Going cold turkey on scandal coverage
Passing time after the trial
Admitting you have a problem is the first and most difficult step. So go ahead-it's nothing to be ashamed of. We're all experiencing a little post-impeachment depression. To help you through this difficult time, World has compiled a list of things you can do to fill every Starr-less night of the week.
- Search for the lies and duplicity in James Carville's latest book. It's got to be there-Cajun Cooking with my Mamma is probably filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations. One tsp. of cayenne pepper, indeed.
- Surf the hot new political Web sites. Just as the Gulf War made CNN a permanent presence in our lives, the late Monicagate has willed us the Web. There's no turning back now, just because the news is less titillating. Check out the hot topics at Town Hall, such as the new paper titled, "Time to Supersize the Federal Ed-Flex Program" (http://www.heritage.org/library/execmemo/em571.html ).
- Bask in the knowledge that Geraldo has to move on. That's right-no more obsessing about a single, stale story, night after night after night. It's over. So tune in to Rivera Live tonight on CNBC for an update on the JonBenet Ramsey murder case.
- Tune in to CourtTV. There are plenty of other trials of the century; just last week, for example, you could have caught former child actor Gary Coleman's trial for assault (California vs. Coleman), the Murdered Mistress trial (Delaware vs. Capano) and the Depression Drug Murder Trial (Florida vs. Brancaccio).
- Return your Matt Drudge fedora. It's old hat, so to speak. And while you're at it, hide that black beret. The new must-have fashion accessories are the Cheryl Mills blazer and the Larry Flynt trench coat. These can be worn while walking your new basset hound (the one you've named David Kendall).
- Look for more Monica. She's coming back! Soon, her book (co-authored by Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton) will be published (Barnes and Noble says the big day is Feb. 21, but the publisher has not confirmed that). And her big interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20 will run as soon as the book is available. After that, who knows? Ms. Walters, who says she speaks to Monica regularly, seems quite taken with the new feminist heroine.
- Write notes of encouragement to Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.), and Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.). They deserve it. Cards (and flowers, if you want, but not candy, because Mr. Hyde is looking a little heavy lately) can be sent to: The Honorable Lindsey Graham, 1429 Longworth House Office Building; The Honorable Asa Hutchinson, 1535 Longworth House Office Building; The Honorable Henry Hyde, 2110 Rayburn House Office Building. All the addresses are Washington, D.C. 20515. The Academy Awards
An international look
While Saving Private Ryan won its expected Oscar nomination for best picture, Academy Award voters made a list of nominees with an international flair. Most noticeable is Life Is Beautiful, a bittersweet Italian comedy about the Holocaust, which was a surprise addition. Other best picture picks included another battle-scarred tale, The Thin Red Line, and two upscale movies about Renaissance England: Shakespeare in Love (which led the movie pack with 13 nominations) and Elizabeth. Shakespeare in Love (rated R for sexuality) fantasizes that the great playwright-slaving away over his next hit "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter"-gets writer's block. The bard (played by Joseph Fiennes, the Queen's love interest in Elizabeth) gets the poetry flowing again when he falls in love with a young noblewoman, and drama fan, Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow). As the plot thickens, it starts to resemble that of "Romeo & Juliet," which the playwright-drawing from his own life and feelings-ends up writing. Meanwhile, the well-praised Truman Show was overlooked, although Ed Harris got a best supporting actor nomination for his role in that film. The winners will be announced March 21.
ABA flip-flops on Independent Counsel
Back in the 1970s, the American Bar Association helped concoct the independent counsel law. ABA officials claimed the law would restore public confidence after the Watergate scandal. But now that Kenneth Starr holds the job they helped create, they've quit supporting the statute. The ABA's House of Delegates voted 384-49 on Feb. 8 to turn against the law. The concept deteriorated into "a pursuit of the hunted" and has become "a Jean Valjean nightmare," said Benjamin Civiletti, attorney general under President Carter. Some conservative critics say the independent counsel law was unconstitutional from the start-and the ABA is abandoning it now only because Bill Clinton fell into a trap built for Republican presidents. The 400,000-member group officially claims this is not a referendum on the Clinton impeachment, even though one ABA leader said that Kenneth Starr "is certainly the poster boy for reform of the independent counsel act." The independent counsel law will expire in June unless Congress decides to retain it. Tyson goes to jail again
Mike Tyson may have knocked himself out of the boxing ring for the last time. He was sentenced last week to a year in jail for kicking one man and striking another after a fender bender last August. And Iron Mike is still on probation for his 1992 rape conviction. "I think he's pretty much history," veteran promoter Bob Arum said of the heavyweight who will probably spend his 33rd birthday in jail. Now Nevada boxing authorities must fight embarrassment: Last October they gave back Mr. Tyson's license, after revoking it (supposedly for life) when the ex-champ bit off chunks of Evander Holyfield's ears. But Tyson handlers still want him to make the big Las Vegas bucks. "Anytime at this point that he would be taken out of the ring would be a real death sentence," said Shelly Finkel, Mr. Tyson's manager. The no-comment Zone
- Bill Gates gave away $3.34 billion of his $82 billion in Microsoft holdings. Of this, $2.23 billion goes to the William H. Gates Foundation. Named after the mogul's father, the foundation has been a big backer of global population-control programs.
- MindSpring, one of America's largest Internet services, shut down the Nuremberg Files Web site after a federal court ruled its owners must pay $107 million in damages to abortionists. The site, which includes the names and addresses of abortion doctors, allegedly violated company policy on "threatening and harassing language."
- Bobby Troup, the actor-musician who put a U.S. highway into history with his hit composition, "Route 66," died at age 80. He wrote the lyrics, "Get your kicks on Route 66!" while driving to California in 1946.
- In Michigan, swearing in front of children is illegal. And a county judge has upheld the 1897-vintage statute, saying Timothy Boomer, 24, must stand trial for his foul language. He fell out of a canoe on the Rifle River last summer and launched into a three-minute stream of profanities. A woman and her two young children were nearby, as was the sheriff's deputy who testified against him.
- Many high-paid execs are job hunting now because of corporate job cuts announced late last year. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an employment consulting firm, says managers are having a harder time finding jobs than several months ago. The median salary of bosses before they were laid off during the fourth quarter was $92,000.
- Columbus, Ohio's Republican mayor, Greg Lashutka, says his "heartfelt sympathy goes out to those employees" who can't get health benefits for their live-in sex partners. The city council unanimously voted to quit offering health coverage to unmarried municipal employees. Critics said the benefits undermined marriage, promoted immorality, and cost too much-between $550,000 and $700,000 annually.
- Online superstore Amazon.com admitted that publishers paid up to $10,000 for ad deals that included prominent placement on the site. Customers were not told that some of the titles on the "What We're Reading" section paid to be listed. Analysts said this blurred the line between book reviewing and book promoting. To save face, Amazon.com promises full refunds for any recommended book, regardless of condition. Revolver-assisted suicide
Bob Ohlrich protested that he was merely doing a Kevorkian when he shot his wife of 57 years, Phyllis, in the head as she lay in a hospital bed. He said she was terminally ill, but an autopsy found no trace of the cancer that was supposedly killing her. Mr. Ohlrich, 76, pleaded no contest on Feb. 8 to manslaughter as part of a plea bargain agreement. Whether doctors misdiagnosed the woman or her husband misunderstood the diagnosis is unknown. He had put the gun to his own temple after shooting Phyllis, but the gun jammed. Mrs. Ohlrich had an operation for colon cancer in May 1998. She was heavily medicated and had to be restrained in the hospital because she thrashed around. But prosecutors said the pain may have been from a back injury-and she was cancer-free when she was shot. Five killed
Derek Lerch and three of his Berkeley classmates were out sledding near California's Donner Pass when they were caught under an avalanche. Winter storms had pounded the area with snow as the wind gusted to over than 100 mph. Mr. Lerch became trapped on his back under 3 feet of chilling white. A thin stream of air passed through a tiny carved-out hole. "I was certain I would die," he recalled. "I screamed for help all night long." Three of the group were rescued and treated for hypothermia. The fourth, Malcolm Russell Hart of Dover, N.H., didn't survive. "Dying wasn't a burden after a while," recalled another of the young men, Harry Eichelberger. "It seemed easier than being down there, unable to see anything, not being able to breathe, shivering." The college friends weren't the only victims of heavy snows and avalanches that struck during the deadly first weekend of February. Three men died while skiing and snowboarding in the central Colorado Rockies. In Utah, a massive slide killed 22-year-old Justin Hiel while he was out on snowshoes. Gay rights at Notre Dame
Giving up the fight
Notre Dame has a problem. The most famous Catholic school in America wants to make homosexuals feel welcome, but doesn't want to alienate its religious constituency. And some student gay-rights activists want to press the issue with a federal lawsuit over anti-discrimination policies. But since the school refuses to officially ban anti-homosexual bias, they have nothing to sue over. This month, the school's Board of Fellows voted unanimously not to change its policies on gays, saying this would allow the courts to interpret Roman Catholic doctrine. (Other Catholic schools, including Georgetown, have adopted pro-gay proposals, while some new institutions, such as Christendom College, have remained firm.) "In a secular environment this is seen as a simple matter of civil rights, [but] that's not the way it's viewed through a Catholic prism," said Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Moore. Notre Dame isn't exactly taking much of a "Catholic prism" view, however. An example of the school's two faces came in 1995, when a homosexual student group was kicked off campus. That same year, Notre Dame formed committees to find ways to accommodate homosexuals. In 1997, a "Spirit of Inclusion" statement (that homosexuals are welcome in the university family) was inserted in all handbooks. That wasn't enough for campus activists, who now look for a new way to fight what they consider an empty promise. Teenage murderer Sellers executed
Facing the music
In the fall of 1985, 16-year-old Sean Sellers told a companion, "I want to see what it feels like to kill somebody." Then he shot and killed a convenience store clerk named Robert Bower. Six months later, he blew away his mother and stepfather, Wanda and Paul Bellofatto, in their bedroom. Then, at his trial, he claimed demonic elements in the Dungeons & Dragons game made him do it. On death row, he styled himself as a Christian expert on occultism as he pleaded for clemency. It didn't work. An Oklahoma parole board unanimously rejected his appeal. Just before Mr. Sellers was executed by lethal injection, he criticized the surviving members of his family. Instead of asking for forgiveness, he demanded their unconditional acceptance. After all, the devil made him do it. But his uncle, Steve Bellofatto, said Sean was old enough to know what he was doing when he murdered his victims. "He was old enough to drive a car, a 4,000-pound death machine," he said. "But he's not old enough to know shooting your mother in the face is wrong? Give me a break." Mr. Sellers's execution marked the first time in 40 years an American was put to death for crimes committed at age 16. World in brief
- Hip Greek clerk backs off
Archbishop Christodoulos of Greece's Orthodox Church is a controversial guy. To attract young people, he said men could wear earrings to services; he indirectly condoned the use of condoms. But now his church wants to fend off accusations that it has been promoting promiscuity, so it is about to publish an encyclical against premarital sex. This dispute raises questions about Eastern Orthodoxy and its role in Greek society. The church is the country's official religion, with over 90 percent of the country's 10.2 million people baptized into it. On paper, abortion and premarital sex are forbidden. In reality, the Orthodox Church usually turns a blind eye to such practices for fear of driving away its flock, which usually only attends church on special occasions.
- Scientology makes inroads
L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology is fighting for worldwide recognition as a real religion. Heber Jentzsch, head of its international branch headquartered in Copenhagen, says the group's persistence should pay off in the next decade. "Scientology has become visible," says Mr. Jentzsch. "It will happen in the next five years, maybe 10 years." In the United States, Scientology plays to the rich and famous, such as movie actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise. Worldwide, it is less accepted, though it is represented in 129 countries with almost 9 million members. Germany bars Scientologists from public jobs, and France officially considers it a cult. Mr. Jentzsch, denying charges that people who want to leave Scientology are harassed, says he and his brethren will press on with Mr. Hubbard's exotic gospel. Bad old days in Russia?
Who needs elections?
As Russian President Boris Yeltsin lay recovering from a bleeding ulcer at a health resort outside Moscow, Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov called for an end to nationwide presidential elections. "The president should not necessarily be elected by all citizens," Russian news agencies quoted Mr. Zyuganov as saying. "It is not necessary to drag the whole country into the process." His grandstanding dimmed prospects for a truce between the two leaders. Mr. Zyuganov also wants constitutional amendments that would transfer some presidential powers to the Cabinet and parliament. Besides calling for doing away with national presidential elections, Mr. Zyuganov said Russians shouldn't be allowed to elect regional governors. His plan represents a massive step toward a return to a Soviet-style system. Hillary's population-control pep talk
Folks, you're having an impact
Hillary Rodham Clinton went to a UN population conference at The Hague this month to encourage plans to establish population control around the world by 2015. She tried to raise the spirits of 1,500 social engineers from 180 countries by announcing Clinton administration plans for a $25 million donation to the UN Population Fund next year. Congress withdrew funding for the agency in 1998, partially because of its activities in China. The First Lady said every woman in the world should have access to "safe and legal" abortion, along with other population-control efforts. She criticized China's coercive one-child rule because it isn't truly pro-choice. "I hope we can agree first and foremost that government has no place in the personal decisions a woman makes about whether to bring a child into the world," she said. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) also attended the conference and vowed to reinstate funding: "We as Americans are not living up to our goals." Back in 1994, the Cairo conference adopted a resolution calling for affordable, universal access to reproduction control by 2015. This year, some volunteers reported progress, but times were tough because of funding problems. The First Lady tried to cheer up the group. "Don't ever think that the work you do day in and day out is not having an impact on people's lives," Mrs. Clinton told delegates. "You are the vanguard of Cairo."