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    Obama On Obama: An Exclusive Interview
  • Jon Meacham on Conservativism and the GOP

    Twenty years ago, I accompanied Andrew Lytle, the Southern writer, to a conference at Russell Kirk's compound in Mecosta, Mich. A crucial figure in the postwar American conservative movement, Kirk ran a kind of permanent salon at his home, which was known as Piety Hill. I was there mainly to make drinks in the evening and coffee in the morning for Mr. Lytle, then 86, and his old friend Cleanth Brooks, the literary critic who had come to the Michigan countryside from New Haven. At lunch one day, Dr. Kirk, as he was known, asked me what I was reading. I was in the middle of a Palliser obsession, and Kirk was engaging on Trollope. Then, looking at me with a genial intensity, he said solemnly that Victorian politics were all well and good, but one must know Burke, of course. Everyone must know Burke.It was, for him, familiar counsel: Kirk's 1953 book The Conservative Mind was instrumental in popularizing the 18th-century Irish politician-philosopher. Allusions to Edmund Burke's...
  • Draper Case: What Makes a Parent Negligent?

    After courts questioned the way they cared for their sick kids, two mothers in different states ran away with their children. Why 'neglect' is such a complicated concept, and why loving a child isn't always enough.
  • Japan Embraces Multi-Ethnic Musicians

    Japan's indigenous music scene is known for breeding cute, superplastic stars like Ayumi Hamasaki and Ayaka—über-pop princesses who routinely top the charts with their safely mainstream sound and image. So it was significant when a mixed-race singer known as Jero was named one of the country's best new artists at the Gold Disc Awards—Japan's Grammys—in March. Perhaps even more meaningful, Jero, who is three quarters African-American and one quarter Japanese, also won the award for best enka artist, topping the genre of traditional love ballads that are often about specific places in Japan. Jero, a.k.a. Jerome White Jr., grew up in Pittsburgh, singing such songs with his Japanese grandmother. "Since I started singing enka at age 5 or 6, I really wanted a career in Japan ... [but] I knew it would be a long shot," he says. Yet the Japanese have clearly embraced this 27-year-old performer who favors hip-hop garb yet sings songs meant to express the soul of Japan.Jero represents a new...
  • Kanye West: Author

    Feel the world is beating you down? Kanye West, a man frequently at battle—with, say, the president, or with Grammy voters—has written a short volume of aphorisms titled Thank You and You're Welcome. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Seth Colter Walls: ...
  • Travel: The Slave Castle of Ghana

    It takes four hours on an un-air-conditioned minibus called a tro-tros to get from Accra, the capital of Ghana, to the town of Elmina. The drive is lovely, especially when the road dances above the beautiful Cape Coast and when it enters Elmina's twisty streets lined with palm trees and hundreds of people trading fish like we buy hamburgers at McDonald's. The town's main attraction is a huge white castle that sits on top of a hill. From the road it appears so suddenly, it takes your breath away. The Elmina Castle, with its enormous white walls and red-tile roofs peering out onto the Indian Ocean, could easily be confused for some decaying Mediterranean resort. Such a pretty building—for a hellhole. Elmina Castle is actually one of 20 buildings running along the Ghanaian coast that housed African captives before they were shipped off to the New World. Which is why these buildings are more commonly, and oxymoronically, known as slave castles.The Portuguese built Elmina Castle in 1482...
  • Books: Why Work Sucks

    If you're lucky enough to have a job—especially a cushy, high-status job—you might feel guilty about how much you hate it. Prosperity perpetuated a little white lie: that work is supposed to make us happy. But the office is a fickle friend, according to British author Alain de Botton, who in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work spotlights life in 10 alternately routine and rarefied industries, including accounting, rocket science and cookie marketing. His implicit question, "When does a job feel good?" is answered with brutal calm: "Rarely." The tragedy is that we expect anything more.For most of human history, work was seen as penance, punishment or a necessary evil. But with the creation of meritocratic America—an "aristocracy of talent and virtue," as Thomas Jefferson described it—toil was transformed into an expression of identity, a way for people to measure themselves and others. "What do you do?" entered the social lexicon as an unavoidable acid test of relevance, while the...
  • Books: Did The Beatles Destroy Rock?

    The history of popular music in the 20th century is old news. It begins, depending on who you believe, with Scott Joplin and ragtime. Or maybe when the Original Dixieland Jazz Band first performed in 1916. At that point, the story marches through Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and the swing era to bebop, then to R&B, followed by Elvis and the Beatles, then free jazz, maybe a little nod to disco, and wraps up with punk, grunge and hip-hop. Class dismissed. Or not. There's always some smart aleck in the back of the room with a hand up, looking to make trouble. Yes, Mr. Wald, what's your point?Elijah Wald is the author of How the -Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll, in which he tries to convince us that much about the way we interpret the history of pop is wrong. Wald argues that most of "the music's critics and historians have typically sought to distinguish the music they love from the mediocre pap that surrounded it. As a...
  • Television: Why We Love Spelling Bees

    A time will come when May's most anticipated competition isn't the NBA playoffs, the Kentucky Derby or the American Idol finale. Instead, we'll be swept up in spelling-bee mania. Our favorite students' names will be written on brackets for the office betting pool. There will be elevator conversations about whether too many of this year's words are derived from Greek. Morally compromised talent scouts will idle outside farmhouses, waiting for home-schoolers to come out to fetch the mail. (Story continued below...)Unfathomable? Perhaps. But the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will crown its 82nd champion this month, has dramatically upgraded its cachet: for the third year, the final round will be broadcast in prime time on ABC. There are plenty of compelling quasi sports on television—logrolling, cheerleading, hot-dog devouring—but the spelling bee is the only one to consistently break out of the ESPN2 ghetto and into prime time.Much of the prestige bump is attributable to...
  • Nauman's Own--Art

    Some people say that Bruce Nauman is the most influential American artist since Andy Warhol, but when Nauman arrived at art school way back in 1964, he had almost no idea where he was headed. Fresh from being a math and science student back in Wisconsin, the tall, laconic young Nauman painted the most mundane of subjects: landscapes. "I thought art was just something I'd learn how to do, and then I would just do it," he says. He'd landed almost by chance at the University of California, Davis, home to the most rebellious, irreverent artist-teachers around. (One of them, ceramist Robert Arneson, would have his officially commissioned monument to assassinated San Francisco Mayor George Moscone rejected in 1981 because it depicted the Twinkies from the assassin's "Twinkies defense" right there on its pedestal.) The faculty gave Nauman an empty room in a temporary building and told him simply to go to work. "I knew then," he says, "that I'd have to start out every day and figure out...
  • When Would Adam Lambert Come Out of the Closet (if He Happened to Be Gay)?

    By Ramin SetoodehLet's play a game. Let's pretend that you're a 27-year-old male finalist on American Idol and that there are photos on the Internet that appear to show you tongue-wrestling with another guy. Entertainment Weekly said you "might be gay," and TV Guide said you were "openly gay," though you haven't spoken a word about your sexuality to your adoring, screeching, OMG-tween public. Then again, to be fair, you do have a man friend in the audience every week, who even smiled, waved and stuck out his tongue at you playfully when you sang "If I Can't Have You I Don't Want Nobody, Baby." And just yesterday, Perez Hilton reported that you introduced a man as your boyfriend—perhaps the same guy?—to a couple of other finalists at a dinner at Outback Steakhouse in Burbank, Calif....
  • Morning Mix: MLK Story to Become Movie

    King Story to Come to Big Screen.  Stephen Spielberg will produce a Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic, Dreamworks announced, in the first ever King biopic to be authorized by the King Estate.  The film's makers will thus be allowed to cull from King's papers, speeches, video and personal belongings.   [Variety]Allen Settles With American Apparel.  The clothing company that used a still of director Woody Allen from "Annie Hall" without his permission will settle out of court for $5 million, it was announced yesterday.  "It’s of course possible by going through the trial, a jury might have awarded me more money, but this is not how I make my living," Allen told reporters outside of the court room. [New York Times]
  • Eggs Aren't Just for Breakfast Anymore

    When I was in my early 20s, my good buddy McGee generously moved to a penthouse apartment in Paris for three years. On the first of my (numerous) visits, we went out for "French" pizza, and when it arrived, I was a tad unnerved to find that it was crowned with a fried egg. Now, the two of us had eaten plenty of eggs together—but we usually did so at, say, 3 in the morning, at the Waffle House, and I was unaccustomed to seeing them on a plate with anything other than bacon and toast.All that changed in France, where eggs are lavished on everything. With the addition of a fried egg and a bit of béchamel, a croque monsieur becomes a croque madame. Eggs top steaks, float in soups and nestle in frisée salads tossed with lardons. They come poached with red wine or bone-marrow sauces. They appear as omelets with fines herbes or ratatouille.Twenty-five years later, Americans are finally catching on to the fact that eggs are not just for breakfast. The egg-and-frisée craze was the first to...
  • "American Idol" Roundtable

    Four former winners and two popular finalists talk about what happens backstage, who will win this year and the singers who influenced them the most.
  • Meacham on Newsweek's New Magazine

    It is no secret that the business of journalism is in trouble. Venerable American institutions are facing uncertain futures; once profitable enterprises are struggling to find ways to fund their operations. At an otherwise lighthearted White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, President Obama concluded his remarks on a serious note, expressing his sympathy for the trade's plight and quoting Thomas Jefferson, who remarked that he would rather have newspapers and no government than a government without newspapers.The point, we believe, holds true for a magazine like ours. We think what we do is important, but in the end what matters more is whether you think so, and in so thinking, whether you find that our work repays the investment of your time. And so the magazine you are holding now—the first issue of a reinvented and rethought NEWSWEEK—represents our best effort to bring you original reporting, provocative (but not partisan) arguments and unique voices. We know you know...
  • Letters: The New Age of Pandemics

    Such a big scare sends people into a panic, and creates a smoke screen for all that ails the world.Joann Lee Frank, Clearwater, Fla.I was reluctant to buy the "fear & the Flu" issue, expecting articles blaming Mexicans for the flu pandemic. I was surprised to see that, instead of blame, you provided scientific information for regular people like me. What really got my attention was the positive light you shed on the way our government has dealt with this scare. Mexicans have gone through fear, distrust and anguish. The price paid for closing businesses, schools, airports, etc., has been high. Mexico, immersed in an economic, security and, now, pandemic crisis, dared to do the right thing and faced its problems head on.Rafael de Los Santos Diaz, Monterrey, MexicoLaurie Garrett highlights the challenges we now face, such as intensive livestock farming, so that billions can eat meat. Not mentioned in the article is the inadequate collaboration between the human- and animal-health...
  • The Spies' Secrets Revealed

    When the U.S. established diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R. in 1933, Soviet intelligence agencies immediately assigned professional spies to the new embassy and consulates. Suddenly, American secrets began flowing to Moscow. The Soviets took advantage of both U.S. ignorance about espionage and, even more, American communists' blind loyalty to Russia's socialist ideals. Some American recruits, like State Department communications chief David A. Salmon, handed over reams of classified information simply for the money. But most who signed on with the KGB or the GRU—Soviet military intelligence—held a principled desire to aid the communist cause abroad as well as at home.The rough outlines, and some details, of the Soviet's remarkable 1933–45 success have been known for more than a decade, but now a richly detailed new book, Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America by historians John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, offers a remarkable portrait of the KGB's efforts—drawn largely...