News & Reviews

Issue: "Top 100 Books 1999," Dec. 4, 1999

Clinton apologizes in Greece
Saying sorry
President Clinton wound up a 10-day, six-nation European tour. In Greece, the president apologized for U.S. complicity in a 1967 military coup that led to a military crackdown in the birthplace of democracy. He said the United States had an "obligation to support democracy" rather than protect its Cold War interests by supporting Greece's harsh military junta. His remarks coincided with long-standing street demonstrations which mark the anniversary of the coup and include denunciation of the United States. "When the junta took over in 1967 here," Clinton said, "the United States allowed its interests in prosecuting the Cold War to prevail over its interest, I should say its obligation, to support democracy, which was, after all, the cause for which we fought the Cold War. It is important that we acknowledge that." Anti-American protests during Mr. Clinton's visit yielded a night of mayhem in central Athens. Hooded rioters among a crowd of 10,000 evening demonstrators set fires and smashed storefronts and banks. The protest was not about past U.S. policy, however. It was aimed against U.S. policy in Kosovo, Bosnia, and the American-led bombing of Yugoslavia, a traditional Orthodox Christian ally of Greece. IRS agent becomes a TV millionaire
Taking it from someone else
Internal Revenue Service agent John Carpenter may be ditching his day job; he's found a more lucrative way to collect large sums of other people's money. Shrugging off boos from the audience, the 31-year-old tax collector raked in the largest game-show prize in history last week-$1 million-from ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? An English-imported, dumbed-down version of Jeopardy, the show is making other millionaires. The show put ABC at the top of the ratings race with more than 20 million viewers per episode. museum director uses discretion, shuts down shock art
'Responsibility to the public'
The Detroit Institute of Arts was all set to show an exhibit of pseudo-art, such as a work called "Bathtub Jesus" that featured a doll wearing a condom. Then the new museum director, Graham Beal, stepped in and shut it down. Whether it will ever open isn't known. DIA spokeswoman Annmarie Erickson told the Detroit News: "The museum has a responsibility to the artist and an even greater responsibility to the public." NHL'S Gretzky honored
One more honor for a crowded trophy case
Wayne Gretzky entered the National Hockey League Hall of Fame with his usual humility, crediting his teammates and a passion that drove him always to want more from himself. "I felt like I'd never done enough. If I had three goals, I wanted five goals. If I had seven points, I wanted to get the eighth point," he said. The 38-year-old holder of 61 NHL records set almost every conceivable scoring record, won every major NHL award multiple times, and led four Stanley Cup championship teams. The No-Comment Zone

  • In what amounts to Hollywood's version of a Surgeon General's warning, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has required newspaper and billboard movie ads to post more detailed rating explanations. For example, The Bone Collector would be rated "R for strong violent content including grisly images, and for language." The MPAA order follows criticism from moviegoers frustrated with obscure ratings.
  • Five Texas lawyers will divide a massive $3.3 billion piece of the state's $17.3 billion tobacco settlement pie, to be doled out over the next 25 years. Under the original contract, the lawyers could have received even more. Rather than wage a risky legal battle, the lawyers instead accepted the $3 billion amount set by a national arbitration board.
  • The offer to "Be all that you can be" doesn't seem to be enough to lure young people into the U.S. Army. So in an effort to rescue plummeting recruitment numbers, the Army is offering bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 to new recruits for key positions, marking a 67 percent increase over last year's top bonus. "It gives them options; kids like options" said Col. Kirk Davidson, director of Army recruiting operations at Fort Knox, Ky.
  • The Partnership for a Drug-Free America reports that drug use among teen-agers is leveling off and that 40 percent of teens questioned felt "really cool" kids did not use drugs, up from 35 percent last year. The survey of about 6,500 teenagers also showed fewer teens trying out cocaine and crack; that drop-off was the first since 1993.
  • Is America getting safer? Serious crimes dropped 10 percent during the first half of 1999, according to FBI statistics. That includes drops of 13 percent in murders, 14 percent in burglaries, and 12 percent in auto thefts. The trend continues among other violent crimes. Robbery dropped 10 percent; rape, 8 percent; and aggravated assault, 7 percent. Of course, these figures include only crimes that are reported, so the real statistics are never known. Cashing in on millennial fever?
    WWJG: Where would Jesus go?
    Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, but that hasn't stopped Israel and Jordan from designating new "He was here" sites in hopes of attracting millennium pilgrims. Israeli officials have marked the spot where they say Jesus fed the 4,000, and tourism officials from both countries are locked in a friendly dispute over where in the Jordan River Jesus was baptized. Israel says it was near the western shore, while Jordan is developing a site called "Bethany" on the eastern shore where it says John the Baptist performed the baptism. The Jordanian Tourism Ministry has even built a guest house and paved roads to the area. The problem for millennial tourists looking for authentic sites: Early Christians cared more about the meaning of Jesus' miracles than their location and did not bother to preserve sites. Some of the sites of events in Jesus' life were not designated until 400 years after His resurrection, and most are based on speculation. "There are few places where we are sure," admitted Vassilios Tzaferis, head of the excavations department in the Israel Antiquities Authority. Hindus, buddhists unify to preserve "Identity"
    Celebrate diversity
    Describing conversions to Christianity as "war against Hindus and Buddhists" and a "spiritual crime," 1,000 Asian Hindu and Buddhist priests at a three-day conference in Nepal passed a resolution last week to stay united against Christian missionary activity. "We are worried about our identity," said Acharya Dharmendra, a Hindu religious leader and policy maker of the World Hindu Council, an Indian religious group allied with India's ruling party. Calling for Hindu/Buddhist unity, he said, "If we become one, we will become a majority and no one will be able to touch us." Some Buddhist groups refused to participate in the conference, though, arguing that it was dominated by Hindus who were trying to diminish Buddhism's importance as an independent religion. Controversy over conversions to Christianity has led to several attacks against Christians in India over the past year.

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