Gore Makes It a Family Affair, Does Bin Laden Have Plans?, Nuclear Leaks of Another Kind, We're Working Faster! E-Mail Your Friends!, Radical Theater, We Know What You'll Do This Summer, Flying High, Leaving a Mark as Big as Texas

Newsweek, June 28, 1999 | Go to article overview

Gore Makes It a Family Affair, Does Bin Laden Have Plans?, Nuclear Leaks of Another Kind, We're Working Faster! E-Mail Your Friends!, Radical Theater, We Know What You'll Do This Summer, Flying High, Leaving a Mark as Big as Texas


Gun control is now being defined as a "family" issue--and will soon be aimed by the Democrats directly at Texas Gov. George W. Bush. That was one of the clues to Campaign 2000 that emerged last week as Vice President Al Gore formally kicked off his presidential bid.

Polling for the Democrats has found more than 80 percent siding with Clinton and Gore over Bush on issues like mandatory gun locks, background checks at gun shows and opposition to concealed weapons. It was no coincidence that Gore criticized efforts to shield the gun industry from lawsuits just as Bush was signing a bill doing just that. "Guns have definitely become an issue that is connected to your children, especially for suburban women," says Mark Penn, a pollster for Clinton and Gore. "The school shootings have turned this into a first-tier issue." Democrats believe last week's House vote against gun control will help galvanize the issue.

Even so, education--not guns--is the centerpiece of what Gore says will be a "restless," "revolutionary" and highly specific campaign. Among his education promises: preschool for all American kids, a $10,000 bonus for teachers willing to work in underserved areas and a new national savings plan for college tuition. Gore is not addressing Bush by name but he repeatedly criticizes those who say needy Americans should survive on "the crumbs of compassion"--a not-so-veiled reference to Bush's idea of "compassionate conservatism."

TERRORISM Does Bin Laden Have Plans?

Is Osama bin Laden, the suspected terrorist mastermind, about to strike again? ABC News last week reported that bin Laden was "in the advanced stages" of planning a new anti-U.S. attack. But the FBI is downplaying the report. A senior bureau official told NEWSWEEK that there is no "hard intelligence" that the exiled Saudi millionaire is poised to strike. Still, U.S. installations in the Middle East and Africa have been placed on high alert, and the FBI issued a "terrorist threat advisory" to U.S companies. Among the reasons the Feds cite for the "heightened" concern: the recent addition of bin Laden to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list and the upcoming anniversary of last August's U.S. embassy bombings in Africa.

RADIATION Nuclear Leaks of Another Kind

Nuclear secrets aren't the only kind of unauthorized leaks from U.S. weapons labs. According to a General Accounting Office draft report obtained by NEWSWEEK, over the past three years, the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore labs were assessed fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars for safety violations, including exposing their employees to radiation. The report says investigators criticize Los Alamos for "inadequate monitoring of radiological contamination," while Lawrence Livermore is cited for "radiation exposure of personnel exceeding limits" and "repeated violations of safety procedures designed to prevent uncontrolled nuclear reactions." But the contractor that now runs the labs won't have to pay the fines. The reason: under the law, nonprofit organizations operating nuclear-weapons facilities don't have to pay safety fines and both labs are run by the University of California, a nonprofit. Energy Department officials say safety at the labs has improved.

THE BUZZ We're Working Faster! E-Mail Your Friends!

For years economists denied that computers get more done, faster. But a boom in workers' hourly output has the money mavens finally tipping to the idea that technology is driving our inflationless, high-employment roll. The buzz on New Era economics:

Huh? Computers boost productivity? All we do is send friends e-mail and perfect our solitaire game.

Ya Gotta Believe If Fed chief Greenspan accepts the New Era, we do too. Ao why raise interest rates? Keep it rollin', Al.

It's Just a Blip As soon as we all get online, growth levels off, and the fun's over.

You Don't Know the Half of It Some economists say healthcare and banking efficiencies like ATMs go uncounted.

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