The week's big news, and how's it's being spun.
May 2 1999 3:30 AM

Click here for Slate's complete Kosovo coverage.

Kosovo update: 1) House Republicans, having voted down (on a tie vote) a resolution expressing support for the NATO bombing campaign, then voted to add several billion dollars in defense spending to the money President Clinton requested for the bombing. Democrats accused Republicans of hypocrisy and disloyalty. Republicans accused Democrats of squandering military resources on a foolish war. 2) The Rev. Jesse Jackson brought a delegation of religious leaders to Belgrade, seeking to persuade Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to release three captured U.S. peacekeeping soldiers. 3) NATO bombed Yugoslavia's army headquarters and interior ministry. 4) A NATO missile strayed into Bulgaria but killed nobody because it didn't explode. NATO apologized. 5) The top U.N. human rights officer criticized NATO for killing civilians and making itself "the sole judge of what is or is not acceptable to bomb."(4/30/99)


The Colorado high-school massacre is spawning copycats. A Canadian student shot another student to death in a manner similar to the Colorado tragedy. Four kids in Texas and five in Brooklyn were charged with conspiring to blow up their schools. A kid in upstate New York was found with a bomb-making arsenal with which he evidently planned to destroy his school. A pipe bomb was found in an Oklahoma school. In various places around the country, schools suspended classes, and kids were questioned or even arrested due to bomb threats and rumors of grudge-bearing students with hit lists. Some schools have reportedly banned dark trench coats. The spins: 1) School violence has become a national crisis. 2) School violence is declining and has been absurdly overhyped. 3) The overhyping is good because it is cathartic and encourages vigilance. 4) The overhyping is encouraging the copycats. 5) Psychopathic kids are in the grip of violent fantasies. 5) Hysterical parents are in the grip of violent fantasies. (4/30/99)

William Saletan William Saletan

Will Saletan writes about politics, science, technology, and other stuff for Slate. He’s the author of Bearing Right.

The Palestinian Central Council agreed not to declare a Palestinian state May 4. The Middle East peace process was supposed to conclude that day, but rocky negotiations and new elections in Israel (scheduled for May 17) have delayed the process. The U.S. editorial spin: The Palestinians held off because the United States and the European Union asked them to do so and promised to support eventual statehood. The Palestinian spin: We held off to avoid scaring Israeli voters, which might have helped re-elect right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom we despise for sabotaging the peace process. Netanyahu's spin: They held off because I'm strong and vigilant, so re-elect me. (4/30/99)

New evidence supports the theory that Mars once resembled Earth. A magnetic pattern on Mars indicates that it had dynamic, internal heat similar to Earth's, increasing the likelihood that Mars had a warm atmosphere, water, and elementary life. The trumpeted spin: Mars had life! The buried spin: Earth faces death. (4/30/99)


The environmental panic over deformed frogs was deflated. For years, scientists have been finding frogs around the United States with deformed, missing, or extra limbs. The old theory: The frogs are a harbinger of a "poisoned environment," possibly caused by industrial chemicals or erosion of the ozone layer. The new theory, based on subsequent studies: The frogs' development was screwed up by parasites that infected them. The new version of the old theory: The parasites are a harbinger of a poisoned environment. (4/30/99)


Update on the Colorado high school massacre: 1) The local sheriff said three kids in combat fatigues who knew the killers and waited outside the school during the shooting are "subjects of our investigation." 2) Investigators determined that a girlfriend of one of the killers bought two of the guns they used. It is not yet clear whether she knew what they planned to do with the arms. 3) A security camera reportedly captured the shootings that took place in the school cafeteria. 4) The Marine Corps says that just before the massacre it rejected an application from one of the killers on "medical" grounds--evidently he had been seeing a shrink and taking psychiatric medication. 5) Marilyn Manson canceled the rest of his U.S. tour, explaining that there's "not a great atmosphere" for his music after the shootings. According to the Associated Press, "Manson said he blames ignorance, hatred, and access to guns for the tragedy."(4/28/99)


President Clinton proposed new federal gun control legislation. It would raise the legal age for handgun possession to 21, prohibit juvenile possession of semiautomatic weapons, require trigger locks, make parents criminally liable for "knowingly or recklessly" giving their kids access to guns used to kill or injure, and extend background checks to gun show patrons and people who try to buy explosives. Meanwhile, Republican congressional leaders proposed a national forum on "youth and culture." The spins: 1) Clinton is cynically exploiting public unease about guns in the wake of the Colorado tragedy. 2) Clinton is courageously exploiting public unease about guns in the wake of the Colorado tragedy. 3) Clinton's focus on guns is simple-minded and would not have stopped the Colorado tragedy. 4) The GOP's focus on "culture" is simple-minded and would not have stopped the Colorado tragedy. (For further analysis of Clinton's new spin on gun control, see "Lethal Weapons" in Slate.) (4/28/99)

Florida lawmakers have agreed to give kids in bad public school districts state-funded vouchers to attend private schools. It is the country's first state voucher program. Some cities already have vouchers, and some states are considering similar proposals. Florida will rate districts by standardized test scores and will let kids in the lowest-scoring districts switch to any school that will accept them. The state will transfer $4,000 from the school each kid leaves to the school where he or she enrolls. The arguments pro: 1) It gives kids and parents a choice. 2) It breaks the stranglehold of bureaucrats and teachers' unions. 3) It puts bad schools on notice that they must shape up or lose their students. The arguments con: 1) The good parents will yank their kids out of bad schools, making these schools worse and leaving kids with indifferent or helpless parents trapped in them. 2) Using state money for religious schools is unconstitutional. 3) The vouchers are too small to give poor kids a real shot at a good private school. (4/28/99)


Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway is retiring. He won the last two Super Bowls and holds the National Football League records for games won (148) and game-winning or game-tying drives in the fourth quarter (47). He is one of only two quarterbacks to throw for 50,000 yards and is one of only three to throw 300 touchdown passes. Elway said he is retiring because his knee is damaged, he has accomplished what he sought in football, and he wants to spend more time with his family. The sunny spin: He's going out on top, just as Michael Jordan did. The sad spin: He won't get a chance to try for a third Super Bowl. The cynical spin: He's shrewdly getting out before the Broncos collapse. (4/26/99)