At last week's Shamrock Summit in Washington with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, President Ronald Reagan finally acknowledged that acid rain is a real and serious environmental problem. He endorsed a report prepared by the Canadian and U.S. special envoys on acid rain calling for a $5 billion, five-year U.S. effort to develop cleaner ways of burning coal.
But for all the attention it drew, that approval was less significant than it seemed. Reagan has long held that further study is needed before action is taken against acid rain, and the steps suggested in the report still have more to do with research than control.
By contrast, a program with teeth was introduced last week in the Senate. It is the handiwork of Senator Robert T. Stafford (R., Vermont), head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who took the opportunity of the Shamrock Summit to propose legislation that would set firm emissions limits in all 50 states. It would order a 12.3-million-ton reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions over the next 10 years and mandate tougher controls on automobile and other sources of nitrous oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. It would require that the President seek acid rain treaties with both Canada and Mexico. The bill has bipartisan sponsorship—though it is expected to be opposed by the President—and similar legislation is now being drafted for introduction in the House.
"The case against air pollution generally and acid rain in particular is becoming clear everywhere in the world," says Stafford. "Lakes and forests are dying, buildings are being destroyed and human health is at stake." He calls his proposed legislation "a turning point" in North America's acid rain controversy.
THE JOINT WAS JUMPIN'
Twenty-three years ago, before he was an All-Pro with the Baltimore Bullets, Gus Johnson was a high-bounding forward at the University of Idaho. He set school records that still stand—466 rebounds in a season, 31 in a game—and one that looked like it would stand forever. One night at the Corner Club bar in Moscow, Johnson was challenged to demonstrate his leaping ability. From a standing start, he went straight up and slapped a beam at a spot 11'4" off the floor. For his feat he earned a free beer, and a nail was driven into the beam to commemorate the historic jump.
During the next two decades a parade of drunken barflies and Idaho basketball stars took shots at the nail, but none reached it. Then earlier this year Joey Johnson, a 6'3½" freshman at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, pushed open the doors of the saloon and went gunning for Gus. As he laced his sneakers he looked at the nail and said, "No sweat.... It's just a nail." He leaped, and a new Johnson was king. The bartender ceremonially raised the nail three inches. "Jumping is the one thing I can do," said Joey.
He is far too modest. Joey, a brother of Boston Celtic guard Dennis, can also shoot: He averaged 14 points a game this season for Southern Idaho, which was 35-3 and ranked fifth among U.S. junior colleges. But jumping is the thing Johnson does best. His vertical leap from a standing start is an astonishing 48 inches.
WHERE'S THE O, BO?
Best news of the week for the NFL: Through the first 20 games of this college baseball season, Auburn's Bo Jackson, who's trying to choose between a pro career in football and baseball, is hitting .258—with 29 strikeouts in 66 at bats.
HE KNOWS IT WHEN HE SEES IT
In an impassioned speech to the Canadian Parliament on March 13, Opposition member Iain Angus called on the Ottawa government "to get the pornography off the shelves" of Canada's video stores. Angus was referring not to sexually explicit films, but to commercially sold videotapes of hockey fights. Angus wants a ban on such videos, which he says are "detrimental to efforts being made to end violence in hockey."
A formidable lineup of former Olympic sprint champions was on hand recently for a New York press conference announcing the recipient of the Jesse Owens International Amateur Athlete Award (5,000- and 1,500-meter world-record holder Said Aouita of Morocco). Seven of the 10 men's 100-meter gold medalists since Owens won in 1936 were present; among them were Harrison Dillard (1948), Hasely Crawford of Trinidad (1976) and the oldest man to win the 100 meters, Scotland's Allan Wells (1980, at 28). Jim Hines (1968) reminisced with Bob Hayes (1964) about their awesome come-from-behind anchor legs on gold-medal relay teams, and Lindy Remigino (1952) called Owens the "king" of 100-meter sprinters: "I think he could have run 8.9 on a Tartan track."
But there was a melancholy tone to the gathering, too. Hayes, who was sent to prison for 10 months in 1979 for selling cocaine, spoke of being a recovering alcoholic and of his continuing efforts to help other alcoholics. "I think Jesse would be as proud of that as of my winning in Tokyo," he said. For Bobby Morrow (1956), Olympic success contributed to family problems and attracted a succession of crooked businessmen who exploited his name; two years ago he was quoted as saying he wished he had never won the gold medal. Hines, who in 1984 raced against a thoroughbred for $2,500 in California, said he has just finished his autobiography, to be titled The Trials and Tribulations of an Olympic Champion.
One of the three absentees, Armin Hary of West Germany, the 1960 champ, was said to be too ill to attend. In 1981 he was sentenced to two years in jail for using Roman Catholic Church funds for a personal real estate investment, a sentence later reduced to a $7,600 fine. And the other missing champions? Valery Borzov (1972), who remains active in Soviet sports and politics, had prior commitments in the U.S.S.R. Carl Lewis, the 1984 gold medalist, was in Los Angeles attending the Grammy Awards.
Say this for George Steinbrenner: His handling of the Britt Burns case last week was compassionate and creditable. He announced that the 26-year-old Burns, a lefthander who won 18 games for the White Sox last year and was supposed to be a key Yankee starter, won't pitch this season. Doctors had informed Steinbrenner that Burns suffers from a degenerative hip condition and that playing in 1986 "could have left him a cripple," in Steinbrenner's words. While the Yankees continue to pay his $750,000 salary, Burns will investigate whether surgery can alleviate his constant pain. "The important thing is his future and his ability to walk," said Steinbrenner, "which is far more important than baseball."
In this era of exploitation, when owners and coaches sometimes urge players past the point of safety, Steinbrenner's decision seems all the more laudable.
A NEW ORIENTATION
In an effort to improve its Olympic medal prospects, China has announced that it is lifting its 27-year-old ban on boxing. The ban was imposed because boxing was considered too dangerous, but the sport has never died out in China, and sports minister Li Menghua says that "conditions are ripe" for a Chinese comeback—which suddenly makes boxing the world's fastest-growing sport.
But China should be warned that where boxing grows, controversial promoter Don King goes. And King may be looking for some new international turf to control: A Quebec task force on boxing last week recommended actions that would ban King and others from promoting fights in the province. Judge Raymond Bernier, chairman of the task force, which has found ties between boxing and organized crime in Quebec as well as alarming examples of young boxers being exploited by managers and promoters, said he was "very disappointed" that King was allowed to promote recent bouts in Montreal involving the three Hilton brothers, Canadian fighters whom King manages. "I had expressly asked that he not be allowed [to promote the fights]," said Bernier, who did not explain why King was singled out. Some 150 pages of the task force report, presumably the section that could shed light on this question, were not made public.
The task force did publicly recommend that anyone promoting a fight in Quebec be required to live in the province for a year. King lives in Cleveland. We suggest the Chinese be on the lookout for anyone with hair resembling bird's-nest soup.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER FROM INDIANA
A familiar-looking kid named Bird is the new career basketball scoring leader at Springs Valley High in French Lick, Ind. He is Eddie Bird, 19, the fourth and youngest of four Bird brothers to play at the school. "I'm not Larry," Eddie insists, but two weeks ago he completed his Springs Valley career with 1,172 points, breaking the school record of 1,125 held by the Celtics' Bird. "I'm happy for him. That's what records are for, right?" said Larry.
But it has been hard for Eddie to live up to his brother's reputation. He is not considered as gifted a player—who is?—and at 6'6" is three inches shorter. Every day he is reminded of his town's reverence for his brother: Forgetful fans call him Larry; a large picture of Larry hangs on a wall at Springs Valley High, which has retired Larry's jersey; and the school itself is on Larry Bird Boulevard. "He feels like everybody expects him to be Larry, and that's not fair," says the boys' mother, Georgia Bird. "There's no comparison, because Larry lives and breathes basketball."
Larry, who serves as Eddie's unofficial adviser, has built himself and his brother a full-size basketball court, glass backboards and all, in the family's front yard. Back in January, when Boston was in Indiana to play the Pacers, Larry and Eddie teamed up for a friendly game on the court with Bill Walton, Quinn Buckner and a state trooper who had driven the three in from Indianapolis. "We were just messin' around a bit," says Larry.
Despite rumors that Eddie wants to attend Boston College to be near his brother, he is apparently leaning toward either the University of Evansville, Illinois State or Larry's old school, Indiana State. "This boy's a good shooter," says Springs Valley coach Gary Holland. "He's got all the tools to be a great shooter. He's a good rebounder without being able to jump. He's a good passer, and like Larry, he wants his teammates to be noticed, too." But wherever Eddie Bird goes, he'll be the one most noticed.
THEY SAID IT
•Bruce Hurst, Red Sox pitcher, on his team's staff: "We have a lot of pitchers capable of stopping a winning streak."
•Buddy Baron, Cincinnati disc jockey, on the city of Pittsburgh's financial involvement in the purchase of the hapless Pirates: "Now New York is trying to sell them the Knicks."