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  • Bruno: A Fashion 'Don't' of a Movie

    'Borat' turned guerrilla comedy into a sharp, political weapon. 'Brüno' is funny enough, but its satire is entirely too overdressed for success.
  • Obama Arrives in Moscow

    President Obama just arrived in Moscow. First stop: He and First Lady Michelle Obama will lay flowers at the Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, just off Red Square. Then it’s off to the Kremlin, where Obama will meet one on one with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. They’ll have a press conference later this afternoon--er well, morning to you guys back home. Two things of note so far: Local TV did not show Air Force One’s arrival in Moscow so maybe there's something to those reports about the Russians being totally blasé about the president of the United States being in town. (Your Gaggler and other reporters not in the press pool today instead were witness to yet another interview with Jermaine Jackson. Thanks CNN!) And in another strange weather development, it’s suddenly not raining anymore.  It had been pouring buckets, so much so that your Gaggler had made a few bad jokes about building an ark. (Yes, we know. We won’t quit our day job.) But within minutes of Obama’s...
  • The Quiet Poet Laureate

    Kay Ryan has lived in the same small house on a hill in Marin County, Calif., for 30 years. She shingled the exterior walls and covered the steps and walkways in bright tile scraps herself. The house suits her—filled with artwork by friends and with books, surrounded by mountain-biking trails, sheltered by plants. She likes being in this out-of-the-way place, keeping her distance. As she settles into a faded pink director's chair, chatting amiably, her hazel eyes are warm but a little guarded. This is what she had dreaded when she agreed to become the poet laureate of the United States—that a reporter would show up at her door and ask her to hold forth on the State of American Poetry for the Masses. But Ryan is a kind and generous person, and so she has sliced lime for this interloper's sparkling water, offered her cut cantaloupe, and invited her onto the tiny deck lined with low-hanging strawberries, a geranium, lemon verbena, cacti. The pots were planted by Carol Adair, Ryan's...
  • My Turn: Ban Smoking in Public Housing

    Ten years ago, I was the doctor for an 18-year-old with cystic fibrosis whose mother was a heavy smoker. The patient told me how she coughed, wheezed, and choked when she was at home. I became close with her; it seemed she was always in the hospital, and I couldn't help but think it was because she wanted to escape a toxic environment. Three years later, at 21, she died—more than 14 years before a person with cystic fibrosis could be expected to live at that time.She is not the only young patient of mine to feel the effects of secondhand smoke. More must be done to address this suffering. President Obama's Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act is a great step toward accomplishing this goal: it gives the FDA authority to regulate tobacco, especially as it pertains to minors. But change can't come fast enough for children from lower income levels, where rates of exposure to secondhand smoke are especially high—not surprising, given that poor adults smoke at higher rates....
  • Letters: Theocracy and Its Discontents

    Thirty years after the shah was deposed, Iranians are once again divided and polarized. Can their leadership handle the currents of democracy?Victor Lopez, Seville, SpainWhen religion has to be enforced, -policed, or dictated, it has failed and becomes destructive in a way that it was not meant to be. Leaders, like religion, must be a personal choice to truly have meaning.Tim Devlin, Toronto, CanadaI realize why the events in Iran have been particularly moving for me: they remind me of the Hungarian uprising of 1956, which I also followed closely from afar. But the differences stand out in stark relief as well: there is no conquering (Soviet) army behind the theocracy, and now the Iranian population is so tech-savvy.Tamas Pick, Budapest, HungaryPeople who cannot make their point without resorting to violence and unlawful behavior are not fit for election and are certainly unfit for government. If Mir Hossein Mousavi cannot control his followers, he is not fit for office.George...
  • The Authors' Roundtable

    Holden Caulfield had it right. The test of a great book, he said in The Catcher in the Rye, was whether, once you finished it, you wished the author were a great friend you could call up at home. I remembered Caulfield's insight when we convened a roundtable of writers to come to NEWSWEEK. The conversation was honest, and a persistent theme emerged: that for all the frustrations of writing, the uncertain future of publishing, and the terror of rejection by readers and critics, our authors couldn't imagine doing anything else. Ever.Because they are all inveterate (and deft) storytellers, even when they're just talking shop. Elizabeth Strout revealed that she hides pages of her manuscripts in her home so she can come across them by surprise—and thus see them with a fresh eye. Susan Orlean said the first book she bought on Kindle was by…Susan Orlean. Robert Caro reminded us how he was told, repeatedly, that a book on Robert Moses wouldn't sell. (It did, and it won a Pulitzer.) Want to...
  • Love Books? You’re In The Right Place.

    A true story: in 1986, when I was a senior in high school, I read Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men and then read Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas's The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Both were about the interplay of the personal and the political, and I was so swept up by both that, after finishing The Wise Men, I started the whole thing over again, rereading Warren and then rereading Isaacson and Thomas. Years later, when I first met Thomas, I somewhat sheepishly told him this. He looked at me for a moment, then said, "You must have been a real dork." To that I plead guilty, but I would not trade the serendipity of encountering the two books at the same time for anything. At the time (and ever since), I was intrigued by the extent to which the character of those in authority could affect the course of history.It is a question that still consumes me, and I suspect is of perennial interest to you, too. Many young people go through a Walden phase, believing that...
  • Life Without Summer Camp

    The economic downturn could be the best thing that ever happened to kids. The return of free play.