Do you have a question about the news? Then send a letter to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Betty Parham, Q & A on the News, Box 4689, Atlanta, GA 30302. They will try to find the answer for publication in this weekly column.
Q: It is obvious that we have maintained some military presence in Kuwait and the Persian Gulf. Does Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or any other coalition member offer the United States any financial assistance to keep a presence there?
A: Our presence in the Persian Gulf "is pretty much funded by the United States," a Pentagon spokesman said. But, he added, there are some shared expenses. The Kuwaitis and Saudis pay for the upkeep and storage of pre-positioned equipment and base upkeep and maintenance.
Q: A story about plans for the Franklin D. Roosevelt memorial in Washington said a commission to undertake the project was started in 1955, but plans have just now gotten under way. Has the director of this commission or other employees been on staff since 1955 at taxpayer expense?
A: No. Since Congress created the commission in 1955, it has consisted of a volunteer board and a post office box. The first part-time employee was hired in 1989, and Executive Director Dorann Gunderson was hired to get things moving about 20 months ago. After 40 years, the planned memorial is scheduled to open in 1996.
Q: I watched the PBS special Baseball and am wondering what Sandy Koufax is doing today.
A: This is a tough one, even for author Chuck Wills, who has updated the whereabouts and activities of many former Major League stars in his book, Beyond Home Plate. After checking with all his sources, which included the Los Anaeles Dodgers, "The best I can come up with is that he lives a low-profile life with no obvious exposure." Nobody is even sure where. He has been said to be living in a number of places, from Maine to California. He shows up at the Dodgers' spring training camp every year, but Los Angeles Times sports writers do not know from where he arrives or where he goes afterward.
Q: Has a president ever been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
A: Yes, two of them. Theodore Roosevelt not only was the first president of any country to win one, but also was the first American. He won in 1906 for his role as mediator in ending the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. Woodrow Wilson was awarded the 1919 prize for founding the League of Nations and trying to establish a fair peace agreement at the end of World War I. Both presidents were presented the Nobel Peace Prize while they were still in office. Wilson did not receive his until 1920.
Q: Please explain to me how the Federal Reserve can arrest inflation by raising interest rates. It seems that if the Fed charges the banks more money, the banks are going to charge businesses more money, and then the businesses in turn are going to raise their prices to recover their interest costs. Doesn't this seem to be inflationary rather than anti-inflationary?
A: Here is how they figure it's supposed to work: The Federal Reserve raises interest rates to put the brakes on the economy. When interest rates go up, it costs businesses more to borrow _ so they borrow less. It's the same with people: They borrow less money when interest rates are high. Consequently, businesses spend less because they have less to spend. And people spend less, too. With less money being spent, stores are less likely to raise prices on their goods.
Q: American spy pilots were shot down by the Soviet Union over its territory, but has a Russian spy pilot ever been shot down over the United States?
A: "To the best of my knowledge, we have never shot down a Russian spy plane over this country," said a Defense Department spokesman.
Q: What is the cost of the spacesuits used by astronauts who make spacewalks outside the shuttle?
A: More than $3-million each.
Q: Which is correct, "ketchup" or "catsup,"
A: Although the red stuff with a "k" is the most common spelling, either one is correct.
Q: Is the cause of Gulf War syndrome still a mystery? Is the military giving any attention to the possibility that Gulf War syndrome could affect our troops going over there this time?
A: The National Institutes of Health concluded in April that something did indeed sicken at least 20,000 men and women who participated in Desert Storm, but could not pinpoint a cause. The best theory is that it was caused by a combination of stress, chemicals and parasites. This time around the Pentagon is sending medical monitors to watch for signs of the mystery ailment. "This is the time to think about preventive monitoring . . . and we want to maintain surveillance of the troops," said Dr. Gareth Green, chairman of the NIH panel. "We want to pick up any symptom in the early stages and track it down."
Q: Does the president of the United States have total access to CIA files and information?
A: "Absolutely, yes. He is our premier customer," said a CIA spokeswoman.
Q: Has any president ever been denied the nomination of his party for a second term?
A: Five. Franklin Pierce was elected once and then denied the nomination. The rest, John Tyler, Millard Filmore, Andrew Johnson and Chester Arthur, took over from a president who died in office and then were not nominated.
Q: I've heard mention that the cause of juvenile diabetes had been found to be a virus, and that there is vaccine to cure it. Can you provide more information on this?
A: It was widely reported last month that research done by Dr. Massimo Trucco of the University of Pittsburgh strongly suggested that type I diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, the most severe form of the disease, is caused by a virus infection in the pancreas. Viruses had been suggested as a cause of diabetes before, but these are the strongest findings to date. Trucco's study is "a provocative finding that needs to be followed up, (and) it will be, you can count on it," said Kenneth Farber, executive director of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation International. There is no vaccine yet, but if the cause is a virus, then a vaccine becomes a definite possibility.
Q: I read that all previous Heisman Trophy winners get to vote on new Heisman candidates. Since O.J. Simpson is a former winner, will he be voting this time?
A: "He will be sent a ballot," said a spokesman for the Downtown Athletic Club in New York, which sponsors the award.
Q: I've always wondered when I read that an aircraft carrier, say, weighs so many thousands of tons. How do they weigh such things? Do they have really big scales?
A: All during the construction of an aircraft carrier and throughout the life of the vessel, detailed records of the weight of construction materials and additional installations are kept. Like people, aircraft carriers tend to put on a few pounds with age as they take on new equipment. The Navy also routinely reads the draft marks, which are painted in 1-foot intervals on the bow and stern. Thanks to Archimedes' principal, which says that a body immersed in water is buoyed by a force equal to the weight of the displaced fluid, the Navy, by knowing the volume of the underwater hull, can figure the weight. _ Cox News Service