STAR WARRIOR? When U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld pledged to boost the Pentagon's space programs, citing America's ever-increasing dependency on satellites, he stopped short of calling for weapons in orbit. But critics fear his script for the future was inspired by George Lucas
Contrary to e-mailed reports, the aged rock star did not die last week. The godfather of punk is touring. There is, actually, a difference
FUN TIME BARBIE
Curvaceous one comes with a McDonald's uniform, plastic cash register and food tray. When can we see Kentucky Fried Ken?
Hef launches an online sports wagering site, hosted by Deanna, Miss May 1998. Two-to-one says they're silicone
The Divine Miss M's TV show gets canceled, and a $1 million book deal falls through. Where is the wind beneath those wings?
Snubbed by the Tonys, the Broadway musical closes after 21 shows at an estimated loss of $7.5 million. Guess it's back to painting fences
Chilean tennis star arrested after attacking two cops who stopped his overcrowded taxi. Wouldn't give them an autograph, either
"We'd always say to each other that I was Frank and she was Ava, you know what I'm saying?"
SEAN ("PUFFY") COMBS, U.S. rap star, comparing himself and actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, his former squeeze, to Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner
$47 billion to be paid to an 84-year-old Mexican woman after a court ruled that her $6,000 deposit in 1988 should benefit from the astronomical interest rates of 1990s Mexico
Mexico has banned the sale of whoopee cushions that make a razz and exude a smell when sat upon, because the toys made children dizzy and nauseous
You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Reigns
Uneasy Head? Maybe the Crown's Too Tight
dinosaurs in ermine? parasites breeding paparazzi at the public trough? Costly recalcitrants with hemophilia and, attitude-wise, a mace up their thrones? Wait a second: royal families are people too and, just like the rest of us, they are wrestling with the issues, resolving inner conflicts and entertaining a deep desire to change. Princess Mathilde of Belgium, for example, has a royal bun in the oven and if she delivers a girl, new laws would allow the child to become the first sovereign Queen of the Belgians. (And she wouldn't have to be named Albert.) Bulgaria's King Simeon Borisov Saxe-Coburg, forced from the throne in 1946 at the age of nine, is running for parliament and could conceivably become Prime Minister—and maybe King once more. In Japan last week, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi announced he was in favor of ditching a centuries-old tradition that requires the Emperor to be a man. "Personally," he told reporters, "I think a female Emperor is fine." More than fine, we'd say. Fine-acious! In fact, we think some other statutes should be passed to bring the world's royals into a more modern world.
Britain: If the heart doth lead the way, the Windsors are allowed to bespouse equines, badgers or pit bulls
Monaco: Stephanie is eternally consigned to the circus. Prince Albert-in-a-can jokes are strictly verboten
The Netherlands: All members of the bicycle-loving royal family are given free examinations for testicular cancer
Spain: Dashing princes are required to wed dim, tanned-all-over Scandinavian models
Italy: The royal family, exiled since 1946, are allowed to return to their thrones—provided they can spawn and install heirs as frequently as Rome produces Prime Ministers
Thailand: No male may surgically transform himself into a female if it makes him taller than the sovereign, with or without platform heels
Michael Jackson: With one, final, mandated nip-and-tuck, the King of Pop will finally be elevated to Queen
Bowl America If you thought those unemployment figures were bad, here's a new set of depressing numbers, written in big red numerals on the backs of one's heels. Bowling shoes are back in style—not the kind Prada and Donna Karan sell, but the kind bowling alleys rent out by the hour and lose to petty thieves. The last time rental bowling shoes were hot was in the early '90s, the grunge era and the depths of the downsizing of America's corporations. Now, as the U.S. economy slides, lane operators from Phoenix to Milwaukee have been reporting thefts of up to 20 pairs a month. "You wonder: Where are their morals?" marvels one. They are popular in Japan, too, and we all know how that economy is doing. Fashion has contributed to the trend—Brad Pitt threw a bowling party for wife Jennifer Aniston in February—but the main accessory for most bowling shoe aficionados is one that also comes for free: a pink slip.
New! Improved! Don't Say That!
RIDING THE DRAGON How do you market a dynamic entrepot of seven million people that has business opportunities, great chow and spectacular views—but all anybody wants to know is whether the place got ruined when the communists took over four years ago?
HONG KONG launched a marketing campaign last week to convince the world that it's a city on the move—while at the same time stressing that it hasn't changed a bit. The centerpiece of this slightly schizophrenic p.r. push: a fresh "visual identity" (what the rest of us call a logo) that cost the territory a cool $1.2 million in designer fees. Reaction so far has been underwhelming, but kids will have fun spotting the embedded H, K and ideograms for Hong Kong.
By MAUREEN TKACIK
DIED. MARIE CARDINAL, 72, tormented French novelist who wrote The Key in the Door and A Singular Woman, both of which became movies; in Avignon. Cardinal blamed her Catholic upbringing for the conflicted relationship with sexuality that haunted her personality and her work. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called Cardinal "an essential personality in the fight for women's rights."
DIED. CLIFF HILLEGASS, 83, founder of the yellow-and-black Cliffs Notes series of study guides that saved the posteriors of legions of American high-schoolers; in Lincoln, Nebraska. Hillegass started the business in 1958 with a $4,000 loan; the firm was sold in 1999 to IDG Books Worldwide for more than $14 million.
DIED. NICOS SAMPSON, 66, guerrilla leader of the 1974 Cyprus coup that triggered the Turkish invasion that cut the island in two; in Nicosia, Cyprus. An advocate of unification with Greece, Sampson fought British colonials and later Turkish Cypriots before his role in the coup forced him into exile until the 1990s.
DIED. DOUGLAS ADAMS, 49, British author of the cult sci-fi saga The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, of a heart attack; in Santa Barbara, California. The novel, a satirical and surreal look at the search for an answer to life and the universe (which turned out to be 42), sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and was followed by three sequels and a hit BBC TV series.
CHARGED. STEPHEN ROACH, 27, Cincinnati police officer, with negligent homicide and obstructing official business, for the killing of an unarmed black man; in Cincinnati. The shooting set off three days of rioting in the Ohio city last month. The charges, both of which are misdemeanors, carry a maximum penalty of nine months in prison. Roach pleaded not guilty.
By HANNAH BEECH
Big dreams fall the hardest. Last Friday, YAO MING, China's 2.25-m basketball prodigy, was kept from entering the NBA draft. U.S. scouts had tipped the 21-year-old as a No. 1 pick. It wasn't Yao's first disappointment. Last year, he was barred by Chinese sports officials from attending the Nike hoop summit—where the best young stars show off their skills—because of outsized obligations to the Olympic squad. This time around, though, the decision turned less on national politics than simple economics. In exchange for releasing their imposing center, the Shanghai Sharks wanted an estimated 30% of Yao's salary and a good chunk of his endorsements, which could eventually reach $100 million over four years. No deal was reached. Now, Yao will languish another year in the Chinese basketball league, where middling competition could blunt his budding talents. Says a source close to the failed talks: "Greed killed Yao's hopes."