Tampering With the Zapruder Film?
The legions of conspiracy theorists will be buzzing anew this week when a group of assassination pros call for a broader probe into the Nov. 22, 1963, slaying of President John F. Kennedy. Among the new concerns to be documented in a presentation near the White House Monday: possible hanky-panky with the famous Zapruder film--maybe to disguise another shooter--and suggestions that a second brain was used in an autopsy coverup.
Sounds zany, but the players appear legit. Leading the charge is Paul Kuntzler, president of the government transcription contractor Miller Reporting. He thinks the public's trust in Uncle Sam was punctured by the Warren Commission review and believes a new probe will restore it--especially since new info is available. Among those questioning the old evidence: Thomas Lipscomb, founder of Times Books, who was up for a Pulitzer for unveiling discrepancies in Sen. John Kerry's swift-boat record. He looked for continuity flaws in Zapruder by comparing the movie with photos taken at Dallas's Dealey Plaza. One discrepancy: Two women at the slaying site are shown wearing white sneakers when they actually wore black shoes. He's got the Polaroids to prove it. Lipscomb's stuff is so compelling that Fox and ABC are negotiating to buy it. He has no conspiracy theory but thinks the evidence was flawed and needs validation.
A High-Level Voice on Climate Change
We hear that former President Clinton is considering expanding his look at global warming. While the issue already is part of his broader Clinton Global Initiative, Bubba has his eye on international pollution and worldwide efforts to help the environment. Insiders assure us that there is no competition between him and his former veep, Al Gore, whose trademark issue is global warming. Clinton even invited Gore to talk climate change at his recent global initiatives conference. Clinton aide Jay Carson says, "Global warming is an issue on which VP Gore and President Clinton have always enjoyed working together, and, given the severity of the problem today, it is something on which everyone should be working." Some big donors aren't so sure there's enough cash for both efforts and so far indicate a preference for the ex-prez over the ex-veep.
And Now, the Tony Snow Show
White House spokesman Tony Snow should finally debut at the briefing room podium this week. "I'm loving it," he says of the new job. He used last week to get up to speed on the big issues and has told insiders he'll be on camera Tuesday.
Aim on Africa: a Killer Cut in Half
President Bush has a new Africa project. Aides say he wants to eradicate the killer malaria on that continent and has set a goal of a 50 percent reduction in cases in Angola, Tanzania, and Uganda over five years. Bush aims to eventually expand the program to a total of 15 African countries and wants Congress to endorse a five-year budget of $1.4 billion. He's already promised $15 billion to fight AIDS in Africa. Insiders say first lady Laura Bush has been a driver on the new issue, moved by conditions she saw during recent trips to African nations.
Supreme Court Justice, Tech Geek
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas won't get upset if you call him a techno-geek. In fact, he loves it and is considered in the court to be a world-class techie who prefers working on his computer at home--or on the road in his RV. And now he's getting some pats on the back for bringing the court into the 21st century by pushing major advances in computer and high-tech security technology. "He is really into it," says Rep. Frank Wolf, a telecommuting proponent who helped Thomas get funding for the court's IT changes. It's a job the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist gave Thomas, though he's shy about taking credit. At a recent budget hearing, as Thomas demurred when asked if he was the force behind the changes, Justice William Kennedy barked, "Yes, yes."
A Boss Who Learns From the Little Guys
Donald Powell has one heck of a big job: He's the government's Katrina rebuilding czar. But all that power hasn't gone to the head of the 65-year-old former boss of the FDIC. We hear he travels with just an aide or two, flies coach, and rents his own car when in the Gulf, where he's visited 30 times. The long-time Texas banker tells friends he shuns the frills for this reason: He grew up poor and gets the pain hurricane victims feel. To keep up with issues in the Gulf, he taps secret sources who tell him what's really happening to common folk on the ground: He seeks out maids in hotels he stays at and gas attendants when he stops to pump gas. "He sets an example for all of us," says a Bush insider who now asks Powell's trademark question--"What are your issues?"--to diner waitresses when traveling the Gulf Coast.
A Rare Award for the Dynamic Duo
There seems to be no letting up of the showers of praise raining down on the odd couple of Katrina fundraising--former Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush. The latest: Both have been awarded membership to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a rare feat for politicians. They'll be inducted October 7 with Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and actor Alan Alda.
Barbara Bush: Scrapbook Junkie
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum has discovered a treasure-trove of family history thanks to Barbara Bush.Turns out she's a scrapbook junkie who has pasted 116 of them and is also an amateur photographer. "So far--and we are only up to World War II--we have found photos not seen before that show both George and Barbara as children, youth, and young adults," says a library official. Curators plan to mine the collections for new, unseen photos for future exhibits.
With Kenneth T. Walsh and Suzi Parker
This story appears in the May 22, 2006 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.