Malcolm Beith

Stories by Malcolm Beith

  • mexico-cartels-SC14-hsmall

    Mexico Divides and Conquers the Cartels

    Events in Mexico’s drug war grow more horrific by the day. The recent killing of 72 migrants and a shootout between the Army and 27 cartel gunmen prompted a warning last week from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Mexico’s cartels are adopting tactics akin to those of an “insurgency.”
  • Off To The Graveyard

    And so, an era is over. After more than a decade of delighting English football fans at Manchester United and Spanish aficionados at Real Madrid, David Beckham is coming to America. But is it the right move? Responding to a reported $250 million, five-year deal with the L.A. Galaxy, The Independent of London blared leaving real life for la-la-land.Most football pundits would argue that Beckham has been in La-la Land for some time now. At the very least, he's become too big for his boots. In 1998, Beckham broke a nation's collective heart at the World Cup semifinal when he petulantly kicked Argentina's Diego Simeone. The resulting red card sent England home in tears. (I was in a pub in London, and have never seen so many grown men bawl.) Then there was his wedding to Posh Spice. Deemed 1999's celebrity wedding of the year, it came complete with golden thrones for the bride and groom, as well as a crown for her "majesty." Sponsored by everyone from Gillette to Motorola, Beckham the...
  • Clean Nukes Go Public

    The darkest side of nuclear power, as North Korea just dramatically demonstrated, is that its waste can be made into bomb fuel. Current nuclear reactors are powered by a mix of two isotopes of uranium that produce a third isotope--uranium 239, which ultimately decays into bomb-grade plutonium. Since 1992, Thorium Power Ltd. has been working on a new kind of fuel that mixes uranium with thorium, an element named after the Norse god of thunder, in a process that produces no uranium 239. The goal is to "sever the link" between nuclear power and weaponry. Backed by renowned nonproliferation experts and activists, including former British Conservative Party leader Michael Howard and American lawyer Seth Grae, a member of the board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who has helped bring former Soviet nuclear scientists into the project, the company went public on Oct. 9 and its share price drifted down slightly in its first week to close at 35 cents. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith spoke...
  • Growing Pains

    An Iraqi soldier is running across the street, an automatic weapon in one hand, firing blindly down the alley towards the enemy, apparently unaware of his fellow soldiers in the line of fire. “Somebody slap that f---er,” yells U.S. Army Capt. Josh Brandon. The Iraqi, grinning, safely reaches Brandon on the far side of the square. The captain isn’t smiling. About 45 minutes into what would turn into a two-and-a-half-hour firefight with suspected terrorists in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Adhamiya, this is no time for the Iraqi troops to start playing cowboy. “A lot of their training comes from watching American movies,” he mutters.The Iraqi Army and police force are officially scheduled to take over control of security operations throughout the country by the end of the year. Currently, they are engaged in some of the war’s bloodiest fighting yet, as they try and wrest control of Baghdad from both militias and insurgents. Critics have long said that the Iraqi Army does not...
  • Periscope

    Overshadowed by Lebanon, the violence in Iraq has hit new highs. Attacks in the towns of Kufah and Mahmudiyah left more than 100 dead last week, while Baghdad alone saw a 40 percent spike in bombings and shootings. A United Nations report confirmed the "upward trend," stating that nearly 6,000 civilians were killed in May and June, renewing fears that Iraq is descending into civil war.Baghdad's Central Morgue--which takes in about 80 bodies a day--has meanwhile become a battleground. It's currently under the control of radical Shiite cleric Moq-tada al-Sadr; a NEWSWEEK reporter last week counted more than a dozen militiamen there--some of them dressed in the traditional black of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. Their job, said one morgue employee who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, is part propaganda: to ensure that no information comes out implicating the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias in the killings.This much was clear from NEWSWEEK's visit: the majority of bodies...
  • Counting Corpses

    The morgue is several blocks away, but the stench of rotting flesh wafts through the streets of the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Bab Al-Muadham. The odor is so powerful that doctors, police and cleaning workers cover their mouths and noses as they walk through the halls of the one-story building, struggling to avoid slipping on the black, oily film that covers the floors. Visitors who come in search of missing family members carry burning paper in hopes of masking the smell. Employees dump fresh cadavers—some of them headless—into the refrigeration units just off the main hallway.Each refrigerator holds about 25 bodies, and they’re fully stocked; leftover corpses, and even some solitary limbs, pile up nearby. Morgue staff go about their business among swarms of black flies. It’s just another day in Baghdad, and their unpleasant work pays the bills. Privately, they admit that working in the morgue takes its toll. “It’s a really bad job,” says 46-year-old Fadhil, who has been...
  • 'Ready to Do Our Job'

    The tidy green grass, the sun beating down on the back of the neck, excited spectators spilling onto the track encircling the field—it felt a bit like a high-school field day. On Thursday, the southern Iraqi province of Muthanna celebrated the handover of security responsibilities from coalition forces to Iraqi troops in a soccer stadium outside the provincial capital of Samawah. The first transition of its kind in the country—Coalition troops will remain in Muthanna, but only in an advisory role—the ceremony attracted all types of local dignitaries and tribal leaders. Even Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki made the trip from Baghdad, about 150 miles to the north.Beaming Iraqi soldiers walked hand in hand along the field's fringes in the pleasant morning heat (at least for Iraq in July, when temperatures can sometimes hit 130 degrees). Curious spectators pushed through the crowds to catch the dance performances by the splendidly dressed local tribesmen. Up in the stands, small groups of...
  • ‘He’s Not Afraid’

    After nearly 10 months of court proceedings, Saddam Hussein's chaotic trial is finally drawing to a close. Charged with ordering the murder of 148 Shiites from the village of Dujail in 1982, the deposed Iraqi dictator has been prone to angry outbursts in the courtroom, often simply using the trial as a forum to vent about America. Several witnesses have failed to appear on their designated day; others have simply been discredited. The chief judge resigned, while the prosecutor has been accused of trying to bribe witnesses into giving false testimony. And to top it all off, three of Saddam's lawyers have been murdered. With the defense team set to begin its closing arguments on July 10, Khalil al-Dulaimi, Saddam's lead counsel, finds himself at the center of this courtroom circus. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith and Ranya Kadri spoke to al-Dulaimi last week in Amman, Jordan. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: What is Saddam’s mood these days?Khalil al-Dulaimi: His morale is very high. He's spending his...
  • Continental Crisis

    Rising out of the sand near a residential suburb of Dakar, the Demba Diop Stadium was beginning to fill up. Thousands of Senegalese fans sporting green, red and yellow national football shirts waited patiently in two orderly lines, while a band played West African tunes and groups of young boys sold bags of drinking water in the scorching spring heat. Less than two hours later, after enjoying their country's thrilling 6-1 victory over Liberia, the fans poured out of the stadium with an air of optimism. After all, the Lions of Teranga, as the Senegalese team is known, seemed headed to another World Cup finals.That was March 2005, however. And like many another supposed African powerhouse before it, Senegal subsequently crumbled and failed to qualify for Germany. Every four years an African squad surprises the traditional powers and wins hearts around the world--Cameroon in 1990, Nigeria in 1994, Senegal in 2002. More and more players like Ghana's Michael Essien and the Ivory Coast's...
  • Young Guns

    Judging from the headlines, you might have thought a prophet had passed away. IS THERE LIFE AFTER ROO? Read one. A KILLER BLOW, lamented another. The Mirror best summed up the national mood: OUR ROOINATION. Wayne Rooney, the star of the English team, had fractured a metatarsal during a Premier League match last month. Although the England squad boasts world-class names like David Beckham, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard, the country's World Cup chances suddenly seemed to have deflated like a punctured ball--simply because a pug-faced 20-year-old kid had hurt his right foot.Since the first World Cup in 1930, young players--particularly those making their debut on the international stage--have often become the breakout stars of the tournament. In 1958, a 17-year-old Pele startled the world with his precision-passing. In 1982, a 21-year-old Diego Maradona showcased his inimitable dribbling skills on the pitch (and warned of many tears in years to come after being sent off it in the...
  • Football's Big Fear

    They descended on Briesen in the middle of the night, about a hundred in all. In the cold of late November, in the woods surrounding the little German border town, the rumble began. By the time anti-hooligan police arrived, the German and Polish football thugs had slashed each other with knives and inflicted bruises with clubs. The message was clear, police say: this was a "warm-up" for the World Cup.It seems hooligans are back. In their 1980s heyday, football thugs ran rampant across Europe. "Firms," as the hooligan units were known, were organized, efficient. By the time of the 1990 World Cup in Italy, many English hooligans--regarded as the worst--didn't even bother buying round-trip tickets. They knew they would be deported, which would be cheaper. In recent years, however, new tactics have helped contain the problem. Team fan clubs--particularly in England--have distanced themselves from violent elements. Governments have prevented known hooligans from travel abroad. During the...
  • Into Thin Air

    A power struggle between the monarchy and Maoist rebels has paralyzed the Himalayan kingdom of Nepal for more than a year. Finally, after 16 consecutive days of violent pro-democracy protests in the capital of Katmandu, a weary King Gyanendra agreed to hand over power to an elected prime minister--allowing for a political process but also maintaining the monarchy. The international community praised the compromise, but the struggle in the streets went on.
  • The Last Word: Javad Zarif--Finding the 'Missing Link'

    Last Tuesday fiery Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proudly boasted that his country had joined "the club of nuclear countries" after successfully enriching uranium. The move defied U.N. calls for Tehran to suspend its nuclear program, and came on the eve of an inspection visit by Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even with the threat of U.N. sanctions looming and rumors of a U.S. military strike swirling, Ahmadinejad vowed that Iran would continue its course. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith spoke to Javad Zarif, Iran's permanent representative to the United Nations, about the conflict last week. Excerpts: ...
  • A Day in Buenos Aires

    It may be known as the Paris of South America, but in many respects, Buenos Aires has more going for it than its European counterpart. The peso--at three to the dollar--makes everything from steaks to suits a bargain for most visitors, and the city’s lively Latin vibe easily beats the smug attitude of Parisians. Oh, and they tango there, too. Here is an idiosyncratic guide for what to do and where to go: Stroll through the cobbled streets of San Telmo and admire the colonial architecture. The neighborhood was once famous for street battles between the British and Spanish; today, locals fight tourists for bargain antiques. Eat meat. Argentina produces some of the world’s finest beef, and the country’s citizens reportedly eat 130 pounds of the stuff a year. No need to gorge yourself to that extent, but a fine cut of chorizo for about $20 at Cabana las Lilas will bring out the bull in you. Be sure to sample some of the finest (and cheapest) wines in the world, which hail from Mendoza,...
  • The Last Word Ashraf Qazi: 'Serious'--Or A Civil War?

    Since the February bombing of the sacred Askariya Mosque in Samarra, Iraq has been consumed by sectarian violence. Hundreds have died in reprisal killings carried out by Sunni and Shia militias, while the insurgency continues to hamper efforts to form a government. But despite the evident chaos, U.S. leaders continue to insist they're seeing progress. PresidentGeorge W. Bush last week hailed the city of Tall Afar as a "concrete example of success in Iraq." Former Iraqi prime minister Ayad Allawi was less optimistic: "If this is not a civil war, then God knows what civil war is," he said. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith asked former Pakistani diplomat Ashraf Qazi, currently the U.N. Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, who just returned from the country, for his take. Excerpts:BEITH: Allawi says that Iraq is in a state of "civil war." You've said that it is not.QAZI: I don't want to [debate] the semantics. There is a serious sectarian situation, a serious security situation,...
  • The Last Word: John Edwards--'Real Moral Leadership'

    Republican opposition killed the proposed takeover of some American port facilities by a Dubai company, but congressional Democrats were the first to fan the flames of the controversy. Eager to capitalize on President George W. Bush's weakness in the polls, and with midterm elections looming later in the year, opposition-party members were clearly looking to regain some ground on national security. Former senator John Edwards, a vice presidential candidate in 2004, has similarly been laying the groundwork for a future run at the presidency by trying to bolster his foreign-policy credentials, most recently by co-chairing a Council on Foreign Relations task force examining U.S.-Russian relations. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith spoke with Edwards about the Democrats, Dubai and Russia's bid to end the Iranian nuclear crisis. Excerpts:Beith: Where do you stand on the ports deal?Edwards: We shouldn't discriminate against any country, certainly not against an Arab country. The United Arab...
  • Can Préval Prevail?

    In the end, it came down to a simple choice: declare Rene Préval the winner of the Haitian presidential elections or watch the country descend into violence. Street demonstrations in the capital of Port-au-Prince had already followed a peaceful—albeit somewhat disorganized—vote on Feb. 7. As allegations of fraud began to gain traction and Préval’s tally slipped below the 50 percent required to avoid a runoff, the prospect of violence became all too real. “If they put the fix in for [runner-up Leslie] Manigat, this place is going to burn,” warned one Port-au-Prince businessman. “Haitians know when they’re getting f---ed.”And so, Haiti has a new president. On Wednesday night, 63-year-old populist agronomist Préval was declared the winner, after the interim government and election authorities decided to subtract thousands of blank ballots from the total number of votes, thus giving Préval 51.15 percent. The authorities had decided that the question of fraud was no longer really...
  • Waiting in Misery

    Samuel Bien Aimé woke up at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning ready to vote. After trekking 2.5 miles to the nearest polling station in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, and standing patiently in line for nearly six hours, Bien Aimé finally cast his ballot for presidential candidate Rene Preval. "I waited in misery for this," said the smiling 28-year-old as he left the polling station near the capital's Cité Soleil slum.As a country, Haiti is no stranger to such sentiments. The country's presidential and parliamentary elections have been postponed four times since November, and given the country’s long troubled history of governance, the excitement about these elections has been brewing some time. The postponements—due to the lack of organization and coordination of the Provisional Election Council, the Organization of American States and the United Nations—have only led to more expectancy among the population. And, of course, in a country which has endured 33 military coups in its 202...
  • Post-Saddam Art

    American curator Peter Hastings Falk got the idea for an exhibit of post-Saddam Hussein Iraqi art when he saw a photograph of a painting over a mural of the deposed dictator in Baghdad. "My first thought was, 'This guy's got guts'," he says. "I have to contact [him]." The "guy'" was Esam Pasha, a Baghdad-based artist whose works are now featured in "Ashes to Art: The Iraqi Phoenix" at the Pomegranate Gallery in New York City through Feb. 22. After two years of e-mail between Falk and Esam, a collective of 10 Iraqi artists called The Iraqi Phoenix was formed early last year. Now, five of those artists are having the debut of their work in the new show.In artistic circles, Iraq may be most famous for its classical art and antiquities, but wandering through "Ashes to Art," one realizes that these modern works are historical documents, too. Each artist has a unique style of historical presentation. In one of Nazar Yahya's untitled canvases, brown shades smother black silhouettes of...
  • The Great King Khan

    Shahrukh Khan has acted in nearly 60 films and produced more than a handful of his own. But at 40 years, he's just hitting his stride. "Age hasn't hit me yet," says the father of two. "Only when my knees are in pain, or when I run out of breath from going upstairs, does it remind me that I'm 40." His career is certainly still in ascendance: He's got four new films slated forrelease this year, and his latest, "Paheli," is now India's contender for the best-foreign-film Oscar. NEWSWEEK's Malcolm Beith spoke with Khan--whose fame and box-office clout has earned him the nickname "King Khan"--about Bollywood, its increasing global appeal, and his double life as both an actor and a producer. Excerpts:"Heartthrob" has never been something I've ever gotten used to. I've always believed I should just be an OK actor. But I guess you don't get what you want to be.The first film we made, which tanked at the box office, was on the commercialization of the media. None of the journalists liked it,...
  • Beauty in the Beasts

    It's difficult to spot a diamond in the rough. It's even harder to see the beauty in, say, a pig. But football--known as the beautiful game--has, on occasion, transformed what some might consider rather ordinary beasts into priceless gems. A short, stout and cocky Diego Maradona emerged from the Buenos Aires slums to become a god on the pitch, his ability to sweep defenders aside truly Biblical. Zinedine Zidane, born to Algerian immigrants in the rough banlieues of Marseille, led France to World Cup and European championship glory. Even megacelebrity David Beckham was once just a shy, mild-mannered kid from a working-class neighborhood in Essex.Next summer's World Cup in Germany is guaranteed to usher forth a host of new heroes. And while the pretournament hype will likely focus on Brazil's exceptionally graceful Kaka and Portuguese pretty-boy Cristiano Ronaldo, it may well be a trio of hardworking, hard-nosed ugly ducklings who emerge as the swans: England's Wayne Rooney, Germany's...
  • The Beat Goes On

    A year ago it was difficult to find a nightclub in Latin America that wasn't pulsating to "Gasolina," a raunchy number by reggaeton star Daddy Yankee. Bootleg CDs of the tune were on sale at street stalls from Santo Domingo to Tijuana. In the United States, though, the 28-year-old Puerto Rican was still a no-name outside of urban, largely Hispanic areas like the Bronx. Today the feverish chants of "A ella le gusta la gasolina/Dame mas gasolina" ("She likes gasoline/Give me more gasoline") blast from radios in suburban Connecticut; and hipsters shuffle back and forth to the song in upscale Manhattan bars. In late summer, Daddy Yankee set the stage alight at the MTV Video Music Awards. Finally, after roughly a decade of being a secret of the Hispanic world, Daddy Yankee has gone mainstream--and taken reggaeton with him. "Now it's a huge movement--a force to be reckoned with," he says.The U.S. explosion of reggaeton--a blend of hip-hop, dance hall and salsa originating from Panama and...
  • The Beat Goes On

    A year ago, it was difficult to find a nightclub in Latin America that wasn't pulsating to "Gasolina," a raunchy number by reggaeton star Daddy Yankee. Bootleg CDs of the tune were on sale at street stalls from Santo Domingo to Tijuana. In the United States, however, the 28-year-old Puerto Rican was still a no-name outside of urban, largely Hispanic areas like the Bronx. Today the feverish chants--a call and response between Daddy Yankee and his female chorus--of "A ella le gusta la gasolina/Dame mas gasolina" ("She likes gasoline/Give me more gasoline") blast from radios in suburban Connecticut; hipsters shuffle back and forth to the song in upscale Manhattan bars. On Aug. 28, Daddy Yankee set the stage alight at the MTV Video Music Awards. Finally, after roughly a decade of being a secret of the Hispanic world, Daddy Yankee has gone mainstream--and taken reggaeton with him. "Now it's a huge movement, a force to be reckoned with," he says.The U.S. explosion of reggaeton--a funky...
  • Red, White, Blue And Cuckoo

    After 12 years of therapy, my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes: 'No hablo ingles'."So goes the old joke by comedian Ronnie Shakes. After five years of living in Manhattan, where everybody is neurotic, thinks he is or wants to be, I've started thinking about therapy. Growing up in a family that was always very accepting of quirks, in others as well as themselves, I never thought I had any problems. But here in New York, you simply have to have "issues." After all, this is the neural hometown of Woody Allen. What--no problems? Who do you think you are?!Lately, friends and colleagues have kindly taken to diagnosing me. A mildly depressed bipolar codependent workaholic narcissistic addict, they conjectured--in denial about all of it. Another friend pronounced me a "free spirit trapped in a practical mind." ("A hippie trapped in a bald head," I replied.) An online Church of Scientology personality test labeled me "unstable." Yet another friend insisted that I am ...
  • 'Just Like High School'

    Twenty-eight years old and already feeling burned out, comedy writer Rodney Rothman decided to escape Los Angeles and retreat to the only place he'd ever really felt relaxed: Florida, where he had visited his grandparents as a kid. So he moved into Century Village, a retirement community in Boca Raton. During his six-month stay, he explored the life that most Americans are working toward--lazy afternoons by the pool, early mornings of shuffleboard, quiet roommates with cats and shameless flirting among seniors of both sexes.In "Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement," (Simon & Schuster) Rothman recounts his close encounter with old age. The people he meets along the way provide him with new insights into what it means to be old in America. There's Amy, who took up stand-up comedy at age 80, and 75-year-old Vivian, the self-professed "femme fatale" who shares stories of past romances with Rothman over several glasses of wine--prompting him to realize that old women can be...
  • Periscope

    Thanks to recent events in the streets of Lebanon, headlines from the Middle East of late have had even serious skeptics believing that freedom may finally be on the march--just as U.S. President George W. Bush promised. But a close look at recent events in Jordan--often touted as a positive example of Arab reform--prove the region still faces a long uphill trek. On Feb. 20, Jordan's Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah resigned. Although the pro-reform, U.S.-educated Awadallah denied he was quitting over political differences, analysts speculated that his desire for Western-style reforms might have proved too controversial for his more traditional peers. Last week saw another blow to progress, as Husain Mijali, the president of the Jordanian Bar Association, stepped down over government moves to interfere with the country's trade unions. A proposed law, currently before Parliament, insists that Jordan's unions must confine themselves to professional issues rather than delving into...

Pages