It is early 1978 in Rome, and David Raybourne (Andrew McCarthy) has come back to Italy to rescue his love, Lia Spinelli (Valeria Golino), from her powerful and abusive husband. He returns to an Italy racked with political corruption, chaos and terror.

That terror comes in the form of the brigatisti, or the Red Brigade, a group of radicals who commit acts ranging from vandalism to murder against Italy's corrupt and weakening political system.

For David Raybourne, this is the Year of the Gun.

John Frankenheimer has created another powerful film, based on the novel by David Ambrose, to rank equally among his other giants: The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, Black Sunday, and The Birdman of Alcatraz. Once again, he dives into history to pull forth a human story in all its frailty and painful colors.

For Raybourne and the viewer, nothing is as it seems (unless of course, you read PN's review) as everyone operates under their own hidden agenda. A wrench is thrown into the works when Alison King, an American photojournalist played by Sharon Stone, enters the precarious facade of Raybourne's life like a bull in a china shop. Her naivete quickly thrusts her and David into a world where the truth becomes lies and fiction becomes grim reality.

The careful eye of Director of Photography Blasco Giuarto accentuates this local color angle by showing a Rome unfamiliar to most: back alleys, beggars and soaring poverty. It may strike a sense of deja vu however, if you've seen Stanno Tutti Bene or Cinema Paradiso, which were also shot by Giuarto for director/writer Giuseppe Tornatore.

The Year of the Gun opens today at theaters across town. If you have any taste whatsoever (or nothing better to do), see some great drama and pick up some local color that may make you think twice about going to Europe this summer.








The Alley Theater yuks up the laughs with their new comedy A Flea in Her Ear.

The play is stuffed to the seams with chases, gags and laughs. Characters run after one another from beginning to end. Rooms change at the touch of a button, and people change identities at the drop of a hat.

The play is about Madame Chandebise, a woman seething with rage because she thinks her husband, Victor, is having an affair with another woman (before she can have an affair with another man). She tells Lucienne, her best friend, of her spouse's supposed philandering. They then concoct a scheme to trap Victor-Emmanuel in the act. However, the plan backfires.

Lucienne's gun-toting husband, Don Homenides de Histangua, gets a look at the bait intended for Victor-Emmanuel and recognizes his wife's handwriting. Histangua almost goes berserk with rage, pulls out his gun and goes hunting for his wife and her lover.

Things really get crazy when Histangua begins to rant and rave. Doors start slamming, people start running, shots get fired and mayhem takes over the stage.

Director Gregory Boyd sees to it that every scene accents the farce playwrite Georges Feydeau intended for A Flea in Her Ear. Boyd has actors run onto and off of the stage at a frantic pace making the three-act play fun to watch.

Boyd's sets look extra long due to the use of tall doors and bright colors.

The second act is set in the Pink Pussycat hotel, an establishment catering to people having extramarital affairs. The hotel is swathed in shocking pink and has a gaudy bed with gold-laquered swans supporting the matress and a mirror above the headboard in the bedroom.

The hotel is not the only thing in this play suffering from extra-loud colors. The costumes practically vibrate with brash hues. (Prince would be proud of the purple suit John Feltch wears.)

However, the louder the colors on the costumes are, the louder the actors are.

Veteran Alley actors make up most of the cast. James Black tops the list of great performances as Victor-Emmanuel Chandebise, and Poche. The dual roles might be difficult for less-experienced actors, but Black makes running out of a room as one character and back into the room as another look simple.

Lisa McEwen rattles off Spanish like a native, as Lucienne. McEwen revels in her character and doesn't miss a beat on stage. When she is working with Black, the two actors compliment one another like gold and diamonds.

Jeffery Bean plays Camille Chandebise, the only character in the play who has a speech impediment and is the butt of many jokes. Bean is wonderful as Camille. He tackled the extremly difficult part of having to enunciate lines so that the audience could understand him eventhough the character has a major problem with speaking.

Charles Krohn rants and raves as the general-like hotel manager Freaillon. Anne Marie Cummings has a small, but humorous part as the ex-dancer wife of Freaillon. Finally, the good Dr. Finache is played by Charles Sanders.

If these actors' names sound familiar, it's because everyone except for Bean was in the Alley's production Other People's Money.

A Flea in Her Ear is well worth it. The acting is impeccable, the sets are eye catching and the story is hilarious. The play runs through Nov. 17 on the Alley Theater's large stage.










Mayoral candidates Sylvester Turner and Bob Lanier joined forces Thursday in support of a proposed amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow the state to sell up to $300 million in general obligation bonds to fund the Texas Student Loan Program.

The amendment, Proposition 13, allows the state of Texas to act as a lender for student loans normally backed by private institutions, such as banks.

Turner and Lanier appeared at a press conference at UH with the sponsor of Proposition 13, state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos of Austin, to urge Texas students to vote for the continued funding of the loan program that has helped some 200,000 students attend college since 1965.

"What has happened is that the state set a cap in the amount of bonds that could be sold," Barrientos said. "If we don't do anything, the money will run out in March and some 20,000 students may put off their education."

Barrientos said thousands of leaflets encouraging students to vote for Proposition 13 on Nov. 5, will be passed out at college football games and campuses.

"Without the program, I wouldn't be where I am today," said Turner, who received loans through the program while attending UH.

Lanier said the Texas student aid program, also called the Hinson-Hazlewood College Student Loan Program, crossed all political lines.

"I'm glad to see all three mayoral candidates supporting this proposition," Lanier said.

State Rep. Mario Gallegos (Dist. 143), Rep. Roman Martinez (Dist. 148) and Rep. Fred Bosse (Dist. 128) were also at the press conference.

"The students can make a difference in this election," Martinez said. "You students are the ones who are going to gain the most from this amendment if it passes."

This is the second time Proposition 13 has been before Texas voters. It was defeated in an Aug. 10 election by 7,647 votes, and Texas education leaders have been lobbying since.

Harry Reasoner, chairman of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said unclear wording and small voter turnout were major reasons for the August defeat.

"It did pass in all the urban areas where more media coverage let voters understand the importance of the amendment," Reasoner said. "All the polls show that, when there is proper understanding, there is overwhelming support."

Harb Hayre, president of the Texas Faculty Association and a UH professor of electrical engineering, said the loan program allows both middle-income and low-income families to send their children to college at lower rates than private lenders would charge.

"The Texas Faculty Association is absolutely strongly supporting this propostion," Hayre said. "It is not even a question. How can you lose?"

Director of UH Scholarships and Financial Aid Robert Sheridan said the program is completely self-supported from the interests on loans.

"It doesn't result in increased taxes," Sheridan said. "There's no way it'll affect the amount of taxes that Mr. Smith with no children is going to pay."

According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, more than $90 million in investment returns have been generated by the program with a default rate of only 6 percent. The nationwide rate is 16 percent.

Sheridan said increased knowledge of financial aid programs and rising education costs have led to higher demand for aid at UH in the past eight years.

For fiscal year '83, only 1,763 Guaranteed Student Loans of nearly $4.7 million were issued. In FY '91, UH students had taken out 5,043 GSLs totaling more than $16.7 million.

"Enrollment could be stable and the demand for financial aid would still increase," Sheridan said. "It's simply a matter of costs."

Sheridan said the state's student loan program helps insure lenders will be available for students even if private institutions stop student loans.

Mark McKillop, UH's student appointee to the UH Board of Regents and a 38-year-old student with three children, said the Hinson-Hazlewood program had helped him continue his education.

"It's a tragedy to even think that someone may be denied an education simply because of a lack of money in a state as wealthy as Texas," McKillop said.

"If you look at our non-traditional student body, we're definitely more likely to use loans than the other `traditional' universities," said Michael Berry, Students' Association president.

Financial aid counselor Betty Hedges said students who suddenly are faced with financial hardships benefit greatly from the loans.

"We also help in those circumstances where a person loses a job, a parent dies or there is a divorce," Hedges said.

Sheridan said the proposition's passage is also important because more students must now fund their education through loans rather than grants.

The proportion of money students are receiving from grants and loans has switched from funding of 30 percent loans and 70 percent grants to funding of 70 percent loans and 30 percent grants, Sheridan said.

He said for fall 1991 about 11,000 UH students received one or more types of financial aid -- loans, grants and/or scholarships. At least 5,300 received loans, 7,000 were awarded grants and 3,400 have some type of scholarship.








President Bush may not want to get drawn into Louisiana's political turmoil, but students at Tulane University in New Orleans have definite plans for intervention.

Members of the Coalition Against Racism at Tulane have begun massive campaigning to keep former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke out of the Louisiana gubernatorial seat.

Duke, who is a former Grand Dragon of the KKK, is seeking to serve as Louisiana's governor after failing in 1990 to be elected to a U.S. Senate seat.

At a recent press conference in Washington, President Bush refused to be drawn into the turmoil over Louisiana's gubernatorial runoff, now that the candidate he endorsed, Gov. Buddy Roemer, is out of the race.

However, Bush did say he "couldn't possibly support David Duke because of the racism and because of the very recent statements that are very troubling in terms of bigotry."

Risa Kaufman, president of the coalition at Tulane, said the organization is focusing most of its efforts on making sure former Roemer supporters make it to the polls.

"We're afraid that the voters who supported Roemer in the first election may lose interest now that he's not in the runoff, and we feel this may have a detrimental effect on the outcome of the election," Kaufman said.

Kaufman said she is confident students at the university are adequately informed about Duke's racial views. However, she is concerned about voters in the outlying areas of the city.

"We are taking our campaign off campus to voters throughout New Orleans who may be unfamiliar with Duke's past," Kaufman said. "We want to make sure that everyone is educated about this guy."

The coalition is sponsoring several rallies and concerts throughout the New Orleans area to raise money for the campaign and to register residents so they can vote in the up-coming election.

The group is also sponsoring a "teach-in" on Nov. 14 for the Tulane campus, in which they are asking all professors to either cancel classes from the hours of 12 to 2 p.m., or to devote at least one half of class time to discussions of the consequences if Duke is elected.

Running against incumbent Sen. Bennet Johnston last year, Duke earned an impressive 44 percent of total votes cast, as well as 12 percent of the black vote.

Marjorie Goodman, president of the Students For Israel at UH, said she was surprised at how many votes the controversial candidate received and that she was concerned that Duke has come so close to being elected.

Goodman was part of an envoy of UH students who went to New Orleans last year to campaign against Duke in the election. Goodman worked closely with the Louisiana Coalition Against Racism and Nazism in a campaign designed specifially to denounce Duke as a viable candidate for the U.S. Senate. She said she was shocked Duke was able to secure such a large percentage of the black vote in the race for the senate race.

"I asked a lot of black students at the University of Texas why so many blacks would vote for a former KKK member," Goodman said. "They said they feel all of the candidates are probably just as racist as Duke, but at least they know to keep their eye on Duke."

Goodman also said she feels electing Duke governor of Louisiana would be a bad economic move for the state. She said the state has already lost businesses and residents due to its strict anti-abortion laws, and she feels people will be increasingly hesitant about moving to a state where Duke is governor.

"By promising to everyone that he will help the state of Louisiana, Duke is using that same tactic that Adolf Hitler used, telling the people what they want to hear," Goodman said.

Goodman said she doesn't believe Duke's recent proclamations that he has changed and that his affiliation with the KKK is behind him, considering he has been known to celebrate Hitler's birthday as recent as five years ago.









Some environmentalists feel city hall has for too long put the environment on the back burner to development and progress.

Jim Hauchins, a former Texas Water Commission member, said he has watched the City of Houston attempt to solve its water supply worries for a long time.

"The City of Houston has been trying to build the Wallisville Reservoir for 20 to 25 years," he said.

With the city's fast growth rate, developers chose the cheapest water they could find -- ground water, Hauchins said.

As Houston continued to grow, however, city officials realized the need to switch to a more abundant but slightly more expensive source of surface water and acquired permission from the TWC to divert more than 1.1 billion gallons per day (BGD) from the (Lake) Livingston Dam and .80 BGD from the proposed Wallisville Reservoir in 1959.

When Houston received those permits, a stipulation was included that required the city to release 210.4 MGD of fresh water from May 15 through Sept. 15 of each year so rice farmers downstream on the Trinity River could irrigate.

The creation of the Wallisville Reservoir would stem the flow of fresh water down the river, allowing salt water to creep further upward.

Because of this release-stipulation, Houston officials complained about not being allowed to divert the amount of water they were entitled to.

So the TWC drew up a compromise stating that instead of the releases, the city could build a salt-water barrier, probably comprised of a system of locks preventing the salt water from mixing with the fresh, he said.

However, several environmental groups opposed the plan, tying it up in court for the past 20 to 25 years, Hauchins said. They complained the lock system would prevent nutrients washing down from inland sources to Galveston Bay, thus interupting the food chain.

Since then the city has been getting its water from the Livingston Dam and from ground water. But Hauchins said the city has stuck with the ground water option because it costs about six cents per 1,000 gallons.

While this might be cheap in the short term, the long-term effects to area buildings could be highly expensive, he said.

Hauchins said pumping ground water erodes the infrastructure of the land Houston is built on.

This has already caused major damage to structures in the Galleria and Medical Center.

Houston has been bypassing an alternative water source -- water from the Sabine River that could be channelled to Houston through canals at a cost of about 60 cents per 1,000 gallons, Hauchins said.

While this is 10 times as expensive as ground water, building the Wallisville Reservoir, if it ever gets out of litigation, could cost as much as $2.50 per 1,000 gallons, he said.

While the Wallisville Reservoir is unfinished and the city's foundation crumbles, yet another ecology problem looms.

Richard Morrison, a Houston attorney who formed the Texas Evironmental Action League, said a project supported by the Army Corps of Engineers, various Port of Houston officials and Mayor Kathy Whitmire's administration to widen the Ship Channel would be damaging to the environment, impractical and unnecessary.

The dredging of the channel to make it 200-feet wider and 10-feet deeper will pull more salt water into Galveston Bay, harming acquatic life and transforming the bay from a delicate estuary to a lagoon.

This will disrupt the food chain by introducing more ocean-going predators into these areas where animals will already be suffering from the change in salinity, he said.

The digging also will stir up the channel's toxin-laden silt for the duration of the eight-year project.

Morrison says the Corps wants the project because it will produce enough work to support them financially during the length of the project.









UH Clear Lake will hold a day-long event designed to heighten public awareness and arm citizens with the facts about youth violence.

"Violence, Youth and Family: An Open Symposium," scheduled for Nov. 15, is designed for both professionals and lay people who are concerned with youth violence.

The symposium is the brainchild of Uri Rueveni, director of UHCL's Institute for Family and Community Development.

The idea for the sypmposium came about after a hastily arranged appearance on a KHOU-TV, Channel 11 special dealing with violence.

"I was sitting at home eating dinner when I got a call from Channel 11," Rueveni said.

Forty-five minutes later the television crew was at his home, videotaping his views for their show.

Aside from Rueveni, the show featured many other experts in the area of violence. The comments received such positive feedback that Rueveni decided to try the same thing on a community level, he said.

The resulting symposium draws on the expertise of a wide variety of professionals. Speakers will include police officers, psychologists and probation officers. The keynote address will be given by Judge Eric Andell of the 315th Juvenile District Court in Harris Coutny.

Rueveni said one out of five children between the ages of three and 17 will engage in acts of violence against their parents. Even more startling is the fact that domestic violence occurs in a full 50 percent of all marriages.

Rueveni said the predisposition to violence begins at a very young age.

"I believe the younger a child is when exposed to violent behavior, the more chance that he or she has to practice violence," he said.

There is no such thing as an isolated incident when it comes to violence, he said. All society is involved. "It is hard for me to believe that violence occurs in a vacuum," he said.

Rueveni hopes attendance at the symposium will change participants' attitudes and encourage community activism.

"What we hope to do is to create more involvement."

Rueveni's interest in family violence began at Michigan State University where he received his doctorate in psycholoby. He joined the faculty of UHCL in 1983 after teaching at Temple University of Maryland and several other schools.

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