Bush: "I'm running"
The race is on
George W. Bush last week made explicit his intention to run for president. In a room full of supporters chanting "run, George, run," Mr. Bush told one backer who held a sign bearing the same message to "tear it up. I'm running and I intend to win." The chant changed to "win, George, win." Mr. Bush stayed away from specifics, but began laying out what he means by compassionate conservatism: "It's conservative to cut taxes; it's compassionate to give people more money to build and save and dream. It's conservative to trust local people to make decisions about their schools; it's compassionate to make sure the education system refuses to leave anyone behind." While he went to work defining his new political formula, he angered some conservatives by saying, concerning his potential selection of federal judges, "There will be no litmus test" on abortion. Mr. Bush's more explicitly conservative rivals seized on the comments: "What I'm hearing right now from the governor is waffling on the one issue that can clearly explain compassionate conservatism," said candidate Gary Bauer. "If compassionate conservative means anything, it has to mean do anything we can to stop the loss of 1.5 million unborn children every year." Likewise, Pat Buchanan is "a 'yes' on an anti-abortion litmus test." Steve Forbes said, "I believe you should appoint justices on matter of principle. One of those principles is belief in the sanctity of life." Mr. Bush laid out his questions for judicial nominees: "Do the judges share my overall philosophy, and will the judges strictly interpret the Constitution as opposed to using the bench to legislate?" The only "litmus test," he said, was whether a nominee would "strictly interpret the Constitution." Pressed by a reporter to say whether he interprets the Constitution to allow for abortions and whether he would require his judicial nominees to view it the same way, he answered, "I am not a lawyer. My job is to pick judges who are qualified to serve on the bench and that will be my criteria." SBC raps Clinton
Baptist to Baptist
Southern Baptists voted last week at their convention to rebuke President Clinton for proclaiming June as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. A separate resolution calling upon Mr. Clinton's home church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark., to discipline him for his support of the homosexual agenda was ruled out of order. The successful resolution urged the president to rescind his appointment of homosexual philanthropist James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg. Meanwhile, in Washington, a confrontation between President Clinton and the Senate over the Hormel nomination ended with a presidential promise to give advance notice of recess appointments. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that as a result of President Clinton's pledge he would stop blocking action on presidential nominations. Gore gets in gear
Al the deficit slayer
Al Gore broke in on the George W. Bush buzz by announcing his White House candidacy, stressing themes ("moral leadership," "values and faith and family") that distance him from his boss. Taking credit for slaying the budget deficit, the vice president then targeted other deficit dragons: "the time deficit in family life; the decency deficit in our common culture; the care deficit for our little ones and our elderly parents." The vice president launched his campaign in his birthplace, Carthage, Tenn., telling the assembled crowd gathered on the town's Main Street that in addition to maintaining a strong economy, "We must make family life work in America." He also took a swipe at Mr. Bush, who leads him in most head-to-head polls. Mr. Gore hinted at the Texas governor's reticence on the issue of abortion. "Some try to duck the issue of choice," he said. "Not me. American women must be able to make that decision for themselves. I will stand up for a woman's right to choose." The vice president ducked use of the word abortion. Gross Austin Powers grosses $55 mil
Keep it frozen
The new Austin Powers movie, The Spy Who Shagged Me (rated PG-13), opened on June 11 and climbed quickly to the top of the box-office heap, grossing $55 million in its first three days. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace slipped to $25 million over that same weekend, but had still grossed $297 million by June 13. For those not familiar with Austin Powers, he's a sex-crazed spy cryogenically frozen in the 1960s and unfrozen in the '90s. In this second movie of what will probably be a long series, Austin must go back to the '60 s to retrieve his stolen "mojo" (sex drive, life force), which has been stolen by "Dr. Evil." But enough about the plot: The storyline plays second fiddle to gross-out humor and sex jokes. Should you go, or allow your children to go because some of their friends saw it? You will love Austin Powers if:
- The idea of drinking excrement tickles your funny bone.
- You think potty jokes are the epitome of humor.
- You can't imagine anything funnier than a character who combines enormous obesity with frequent obscenity ... unless it's breasts that are really machine guns.
- You enjoy seeing a son curse his father and a father hate his son ... a midget jumping on people ... sex jokes ... more potty humor ... more sex jokes ... In an otherwise positive review the Los Angeles Times warned that the film had "considerable bathroom humor and is much cruder overall than parents may be expecting." The Washington Post loved the movie but said, "Folks with fragile funny bones, weak stomachs, and the slightest sense of shame are unlikely to make it through." It's clear from the glowing reviews and the eager ticket buyers that a sense of shame is not much in evidence this year, at least among some parts of the American populace. The No-Comment zone
- The Worm.Explore.Zip virus ruined files on tens of thousands of machines-and experts fear that copycats will follow. The Israeli-made bug, like the Melissa bug, uses guile to spread, then inflicts a Chernobyl-like attack on individual machines. It arrives in a person's email box as a timely reply from an acquaintance, inviting the recipient to open an attached file that will unleash a two-pronged attack. As a result, system administrators urge users to be careful before opening attached files on their computers.
- Mexico City was rocked by an earthquake that shook all of central Mexico, damaging buildings and sending thousands fleeing into the streets as buildings swayed. The quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.7, the National Seismological Service said, and was centered near Huajuapan de Leon, about 125 miles southeast of Mexico City.
- Powerball fever is so hot that the Connecticut state legislature has passed a bill allowing towns to declare a public safety emergency and stop game sales for 24 hours. Many towns, overrun with visitors from New York, New Jersey, and other states, would be able to shut down ticket sales when the buying rush would impede traffic and "create a risk of imminent breach of the peace and a threat to public health and safety."
- Mattell abandoned plans to include tattoos and nose piercing on Barbie and other dolls after the toymaker received complaints about Butterfly Art Barbie. The doll, introduced last year, has a small butterfly tattoo on Barbie's stomach and comes with stick-on tattoos for little girls. The pierced dolls have been scrapped, but Butterfly Art Barbie will still be produced.
- Ex-Boston Celtic Dontae Jones, who led Mississippi State to the Final Four three years ago, turned himself in to police after a shooting incident that wounded seven people. He and another suspect allegedly started shooting after an argument between a Memphis rap group and an entertainment promoter at a night club, according to police reports. Mr. Jones, waived by the Celtics prior to the start of this season, is no longer in the NBA. Supremes deny Adventists college's plea
A small Seventh Day Adventist college lost a battle before the Supreme Court over what its lawyers call "an intrusive investigation of religious speech and practice on its campus." But the intrusion began only after the college sued the state of Maryland, demanding almost $1 million in aid. Columbia Union College has a shot at getting the money, but a federal appeals court ordered the investigation to answer this question: Just how religious a place is it? What Columbia Union College is discovering is that government subsidies are not neutral and can be taken away if the right bureaucrats are not pleased. The school wanted the court to scuttle an investigation into whether the school of about 1,200 students is "pervasively sectarian," which would make it ineligible for state subsidies. Lawyers for the school argued: "Where a funding program is neutral toward religion ... [and] contains safeguards to ensure that program funds are used for secular program purposes, the 'pervasively sectarian' inquiry ... is simply unnecessary." Only one justice, Clarence Thomas, agreed with Columbia Union's appeal of the inquiry that was ordered by a federal appeals court last October. Since 1971, Maryland has provided financial aid to private colleges in the state, based on the number of each school's full-time students. Of 15 colleges that received funds from the Sellinger Program, 12 had no religious affiliation and three are connected to the Roman Catholic church. The money expressly cannot be used for sectarian religious purposes. A 1976 Supreme Court decision upheld the Catholic colleges' participation in the program, ruling that the schools were not "pervasively sectarian." When Columbia Union applied in 1990, the Maryland Commission of Higher Education denied the application, on the grounds that any grant would be used for religious purposes. The Adventist school sued in 1996, seeking $806,000 in state money. A federal trial judge threw out the suit, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it and called for the inquiry. "Repressing Civil Protest"
Abortion fine stands
Randall Terry and various other anti-abortion activists lost a Supreme Court appeal of contempt-of-court fines and fees resulting from a series of New York clinic protests in 1988 and 1989. The justices rejected the appeal without comment. National Organization for Women lawyers urged the justices to leave those rulings intact so that abortion clinics and pro-choice groups can collect nearly $250,000 in reimbursed legal bills. In using civil disobedience, Mr. Terry played the tactics of the Left against the Left. Now he must pay a hefty price. Mr. Terry's appeal argued that the massive, punitive fines "are a means of repressing civil protest." A federal judge and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals twice have ruled that the fines and fees are justified. ± Junk email on the rise
Can the spam
Junk email is piling up the world's mailboxes and no hope is in sight. A Gartner Group survey of 13,000 email users found that 90 percent of users receive spam promoting everything from cyberporn to pyramid schemes to quack health remedies at least once a week. Almost 50 percent get spammed six or more times per week. "Users resent the time it takes to delete spam, see it as huge invasion of their privacy and are offended by it," said Sunil Paul, CEO of Bright Light Technologies, who commissioned the study. Gartner's analysts say that spam increases the longer one stays with a particular email account. Unlike paper junk mail, multiplied spam costs senders nothing, but costs recipients and service providers in the form of online time, bandwidth, and disk space. Merely entering a chat room or publishing one's address can result in a flood of crazy ads. Three out of four respondents said their Internet service provider should be responsible for banning or regulating the spam, while 13.5 percent thought the federal government should do this. Fighting spam is easier said than done, since it is often unregulated and hard to track down. Service providers usually do not act on complaints; when they do, perpetrators often move to another Internet connection. The Federal Trade Commission regularly sues con artists whose solicitations deceive consumers, but those actions only strike a small handful of spammers. Sex abuse scandal may cost Krishnas
A group of current and former Hare Krishna devotees plan to sue the cult, claiming it allowed sex offenders to work among 2,000 children in its boarding schools. Leaders of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness have already acknowledged sexual, physical, and emotional abuse at the schools. They pledged $250,000 a year to investigate past child abuse and to aid survivors and also compiled the names of 200 people who allegedly inflicted abuse in the 1970s and '80s. Some former followers say all this is spin control and are headed to court. One former devotee, Ben Bressack, 28, says that beginning at age 10 he was singled out by an 18-year-old teacher's assistant. "I was his girlfriend or boyfriend for years," he says. "It was accepted. I didn't know any different." Few students recall telling their parents about the abuse. Letters were censored and family visits were rare. Kids were shipped off to the schools at the behest of guru A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Children, he said, should be sent away at age 5 so they could learn to be pure devotees, liberated from familial "ropes of affection." Parents were then freed to sell his devotional books and do other jobs. Behind the image of spiritual bliss promoted by ex-Beatle George Harrison was a nightmare. Home was a square concrete building with stone floors where boys ages 5 to 18 slept on mats and picked worms from their meals. Some children dreaded going to sleep, anticipating teachers' sexual advances. Dallas attorney Windle Turley is building a case on those survivors' behalf. "We just made a decision to plunge forward on a very large scale," he says, refusing to provide details of a planned lawsuit. In 1997, Mr. Turley won a $120 million judgment in a sex-abuse case against the Catholic Diocese of Dallas and agreed to a $30 million settlement. World in brief
Koreans exchange fire
Tensions mounted last week between North Korea and South Korea over disputed waters in the Yellow Sea. Warships from both Koreas exchanged fire, with South Korean forces sinking one North Korean gunboat, heavily damaging several others, and killing about 30 North Korean sailors. Seven South Koreans were injured, though none seriously, as two South Korean ships were raked by North Korean fire. By the end of the week, the United States had deployed two guided-missile cruisers to Korean waters, and North Korean ships and fishing boats had ceased operations in the disputed area. Kosovo: Who speaks for whom?
Peacekeeping in Kosovo is no small task. U.S. officials are warning, despite Kosovo Liberation Army promises to surrender their heavy weapons, that the pledge may not cover all rebel groups in the province. In one of their first peacekeeping activities, U.S. Marines took weapons from about 200 KLA fighters last week. Rebels in the farming village of Zegra first refused to yield weaponry but relented when threatened by armored personnel carriers and Cobra attack helicopters. Bin Laden about to strike again?
U.S. authorities believe Osama bin Laden is in the advanced stages of planning another terrorist operation, though the timing and location of the strike are unknown. The United States blames bin Laden for ordering last year's bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Mr. bin Laden, an exiled Saudi millionaire, has declared his hostility to the United States. Ambassador outrages catholics
Ginger Spice shakes up Manila
The Roman Catholic Church denounced former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell for spokesmodeling contraceptives on a UN Population Fund tour. The former Ginger Spice visited the heavily Catholic Philippines specifically because of the church's opposition to birth control. Ms. Halliwell toured a suburban Manila high school with an experimental sex-ed program in which kids are taught to tutor one another about contraceptives. "Wouldn't it be great if sex education was this well accepted all over the world?" she giggled. Ms. Halliwell was welcomed by cheering Filipino teenyboppers-while outraged priests said the media-generated pseudo-celebrity should go back to Britain to ride out her remaining two minutes of fame. "The UN should send an ambassador of goodwill who is sensible enough to respect the sensibilities of people," said Monsignor Pedro Quitorio.