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  • Royal Visit: Queen Elizabeth in America

    On Feb. 6, 1952, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was distraught when he heard King George VI had died. His secretary, John Colville, tried to console him by assuring him he would get on well with the new queen, Elizabeth II: "But all he could say was that he didn't know her, and that she was only a child." She was 25 at the time. A year later, a royal aide confided that Churchill was so fond of her he could "scarcely speak of her without tears coming into his eyes."The rapport between Churchill and his queen was remarkable—she a serious young woman, known for her beauty, wit and love of dancing, he a great orator and war leader who delighted in schooling his monarch in the peculiar ways of British politics. Their meetings often lasted long past their customary half-hour appointment. When he notified her of his intention to resign in 1955, Churchill was told, through the queen's secretary, that "she would especially miss the weekly audiences which she had found so...
  • Great Expectations

    Seven years after his debut, the award-winning story collection "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges," Nathan Englander has finally published a second book. His publisher must be relieved that it's a novel. Even readers who end up not liking "The Ministry of Special Cases" ought at least to admire Englander's good sense. After a $350,000 advance for your first book, followed by awed reviews comparing you to [deep breath] Roth, Bellow, Joyce, Kafka, Cheever, Gogol, Chekhov and Singer, any writer would be tempted to swing for the fences. Would a 1,500-page novel that linked, oh, say, Bobby Thomson's home run, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mason and Dixon, Joseph of Arimathea and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle—all narrated by a hermaphrodite—be enough to impress that mob of long-awaiters and knife-whetters?"The Ministry of Special Cases" is merely a wonderful medium-length novel, set in mid-1970s Buenos Aires during the "dirty war," when Argentina's military dictatorship "disappeared" tens of...
  • Ansen: 'Spider-Man 3' Quadruples the Fun

    Superman has always been the star of "Superman," not Clark Kent. Same goes for Batman/Bruce Wayne, only a little less so. What's different about the Spider-Man series is that it's always been more about sensitive, vulnerable Peter Parker than about his superhuman alter ego. Spidey's not a natural-born superhero. It's damn hard work swinging between skyscrapers, and Parker spent a good portion of "Spider-Man 2" wondering if it was worth the trouble. Where was the respect? Where was the glory? He was this close to turning in his spandex suit."Spider-Man 2" was hailed by many as the most grown-up of comic-book action movies, which was ironic in that nerdy Peter is the most adolescent superhero in the Marvel movie galaxy. It was all about his growing pains, his doubts, his insecurities, which all former adolescents could relate to—though to these eyes "Spidey 2" got a little too self-important for its own good: the less prestigious, more slapdash original was actually more fun.Now, in...
  • My Turn: What I've Missed With My Camcorder

    I am a card-carrying parent of this generation—a memory-card-carrying member, that is. My husband and I started early: as soon as we found out I was pregnant, we began poring over ratings of video cameras alongside cribs and changing tables. And while the furniture gathered dust in the nursery as we waited for the baby, the video camera was pressed into action. We filmed monthly belly profiles—watching mine grow, and watching my husband's in hopes that it wouldn't. We filmed shopping for the baby: pressing on crib mattresses, walking through forests of highchairs, pushing strollers up and down aisles in baby stores.As our family has grown, we've continued documenting it. Whatever our children's roles have been in holiday programs, recitals and sporting events, our roles have been as recorders of these experiences. We are part of the herd in the back of the auditorium, holding devices aloft, alternately beaming smiles from the side of the camera and glancing into the viewfinder to...
  • That Chabon Sure Has Chutzpah

    The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is Michael Chabon's first full-length adult novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" seven years ago, and it's just as ambitiously imaginative—perhaps too much so. The book is set in an alternate present, in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, a safe haven carved out for the Jews after the collapse of Israel. Sitka (where everyone speaks Yiddish) is to revert to American control by the year-end, threatening to send the Jews wandering again. As usual, Chabon's language is incandescent, distilling sad Jewish mysticism into pulpy prose: "Night is an orange smear over Sitka, a compound of fog and the light of sodium-vapor street lamps. It has the translucence of onions cooked in chicken fat." Equal parts Chaim Potok, Dashiell Hammett and Woody Allen, "Policemen's Union" creates a new genre: hard-boiled egg noir.The main action follows Meyer Landsman, a detective under review for a questionable shooting....
  • Is TV Turning Tots into Crib Potatoes?

    According to a new study, a surprising number of babies and toddlers have televisions in their bedrooms. Are we creating a generation of crib potatoes?
  • BeliefWatch: Circumcision Debate

    Poor "Misha." Caught in a terrible custody war, this 12-year-old boy from Washington state has become a cause célèbre for a diverse group of activists. Here are the facts, in brief: Misha lives with his father, who has sole custody and who recently converted to Judaism. The father wants Misha to convert as well, and so he wants Misha circumcised. The boy's mother, who is Russian Orthodox, is against it. Doctors Opposing Circumcision, an activist group, started circulating Misha's story online, asking for donations for Misha's defense. A lower court affirmed the father's right to circumcise his son but has allowed the mother to exhaust her legal options before he does so; now the mother hopes that her case will be taken up by the Oregon Supreme Court. The boy's own desires remain unclear.Two weeks ago, Richard Dawkins, the Oxford don, noted atheist and author of "The God Delusion," posted Misha's story on his Web site. Dawkins was irate, calling Misha's father's intentions ...
  • Extra! Tribune Sale Involves Tax Dodge.

    Whenever you see a deal involving Los Angeles's Chandler family, you usually see a tax dodge. And sure enough, the pending sale of Tribune Co., the big media firm in which the Chandlers are the largest shareholders, exploits a loophole so gaping that we taxpayers can only pray that someone closes it quickly. But it's not the Chandlers, the media magnates (L.A. Times and Newsday) whose shenanigans I've tracked for 15 years, who are dodging taxes here. It's Sam Zell, the Chicago real-estate mogul who's buying control of Tribune.As best I can tell, the Chandlers are willing to pay taxes on their $1.7 billion of sale proceeds just to be out of the newspaper business and to end their battles with Tribune's Chicago-based managers. The Chandler family paying taxes is like the sun rising in the west—an unnatural event. The family pioneered in tax avoidance when it controlled the old Times Mirror Co., which Tribune bought in 2000. The Chandlers specialized in convoluted transactions designed...
  • 'Waitress': Filmmaker’s Sad Goodbye

    Adrienne Shelly wrote, directed, co-set-designed, co-costume-designed and costars in the new film "Waitress." She also composed a song for the soundtrack and gave her 3-year-old daughter, Sophie, a cameo in the final scene. The movie is a serene comedy about an unhappily married—and even more unhappily pregnant—woman named Jenna (Keri Russell of "Felicity") who finds refuge from her stifling life by baking exquisite pies with names like "Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie." (It's made with lumpy oatmeal and fruitcake, then flambéed.) More simply, though, "Waitress" is about a gifted woman finding her place in the world, and in that regard it is a metaphor for Shelly's own life. In the 1990s, Shelly was a pixie-faced ingénue who starred in a pair of films by the auteurist director Hal Hartley. But she resisted the lure of Hollywood and stayed put in New York, writing her own scripts and immersing herself in the city's close-knit indie-film world. She made two films that got...
  • Five Things You Don't Know About Fantasia

    Fantasia Barrino has fanjayas of her own. The ex-"Idol" champ helped sell $1.2 million in tickets her first week in Broadway's "The Color Purple." She spoke to NEWSWEEK after Wednesday's matinee (and before last week's "Idol" elimination). ...
  • Great Expectations

    Seven years after his debut, the award-winning story collection "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges," Nathan Englander has finally published a second book. His publisher must be relieved that it's a novel. Even readers who end up not liking "The Ministry of Special Cases" ought at least to admire Englander's good sense. After a $350,000 advance for your first book, followed by awed reviews comparing you to [deep breath] Roth, Bellow, Joyce, Kafka, Cheever, Gogol, Chekhov and Singer, any writer would be tempted to swing for the fences. Would a 1,500-page novel that linked, oh, say, Bobby Thomson's home run, Lee Harvey Oswald, Mason and Dixon, Joseph of Arimathea and Heisenberg's uncertainty principle—all narrated by a hermaphrodite—be enough to impress that mob of long-awaiters and knife-whetters?"The Ministry of Special Cases" is merely a wonderful medium-length novel, set in mid-1970s Buenos Aires during the "dirty war," when Argentina's military dictatorship "disappeared" tens of...
  • That Chabon Sure Has Chutzpah

    The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is Michael Chabon's first full-length adult novel since his Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" seven years ago, and it's just as ambitiously imaginative—perhaps too much so. The book is set in an alternate present, in the Federal District of Sitka, Alaska, a safe haven carved out for the Jews after the collapse of Israel. Sitka (where everyone speaks Yiddish) is to revert to American control by the year-end, threatening to send the Jews wandering again. As usual, Chabon's language is incandescent, distilling sad Jewish mysticism into pulpy prose: "Night is an orange smear over Sitka, a compound of fog and the light of sodium-vapor street lamps. It has the translucence of onions cooked in chicken fat." Equal parts Chaim Potok, Dashiell Hammett and Woody Allen, "Policemen's Union" creates a new genre: hard-boiled egg noir.The main action follows Meyer Landsman, a detective under review for a questionable shooting....
  • Summer Movies: What's So Funny?

    This is going to be the summer of fun. No, really. Until recently, comedies were on the Hollywood endangered-species list, but for some reason this summer there are more of them than there are pirates of the Caribbean. Which ones will actually make you laugh? Beats us. So we asked the folks vying for your comedy dollar to enter a contest: using your film as inspiration, tell us something funny, and do it in 100 words or fewer. (Mr. Apatow seems to have difficulty playing by the rules—typical director.) Who won? We report, you decide. ...
  • Homer Simpson's Big-Screen Odyssey

    To make it on the big screen, you have to give people something spectacular. Something extraordinary. Something like Bart Simpson—full frontal. It happens early in "The Simpsons Movie," when the animated 10-year-old takes a dare from his goofball father, Homer, to skateboard naked through the streets of Springfield. Hidden by plants and picket fences, he whizzes along, past kids, down hills, through traffic lights, until, in one shocking moment, little Bart flashes his little part to the entire world. Which may make this the first Hollywood film to show that kind of skin and to escape an R rating.In a summer bursting with comedies—including major animated fare "Shrek the Third" and the new Pixar film, "Ratatouille"—"The Simpsons Movie," which opens July 27, is both the least hyped and the most anticipated. Since "The Simpsons" debuted in 1989, it has built a fanatical fan base, earned 23 Emmys and generated more than $2.5 billion in revenue, if you include the never-ending selection...
  • Dickey: France's Reality Check for America

    The Republican presidential debate shows just how much American politicians are out of touch with global realities. What the French can teach them about Iraq, terrorism and conflict.
  • Books: A Memoir of Adoption and Autism

    We’re told to pick our battles if we want to make a difference in the world. Activist and writer Ralph James Savarese thought he and his wife, Emily, had done just that. For her it meant working with a Florida center for disabled and autistic children. For him it meant writing and teaching college students about responsibility and social obligation. But in the late '90s they found themselves forgoing these larger causes for the smaller one staring them right in the face: an abused, autistic toddler named DJ.The American Psychiatric Association describes autism as a disorder of impaired communication and social skills (including the delay or total lack of spoken language) and restricted or repetitive behavior such as flapping of the hands. But that view, argues Savarese in “Reasonable People: a Memoir of Autism and Adoption,” robs people with autism of their humanity and in return offers little hope. “To many experts, the non-speaking autist resembles the old version of a black hole:...
  • Exclusive: Berkeley Breathed Speaks!

    Berkeley Breathed, the reclusive author, illustrator and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of "Bloom County," the uproarious and endearing sociopolitical 1980s comic strip, has just released a new children’s book, "Mars Needs Moms!," in which Breathed, in characteristically smart and whimsical fashion, addresses the powerful love that binds parents to their children.Breathed, who turns 50 next month, has a pretty good track record writing for the grammar school set: he’s authored and illustrated seven successful children's books, two of which, “A Wish for Wings That Work” and “Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big,” were made into animated films. But “Mars Needs Moms!” is his first crack at writing a children’s book since having kids of his own (Sophie is now 7 and Milo is 5).In addition to writing books, Breathed, who lives with his wife and two children in Santa Barbara, Calif., draws the Sunday-only comic strip “Opus,” which of course is named after “Bloom County”’s existential, lovably...
  • Music: Ibrahim Ferrer's Swan Song

    Ibrahim Ferrer was just a few weeks away from finishing his third solo album, "Mi Sueño," ("My  Dream") when the 78-year-old Cuban singer died after complications from emphysema. Up until that day in August 2005, Ferrer, who rose to international fame as the suave tenor of the Buena Vista Social Club, always insisted he had an angel on his shoulder, and it was hard to argue with him. A minor figure from Havana's big-band era, Ferrer was shining shoes, at age 68, when he was plucked from obscurity by American guitarist Ry Cooder in 1997. Cooder had heard that some of the great bandleaders and players from Havana's pre-revolutionary era were still around, and the producer wanted to capture some of the island's more traditional styles before they died out with the artists. With the help of Cuban bandleader Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, Cooder did just that. As the Buena Vista Social Club, pianist Ruben Gonzalez, guitarist Compay Segundo and Ferrer resurrected sounds from Cuba's big-band era...
  • Architecture: Restoring Wright

    A once-endangered home by Fallingwater architect Frank Lloyd Wright is set to undergo a massive restoration. NEWSWEEK gets a house tour.
  • Sloan: The Wall Street Journal's Value

    There’s a real difference between journalistic giants and stock market pygmies. That’s the lesson of Monday’s $5 billion hostile offer by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. for Dow Jones, owner of the nation’s leading business newspaper, The Wall Street Journal.To most of us, of course, $5 billion is real money. But not to Wall Street. In a world in which you’ve got individual hedge-fund managers and private-equity players knocking down more than $1 billion a year, a deal of this size wouldn’t rate much more than a yawn if The Wall Street Journal weren’t involved.While The Wall Street Journal is a wonderful paper, at least to me, Dow Jones has been a less-than-wonderful company and has been marked down by the stock market for its various shortcomings. Hence the disparity between Dow Jones’s immense journalistic value and its negligible market value.Another company where there’s a huge disparity between journalistic and stock market significance is the New York Times Co., which has been...
  • The Oval: Bush Still Controls Security Debate

    The country says it wants a change. The candidates are not exactly embracing the legacy of President Bush. So why do they sound so much like him whenever they talk about national-security threats?
  • Humor: White House Seeks Lying Czar

    The White House in recent weeks has been quietly searching for candidates for the position of “lying czar,” a high-level administrator who would oversee all distortions and misrepresentations about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a White House source confirmed today.News of the administration’s search for a lying czar raised eyebrows in official Washington, where many insiders believe that the White House already has enough personnel to handle the creation and dissemination of war-related lies.Specifically, many insiders wonder why an administration that already has adviser Karl Rove and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would also need a lying czar. “The Bush administration has a lot of world-class manpower, lying-wise,” one insider said. “This whole lying czar thing seems like an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy.”But White House insiders disagree, saying that those who believe a lying czar is unnecessary are oblivious to the overwhelming volume of distortions that are sorely...
  • Up Close & Edible: Apple Cider Vinegar

    Word on the yoga mats is that a few daily tablespoons of apple cider vinegar could be the miracle potion for melting away fat, buoying the immune system, restoring arthritic joints and even curing gout—among a host of other ailments. Much of the hype comes from old folk tales and suave marketers. Dieticians and scientists have a different story: vinegar's most magical, confirmed benefit may just be as a tasty, low-cal condiment.Myths about apple cider vinegar date back to the 17th century. In 1820, poet Lord Byron—who reputedly suffered from anorexia nervosa and bulimia—made popular the vinegar and water diet, a regimen the American Dietetic Association (ADA) today includes on its list of fad diets. In the late 1950s, D.C. Jarvis's popular book "Folk Medicine" praised apple cider vinegar as the solution for a range of ailments—from chronic fatigue, to arthritis, to fat pulverizing. And Patricia Bragg of Bragg Live Foods Inc., a California-based company that is one of the leading...
  • Her Body: Interview With a Former Fat Girl

    In a new book that pulls no punches, Lisa Delaney describes how she changed her life, dropped 70 pounds and kept the weight off. All about the 'mint-chocolate chip incident.'
  • The Anatomy of Violence

    Cho Seung-Hui turned his gun on himself before a neuroscientist could get him into a brain-imager and scan his cortex for aberrant activity. No geneticist had analyzed his DNA for genes associated with impulsivity, aggression or violence. And although a physician at a psychiatric hospital concluded in late 2005, after Cho had stalked two female students, that his "affect is flat and mood is depressed," no psychologist had the opportunity to ask him why he wrote such disturbing, demon-haunted plays and essays that his professor referred him for counseling last fall. No sociologist had probed how American society had shaped this 23-year-old South Korean immigrant during his 15 years in the United States.While the temptation is to dismiss Cho as crazy and leave it at that, no one will ever know for sure why Cho murdered two fellow students in a dormitory at Virginia Tech and then gunned down 30 more people in a classroom building across campus just over two hours later. But the unasked...
  • Remembering Jack Valenti

    Nobody understood better than Jack Valenti the mind-set of powerful people. He began as an ad man in Texas, where he met Lyndon Johnson. When LBJ was tapped as vice president, Valenti went to work in the Kennedy White House. He was the quintessential staff man, bowing to the wishes of a boss who could be crude and overbearing—while never losing his own courtly bearing. Valenti was in the motorcade that fateful day in Dallas, dispatched by LBJ to handle press relations, when President Kennedy was shot. Valenti was there when Johnson took the oath of office aboard Air Force One, captured in the frame along with the grieving widow, Jackie Kennedy.And he shepherded Johnson through those first tense years, doing everything from taking notes in confidential meetings to acting as a conduit between the rival Kennedy and Johnson factions within the administration. His devotion to Johnson was so complete that much of official Washington dismissed him as a sycophant. But his ties to LBJ helped...
  • Résumé Lies a Major Concern for Employers

    As dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marilee Jones was responsible for ensuring that applicants represented their academic backgrounds honestly. So it was more than a shock when the 55-year-old resigned Thursday, admitting that she had misled school officials over a 28-year period into believing that she held three degrees from New York institutions. In fact, she had never received even an undergraduate degree from any school.While Jones's case is extreme, it points to a major concern for any corporation or institution that hires employees: embellishments and outright lies on résumés. Sue Murphy, association manager of the Human Resources Association, says that in her 20 years in HR she has seen the application process change dramatically. "We used to try to have the applicant provide two or three business references. But now … employers are being much more aggressive about checking applicants' backgrounds, and if they can afford it they are even...
  • Bjork Breaks Out of Her Shell on New Album

    Despite an international cachet and otherworldly aura, Bjork has usually created music that looked inward and created the world as a subliminal snow globe—ornately beautiful, acutely observed, but limited. Less than 10 minutes into “Volta,” her sixth full-length album, the snow globe’s glass is broken, its content spilling in every direction. “Lust for comfort suffocates the soul/This relentless restlessness liberates me,” she sings in the aptly titled “Wanderlust,” one of several new tracks that finds Bjork vaulting out of her comfort zone into the territory of the political provocateur. Although Bjork insists “Volta” is not an angry record, merely an extroverted one—she’s never sounded more defiant. On “Declare Independence,” she offers a rousing salvo about the treatment of Danes living in Greenland, but written vaguely enough to galvanize any disenfranchised group. “Declare independence! Don’t let them do that to you! Damn colonists! Ignore their patronizing! Tear off their...
  • A Prostate Cancer Revolution?

    Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer killer among men, after lung cancer. The American Cancer Society projects that in 2007 there will be 219,000 new cases and 27,000 deaths. Yet detecting the disease early has always been problematic. The only blood test available now—a test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA)—is not good at distinguishing malignancies from benign prostate enlargement (BPH). And it's useless for separating aggressive cancers from others that are so slow-growing they will likely never cause problems.But a new blood test, described this week in the journal Urology, could change all that. In a study of 385 men, the new test was able to distinguish BPH from prostate cancer, and it pinpointed men who were healthy, even when their PSA levels were higher than normal. It also did the reverse—singling out men with cancer, even when their PSA levels were low. It may also distinguish cancer confined to the prostate from cancer that has spread beyond the gland. And it...
  • Aide Casts Doubt on Bush's Iraq Scenario

    The president is suggesting that a troop withdrawal would turn Iraq into a battleground between regional powers. Not so, says a senior administration official.