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"We should give it a decent burial."--Senator Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), former lead Republican lawyer for the Senate Watergate Committee, recommending that the independent counsel law be allowed to expireEdited by Joan OleckReturn to top

A Warm Front in China?

It's a game of Chinese Chicken. Anti-U.S. fervor is still high in Beijing since the embassy bombing in Belgrade. But Chinese officials want to break the ice with the U.S. to ease China's entry into the World Trade Organization before a November deadline. Can they have it both ways? You can bet your yuan they'll try.

One clear--and odd--sign of that political straddle is a rumor circulating at Beijing University. The rumor, says an economics professor there, is that maybe Bill Clinton wasn't responsible for the bombing at all. "Maybe radical people in the U.S. military, or conservatives somewhere who had something to gain" masterminded it.

Another sign: Official news agency Xinhua not only reprinted the U.S. explanation for the bombing in more detail than even Washington provided but gave the U.S. version equal billing with Beijing's "official" rejection.

The new mood may be a sign of things to come. Predicts Richard Margolis, a former diplomat now at Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong: "WTO talks will resume." And, from sources in Beijing: Officials may be trying "to prepare public opinion" for a mending of ties.By Mark Clifford; Edited by Joan OleckReturn to top

Sonny Get Your Gun

Congress doesn't seem inclined to do anything about adults with guns. But kids are another matter: Lawmakers this summer are expected to order up a study on whether certain gun ads appeal to children.

Federal law prohibits kids under 18 from buying guns; those under 21 may not buy handguns. Yet a Harrington & Richardson revolver ad, in the National Rifle Assn. teen magazine InSights, is headlined "The Right Way to Get Started in Handgunning." The gun is offered as "a clean, neat package to get off to a good start in handgun shooting."

Even the NRA's own Eddie Eagle, a cartoon character used in child gun-safety programs, is under assault. "These ads are the gun version of Joe Camel," says Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). "This is pushing handguns on kids." The NRA had no comment. But gunmakers are confident their ads will pass muster. Doug Painter, executive director of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, says comparing gunmakers to the tobacco industry is unfair. "Hunting and target shooting have for decades been traditions of value in this country. I don't think you can say the same thing about tobacco." Maybe. But this is politics.By Lorraine Woellert; Edited by Joan OleckReturn to top

This Citi Exec Never Sleeps

Once a week, Walter Wriston strolls into the lobby of Citigroup Headquarters in New York to use an ATM. But that's as far as he goes. Since retiring as chairman of what was then Citicorp, in 1984, Wriston has kept a respectful distance. "I don't think it's appropriate for the old character to give advice."

Not that Wriston, now 79, is the retiring type. He's a director of four companies, including impotence-drug developer Icos. And he's writing a book on the New Economy. "The issue I'm trying to fool around with is, is it really a `new economy' or is it the same old thing with a few new bells and whistles?" Wriston says. "I believe it is a new economy and it does have some new rules, but in the transitional period, some of the old rules still apply."

Wriston still applies himself in his Manhattan office--to which he commutes on foot. "I've been walking to work for 50 years," he says. That consistency extends to his opinions. He still favors less regulation: "If they want the banking business to survive, it has to be given more freedom." And he remains a fan of Citi, which, Wriston says, "is making tracks in its own snow." High praise from a banker who has made a few of his own.By Gary Silverman; Edited by Joan OleckReturn to top


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