Martha Brant

Stories by Martha Brant

  • How to Get Rich Being Green

    Business schools are teaching entrepreneurs how to get rich helping to save the environment.
  • Michelle Rhee: Unconventional, Bee-Swallowing Reformer

    Michelle Rhee got a reality check in her first year of teaching, in 1993. The second graders at Harlem Park Elementary in a tough neighborhood in Baltimore were hard enough to keep in their seats, let alone teach anything. One day a bumblebee got into the classroom and the students were more out of control than ever. The daughter of Korean immigrants wasn't about to let a bunch of rowdy 8-year-olds trample her aspirations to get them to learn. When the bee landed on Rhee's desk, she swatted it, popped it in her mouth and gulped it down. For the first time, it seemed, her students were quiet. After that day they paid more attention, even if they were just waiting to see what she'd do next. "The kids were, like, 'Oh, my God, she's crazy! Who is this woman?' " Rhee says.That's precisely the question being asked in Washington, D.C. Rhee, 37, has taken on the city's most unruly job: reforming the D.C. public schools. When the city's new mayor, Adrian Fenty, asked her to be his schools...
  • A New Shot At History

    The high court will soon examine D.C.'s handgun ban. In the meantime, life on the street carries on.
  • Women in Combat

    The author of a new book contends that women shouldn't be in the front lines.
  • The Little One Said 'Roll Over'

    When Mitra Kalita was growing up in New York, her parents--immigrants from India--told her that there was something that she could never tell her American teachers: she slept in bed with them until she was 12 years old. In India, piling into a "family bed" did not meet with the disapproval, even suspicion, that it did in the United States. Kalita remembers that her father, who worked late, would often regale her and her brothers with stories from his childhood in India as they drifted off to sleep. "There was such intimacy," says Kalita, now 29. "And it was the only way to spend time with him." So when she had a child of her own, she naturally wanted to share her bed, too. Not only did it make bleary-eyed, early-morning nursing easier, it gave the working mom extra cuddle time with her daughter, Naya. For her parents, "co-sleeping" had been completely normal. But at play groups around Washington, D.C., Kalita found that many of the other moms had nagging doubts about doing it, in...
  • No Child Left Behind

    Ten-year-old Lea Gibbs was still awake in bed the night the Army chaplain and the casualty officer came by her father's house. The men offered no gentle talk of sacrifice, no quiet prayers. All Lea heard as she came out of her bedroom was the screaming of her step-mom: "Your daddy's dead! Your daddy's dead!" The following day, Lea's mother, Heidi Litherland, began seeking grief counseling for her daughter. "We don't handle that, Ma'am," Litherland says she was told when she contacted the base hospital at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. The hospital shuffled Litherland off to Army social services, but they didn't handle counseling, either: instead, they told her to go to a base clinic to get an assessment of the girl's emotional state. "Her dad just died! What kind of frickin' assessment do you need?" Litherland fumed. She managed to get a list of local private counselors from an Army chaplain, but none could take Lea: their waiting lists were too long. It took five months before she...
  • Matthew Palacios: Picking Up the Little Pieces

    Cpl. Matthew Palacios, the wounded Marine who saved his comrades by hurling away a live grenade, is still pulling out the pieces of shrapnel. Usually an eighth of an inch in diameter, the grenade fragments are easier to leave in his body than remove. But over time, the shards eject themselves, pushing their way up through his skin. Palacios can feel them surfacing, usually on his right side, where he took the brunt of the blast. One was working its way out of his calf as he spoke to NEWSWEEK, more than a year after the battle. "I can kind of squeeze it out," he says.From Jadick's aid station in Fallujah, Palacios, 20, was sent to an Army hospital in Baghdad, Balad Air Base in northern Iraq, Ramstein Air Base in Germany and then to Camp Lejeune, N.C. Finally, after about two weeks, he was sent home to Lorraine, Ohio, outside Cleveland. But he couldn't get Fallujah out of his mind. Driving at home in Ohio, he found himself scanning the roadside, looking for wires on the ground or...
  • Reality Check for 'Roe'

    At first glance, it appeared that the forces of the pro-life movement were on the march last week. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on partial-birth abortions, and the betting was that the justices would uphold a federal law that bans the controversial procedure. In South Dakota the state legislature voted to outlaw all abortions except to save the life of the mother. The legislation, which did not even include the usual exception for rape or incest, was clearly intended as a frontal assault on the high court's 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion.Does this mean that Roe' s days are numbered? Not exactly. On closer inspection, the abortion-rights battle is likely to be fought on the margins, limiting--but by no means eliminating--a woman's right to choose. The question of abortion is much more ambiguous than the louder voices on either side of the pro-life/pro-choice divide are willing to admit. The hard-line anti-abortion crusaders may...
  • God's Green Soldiers

    In a town where access is every-thing, the Rev. Richard Cizik's calendar would be the envy of even the hardest-hitting Washington player. One day last week his schedule included the National Prayer Breakfast with President George W. Bush, a luncheon with King Abdullah II of Jordan and a cozy evening reception at the home of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Between meetings, Cizik hobnobbed with U2 lead singer Bono, in town to advocate for Third World debt relief. Shaking the rock star's hand as eager senators circled for their photo op, Cizik managed to swiftly preach his own gospel. "Global hunger and global warming are inescapably linked. You know that," Cizik said. "Absolutely," replied Bono.Cizik, who first arrived in Washington in 1980 as a foot soldier for the Moral Majority, is a self-described "Reagan movement conservative" and Bush supporter, who opposes abortion, gay marriage and embryonic-stem-cell research. He promotes those positions as vice president of governmental...
  • Is It Over Yet?

    Any woman who has ever sat behind her husband at a confirmation hearing--and, full disclosure, I'm one of them--knows there is one cardinal rule: don't show your emotions. Especially if there are cameras rolling. Sit there calmly and well-coiffed while senators grill your spouse. Resist the temptation to roll your eyes or glare. Don't fidget. Wear something attractive, but not flashy. Smile when appropriate, but don't laugh. The goal is to be a supportive backdrop, but never the show. Martha-Ann Alito, wife of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, broke the rules Wednesday during confirmation hearings. She cried. After hours of questioning from Democrats about Judge Alito's integrity, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham apologized for the tone the hearings had taken and mocked his colleagues' implications of impropriety and even racism. "Are you a closet bigot?" he asked Judge Alito almost rhetorically. Alito answered that he was "not any kind of bigot." At that, Mrs. Alito began to...
  • The Home Front: Days of Our Lives

    A new generation of military wives--defying the unwritten rule that you don't whine about your husband's job--are sharing their deployment woes in new books. Sarah Smiley recently released "Going Overboard: The Misadventures of a Military Wife," a humorous take on the home front. (Kelsey Grammer has bought the rights.) "Just because your husband is getting shot at, does that make everything else in your life null and void?" she quips. After Jessica Redmond's husband was deployed to Iraq, she e-mailed other spouses asking how they were coping. She got 50 replies in 48 hours and turned some of their storiesinto "A Year of Absence: Six Women's Stories of Courage, Hope and Love." The women discuss once taboo topics like mental illness and drinking problems. But this confession-al style goes too far for some. "We have to know our boundaries," says 20-year Army wife Patti Correa, whose own book, "From a Pebble to a Rock," offers historical, morale-boosting portraits of military wives. ...
  • Fast Chat: Cindy Sheehan

    Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son Casey in the war, staked out President George W. Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch last August looking for answers about U.S. involvement in Iraq. She spoke with Martha Brant from London, where Sheehan addressed the International Peace Conference and is currently the subject of a one-woman play.We brought the war into the forefront of American consciousness and started the discussion that should have started before the war. The mood in our country is turning around.One thing that has prevented the peace movement in America is the media. I spoke with 5,000 people in North Carolina on March 19, 2005, and the press called the protest "insignificant." They covered the Terri Schiavo case instead.They got hold of everything I've ever said and scrutinized it so carefully. They never scrutinized what Bush said. No one said, "Why did you lie to the American people and say there was WMD?" The press found an easy target in Iraq, and they found...
  • Alito: New (Old) Attack Plan

    The ammunition that the left had been looking for against Judge Samuel Alito came from an unexpected source last week: the conservative newspaper The Washington Times. The paper cited a 1985 job application in which Alito proclaimed that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion." Until then, a coalition intent on defeating Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court had been broadening its strategy beyond abortion to issues of civil rights and job discrimination. But the day the Times story ran, the coalition began rewriting a television ad to attack Alito's view on Roe v. Wade , the 1973 case that established a woman's right to an abortion. "There is an extensive public record that allows Alito's own statements to be the best evidence against him," says Ralph Neas, head of People for the American Way, which is also developing an attack ad on the application.Brian McCabe, president of Progress for America, says Alito's record will trump the 1985 memo. "You have 15 years...
  • Investing In AIDS Testing

    OraSure Technologies CEO Douglas Michels walks softly and carries a small stick. Actually, the stick is a white, plastic HIV test that uses oral fluid, is quick and has been approved by the FDA for use by health-care workers--and Michels packs it in his briefcase wherever he goes. Last month he whipped it out to show AIDS activist and actress Angelina Jolie in Washington, and then again to show distributors in Japan. This month he'll be demonstrating it before FDA scientists, in hopes of getting the test approved for over-the-counter use as soon as next year--a major step for the company. Each time, Michels swabs his upper and lower gums, gathering up antibodies with the stick's absorbent pad. He then dips the swab in a vial of developer so that chemicals on the stick can look for HIV antibodies. Twenty minutes later, he gets a result that's 99 percent accurate. "I carry it wherever I go," Michels says. "It's impactful."The OraQuick Advance Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test has certainly...
  • Reading Your Baby's Mind

    NEW RESEARCH ON INFANTS FINALLY BEGINS TO ANSWER THE QUESTION: WHAT'S GOING ON IN THERE?
  • SOLDIERS: WAR ON 'MILBLOGS'

    In his weblog from Iraq, Spc. Leonard Clark of the Arizona Army National Guard spoke out against a war he thought a "travesty." According to his battalion commander, he also jeopardized operational security (OPSEC). Late last month Clark was charged with reckless endangerment and failure to obey an order. He was demoted and docked pay. "They are finally going to put a stop to me," Clark wrote before his blog shut down. Military personnel in Iraq must now register their "milblogs" with the higher-ups, who will review them quarterly. "We're fighting a war here, and insurgents read Web pages," explains Col. Bill Buckner, spokesman for the Multi-National Corps-Iraq. But OPSEC has "a totally amorphous definition," argues New York Army National Guardsman Jason Hartley, who last year became the only other soldier demoted for his blog. "My commander just didn't like my tone," says Hartley, whose missives on justanothersoldier.com will be published by HarperCollins this fall.
  • A DYING MOTHER'S FINAL PRAYER

    For the pro-life movement, the center of gravity these days isn't the Supreme Court, but the Virginia Hospital Center just across the Potomac River from the Capitol. That is where 26-year-old Susan Torres lies, brain-dead, her body fighting melanoma. The hope is that she will stay alive until her unborn daughter, Cecilia, can be delivered in August.Torres's plight has garnered worldwide attention, but mercifully it is not a replay of the Terry Schiavo case. Instead, it may be a quiet antidote. Torres was 15 weeks pregnant when she collapsed from a brain tumor May 7. Her family was never torn about what to do. Everyone understood that Susan was already gone. The Roman Catholic church they attend has no quarrel with the family's decision to remove Torres from life support once the child is born. And no one is threatening to sue to keep her alive. (The closest the Torres family has gotten to the Supreme Court was when Susan's husband, Jason, ran into Chief Justice William Rehnquist...
  • Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

    Building on the success of Daniel Goleman's 1997 best seller, "Emotional Intelligence," psychologists Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves designed a test that assesses the four pillars of EQ: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. "Emotional Intelligence Appraisal" was published in 2003, and the creators say more than 500,000 people have taken the assessment so far. The pair has used it to teach Fortune 500 companies, governments and even a few royal families how to fix management dysfunction. Now they are making their findings--and the test itself--available to anyone in their new book, "The Emotional Intelligence Quick Book: Everything You Need to Know to Put Your EQ to Work." When they say quick, they mean it. The test only takes about seven minutes, and the book is a fast read with compelling anecdotes and good context in which to understand--and improve--your score. Bradberry recently spoke with NEWSWEEK's Martha Brant. Excerpts:Travis...
  • A Politician's New Cause

    Billy Tauzin, the colorful former congressman, comes from a tradition of Bibles and blackjack. "I always said that if they put slot machines in the church, I'd never see my mother again," the Louisiana native quipped recently. Last year he learned something else also ran in his family: cancer. His mother survived three bouts of the disease. Now Tauzin is a cancer survivor too, and he's not just proselytizing about the drug that saved him but the whole pharmaceutical industry.In January, the 61-year-old Republican, who served 13 terms as a U.S. representative, became the head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association for drug companies. "I don't know if PhRMA has ever had a president that's been a patient," Tauzin told reporters last week. But that perspective may be a much-needed shot in the arm for an industry that Tauzin says needs to "recapture the trust of the American public."In a Kaiser Family Foundation study earlier this year,...
  • War Stories: Time for Change

    Rape in the military is not a new topic. But it is yet again the subject of congressional hearings, military commissions and media reports. The Congressional Women's Caucus held a packed hearing Wednesday to try to understand why they were holding yet another hearing on this recurrent topic. "I know I don't want to be part of another hearing that doesn't come to much," said chairwoman Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat. So why has the long-standing problem of military sexual assault not been solved or at least better addressed? The answer seems to lie in the military command structure itself. ...
  • THE ARMY GOES ON TRIAL

    The sign outside the Platinum Club, a low-slung strip bar in Columbus, Ga., promises hot girls and cold beer. To a rowdy group of soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Benning, nothing sounded better. One night last July, Pfc. Alberto Martinez and four of his buddies from the Third Infantry Division headed out for a night of long-awaited R&R. The men were just back from Iraq, where they'd taken part in some of the most intense fighting of the war.But things started going badly not long after the men arrived at the bar. One of the soldiers, Spc. Richard Davis, insulted a dancer and got the whole group kicked out. Drunk and angry, the men turned on Davis in the parking lot. Two of the soldiers, Pvt. Jacob Burgoyne and Pfc. Mario Navarrete, began punching him. The men were still angry when they all got back into Martinez's car. After a few miles, Martinez apparently had had enough. He stopped the car and the men got out. Martinez then allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed Davis more...
  • War Stories: Is R&R Wrongheaded and Reckless?

    The conflict in Iraq is providing experts like Charles Figley a chance to put the psychology of war itself on the couch. Take rest and relaxation, for example. "There is a lot of research that shows that R&R is bad policy," says Figley, the head of the traumatology unit at Florida State University. He says that there is mounting evidence that indicates that those two weeks of leave to go home sometimes make things harder on soldiers. There are also some alarming statistics that suggest troops are more likely to be killed just before or just after R&R, because their minds are elsewhere. That's why some military psychologists are urging the top brass to consider not sending the soldiers currently rotating into Iraq home for R&R.Canceling traditional R&R would not go over well with rank-and-file soldiers, but it might make them safer physically and mentally. There are other options besides a trip home. The British, for example, give their soldiers a break--but as a unit...
  • War Stories

    I've really got to hand it to the Department of Defense. When it comes to Orwellian doublespeak they are truly masters. Remember the MX missiles that were called "Peacekeepers"? Or the ongoing "liberation" of Iraq? Even the whole name of the agency is a public-relations coup: it used to be called the Department of War, after all. But this week I heard a new euphemism. The military doesn't use the term "rape." They prefer "unprofessional gender-related behavior."Such unprofessional behavior, it seems, has been going on not just on military campuses, but on the field of battle, as well. At a hearing Wednesday of a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, military representatives said that 112 cases of sexual misconduct, including rapes, have been reported to them over the last 18 months in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan. That's just what's been reported to the military--not civilian rape-crisis centers. Combined with calls to the nonprofit Miles Foundation, which provides...
  • War Stories: 'Bush Lie and Who Die?'

    Fernando Suarez del Solar has become something of a cause celebre in the antiwar movement. Although the Mexico native's English is spotty, he is still eloquent when he speaks of his son's death and the fact that no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. "Mr. Bush lie and who die?" Suarez asked this week. "My son."Suarez's 20-year-old son, Jesus, had desperately wanted to be a Marine. So the family moved across the border from Tijuana to California so that he could fulfill his dream at Camp Pendleton. The senior Suarez had been something of an activist in his hometown, a city rife with drug crime, and Jesus wanted to fight narcotraffickers, maybe go into special forces or the Drug Enforcement Agency.Instead Jesus landed in Iraq and died last March after stepping on a stray American cluster bomb, according to his father. After his son's death, he made a decision to speak out against the war. "They tell me I'm staining the memory of my son. But that's not true. He died...
  • War Stories: Unhappy Holidays

    Sonja Burris of Kansas is like most military wives. She gets down sometimes, especially around the holidays, about her husband being so far away for so long. But she muddles through. She thought she was doing pretty well, even considered herself lucky. Terry, an Army reservist from the 129th Transport serving in Iraq since January, was able to come home for the birth of their daughter, Brooke, a few months ago.But then Sonja went to her gynecologist for a postpartum visit. She was talking with her doctor about her husband when the doctor said: "If you need any antidepressants, give us a call any time." Burris was shocked. She didn't feel depressed enough to take medication. "There was no mention of counseling or anything. Just a prescription offered anytime," she says.The psychological toll of war doesn't get all the attention it deserves. Some 10 to 15 percent of soldiers treated for injuries at Walter Reed hospital also suffer psychological wounds. However, no one keeps track of...
  • War Stories: Sympathy Forms

    President Bush's surprise visit to see the troops last week hasn't stopped the grousing over how he is handling the war dead.Democratic candidates for his job see Bush's absence from soldiers' funerals as great fodder for their cause. War opponents and media cynics accuse him of obfuscating the reality of the prolonged conflict. But what do the families of the dead soldiers themselves think?As usual, reason lies outside the Beltway. There, you can also find grace in the face of tremendous sorrow. Take Denise Marshall of Georgia, for example. Her husband, John, is the oldest soldier to die in Iraq so far. The lifelong Army veteran was 50. "It takes a lot of mental preparation to be ready for something like his," she says of his death.The top brass at Fort Stewart, where the Marshall family (with its seven kids) is based, no doubt chose Denise to meet President Bush several weeks ago because of her composure. It was the first of a series of private meetings he has had with fallen...
  • Olympian Challenge

    David Tubbs has been in Athens for more than a year, but has barely visited the Acropolis. As the head of Olympic security for an American company called Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), he's been directing a 50-member team seven days a week for so many hours a day that, he says, "I don't count." Greece, which will host the Summer Games in August, is well behind on its security pre-parations, having dithered before awarding SAIC a $277 million contract to install security infrastructure. This little-known defense contractor, based in San Diego, now has a very high-profile job: providing the technology to guard the 2004 Games from terrorists.Other firms have more name recognition, but when it comes to matters of national security, chances are SAIC is involved. Founded in 1969, it ranks No. 288 on the Fortune 500. It's one of the largest employee-owned companies anywhere, with about 40,000 people in 150 locations worldwide. Many SAIC researchers--and their clients-...
  • War Stories: Painful Deployments

    Not all patriots wear fatigues. Some, it turns out, wear business suits. Take the case of Dave Dougherty, who owns a company called Data World in Bethesda, Md. One of his key employees, Jeff McIntosh, has been deployed for almost two years now. McIntosh, who does technological infrastructure for the small company, was first mobilized in November 2001. The Army reservist came back to work the following summer, but was called up again half a year later for Iraq.McIntosh's deployment couldn't have come at a worse time for Data World, which has just eight employees. McIntosh was in the middle of upgrading the computers and planning a big move. "It put everybody in a difficult position," says Dougherty, who had to spend an extra $25,000 to get the complicated computers the company uses installed. Dougherty has hired temps here and there, but the company has had to put on hold a lot of projects. With one of his key employees gone indefinitely, Dougherty ended up having to apply for a six...
  • Off Beat: A Candid Candidate

    "Are you ready to go?" a pumped Wesley Clark called out to us as he walked quickly through the airport lounge in Little Rock. He had invited three reporters to ride with him on an eight-seat turboprop to Iowa City last Friday. His wide-open media strategy was a calculated risk that revealed both his strengths and his weaknesses that day.It was 7:30 a.m. and most of us were still bleary-eyed from the night before. We had gotten to sleep well after midnight after a long day with Clark in Florida. We were quickly scanning the newspapers and dreaming of coffee in the lounge when the former general walked his peppy self into the airport. He'd stayed up later than all of us, reading news stories on the Internet. And he'd been up earlier--after just four hours sleep--to do his daily swim and read the papers.He'd violated the "six-hour rule" that he came up with in the military. At the beginning of a conflict, he forced himself to have "sleep discipline" and go to bed at midnight, because...

Pages