this week's stories

Wheelin' And Dealin' In Arms To Latin America

When Alan Greenspan Says "Duck," Do It.

Digital TV Is On The Way At Last

HMO Backlash: Declining Service And M.B.A.s In Limos?

Hollywood's Take On The Presidency

A Dubious Rescue Mission At The White House

Notebook: Madeleine's Big Pitch

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Winners & Losers

Image is everything

TIME magazine

Winners

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT
She's really in the majors now. So what if she bounced the ball? George Bush hit the dirt too.

WHITE HOUSE EASTER-EGG ROLL
Phew! Some broken eggs but no jokes about Chinese egg rolls and unsavory Asian connections.

DIGITAL TV
A boon to broadcasters? Maybe. But do we really want to see Dan Rather's pores?

& Losers

NEWT GINGRICH
Tough talk in China, but comes home to a wife who says, If you pay this fine, I'm history.

STRAWBERRIES
Biggest scare since Alar--remember that? Kids and berries take it on the arm.

JACK MCMAHON
There goes the vote? On old tape, G.O.P. candidate for Philly D.A. counsels striking poor black jurors.

Hedging Their Bets

The Sault Ste. Marie Chippewas, a Michigan tribe rich from casino revenues, know something about spreading their bets around the table. After G.O.P. Governor John Engler trumped their plans to build a casino in downtown Detroit, they gave $100,000 to the national Democratic Party in early '96. That helped win the attention of then deputy White House chief of staff Harold Ickes, whom they pressed to get the Interior Department to back their casino proposal. Actually, the tribe gave the President's party almost four times that much. But to avoid further angering Engler, who was already furious about their support for Michigan Democrats in 1994, they routed most of it to state Democratic parties across the country, where Engler would be unlikely to see it. At the same time, they made an $80,000 donation to Engler's Michigan G.O.P.--and none to their home-state Democratic Party. Though Interior nixed their casino bid, the department is still weighing their request to add hundreds of tax-free acres to their sovereign territory. Tribal spokesman John Hatch said the money wasn't intended to influence policy: "We're proud that we're able to help those who help us."

--By Viveca Novak, Michael Weisskopf and Melissa August

Heeee's Back (Well, Sort Of)

"Talk of a comeback is overblown," says a chary White House aide, but there's no doubt the patented Dick Morris patter is seeping its way into Clinton II, the Sequel. Aides to communications director Don Baer have taken dictation from Morris as he suggested language for a presidential press conference. He calls other senior aides to promote ideas based on national polls he pays for himself. His former chief aide, Tom Freedman, just joined the White House Domestic Policy Council to do for it what he did for Morris: scour the country for promising ideas to turn into federal initiatives. Morris' clout is nothing like what it used to be, but he is said by a knowledgeable source to be talking to the President monthly. Clinton has recently dismissed some Morrisiana as worthless--but he often did that during Dick's heyday. Nevertheless, by constantly giving advice to Clinton on TV, as well as hinting that he occasionally has the President's ear, Morris is helping to rehabilitate himself. "He's got something to say," notes one White House aide, and "he's so manipulatively suggestive about his contacts with us" that he may just be turning the appearance of influence into some measure of the real thing.

--By J.F.O. McAllister

King Conspiracy Update

For years, conspiracy theorists who believe that the U.S. government plotted the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. have focused on Merrell McCullough, an undercover Memphis, Tennessee, policeman who was seen crouching beside King's body moments after the civil rights leader was shot at the Lorraine Motel 29 years ago last week. According to the theorists, McCullough was a secret U.S. agent who helped cover up the plot by pointing toward the flophouse from which the FBI maintains James Earl Ray fired the fatal shot, leading police away from a brushy area across the street where several witnesses saw a man who they believe may have been the real assassin. Last week TIME confirmed from U.S. government sources that McCullough has in fact been a CIA agent since at least 1974. McCullough denies being on any intelligence agency's payroll at the time of the murder and, for that matter, being part of any assassination conspiracy.

--By Jack E. White

Say it with a :)

You can chat online until your fingers are raw, but you still can't convey the emotional subtlety of tete-a-tete conversation. That's why emoticons were invented, those clever keyboard images designed to punctuate online palaver with a fillip of feeling. Some have become well known: ;-) is a wink and a smile (in other words, aren't I ironic?). But the art form has spread beyond its first primitive symbols to become an increasingly complex form of Net expression. Herewith a quick sampling of the latest in postliterate sign language:

:'-) (I'm shedding a tear of joy)
3;-} (I'm giving you a devilish leer)
:-X (My lips are sealed)
:-O (I'm shocked)
@}---->---- (Please accept this rose)
%*} (I'm drunk)
-:( (I have a Mohawk)
:-P (I'm sticking my tongue out at you)
+O:-) (I'm the Pope)

A quick quiz. Translate the following conversation:

Boy: 3;-}

Girl: :-P

Boy: @}---->----

Girl: :'-)

What happens after that is nobody's business but their own--and maybe the Supreme Court's.

--By Michael Krantz


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