Crash Course

The week's big news, and how's it's being spun.
Nov. 6 1999 3:30 AM

Crash Course

45000_45718_991104_seattleshooting2

Nine people were killed in two workplace shootings. In Honolulu, a Xerox employee allegedly killed seven co-workers. A day later, a man shot four employees at a Seattle shipyard, killing two. The Honolulu suspect has been arrested, while the Seattle shooter remains at large. Hawaii has some of the nation's strictest firearm regulations. The gun lobby's spin: See, gun laws don't stop bullets. The gun controllers' spin: That's because the laws aren't strict enough. Everyone else's spin: Who's next?

Advertisement

A second man was convicted in the Matthew Shepard killing. Aaron McKinney was sentenced to two life terms for second-degree murder. A judge prohibited McKinney's lawyers from using the "gay panic" defense, which attributes violent acts to an unconscious reaction to homosexual advances. Legal analysts' spin: The jury's rejection of first-degree murder shows they were sympathetic to McKinney. Gay activists' spin: The judge's rejection of "gay panic" means that hate crimes won't be excused.

45000_45727_991104_egyptair

Weather is hampering the investigation of the EgyptAir crash. Officials located Flight 990's "black boxes," but high winds will delay recovery until the weekend. New radar data indicate that the plane did not fall directly to the ocean, but dived and recovered, eventually breaking up at 10,000 feet. Investigators cautioned that they had few clues to go on, but early speculation focused on: 1) the thrust reverser flaw that downed a similar plane in 1991; 2) recent threats of terrorist attacks against airlines; and 3) inconsistent regulation of foreign carriers' safety. NBC's Robert Hager said the new radar evidence reduced the likelihood that thrust reversers caused the accident.

Feminist author Naomi Wolf has been outed as an adviser to Al Gore's campaign. Wolf, whose controversial work has focused on women as sex objects, has reportedly advised Gore: 1) to speak from the heart; 2) to dress in more reassuring earth tones; and 3) to change his image from "beta male" to "alpha male." Gore's spin: She's a "valued adviser" who helps him connect with women and youth. Skeptics' spin: She's a liability whose presence proves that Gore is no alpha male (Richard Cohen). (Slate's Jodi Kantor asks, "How did Wolf start out as Betty Friedan and end up as Dick Morris?" But Slate's William Saletan argues that the complaints about Wolf are confused.)

British researchers transplanted hair from one person to another. The two scientists, who are married to each other, performed the experiment on themselves. They took follicles from the husband's head and grafted them to the wife's forearm. She grew four hairs and did not experience immune-system rejection of the foreign tissue. Scientists said the research held promise for more successful organ transplants and a cure for baldness.

George W. Bush is campaigning in New Hampshire. After missing last week's Republican presidential forum, Bush made numerous appearances and delivered key policy speeches in the state. Although Bush retains his lead in New Hampshire, John McCain has gained ground. The dismal spin: Bush looks less confident  and more desperate for votes. The rosy spin: That's exactly the image he needs.

44000_44190_991101_clinton

President Clinton participated in Middle East peace talks in Oslo, Norway. He joined Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to begin designing the "framework" for peace, which they've agreed to complete by February. A final pact is scheduled for September. The primary issues are: 1) the creation of a Palestinian state; 2) Israeli settlements in the West Bank; 3) the governance of Jerusalem; and 4) the status of Palestinian refugees. Clinton's spin: The peace process is revitalized. The cautious spin: The tough part is still ahead.

A federal judge ordered New York City to restore funding to the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani had withdrawn $7.2 million last month when the museum opened its "Sensation" show, which included a depiction of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung. The city said it would appeal the decision, which held that the mayor's actions violated the First Amendment. The New York Times reported that the exhibit had been largely funded by those with financial interests in the artwork. Giuliani's spin: They're using the First Amendment to "put money in the pockets of multimillionaires." The museum's spin: No, we're using it to thwart censors like you.

45000_45308_991102_payton

Football legend Walter Payton died at 45 of complications from liver disease. He holds the NFL rushing record (16,726 yards). He was remembered as one of football's funniest and most generous players, and his nickname, Sweetness, "was a tribute to his personality more than his running style" (ESPN). Chicago Bears Assistant Coach Fred O'Connor, who believed Payton was destined to be a legend from the outset, said, "God must have taken a chisel and said, 'I'm going to make me a halfback.' " ( Chicago Tribune).

The online auction of models' eggs may be a fraud. Five of the eight models have already dropped out, and journalists who tried to place bids received no response. The proprietors' explanation: We're inundated with responses and will be up and running shortly. The journalists' explanation: The site is a sham, intended only to drive traffic to the owner's porn sites. (William Saletan dissects the ethics of the sale in "eBabe.")