Peace Blitz

Hawks in the Dark Over Belgrade

On Sunday, a physicist at the VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences in Belgrade reported by e-mail that "highest authorities" had warned the institute that it might become a NATO target. "Our reactor is not working for more than 15 years," wrote P.R. Adzic, "but [a] significant amount of 235-U enriched and unused fuel is still in its interior. Highly radioactive material for everyday activities is also located in several research laboratories."

There is no question that the war's damage to Europe's ecology is only beginning to be felt. In one series of strikes over the weekend of April 17­18, NATO bombed a chemical-manufacturing complex in Pancevo, a city of 140,000 about 10 miles from Belgrade, spewing cancer-causing gases 10,000 times above approved limits into the air.

"Collateral" catastrophe: Bombed bus in which 40 people died smolders below a bridge in Kosovo.
AP/Wide World
"Collateral" catastrophe: Bombed bus in which 40 people died smolders below a bridge in Kosovo.

Lock 'n' Load
Weapons Chinagate

Although Clinton now wants to clamp down on the firepower available to kid killers and tighten gun laws by raising the legal age for purchase, he was more than accommodating to Chinese gun merchants seeking to export thousands of automatic weapons to the U.S. when his 1996 reelection bid needed money.

In 1994, Clinton had banned the influx of Chinese arms begun during the Reagan era. The Chinese had wanted to flood the U.S. market with AK-47s. But on March 14, 1997, in a little-noticed article, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported: "A massive shipment of Chinese guns and ammunition, which had been banned by order of President Clinton, was approved for delivery into the United States four days before the head of a major Chinese gun company met Clinton in the White House."

On February 2, 1996, the government issued import permits for a multi-million-dollar shipment of more than 100,000 semiautomatic weapons and millions of rounds of ammunition from China. The head of the Chinese gun company was one Wang Jun. He was taken to the White House by Charlie Trie, the Little Rock restaurant owner who tried to donate $644,000 to the Clinton legal defense fund and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Democratic National Committee. (Trie has pleaded innocent to charges he made illegal political contributions to the DNC and arranged for other illegal donations.) Clinton said he did not meet Wang until Trie brought him to the White House, and did not discuss business with him.

The deal fell through when the Chinese company was caught trying to smuggle 2000 machine guns into Oakland, California.

Blewster McCloud
Arizona Rep's Comments Stir Storm

Arizona state representative Barbara Blewster, who is fast becoming the national poster child for the John Birch Society, has been blistering the state legislature with her comments about ethnic minorities.

Last week, Representative Leah Landrum, one of two African Americans in the legislature, told the Arizona Republic that Blewster had criticized Native Americans, saying, in Landrum's words, that they are "not smart enough to do what they need to do to get ahead, and that even African Americans are more advanced. . . . "

Blewster has previously said that slavery was not so bad, and compared homosexuality to "bestiality, human sacrifice, and cannibalism."

David Spence, one of three Republicans who ran against Blewster in 1998, called her comments "embarrassing." Spence said he was especially offended by a comment Blewster allegedly had made to Paradise Valley Republican representative Barbara Leff, to the effect that Leff didn't look Jewish because she didn't have a hooked nose.

"The problem is, she's not just saying it," Spence said. "She believes it."

A spokeswoman for Blewster, who refused to reveal her name, said, "It's time to move on."

Mo' Better Bombs

Leave it to Hollywood to find a way to make money off the war. When Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace opens on May 19, it will be preceded in theaters around New York by an ad for the recruit-starved U.S. Navy made by, of all people, Spike Lee. Message: Forget "collateral damage" (militarytalk for civilians killed by those quirky Navy cruise missiles). Think instead about how a good-guy military force vanquishes the evil empire. For the record, the Navy says the ads aren't pegged to Star Wars. Anchors aweigh!

Additional reporting: Ioana Veleanu

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