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At what price fame?

Why did they do it?

Why did Americans all over the country last week claim they had found something funny in their soft drinks?

It all started with an 82-year-old man in Tacoma, Wash., who reported finding a syringe in his Diet Pepsi.

The media ran with it like crazy. Within a few days, there were more than 50 reports of foreign objects in cola cans in at least 23 states.

Needles. Screws. Bullets. A crack-cocaine vial.

And then the Great Pepsi-Cola Tampering Scare fizzled. Almost all the reports were fakes.

Maybe people hoped to make a fast buck. More likely, they got caught up in national hysteria.

"I was just basically wanting attention," a California woman confessed.

Some attention. Some of the fakers faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Last week America said goodbye to two figures from history. One was Donald K. "Deke" Slayton, one of the original seven Mercury astronauts, who died of cancer at 69.

The other was John B. Connally, 76, former governor of Texas, who was wounded during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Connally was buried in Austin on Thursday. Still in his body were the fragments from the bullet that supposedly first wounded Kennedy (the "single bullet" theory), just before he was killed by another bullet.

Researchers failed to get family permission to remove the fragments before burial, and it wasn't clear why no one had ever asked before. More fuel for the conspiracy theory.

In Pennsylvania last week, Gov. Robert Casey was recovering from only the seventh heart-liver transplant performed in the U.S.

In Huntington, Ind., the Dan Quayle Center and Museum opened.

In Detroit, in a horrible case of deja vu, a trial began for three police officers accused in the beating death of a black motorist.

In Minnesota, a murderer confessed to what he thought was a friend's answering machine. It was a wrong number, and he was caught.

Bill Clinton had a better week than some of the ones he's had lately. Maybe it's due to the president's new hired help, image-improver David Gergen.

Clinton pulled off a mild surprise Monday by nominating Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 60, a Washington federal appeals judge, for the Supreme Court.

Although Ginsburg was described as socially liberal (and definitely pro-choice), she has publicly criticized the Roe vs. Wade ruling and has voted with Republican-appointed judges more than Democrat-appointed ones. She would be the second woman on the court, and the first Jewish justice in almost a quarter-century.

Speaking of the Supreme Court, it again softened the church-state barrier by ruling the public could supply interpreters to parochial schools. And by a 7-2 vote, the court ruled that an inmate could sue for cruel and unusual punishment for being forced to share a cell with a smoker.

The Air Force fired the general who gave a speech calling the president a draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizing gay-lover. Civilians are free to call Bill Clinton those things all day, but not a soldier speaking of the commander-in-chief.

Clinton settled two science controversies by saying he will stand by the space station Freedom and the supercollider in Texas, both described by critics as boondoggles. His support probably ensures their survival.

He also hit back hard at his negative press, telling reporters: "This is the most decisive presidency you've had in a very long time on all the big issues that matter." He won his first battles in the Senate over his economic plan, and used his Saturday radio address to tell Americans his opponents are "playing politics with your economic future."

And finally, this dinosaur news: Scientists in New York reported that a mile-wide asteroid smashed into the Pacific Ocean about the time dinosaurs died off. Scientists used to think one big hit in Mexico killed off the dinos, but now they theorize it took several. You can take off your hard hat now.

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