Where's the straight-talking Joycelyn Elders when you need her? Her replacement, Surgeon General David Satcher, went to the big AIDS confab in Geneva late last month and seemed to call for condom ads on TV. "As you know, we've had significant problems in our country with condom advertisements on television. In a country in which sex is happening everywhere-it shows up in movies, on TV. It's happening everywhere you can imagine. And yet, when it comes to addressing it frankly, we still have a long ways to go." He went on to criticize as "three major barriers" abstinence-only programs in schools, the condom ad problem, and the ban on federal funding of needle-exchanges. Liberals praised him. "surgeon general: in praise of honesty and condoms," said the Kaiser Family Foundation in its daily update. Yet when an AP story reporting the speech said Dr. Satcher called for televised condom commercials in the United States, a spin-controller from his office talked the AP into retracting the story. The wire service offered a legalistic 71-word correction that said Dr. Satcher "did not specifically advocate such commercials."
A small victory
Partial-birth abortions in Virginia are illegal-for now. A federal appeals court judge said the law should stay on the books while abortion industry lawyers and the commonwealth's attorney general prepare for an Aug. 18 federal court trial on the law's constitutionality. But the ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has upheld a state law restricting partial-birth abortions. Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court ruling blocking the law pending trial. Pro-life efforts to ban the procedure in other states fared less well. 0In Nebraska, a federal judge called that state's ban unconstitutionally vague. 0In Florida, the state supreme court rejected a technical argument about the manner in which legislators overrode Gov. Lawton Chiles's veto of a bill to ban partial-birth abortions. The ruling would have allowed the law to take effect, but a separate federal court has blocked it. 0In Montana, a district judge discovered the right to abortion in the state's constitution and struck down a new law banning the partial-birth procedure. Judge Jeffrey Sherlock even cited federal court rulings as authority for his decision: "The legislature apparently accidentally forgot that these provisions have been enjoined by federal courts."
World in brief
For the second time in a month, Nigerians were shocked by the death of one of the country's leaders. Its most prominent political prisoner, Moshood K.O. Abiola, died of apparent heart failure on July 7, less than a day before his scheduled release. He died less than a month after military ruler Sani Achaba died-also of a heart attack. Gen. Achaba imprisoned Mr. Abiola in 1994 and charged him with treason, after he appeared to have won Nigeria's last democratic election. Mr. Abiola was meeting with U.S. diplomats when he fell ill. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, on a mission to revive democracy in Nigeria that included discussions with Mr. Abiola, accompanied Mr. Abiola to the hospital and watched as doctors tried to revive him. Mr. Pickering said he did not suspect foul play in the death, but that brutal imprisonment had contributed to Mr. Abiola's poor health. Nigeria's new military leader, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, agreed to an independent autopsy of Mr. Abiola, which will be conducted by an international team that includes two U.S. physicians. That did not quell rioting in Nigeria's capital, Lagos, which resulted in the deaths of 19 people in the two days following Mr. Abiola's death. Ulster marches
Garvaghy Road became the focal point of renewed Northern Ireland skirmishes. The Catholic neighborhood of Portadown, just west of Belfast, is part of a route historically favored by the Protestant Orange Order for its annual Orange Day marches, a summer-long celebration of the 1690 victory of Protestant William of Orange over his Catholic father-in-law, King James II. More than 800 additional British soldiers were called up to police Portadown after authorities told the Orangemen they must march elsewhere to avoid Protestant/Catholic clashes. Protestant/police clashes ensued. Gangs of Protestants threw blazing gasoline bombs at police officers and vandalized Catholic schools. Colombian release
Colombia's second-largest rebel group released 15 women it had held hostage for three weeks. The women were part of a "good Samaritan" group connected to the Colombian army that delivers food and medicine to remote villages. The guerrilla group ELN accused the women of espionage but released them after a civilian commission headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta negotiated with the rebels for their release.
Pray for relief
Prayer received lots of media attention last week, as firefighters battled blazes that have ravaged Florida and Christians offered cups of cool Gatorade. Last week, Pat Robertson made up for regrettably timed remarks about natural disasters possibly striking other parts of Florida by sending material relief: 100,000 pounds of food and clothing and $25,000 in cash for fire victims and firefighters. God sent rain last week, but it wasn't quite enough to douse the flames or change the drought-like conditions.
Numbered hairs and guilty words
The prosecution's only eyewitness in the trial of Mikhail Markhasev-convicted last week in the slaying of comedian Bill Cosby's son Ennis-couldn't even pick him out of a police lineup. The evidence linking the 19-year-old Russian immigrant to the murder weapon: a 1/12-inch-long hair, confirmed by DNA tests to be that of Mr. Markhasev, found in a knit cap in which the gun was wrapped. But by his words was Mr. Markhasev condemned. The jury, according to news reports of the trial, was ultimately persuaded by the young man's jailhouse letters and a taped phone conversation with a police informant. "He convicted himself," said juror Joseph Burnett Vagner.
Roy Rogers: Good guy of a lost era
Roy Rogers was the king of the singing cowboys. With 87 movies, 400 songs, and a hit TV show, he built a wholesome hero image for himself that seems impossible to imitate today. At age 86, the former Leonard Slye died in his sleep at his California desert home, leaving wife Dale Evans behind. His mourners included Gene Autry, Bill Clinton, and Billy Graham. "Roy Rogers was truly one of the best friends I ever had," Mr. Graham said, recalling Mr. Rogers's many appearances at his crusades. Columnist Cal Thomas remembered him as a loving father. "Dale's marvelous book, Angel Unaware, about their retarded daughter, Robin, who died within months of her birth, was an inspiration to my parents as they struggled with my retarded brother. They adopted other children, two of whom also died. Their generosity of time and money for others is legendary." Mr. Rogers's memory will continue in his Westerns. With his horse Trigger, he was the shining knight of B-movies. He shot straight, captured the bad guys, and sang songs like "Happy Trails." He is also the only performer inducted twice into the Country Music Hall of Fame, once as part of the group The Sons of the Pioneers in 1980 and again as a solo artist in 1988. Snide critics made fun of his movies and modern audiences are too cynical for such fare. Mr. Rogers always fought fair. Instead of killing the bad guys, he shot the guns out of their hands. Kids of another time went crazy for his wholesome brand of country. "The Westerns we make are downright healthy and constructive," Mr. Rogers said back in 1949. "The plot typically involves little more than the triumph of law and order, decency, and clean living.... We try to demonstrate that in real life everyone suffers reverses once in a while. But we also show that by sticking to it and working together, the forces of law and decency will always triumph in the end." Mr. Rogers's movies were no classics, but they hold up better than today's low-budget fare. His shoes have been empty for four decades since his last formula Western. Hollywood will not fill them because the system sees his character as an anachronism. What a shame.
A litany of woe
Handcuffed, Henry J. Lyons, 56, president of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., America's oldest and one of its largest black Baptist denominations, was led to a Tampa courtroom July 2. There a federal judge read aloud scores of allegations against him in a 74-page indictment. The alleged crimes include wire fraud, bank fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion, extortion, money laundering, and conspiracy. Among other things, he is accused of transferring at least $4.1 million from NBCUSA bank accounts to himself, his family, and his friends in 1995 and 1996. Indicted with him were two associates who have been linked romantically to him: Bernice Edwards, 41, a convicted embezzler from Milwaukee whom Mr. Lyons appointed NBCUSA public relations director, and Brenda Harris, 40, a meeting planner in Brentwood, Tenn. In all, Mr. Lyons, pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, Fla., was named in 56 of the indictment's 61 counts, Ms. Edwards in 25, and Ms. Harris in eight. Prosecutors moved swiftly to freeze millions of dollars in assets, including 20 bank accounts controlled by Mr. Lyons, and they seized jewelry and cars. They also filed claims against the defendants' homes. Weeks ago, though, Mr. Lyons reportedly sold his $135,000 Mercedes Benz and withdrew large sums from his accounts; he said the money was needed to pay his lawyers. Mr. Lyons pleaded innocent to all charges and remained free on a $125,000 bond, most of it in the form of equities in homes pledged by Bethel Metropolitan parishioners. If convicted, he could face up to life imprisonment and millions of dollars in fines. He referred all media inquiries about the case to his attorney, Grady Irwin, who denied the allegations and predicted his client would be vindicated. (Mr. Lyons months ago also hired F. Lee Bailey, who played the race card in the O.J. Simpson murder case, to help defend him.) U.S. Attorney Charles Wilson said in announcing the indictment that he had a message for leaders who hold "positions of trust" and who have access to large sums of money: "We've got to hold them accountable for their actions." Rejecting claims by some Lyons supporters that Mr. Lyons has been targeted because he is a prominent black leader, Mr. Wilson, who is also black, declared: "I am convinced that the vast majority of black Baptists in this country are sickened and disgusted by the conduct that is alleged in this indictment, and they are, in fact, today cheering the return of this indictment."
Nation in brief
IRS wings clipped
The president was dragged kicking and screaming, but he knows a popular tidal wave when he sees one: Internal Revenue Service reform. Legislation giving taxpayers more rights in confrontations with the IRS cleared the Senate last week; it had passed the House last month with only eight opposing votes. Last year, the White House officially opposed the reform bill, but that was before Republican-led hearings that highlighted IRS horror stories. Now President Clinton says he'll sign the bill. It shifts the burden of proof from the taxpayer to the IRS in many tax court cases and makes it easier for someone winning a tax case to have his costs reimbursed by the government. It also forbids the IRS from seizing a taxpayer's home without a court order. A nine-member board-including six private citizens-will oversee the operations of the 102,000-employee agency. Drugs: pro and con
It's not news when Washington outspends the private sector. But it is when the spending is on an advertising campaign and the companies being outspent are American Express, Nike, and Sprint. A five-year, $1 billion anti-drug campaign kicked off last week, with provocative ads on four major television networks and in 75 big newspapers aimed at curbing teen drug use. Also last week, drug enthusiast and gadfly financier George Soros launched a blasphemous new campaign to agitate for clean-needles programs for IV drug users. The Soros-backed campaign uses the Michelangelo image of God giving life to Adam, but instead of touching his forefinger, the God figure offers Adam a handful of syringes. Have a nice Tripp
Kenneth Starr's star witness Linda Tripp gave her long-awaited grand jury testimony last week. Just as that began, a Democratic prosecutor in Maryland reversed course and launched a grand jury probe of his own. Stephen Montanarelli wants to bring state charges against Mrs. Tripp for recording her phone conversations with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. The prosecutor, who had originally said he would not pursue the case until after the Starr probe was over, insisted his action is not political. Mrs. Tripp said, political or not, she will not be "intimidated."
It's a small world after all
The millennium bug isn't just an American problem. The United Nations wants its members to forge global alliances to help stamp out the glitch. "There truly is no time to waste," said Richard Sklar, a U.S. official at the United Nations. He warns that countries that fail to act are risking serious disruptions from malfunctioning computers. The United States, Britain, Canada, and some other countries have devoted billions of dollars to preparing for 2000. Experts say other countries, including Germany, Japan, and Russia, are way behind and due for a shock if computer systems lose track of time. Programs that use two digits for a date could have problems handling years in the new century. Even if the United States fixes most of its bugs, the global economic system could still shake because of other countries' problems. Many world leaders are too busy with the Asian financial crisis or the new single European currency to worry about the year 2000 problem. That could spell trouble for utilities, banking communication, transportation, and other industries. Critics of international cooperation say computer problems are best fixed by computer experts, not government bureaucrats. Additional red tape and paperwork may slow repairs. Meanwhile, Edward Yardeni, who himself called for a world war against the bug, now estimates a 70 percent chance that the bug will set off a global recession. The economist says the downturn will be at least as bad as the 1970s oil crisis. "If we have everything fixed in the United States but there are major disruptions in Europe and total calamity in Asia and Latin America, we're going to be affected in a very, very adverse fashion," says Mr. Yardeni, chief economist for the international banking firm Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. Capers Jones, chairman of Software Productivity Research, estimates the global cost of repairing software at $1.1 trillion. Domestically, the Clinton Administration even used the problem as a reason to ask to delay scheduled changes in the Medicare system.
Popular acclaim for President Clinton's tour of China, which included live televised coverage in China of the president's criticism of Beijing's human-rights policies, withered upon scrutiny of Mr. Clinton's comments regarding Taiwan. Critics said the president violated a long-standing, pragmatic approach to Taiwan by laying out a policy in Shanghai he called the U.S.-Chinese "three-noes" policy: no support for an independent Taiwan, no recognition for a separate Taiwanese government, no backing of Taiwan's entry into international organizations. Taiwan government spokesman Roy Wu responded: "The United States and the Chinese Communists have no right and are in no position to conduct bilateral negotiations on anything related to our affairs." Leaders within the evangelical world also sparred over the president's trip and U.S. policy toward China. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed page article titled "Friendship with China is a Moral Imperative," CBN head Pat Robertson condemned Gary Bauer along with labor activist Ralph Nader for pushing to limit trade with China and to condemn its human-rights record. "They seem to believe that the best way to redeem the blood of pro-democracy patriots is to shun and run," wrote Mr. Robertson. He said Mr. Bauer's position on China, while possessing "the outward appearance of moral superiority and self-righteousness," is "morally irresponsible and politically ignorant." Mr. Bauer told WORLD he believes in engaging China, "but the debate is over the terms of the engagement." He said, "It is absolutely clear that our policy is one-dimensional. It revolves totally around trade and sacrifices not only our traditional concern for human rights and religious liberty, but it also ignores our own national security." Mr. Bauer pointed out that one of Mr. Robertson's organizations, the Christian Coalition, worked last year with Mr. Bauer to defeat renewal of China's Most Favored Nation trade status.
Cokie Roberts, truthteller
The early summer was horrible for big-time media outlets, but there's a silver lining: The dangers of liberal bias became more evident. CNN on July 2 fired two employees and retracted the story it and Time pushed the month before about U.S. soldiers using nerve gas during the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Enquirer was publishing a front-page apology for a story that inaccurately charged Chiquita Brands with practicing "deceitful, unethical, and unlawful conduct." To keep Chiquita from going bananas, the Enquirer agreed to pay the company $10 million and get rid of the erring reporter. These credibility-bashers came on top of recent admissions by The New Republic (see WORLD, June 6) and The Boston Globe that their writers had fabricated stories and quotations. Surveying the wreckage, many mainline journalists have yakked about the pressures of competition and the passions of youthful reporters, but give ABC's Cokie Roberts a cheer: She spoke of the view of America "that is essentially anti-American" and about those who say "that the American military is such an evil institution that it will go out and [use nerve gas on] its own people." For those further to the left than Mrs. Roberts, the wildest charges about military or corporate intrigue are so self-evident that clear proof is not needed.