News & Reviews

Issue: "God, Caesar and taxes," April 17, 1999

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
Bombing diplomacy
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
War footing
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
Al Gore, the self-proclaimed father of the Internet, discovered a new online crisis this month: His campaign's Web site violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It contained a "Just for Kids" section that invited budding young Democrats to give their names, e-mail addresses, and zip codes. Collecting such data violates a new federal law for which Mr. Gore takes credit. "Many Web sites failed to meet a minimal requirement of protecting a privacy policy," the vice president complained last year. "The private sector," he chided, "needs to do more to implement meaningful, enforceable, privacy standards." Mr. Gore's cracker-jack team of "high-technology experts" raced to change the site in time for its debut after an AP reporter asked questions about it. Republicans jumped at the chance to tarnish Mr. Gore's carefully constructed cyber-chic image. "Instead of searching for hyper-links, the 'Father of the Internet' was still looking for 'controlling legal authority,'" hooted Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson. Kids can still send questions to Mr. Gore on the Web. The vice president even promises to surf on by every day and answer one or two. But the campaign added a disclaimer: "PLEASE ask your parents if it is OK to give us the following information before you submit questions." The new privacy law takes effect in 2001, after campaign season. Federal regulators-who are still figuring out how to enforce it-say it won't cover campaign Internet sites. lyons sentenced to 5-1/2 years
'It stinks'
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

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