• High-Speed Rail Can't Replace Cars

    President Obama set aside $8 billion for high-speed trains in the stimulus package, and Congress added another $1.2 billion. Yet many economists now say the costs of building a high-speed rail network far outstrip possible the benefits, especially when cars are becoming more energy-efficient. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser has studied the supposed environmental benefits, guided by the carbon-emission data used by environmental advocates. He pegs the annual environmental benefit for a 240-mile high-speed rail line that attracts 1.5 million riders at $4.2 million, a small return given the billions it would cost. Cato scholar Randal O'Toole notes that French and Japanese ride their bullet trains less than 400 miles a year on average, and estimates that an American network would take, at best, 3.5 percent of cars off the road.
  • Immigrants Create More Jobs Than They Take

    Lou Dobbs, take note: immigrants are good for our economy. The most skilled create jobs in technology and engineering, says Duke professor Vivek Wadhwa, who estimates that in 2005 immigrant-founded engineering and tech companies employed 450,000 people and generated $52 billion in sales. But even the least skilled more than repay their costs in schools and health care. Two highly respected Australian economists, Maureen Rimmer and Peter Dixon, studied the issue for the libertarian Cato Institute. "The net impact on U.S. households from tighter border enforcement is unambiguously negative," they found, because even low-skilled immigrants expand the economic pie and create jobs farther up the ladder. Cato's Dan Griswold says the study shows a $250 billion difference between the most and least restrictive immigration policies.
  • America's Skies and Waters: Cleaner Than Ever

    Activists are reluctant to crow, since climate change remains a huge threat. But over the past three decades America's rivers, lakes, and skies have been transformed. Acid-rain levels have dropped 60 percent since the early 1990s; air quality has improved 91 percent since 1980 in terms of lead content. The Hudson River "is much, much cleaner than it's been in 100 years," says Riverkeeper's Phillip Musegaas. Greens can be a little less blue.
  • How Do You Leave a Gang?

    For many young guys trying to leave gangs, the pull of the old neighborhood is tough to resist. How do you let go—and stay gone? NEWSWEEK trailed two men who really want to figure that out for themselves.
  • Profile of Erick Erickson, Editor of RedState.com

    Erick Erickson, the editor of the influential conservative blog RedState.com, knew he had arrived in politics two years ago when Tony Snow, the then White House press secretary, invited him to visit. Not wanting to presume, Erickson showed up at the Old Executive Office Building, where most staffers work. But when he arrived, the 33-year-old native Louisianan recalls, "they said, 'No, your appointment's at the West Wing.' At that point I knew Red State was kind of unique."That's putting it mildly. After suffering demoralizing losses in the Nov. 4 election, the GOP is searching for new voices to spur a comeback. But the party's right wing tends to distrust anyone who's too comfortable inside the Beltway, which is partly why Erickson—White House visits aside—has built such a following. The worldwide headquarters of his RedState.com is a sleepy coffee shop in Macon, Ga., 700 miles from Washington. They must brew a strong cup of joe there, because from his remote perch, Erickson has...
  • Profile of Politico Powerhouse Mike Allen

    It's 5 a.m. and Mike Allen has already been awake for nearly two hours. The baby-faced, 44-year-old reporter for Politico, the Beltway-obsessed Web site, gets up each morning at about 3:30 to compile Mike Allen's Playbook, a daily, scoop-soaked breakfast in bed for about 12,000 of the country's most powerful people. The sun isn't up yet at Politico's Arlington, Va., headquarters, but it's not too early for Allen's first Diet Dr Pepper of the day, which he nurses as he scans a dozen newspapers and magazines—the Asian edition of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post—to cobble together today's edition. Each Playbook usually arrives in inboxes no later than 8:30 a.m., and it's built for speed, so there are rules. At the top of the list, he says: no paragraph may be "longer than the average BlackBerry screen."Allen is known in the trade for his superhuman dedication and impressive network of sources, but he doesn't just deliver the news. He gives it dimension and context, noting,...
  • Cindy McCain Pays Back Taxes on San Diego Condo

    When you're poor, it can be hard to pay the bills. When you're rich, it's hard to keep track of all the bills that need paying. It's a lesson Cindy McCain learned the hard way when NEWSWEEK raised questions about an overdue property-tax bill on a La Jolla, Calif., property owned by a trust that she oversees. Mrs. McCain is a beer heiress with an estimated $100 million fortune and, along with her husband, she owns at least seven properties, including condos in California and Arizona.San Diego County officials, it turns out, have been sending out tax notices on the La Jolla property, an oceanfront condo, for four years without receiving a response. County records show the bills, which were mailed to a Phoenix address associated with Mrs. McCain's trust, were returned by the post office. According to a McCain campaign aide, who requested anonymity when discussing a private matter, an elderly aunt of Mrs. McCain's lives in the condo, and the bank that manages the trust has not been...
  • Addiction: Sobering Messages, Via Cell Phone

    When Tyrone, 41, can't make his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, he relies on something else to help him stay sober: text messages. The daily recovery-themed messages from a company called I Live Inspired remind him to "look to my higher power for guidance, and accept life," he says, quoting a recent dispatch. I Live Inspired is the brainchild of Rob Foster, a 28-year-old former cocaine addict from Virginia who came up with the idea after his second rehab stint in 2006. A friend sent him texts about sobriety every morning as Foster traveled to work "feeling crazy." The messages made him feel less alone, so he started forwarding them to others on the mend. Soon a business was born: $3.95 a month for daily bytes of inspiration sent to any cell phone.So far the start-up has attracted more than 700 subscribers and forged deals to provide nibbles of wisdom from the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. Users can tailor the service to get a recovery message one day, and pearls from the Dalai Lama...