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TIME On Politics

The Notebook:

"...a simple, innocent explanation?"

TIME magazine

Verbatim

"Maybe there'll be a simple, innocent explanation. I don't think so because I think we would have offered that up already."
Mike McCurry, the White House press secretary, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune

"I think what I was proving was that only fools answer hypothetical questions."
Mike McCurry, now chastened, explaining himself to reporters

The Scoop: Hollywood

How Katzenberg Differs From Sammy Davis Jr.

(TIME, March 2) -- DreamWorks partner JEFFREY KATZENBERG has taken some ribbing since a photo of him by DIANA WALKER seemingly embracing the Vice President from behind appeared in these pages two weeks ago. Was this an example of Sammy Davis Jr.-hugging-Nixon-like enthusiasm? Not quite. What happened was that Katzenberg was hanging out with SIR ELTON JOHN following John's rehearsal before the state dinner in honor of British Prime Minister TONY BLAIR. Katzenberg had been lobbying John to sing a tune he didn't write for the very-high-stakes upcoming DreamWorks animated film Prince of Egypt. Unfortunately, John doesn't do songs he didn't write. Enter HILLARY CLINTON. (Seemingly a casual drop-by, she was actually there by prearrangement with Katzenberg in the hope that she would find John with STEVIE WONDER so she could urge the two to perform a duet at the dinner.) She greeted them, then asked John if he was going to sing a song for Prince of Egypt. John, smelling a setup, glowered at Katzenberg. After a few minutes of chitchat, AL GORE entered. He greeted the group, expressed admiration for John, then asked (purely by coincidence, Katzenberg swears) if John would sing on Prince of Egypt. At that point, as John feigned exasperation, Katzenberg ducked for cover behind the largest immobile object in sight (cheap joke). At this writing, John is not performing on Prince of Egypt. However, he and Wonder did sing a duet.

--By Kim Masters/Los Angeles

The Asian Flu: Unrest in Indonesia Has Pentagon Laying Plans

Pentagon planners are quietly reviewing their options for how to extricate the 11,000 Americans living in Indonesia if turmoil in the South Pacific archipelago continues to escalate. Fiscal problems have led to a $43 billion International Monetary Fund bailout, but the resulting austerity measures have sent the cost of basic necessities in the world's fourth most populous country soaring, and last week rioting broke out on several islands. The anger comes from 90% of the 202 million Indonesians who are Muslims and is largely directed against the nation's ethnic Chinese, who account for only 4% of the population but control about 70% of the economy. So long as the unrest is contained by Indonesian strongman SUHARTO, the Pentagon doesn't think an emergency evacuation will be required. But his hold is shaky, and if increased rioting turns into wholesale violence, the U.S. military might be called on to ferry Americans to safety.

--By Mark Thompson/Washington

Talking The Talk

Kofi Annan isn't the first statesman to try to broker a last-minute peace. Here are some past attempts:

Secretary of State William Seward tried to avoid the Civil War in 1861 by offering to abandon Fort Sumter and provoke war with Spain. Lincoln put the kibosh on these plans, and the nation went to war.

Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement in 1938, ceding the Sudetenland to Germany and announcing "peace in our time." He went down in history as the personification of misguided appeasement.

Jimmy Carter went to Port-au-Prince in 1994 to persuade General Cedras to step down, as the U.S. demanded. After two days of negotiation, Carter succeeded, and Haiti just kind of chilled out.

Where Have All THe Dollars Gone?

Combat ain't cheap. The Gulf War in 1991 lasted a mere seven weeks, yet cost about $70 billion, as much as bailing out one or two Asian economies. Should battle resume, the money will once again start to burn.

Tomahawk Cruise Missile
In 1991 a stunned CNN newsman watched a ship-launched Tomahawk navigate past his Baghdad hotel room toward its last stop. We used 288 last time
Cost: $750,000 each

AGM-88 HARM
At least 1,000 of the creepy-sounding air-to-surface anti-radiation missiles helped deafen Iraq's air-defense radar system
Cost: $200,000 each

F-16 Fighting Falcon
The Fighting Falcon's jamming equipment sent Iraqi missiles swirling off course. They flew 13,500 combat sorties, but seven were lost during the war
Cost: more than $20 million each

AIM-9 Sidewinder
During the war and the cease-fire, U.S. jets using these supersonic heat-seeking, air-to-air missiles dispatched eight Iraqi aircraft. About 35 Sidewinders were fired
Cost: $84,000 each

20-MM Shell
They weigh only half a pound, but when spewed at 7,200 rounds a minute from the six twirling muzzles of a Vulcan cannon, these armor-piercing shells are formidable indeed. Pentagon officials couldn't begin to estimate the number used
Cost: around $20 each

AIM-7 Sparrow
About 50 cost-effective Sparrows were used to take out 23 enemy aircraft
Cost: $125,000 each

Good Al, But That's With A "W"

Everyone knows Allen Ginsberg was a great poet. Did he also have ESP? Here is a poem he wrote in 1949:

Sweet Levinsky in the night
Sweet Levinsky in the light
do you giggle out of spite,
or are you laughing in delight
Sweet Levinsky, sweet Levinsky

In other lines, Ginsberg asks if Levinsky trembles when the cock crows and employs such words as dissemble, tearful and fearful. The Levinsky in the poem is actually Leon Levinsky, a relatively minor character in Jack Kerouac's first novel, The Town and the City.

Quick Quiz

To which resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue does this description refer?

"[He] makes almost never-ending eye contact. The way he looks at you, it's almost like he wants to get inside of you. You feel like you have his undivided attention, like he'd do anything to please you."

Answer: It's First Dog Buddy, characterized by trainer Greg Strong in the March issue of George magazine.

In TIME This Week

Cover Date: March 2, 1998

Clinton's Crises: Selling The War Badly
Clinton's Crises: Twin Perils Of Love & War
Parade Of The Dead Babies
What Jordan Knew
Going After Starr's Camp
Monica's World
Essay: Ye Olde Town Gimmick
Calvin Trillin: Rudy Giuliani, Proctor of New York
The Notebook: "...a simple, innocent explanation?"





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