china's communist premier visits united states
Zhu tastes freedom
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji stepped onto American soil at the Los Angeles airport last week for a nine-day U.S. tour that will include protest and dissent normally squelched by his government back home. Human-rights groups, pro-life organizations, and anti-trade forces prepared to protest the Chinese leader's visit at every stop of his six-city tour. The Colorado senate passed a resolution in anticipation of Mr. Zhu's April 10 visit to Denver. It called on local officials to raise with the premier human-rights issues, the transfer of missile technology, and trade issues. An April 8 New York Times report pointing to yet another security breach gave critics of U.S.-China policy fresh ammunition. The paper said an American spy gave U.S. officials evidence that China's intelligence service stole data used to improve China's neutron bomb in 1996. The report came as U.S. intelligence agencies are probing a separate suspected theft of designs of America's newest nuclear warhead, the W-88, from Los Alamos. airstrikes hit home in belgrade
As NATO jets roared overhead, about 1,000 Belgrade residents lined the city's Brankov Bridge, forming a human shield to protect the city's main and historic artery across the Danube. NATO missiles hit several downtown targets, including a Yugoslav army command post, and most of the city's residents escaped to underground shelters during lengthy air raids. The head of a Greek Cypriot mission said the strikes on Belgrade jeopardized his negotiations for the release of three American servicemen held by Yugoslav forces. Washington pledged security for Spyros Kyprianou, but on the eve of his team's departure from Athens to Belgrade, the downtown bombs looked likely to blow up the deal. NATO leaders said gestures of ceasefire on the part of President Milosevic might instead be the formation of a new human shield. Serb forces blocked the exit of ethnic Albanians in some parts of Kosovo. Reversing earlier expulsions last week, Serb forces escorted many Kosovars toward Pristina. church leader believed beheaded
Horror in Chechnya
A Baptist church leader in Chechnya is believed to have been beheaded. Alexander Kulakov disappeared on March 12, but church members who knew him well reported that they saw his severed head displayed at a local market. Amid fighting between Chechen rebels and Russian forces, locals say it is not unusual to see severed heads on display to frighten opponents. Mr. Kulakov took over leadership of Grozny Baptist Church after its pastor, Alexey Sitnikov, was kidnapped last Oct. 9. The Russian Baptist Union has advised all its members to leave Chechnya. Three Russian Orthodox priests have been kidnapped since March. American missionary Herb Gregg has been missing for over four months and is believed to have been taken by Chechen rebels in Dagestan, southern Russia. republican hawks: send troops
Several former GOP White House aides gave tacit approval to the war against Yugoslavia. But they said President Clinton and NATO officials would have to commit ground troops to get the job done. Most prominent on the panel of foreign-policy leaders was former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, who denounced Yugoslav President Milosevic as "uncivilized." She compared the tragedy in Kosovo to Cambodia's "killing fields" and the Holocaust. The panel also included former assistant secretary of state Morton Abramowitz; Frank Carlucci, secretary of defense and national security adviser to President Reagan; Helmut Sonnenfeldt, an ex-National Security Council staffer; and William Howard Taft IV, a former ambassador to NATO. better double-check the filtering software
Don't talk to strangers
A Florida judge sentenced Tampa Baptist pastor Henry Lyons March 31 to five and a half years in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $2.5 million in restitution to firms he was convicted of swindling while he was president of the National Baptist Convention U.S.A. He was led from the Pinellas County courtroom to begin serving his prison term immediately. Mr. Lyons's attorneys had sought to delay his sentencing until he is sentenced in federal court in June on related charges of fraud and tax evasion. Since the sentences likely will be served concurrently, his lawyers hoped he could do his time at a federal minimum-security facility for white-collar criminals. Instead, he likely will serve his federal time in the harsher climate of a state prison. In court, Mr. Lyons apologized for his crimes, especially for the theft of nearly $250,000 from the Anti-Defamation League to rebuild burned churches: "It stinks in God's nostrils, and I know it stinks in the law's nostrils, and it stinks to me." the 2000 bug squashed?
Y2K scenarios amount to '00'
Two big days in the countdown to Y2K have come and gone without a hitch. April 1 was the start of fiscal year 2000 in Canada, Japan, and New York State; April 6 started a new year in Great Britain. Experts have worried about the fate of everything from the Bank of Canada to the New York Lottery, but no serious calamities cropped up. Of particular concern was Japan, but things have recently improved there dramatically, according to Gartner Group analyst Andy Kyte. "It's clear that the last six months have seen a massive change," he said. Mr. Kyte said Japan, along with English-speaking nations like Australia, Canada, Britain, and the United States, is ahead of most of the world in battling the bug. One date that didn't go so well was March 31: the deadline President Clinton imposed last year on federal Y2K repairs. Eleven federal agencies failed to meet the president's own deadline for preparing critical computers for the year 2000. Nevertheless, the administration says that 92 percent of the government's 6,123 crucial systems are Y2K compliant and will work properly next year. All but one agency (the Agency for International Development) have repaired and tested at least 85 percent of their systems. On the other hand, Rep. Steve Horn (R-Calif.) the Y2K-watching chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, said he was encouraged by the high compliance despite the missed deadline. "Now we've got to do the real serious work, which is test it in an operational environment" he said. "If we can test it and it still works, that's fine. But time's a-wasting." anti-clinton ad costs church
Making them pay
David Little said he wanted to warn Christians about Bill Clinton back in 1992 when his church placed ads in The Washington Times and USA Today. They said, "Bill Clinton is promoting policies that are in rebellion to God's laws," and asked for donations to help pay their costs. IRS agents saw the ads and stripped tax-exempt status from the congregation, Church at Pierce Creek near Binghamton, N.Y. The church challenged the IRS in federal court and lost. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman's ruling in favor of the IRS marks the first time a church has lost its tax exemption for partisan political actions. Religious-left activist Barry Lynn wants to consolidate that victory. He said he hoped the court decision would cause the IRS to collar the tax-exempt Christian Coalition. Coalition officials aren't backing down. They plan to distribute a record 70 million voter guides next year. "There is a long history of constitutional protections in the IRS code," Executive Director Randy Tate said. new economy surges, blue chips slip
When the chips are down
General Motors led the 1999 Fortune 500 for the 11th straight year, but this could be the beginning of the end for blue-chip stocks. Overall, profits at the Fortune 500 companies declined for the first time in seven years in 1998, due to the economic crisis in Asia, Russia, and Latin America. The days of General Motors and Coca-Cola leading the pack may be ending, predicts Fortune magazine. Younger high-tech companies such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and Dell, with their surging revenues, are wielding more influence in corporate America. Last year "will probably be considered a watershed year, the year when the New Economy fundamentally parted ways with the old and high-tech consolidated its role as the driving force behind the growth of big business," Fortune reported. Cisco climbed 61 rungs from No. 253 to 192, while Dell Computer shot up from No. 125 to 78. Microsoft, the top U.S. company in terms of market value, is ranked 109, up from 137 last year. (The Fortune 500 ranks companies by revenues.) Among the Internet companies, America Online came closest to making the list, ranking No. 535. The No-Comment zone
- An explosion at a Tampa power plant killed one worker and injured 45 people last week. The blast came during a test of a generator and tore a huge section from a building at the Tampa Electric Co. Authorities suspected a hydrogen gas leak caused the explosion. "I thought I was going to meet my maker or go to hell ... and it made me want to get right with God," said Robert Worley, a worker who escaped injury.
- Three-year-old Chelsea Tafoya clung to the rear windshield wiper, her foot braced on a ridge above the license plate, as her unsuspecting father raced his SUV a distance of 12 miles, sometimes reaching speeds up to 85 miles per hour. She was not hurt. "It's a miracle. God must have been watching over her," said Lincoln Tafoya of Santa Clara Pueblo, N.M. Frantic motorist Connie Romero attempted to signal Mr. Tafoya, then sped around his Ford Expedition to urge him to stop: "I was saying, 'Please, God, don't let this kid fall.'"
- Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman, mayor of Port Huron, Mich., since 1997, faces 14 counts of sexual misconduct involving children. Mr. Ackerman, a leather-clad biker who often cited his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction to encourage young people to turn their lives around, is accused of taking pornographic photos of 9- to 14-year-old girls and appearing with them in some of the photos. "The community just feels violated," said city council member Cliff Schrader. "They put a lot of faith and trust in Ajax." Mr. Ackerman resigned from office after his arraignment last week.
- Disney is ditching Dogma, a film the brass worried might offend Roman Catholics. But the co-chairmen of Disney-affiliated Miramax Films are setting up a separate corporation to purchase for $11 million the rights to bring Dogma to market. The film stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as angels who try to return to heaven after they are banished and Chris Rock as a trash-talking 13th apostle.
- The Justice Department appealed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed in Philadelphia that blocked enforcement of the Child Online Protection Act. The law requires commercial pornographic Web sites to verify that users are over 18 before showing them material deemed harmful to minors.
- Negotiations at the United Nations broke down over implementation of population-control goals set at the 1994 UN Population Conference in Cairo. Delegates from 170 countries are at loggerheads over abortion, contraception, and sex-education policies. if private businesses operated this way, the owners would be locked up, but it's ...
Good enough for government work
From bullets to buildings to Medicare payments, the 24 major federal agencies do not properly account for a majority of their $466 billion in assets, according to government auditors. Uncle Sam's financial statements "do not provide a reliable source of information for decisionmaking by the government or the public," said Comptroller General David Walker. The second annual government-wide audit by the General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, said that some vital assets are missing. It shows most government agencies do not have the basic financial controls common in private businesses. "If small-business owners kept books like this, they'd be put in jail," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, (R-Texas). The problems are many and varied: inadequate data on loans and liabilities (including veterans' benefits), poor computer security, vast underestimates for costs such as environmental and nuclear cleanups, and even lack of documented expenses on many day-to-day government operations. But is it good enough for government work? Things weren't quite as bad in Fiscal Year 1998 as in previous years. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated that it made $12.6 billion in unnecessary Medicare payments in 1998-down from $23.2 billion in 1996. Despite all these problems, the Clinton administration says 13 of the 24 agencies will receive "clean" audits of their Fiscal Year 1998 financial statements. That compares with only one in 1993. campus outrages of the year
Life at PCU
Political correctness on college campuses is so entrenched that hardly anybody is shocked anymore. But the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) carries on, calling attention to the taxpayer-funded atrocities. This year, five incidents earned ISI's uncoveted Polly Awards for worst outrages: (1) The Feminist Majority at Ohio State University won for its bizarre reaction to a school newspaper cartoon spoofing Women's Studies. Feminist members went to cartoonist Bob Hewitt's house and tried to hold a bra-burning protest, but the flame-retardant bras wouldn't light. (2) The Anti-Racist Organizing Committee at the University of Texas won for its protest of racial-preferences opponent Ward Connerly, highlighted by the slogan: "Protect Free Speech-Shut Connerly Up!" When he spoke on campus, a mob of hecklers chanted and pounded on the walls while others inside interrupted him more than a hundred times by banging on desks, clapping, and shouting. (3) The entire Ivy League won for continuing to use I, Rigoberta Menchu, the bogus autobiography of a Guatemalan Marxist troublemaker. (See WORLD, "Academic icon exposed," February 13, 1999.) (4) Princeton University won an additional award for hiring animal-rights zealot Peter Singer as a bioethics professor. Nicknamed "Professor Death," he believes that some disabled people are inferior to livestock and are best killed off. (5) The student government at the University of Wisconsin-Madison won for using students' activity fee money to bail out protesters who were thrown in jail for disrupting a speech given by Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson. Radicals joked about how having so much money to "play with" would be really cool. rare 2nd amendment victory
Judge shoots straight
When San Angelo, Texas, physician Timothy Joe Emerson was arrested for brandishing a gun in front of his wife and her daughter, the resulting court case may have set an important precedent. U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings dismissed charges that Mr. Emerson broke an arcane law that prohibits someone under a restraining order from owning a gun. Activists on both sides say this was the first time a judge specifically called a law unconstitutional because it infringed on an individual's Second Amendment rights. In his ruling, Judge Cummings said the right to bear arms is a protected individual right. (Federal prosecutors had argued that it applies only to an organized militia.) The judge based his decision on a "historical examination of the right to bear arms, from English antecedents to the drafting of the Second Amendment." Legal experts said this decision could spur heavy court challenges to other gun-control laws. "If appealed, this could be the springboard for a definitive Supreme Court ruling on the Second Amendment," said Stephen Holbrook, an attorney who successfully challenged provisions of the Brady Bill. Government lawyers planned to appeal.