News & Reviews

Issue: "Is our military ready?," May 29, 1999

casinos, lotteries on the rise in many states
Gambling wins big
After two years of rapid growth across the country, the surge in gambling continues as several states contemplate new lotteries and casinos in order to keep up with the Joneses. "Mississippi got one, Georgia got one. We're surrounded by states that are prospering from some type of gambling," argued Tennessee state Sen. Ward Crutchfield, who wants to amend the Volunteer State's constitution to allow a lottery. If current pro-gambling campaigns succeed, South Carolina and Alabama will also enter the lottery business, while Massachusetts, Kentucky, and West Virginia will have casinos for the first time. Other states are working to expand their gambling operations. Rhode Island's state lottery is defending its decision to allow new slot machines at a jai alai court and a dog track. In Illinois, legislators discussed a plan to allow a riverboat casino near Chicago. And in California, leaders of more than 60 American Indian tribes are pressuring the state legislature to allow gambling. A few signs of resistance are sprouting up. A federal commission may recommend a moratorium on new gambling operations, and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum called for a statewide moratorium on more Indian casinos. It's time to declare "enough is enough," he said. IRS shows restraint under new law
Ceasing seizures?
IRS employees are so afraid of being fired under new taxpayer-rights legislation that property seizures have slowed drastically. "Very few people are going to take the risk that if you make a mistake you'll be fired," said Robert Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (which represents 92,000 IRS workers). He said that while seizures are down, no one has been fired under the new rules and no action has been initiated that could lead to a dismissal. Under a 1998 reform law, employees can be fired immediately with no appeal for such things as failing to obtain required approval for a property seizure, violating a taxpayer's constitutional rights, falsifying or destroying documents, and concealing information from Congress. As a result, IRS agents are becoming more cautious. Agents seized property for overdue taxes 108 times in the six months that ended March 31, compared with 1,150 during the same span last year and 5,000 seizures two years ago. Garnishments of wages and levies on bank accounts both decreased by at least two-thirds. Report documents China's spying
Going nuclear
China has made substantial gains in modernizing its nuclear weapons program because of U.S. secrets obtained in a pervasive campaign of espionage and unauthorized military use of legally obtained technology. A long-awaited government report, produced by a special House committee headed by Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), concludes that there is little question that China has obtained critical information about an array of U.S. warheads. The report says China stole from U.S. nuclear weapons labs and meticulously scanned publicly available infomation. Security at weapons labs has been the subject of intense scrutiny since early March when a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was fired after being suspected since 1996 of having provided China with warhead secrets. film: Latest shakespeare adaptation semi-enchanting
Grade 'B' bard
During the weekend of May 14-16 The Mummy, a gross movie, grossed $25 million from showings on 3,000 screens, pushing its two-week income to over $80 million. A Midsummer Night's Dream was the biggest new-release money-maker, but it brought in only $4.4 million from showings on 1,000 screens. The critics tended to give a "B" to director Michael Hoffman's Shakespeare adaptation, and that's about right. The 1890s Italian setting is lush and the production lavish, with stars such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Kevin Kline strutting through fanciful roles. Parents should probably leave kids home, not primarily because of violence or sex (although a ripe sensuality pervades several scenes), but because they would most likely be bored by lengthy wanderings in a romantically enchanted forest. Moviegoers who have liked grade-A bard films such as Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing will probably enjoy this as well. carneal's parents deposed in paducah shooting civil suit
Shooter a 'different' person
Michael Carneal's parents can't explain why their son opened fire on a student prayer group in West Paducah, Ky., in December 1997. All they can say is that that he suffered from a mental illness that lay hidden until the rampage. "The boy that I see now is not in any way, shape, form, or fashion the boy who lived in my house," John Carneal said in a deposition for a civil suit brought against him and his wife by the parents of Michael's three victims. "They are entirely different people." He believes Michael suffers from some type of schizophrenia. Michael Carneal pleaded guilty (but mentally ill) to murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. His parents said their 15-year-old son seemed kind, and even dropped out of karate lessons after he accidentally hit a friend too hard and knocked his breath out. "He was a person who enjoyed people but was an observer of life rather than a participant," Mr. Carneal said. After the shooting, Ann Carneal said she was shocked to find pornographic and violent material in her son's room. She said she occasionally "snooped" there but had not seen those items. The Carneals are among 10 defendants in the suit. The victims' parents have also filed a $130 million federal lawsuit against 25 entertainment companies, including producers and distributors of the film The Basketball Diaries, alleging the media led Michael Carneal to murder. The No-Comment Zone

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