(en)Top NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #65

Lyn Gerry (linjin@tao.ca)
Mon, 7 Apr 1997 10:57:53 pst

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Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 22:38:33 -0700 (PDT) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject: Top NEWSPEAK Stories of the Week #65 (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Sun, 6 Apr 1997 20:57:28 -0700 (PDT) From: Wayne Grytting <wgrytt@animal.blarg.net>

From: AMERICAN NEWSPEAK at http://www.scn.org/news/newspeak Celebrating cutting edge advances in Cultural Gridlock Written by Wayne Grytting

Investing in Democracy

The outcry over China funneling money to the Democrats in the last election finally jogged a reporter's memory about the U.S. engaging in the same practice. John Broder reported in the NY Times that Congress routinely appropriates $30 million a year for the National Endowment for Democracy. The NED spends those funds on candidates and "institution building" in countries like Nicauragua, Portugal, North Ireland, Bolivia and China (which received $1.6 million last year). However, Louisa Coan, NED's program officer for East Asia was quick to point out that their spending in other countries elections is not comparable to other nations meddling in our affairs. The difference? "We support people who otherwise would not have a voice in their political system... where governments or other social forces prevent open and peaceful political processes." Which brings us to our contest. See if you can guess where the NED's program officer was hiding during the recent revelations about the $15,000 donations needed just to gain access to our officials. (NYT 3/31)

Bring Back the Pharisees

In Sacramento a coalition of churches has been feeding the homeless through an organization called Loaves and Fishes. The group took in $1.6 million in contributions last year and used it not only to feed thousands of people each week, but to run a mental health clinic and shelters for runaway teenagers and battered women. Now the city is saying it is too successful after local business people complained of the kind of people being attracted to the area. City officials responded by trying to reduce the number of people Loaves and Fishes was feeding. When director LeRoy Chatfield refused to comply, Sacramento took the only course open. The city sued the agency "for transgressions like feeding the homeless on Sundays without a permit." This heinous crime brings to mind the offense of a Jewish carpenter of feeding his disciples on the Sabbath, but I suspect the irony was lost on city officials apparently intent upon encouraging the practice of fasting on Sundays (NYT 3/31)

The Legal Tangle at Heaven's Gate

One of the more intriguing aspects of the cult suicide of 39 people in California is the fact that the Society of Heaven's Gate took out insurance against the possibility of alien abduction. Now a specialist in insurance law, attorney John McCarthy, has come forth and declared the cult may be entitled to $39 million under the terms of the policy. After all, who's to say they weren't abducted? Maybe the aliens' transporters weren't up to Star Trek standards? "All of the physical evidence suggests that they expected to be transported to another world," McCarthy said. Heaven's Gate took out the policy from a respected London insurance agency named Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (and not a flake L. A. agency). The policy not only insured each member against abduction by space aliens, but also against wrongful deaths or impregnations by alien beings (a real bonus). And the finest legal minds working for the state of California approved the policy. (AP 4/5)

New Standards for Punishment

When convicted killer Pedro Medina was electrocuted in Florida, a mask covering his face burst into flames. This brought on a lot of criticism and a promise by Gov. Lawton Chiles to look at other methods of execution. But not every official in Florida caved in to liberal pressure groups. Attorney General Bob Butterworth humanely commented that "People who wish to commit murder, they better not do it in the state of Florida because we may have a problem with our electric chair." But Florida Senate Majority Leader Locke Burke went a step further and put forward a profound philosophy of punishment. He complained that the more common method of injecting poison "appears to be a medical procedure." Not good enough for Florida. "A painless death," he announced, "is not punishment." So true. And to think that people once thought that mere death could deter wrongdoers. Tsk, tsk. (AP 3/25, NYT 3/27)

>From Behind the Curtain

The Texan company, Enron, is one of the world's largest producers of natural gas and electricity. Their brochures proudly proclaim that "The success of Enron lies not only in our products and services but also within each member of our team." However, a slightly different view of the value of employees emerged when Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling addressed an industry conference in Arizona. From behind closed doors, Mr. Skilling told fellow executives that job cuts in their industry were inevitable. "You must cut costs ruthlessly by 50 or 60 percent," he said. "Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works." Valued team members gumming up the works? This leak reminds me of the scene in the Wizard of Oz when the curtain is pulled to reveal the small man behind the PR image of the Wizard. Better keep those curtains closed, guys. (Seattle Times 4/5)

Special thanks this week to Maarten Ultee and Paul Loeb NEWSPEAK is inflicted weekly and the content is 100% Made in America. There is a mailing list for this at wgrytt@blarg.net

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