reported that since 1990, 101 bills mandating phonics instruction in the public schools have been offered in states throughout the nation. Sixty-seven of those plans were offered in the past two years. The legislation is too specific, critics complain, meaning it "leaves little room for interpretation," as EW put it. University professors of education are complaining about "mandates for professional practice," and "simple solutions to very complex problems." The legislators, for their part, cite recent research that points to the importance of phonics-based reading instruction in the early years.
World in brief
International bailout patrols continued to eye Russia for an Asian-styled economic meltdown. On May 31 President Clinton pledged U.S. support for an international financial-aid package if Russia is unable to meet its short-term debts. That statement was timed to shore up the country's declining markets, but the following day Russia's main stock index sank more than 10 percent. The economic crisis is tied to shortfalls in oil revenues and taxes, together with declining foreign investment in the wake of a political crisis that stems from the shakeup of President Boris Yeltsin's cabinet. A bailout package brokered by the International Monetary Fund would mark the fourth time in nine months the fund has been called in to soothe market panic. Afghan disaster meets relief shortage
Relief agencies remained unable to confirm the number dead from a May 30 earthquake in northern Afghanistan. Estimates ranged from 2,000 to 5,000. The quake, registering 6.9 on the Richter Scale, struck an area devastated in February by another massive quake, which claimed more than 2,000 lives. UN agencies and the Red Cross-operating with only three borrowed helicopters-struggled to meet the need for food and medicine among the now-homeless and at the same time ferry the injured to emergency medical facilities. Soccer snarl
France's socialist government accused airline pilots of holding the World Cup hostage. With the beginning of the world soccer championship scheduled for this week, Air France pilots were nearly a week into a strike that has grounded 80 percent of flights. Air France, the official carrier of the World Cup, promised to transport the 32 national teams competing in the event, but it directed other passengers to trains. French train drivers, too, have scheduled a walkout over pay cuts for the eve of the tournament.
Nuclear chest thumping
Pakistan exploded another nuclear device less than 48 hours after its initial detonation of up to five atomic bombs set off an Asian arms race. U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen called the nuclear rivalry between Pakistan and India, which in mid-May launched the initial nuclear tests, "a very dangerous situation." The two nations, he complained, were "engaging in a chauvinistic chest-pounding about their nuclear manhood." Foreign ministers from Britain, France, Russia, China, and the United States-who are the world's major nuclear powers as well as the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council-met to discuss ways to head off the nuclear escalation. What they did not discuss was multilateral economic sanctions. With scant support from its allies, the United States moved to impose restrictions on foreign aid to India and Pakistan, as well as to oppose international loans to both countries. In Washington, business interests ranging from multinational bankers to wheat farmers took a number at the Commerce Department to lodge their opposition to regulations imposing the trade restrictions. Undeterred by Western chest-pounding, India's ruling Hindu Nationalist Party unveiled its first budget since taking power just over two months ago. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said there would be "no compromise on defense preparedness" and pledged to raise defense spending 14 percent. The government proposed spending increases of 68 percent for its Atomic Energy Commission, which oversees civilian and military nuclear programs, and hefted the Department of Space budget by 62 percent. It oversees the development of rockets for satellites and military purposes. Meanwhile, a review panel convened by CIA chief George Tenet concluded that U.S. intelligence failed to warn of India's nuclear weapons tests because of poor leadership and substandard intelligence gathering. The panel said U.S. espionage efforts in places like India are stretched too thin and spy satellite data is not adequately evaluated. In its key finding, the panel blamed the Clinton administration, including Mr. Tenet, for ignoring the pledges of the incoming Hindu nationalist party to conduct nuclear tests.
"It's just lunacy"
Carl H. Silverman of Waynesboro, Pa., succeeded in removing Gideon Bibles from his local school district in 1996, and now he is trying to stop the Hagerstown (Md.) Suns minor league baseball club from giving ticket discounts to churchgoing families. Mr. Silverman, 42, recently filed a complaint with the Maryland Human Relations Commission challenging the Suns' practice of allowing families with as many as six members into general admission seats for $6.00-if they're carrying a church bulletin. The Suns, a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate, have offered such a deal for five seasons. Neither Mr. Silverman nor the Maryland Human Relations Commission would offer any comment about the complaint, but some legal experts believe that Mr. Silverman has a good chance of winning against the Suns. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination at places of public accommodation based on race, color, national origin, or religion. Maryland state laws track the language of the federal act. If the Maryland Human Relations Commission cannot settle the case, then it will hold a public hearing before an administrative law judge. The Suns could be fined up to $500 if their church bulletin policy is found to be discriminatory in nature. Hagerstown Mayor Robert Bruchey summarized community opinion about Mr. Silverman's complaint: "Most people I've talked to think it's just lunacy."
Education Week reported on a recent meeting between school and local government officials in Reno, Nev., to discuss budget problems caused by recent victories by environmentalists. For the past decade, logging has been sharply limited in the country's national forests. In 1987, 12 million board feet of timber were harvested; 10 years later only 3.5 million board feet were harvested. Since one-fourth of the money raised from timber sales goes by law to schools and local governments in affected areas, the cost to schools has been high. In 1987 schools received $1 billion in timber money; in 1997, even though prices have increased, they received $500 million. Many angry education officials believe the logging ban is irrational. It leaves many forests with dying trees that could be harvested for money but instead eventually fall to the forest floor, providing tinder for fires rather than money for school books. Teachers' unions, however, have not attacked environmentalists for defunding public education.