News

Perspectives

"It will be back. Like 'Jaws 6,' there will be a sequel." Ohio Rep. Robert Ney, on the prospects for campaign-finance reform legislation, which collapsed in the House on Friday"Don't think for a minute that we haven't taken a look at that sort of thing, because we have.'' D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey, noting that Chandra Levy's case does not fit patterns common to missing-persons cases"We'll have to take one day at a time." Georgetown University Hospital's Dr. Craig Winkel, on caring for septuplets born at the hospital 12 weeks premature on Friday. All seven infants were in critical condition."It's almost like losing someone in your family. It's kind of traumatic." Wayne Pringle, co-chair of the Canadian International Turtle Derby, on canceling the race after 30 years"Does this decision mean the Communist government will close sweatshops so China's children can watch the Olympics?'' Ohio Rep. Sherrod Brown, on the International Olympic Committee's choice of China as the host of...

Having A Riot

As European activists prepare to descend on Genoa, their networked movement has achieved a continental sweep that is impressive and novel. Their predecessors, the radical student movements of the '60s and '70s, were relatively parochial. There were few transnational figures like Danny (the Red) Cohn-Bendit, the German Jew active in Paris (and later a German Green). The present-day movement will probably prove longer-lived. It has already engaged more activists over longer stretches of time--both the great majority who demonstrate peacefully and the small minority who live for combat. In those earlier decades, the bitter-enders were actually far more violent than today's, culminating in kidnappings and murders.Europe is now alive with debate about the meaning of Europe, so it's no surprise that activists are engaged in equally broad arguments. At least as much as they did 30 years ago, the radicals are not only declaring opinions but creating a way of life. Without any central...

It's Da Bomb

Peter D. Kramer's first novel, "Spectacular Happiness," sounds like a stinkeroo. Fiction isn't his metier: he's the psychiatrist whose "Listening to Prozac" and "Should You Leave?" showed a profound, agile intellect and a clear prose style, but no gift for daydreaming. Anyway, aren't shrinks and novelists natural enemies--the former intent on clarity, the latter thriving in murk? Worse, the book appears to be one of those Grishamite ripped-from-the-headlines dealies: a Unabomber-like philosopher-terrorist in a Hamptonized area of Cape Cod where invading millionaires trash local ecosystems and esthetics.In fact, "Spectacular Happiness" turns out to be both a serious novel of ideas and a pretty good one. Careful readers of Kramer's nonfiction know he's got as deep an interest in human murk as any novelist. He hedges his advocacy of Prozac with disturbing reflections on how the personality changes it causes alter our conception of the self; and anyone looking for a yes-no answer in ...

Party' S Over, Time To Get To Work

Beijing's bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics was a success, but the world won't stop watching now. Especially if China keeps its pledge to "give the media complete freedom"--just one of the many promises China will have to keep to stay squeaky clean.From now on, no crushing the Falun Gong or Tibetan "opposition." And no invasions of Taiwan. But Beijing faces other, less obvious challenges. First, it must deal with its rapidly increasing traffic problem, and follow through on its proposed plans: five new subway lines, 228km of new roads and a magnetic-levitation train to the Great Wall are all to be built by 2008.Pollution is another dark cloud over the city. Beijing has vowed that its water and air quality will meet World Health Organization standards by 2008. Among other measures, many factories must be altered or destroyed and businesses will have to switch from coal to gas. And what about sanitation? Beijing has already embarked on a "Toilet Revolution," a plan to build 64 "four...

Porky Profit

Remember Warren Buffett's announcement to investors in his annual report earlier this year? The so-called Oracle of Omaha declared he was entering such "cutting-edge industries as brick, carpet, insulation and paint." Now Merrill Lynch has gone one step further, suggesting an emerging market in... hog waste. It has many functions (from fertilizing to energy-producing), and according to the company's research, the sector's growth rate is projected to reach 79.8 percent for 2001. If it keeps that pace up, the $450 million hogriculture industry will leap to nearly $3 trillion by 2016. Obviously somebody forgot to tell the pigs about the economic downturn.

A Cowboy Takes L.A. To School

It felt like fight night inside Holman's Methodist Church in South Los Angeles. Hundreds of surly teachers, furious and frustrated over their spurned demand for a double-digit pay raise, had packed the church just after Thanksgiving to blast the city's new school superintendent, Roy Romer. The speakers lined up to denounce "Governor Romer" as an empty politician, a guy who knew nothing about education or the hard streets of L.A. Then the rear door swung open and, to the disbelief of the shouting teachers, in walked the enemy himself.Romer's staff had begged him not to go. He would "get his a-- kicked," one union organizer warned. But Romer had learned a few things about labor wars in 12 years as Colorado's governor. He made his way down to the first pew and sat politely as the teachers tore him apart. When the rally ended, he took up a post at the front door and pressed the flesh. An African-American woman took Romer's hand and held it. "You mind if I pray over this?" she asked. ...

The Mexican Model

Last week's escalation of Argentina's financial crisis has raised concerns about "contagion" to the rest of Latin America. Until recently, Brazil seemed to be the only country in the region truly affected by the Argentine crisis. This is not surprising. For the last few years Brazil has run huge deficits in its international accounts. Brazil's large external deficits--more than 4 percent of gross domestic product during 1999-2000--have been financed by huge flows of foreign direct investment. Last year alone, foreigners (mostly European and U.S. firms) poured almost $30 billion into the economy.Many of these firms were attracted by Mercosur, the regional trading bloc led by Argentina and Brazil. With the Argentine economy in a tailspin, Mercosur's prospects suddenly look very bleak, and foreign investment in Brazil has quickly declined. Without these funds Brazil's external deficit has become unsustainable, and the country's currency--the real--has weakened significantly, trading at...

Can Anybody Here Play This Game?

The American economy just isn't looking up these days. The growth rate for this quarter will probably be close to zero. Unemployment is rising. The stock market remains sluggish. And now many worry that the growing economic stagnation abroad will affect the United States. It will, but not in the sense most people seem to think. As in 1997-98, when financial turmoil raged across emerging markets, America will benefit from the world's woes. With trouble spots multiplying around the globe, investors are already coming to the conclusion that the safest place to put their money is in the U.S. of A. You see, the American economy is the worst in the world--except for all the others.How else to explain the gravity-defying feat of the dollar? By all economic logic, the dollar should fall when the Federal Reserve cuts interest rates. But as any American tourist knows, the greenback has been firming up against the euro and the yen despite six rate cuts this year. European and Asian investors...

Gods In The Classroom

The result of a Hindu-nationalist education can be seen on the outskirts of Delhi, where hundreds of youths in khaki shorts and crisp white shirts stand to attention, their lathis, or long bamboo fighting sticks, at their side. They are graduating from a camp run by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), where for 20 days they have imbibed the group's Hindu-supremacist ideology and learned hand-to-hand combat. With all the lock-kneed discipline of the Italian fascists that RSS founders so admired, the young men stage a mock battle, complete with men as "horses," blue-turbaned riders and "gunfire" provided by firecrackers. "The RSS teaches you how to be a real man," says Vivek Pahuja, a twentysomething software engineer who joined when he was 7 years old.Khaki-clad Hindu extremists have hung at the margins of India's political culture for more than half a century. Until recently, though, the sangh parivar--the constellation of Hindu groups that includes the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, or...

Moi The Miser

Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi has a skewed take on the AIDS crisis. Last month he declared that HIV-positive Kenyans who knowingly infect others should be executed. Then last week, after announcing that Kenya would import 300 million condoms--at a cost of $12.5 million--Moi complained: "I am embarrassed that I am spending millions importing those things," and suggested his people instead abstain from sex for two years. Reality check, please. "Abstinence might be easier for him," says prominent local AIDS activist Gitura Mwaura. "We've never seen his wife in public, so as far as we can tell he doesn't have one." Sadly, many Kenyans will choose neither option. One Nairobi taxi driver echoed an all-too-common sentiment: "[Sex with a condom] is like eating a sweet with a wrapper; you cannot do that. You have to have sex, [and] those who will die will die."

Bickering Over Old Bones

For a couple of geezers, the two rivals are really going at it. In one corner stands the official champion, Ardipithecus ramidus, discovered in 1994 in the barren Ethiopian badlands by paleoanthropologist Tim White of the University of California, Berkeley, and his team. At 4.4 million years old, ramidus is the current holder of the title "oldest human ancestor." In the other corner glares the scrappy challenger, Orrorin tugenensis, excavated last year from ancient strata in Kenya. His French discoverers say the 6 million-year-old guy deserves the "oldest ancestor" crown, but Orrorin's pedigree is controversial, and he has been snubbed by many anthropologists like an arriviste at a social-register tea. Not ones to grow complacent, the ramidus team last week boosted their man's claim of ancestral primacy. Scouring the same arroyos and escarpments that held the original ramidus, Berkeley grad student Yohannes Haile-Selassie found 11 fossils that seem to represent an older ramidus clan...

Mail Call

Our cover story on Andrea Yates drew more than 600 intense responses. Many readers condemned Yates's murderous act but sympathized with her circumstances. "Have we romanticized motherhood so much that we can't acknowledge the harsh reality of what women actually experience?" asked one. Others refused to accept either the stress of motherhood or postpartum depression as an explanation for the killings, and placed the blame squarely on Yates--and her husband. "If your inner resources can't handle it," admonished one of many, "don't continue having more children."Your story about Andrea Yates and the murder of her children was restrained and respectful and lacked the hysteria I have read in so many other publications ("Motherhood and Murder," National Affairs, July 2). The Anna Quindlen column "Playing God on No Sleep" was the perfect last word on the subject. This is a story that terrifies and horrifies and mystifies and confuses. Like Quindlen, I remember vividly the reality of that...

Married To Nascar

John and Nancy Andretti sit with their three children in the fifth row, listening to hymns, Proverbs and the sermon. It would be an ordinary Sunday scene if the chapel weren't a converted garage, if race-car engines weren't rumbling outside and if the word "safety" didn't dominate the prayers. Just two hours after the service the men in these makeshift pews--NASCAR drivers Andretti, Jeff Gordon and a few dozen others--will circle Michigan International Speedway at 170 miles per hour. And Nancy Andretti and the rest of the NASCAR wives will cheer, worry and pray.There's much to celebrate this racing season. NASCAR is getting more network TV exposure than ever and seems poised to win new fans. But since Dale Earnhardt's death in February, the Winston Cup circuit has become a traveling shrine. Earnhardt was the fourth driver to die in just nine months, fueling new concerns over racing safety that cloud even jubilant moments like Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s triumph at Daytona this month. The...

Why We'll Never Learn

Back in the 1970s I was a Washington intern. In those days, identifying oneself as such in your home state sometimes met with a puzzled stare, as if you were a medical student. There were sex scandals involving congressmen and their secretaries (plus strippers, high-school pages and prostitutes here and there), but interns didn't make the front page.Even so, you could sense the sexual energy beneath the Brooks Brothers suits and Talbots dresses. Interns like me were low men on the totem pole. Most of the action was between female interns and junior aides, female interns and senior aides and--could those rumors be true?--female interns and lawmakers. Washington has no Hollywood-style casting couch, but after a softball game and a few beers... hubba hubba.Not much has changed, except that polls now show an overwhelming number of American parents don't want their daughters to be Washington interns. This is unfortunate. Those wide-eyed young women won't get a chance to learn about...

Cyberscope

HOT PROPERTY The Fast and the Fabulous Playstation fans of the first two Gran Turismo games have been waiting a very long time for Sony's Gran Turismo 3: A-spec for the PlayStation 2 ($50; scea.com), out this week. They won't be disappointed: GT3 is a stunning auto-racing game that will dazzle your eyes as it stimulates your adrenaline flow. The game lets you take the wheel of more than 150 real-world cars (ranging from the Honda Civic to the Lotus Esprit) on 19 different tracks. You can play an arcade-style race against the clock or computer foes. Or you can race for money that, in turn, lets you buy better cars and access more tracks and stiffer competition. The graphics are as close to photorealistic as we've ever seen in a game, and the soundtrack, which features 25 artists from Jimi Hendrix to Snoop Dogg, is the perfect complement to the fast car action.SURF REPORT This week's roundup for the beach-averse computer addicts among us:

The Split Personality Economy

Listen to Tim Helton and Jim Hackett talk about the economy, and you might think they live in different countries. Helton and his wife, Michelle, just sold their home in Schaumburg, Ill., in a single day, for $184,000 ($2,000 more than the asking price), and bought a larger house for $245,000. Helton's job as a manager at a database company feels solid, so he's not worried about being the lone breadwinner for his family of four, carrying a bigger mortgage as well as $5,000 in credit-card debt. The economy, Helton says, is still humming along. "There's a lot of people spending money,'' he says.Don't tell that to Hackett. The CEO of Steelcase, the country's largest office-furniture maker, watched his profits plunge by 51 percent in the first quarter, forcing the executive to lay off 10 percent of his work force--1,450 people. He worries that another round of layoffs of as many as 500 workers may be necessary in the fall. "Business has not picked up enough yet to take away that threat,...

Moving In On Ma Bell

Brian Roberts was seated so close to the basketball court that he could have read the inscriptions tattooed on Allen Iverson, the Philadelphia 76ers superstar. Unlike many of the stylish fans in the money seats, the CEO of cable-giant Comcast was dressed in a subdued blazer that looked like an off-the-rack bargain. Roberts seemed unruffled even though Comcast is majority owner of the Sixers, who were entering the final game of the NBA's Eastern Conference championship tired and bruised. But his calm proved justified as the Sixers went on to win. Days later, however, the scrappy team fell to the overpowering Lakers in the NBA championship.Now the unflappable Roberts is gunning for even bigger game. Last week Philadelphia-based Comcast, the industry's best-run company, made a $58 billion hostile bid for AT&T's cable business, known as AT&T Broadband. Over the past three years AT&T spent $100 billion on a cable-buying binge, positioning itself as a one-stop supplier of...

Def, Dumped And Blonde: Dressed For Revenge

Dumped by her East Coast patrician boyfriend, whose political ambitions require "a Jackie, not a Marilyn," the perky, popular Bel Air blonde Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon), a major in fashion marketing, vows to win him back by applying to Harvard Law School, where he is headed. Instead of an essay, she sends a video "directed by a Coppola." In it, the bikini-clad Elle, spouting her California-girl notion of legalese, hawks her assets while posing in a hot tub. She gets in. This video is one of the highlights of "Legally Blonde," a broad, glossy teen comedy that shows off Witherspoon's wicked comic talents. Silly? You bet. But if this Popsicle of a movie melts long before it's over, the first half has more good laughs than all of "Sweethearts."Legally BlondeMGM July 13

Rethink Your 401(K)--Now

You have to start over, start over, start over. Forget what your stocks and mutual funds were worth a year and a half ago. That money is gone. The only question is what you're going to do next. To update a phrase from the laid-back '60s, this is the first day of the rest of your investment life.Starting from scratch, conceptually, is especially important for the 37 million people in 401(k) retirement plans. For years most plans have risen in value as if by magic. Almost any investment you made was "right." Many of us actually started to think we knew what we were doing.But lately you may not even have wanted to open your monthly statement. On average, employees probably lost money last year, even after counting their own contribution and the company match. For the first time, total assets invested in 401(k)s declined, the Boston research firm, Cerulli Associates, reports.Retirement-plan investors have grown steadily more aggressive--tilting more of their money toward stocks. The...

Bylines

Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas has seen his share of Washington scandals. And as usual, he watched the Gary Condit story evolve in stages. "The whispers started right away," Thomas says. "But it didn't explode until Condit admitted an intimate relationship with Chandra Levy." For this week's cover package, NEWSWEEK, led by correspondent Michael Isikoff, goes inside the investigation and profiles the congressman. "You've got a missing intern and a politician lying about a romance," says Thomas. "No wonder America's fascinated." (Page 20) Enigmatic Economics Last November Keith Naughton wrote about the tanking auto industry. In February he covered the growing wave of layoffs across America. Both stories predicted continued gloom. This week, however, Naughton and Adam Bryant find an economy firing off mixed signals. "Today's consumers are spending like mad," says Naughton. "Apparently, they haven't heard how bad things are." (Page 42) Fast Furious Families Daniel McGinn spent a...

Behind The Smile

Gary Condit learned how to project an image of purity and innocence at a very young age. As a little boy he would stand atop a tree stump at his father's tent revival meetings and sing, in a clear, sweet voice, "Amazing Grace." Then his father, Adrian, a Baptist minister, would step up and deliver a fire-and-brimstone sermon about hell and damnation. In a conversation with a NEWSWEEK reporter, the Rev. Frank (Chinker) Leach, 66, the preacher at the Free Full Gospel Church of Salina, Okla., recalled seeing the father and son perform the ancient drama of sin and redemption. The Reverend Leach reflected a moment on Gary Condit's current predicament and added, "Beware, your sins will find you out."Condit is hardly the first preacher's son to fall from grace, and his sins may not go beyond the commonplace ones of bearing false witness and adultery. Like most of the people who have known Condit, the Reverend Leach refuses to believe that the congressman had anything to do with Chandra...

Argentina's Pain

Argentina's president Fernando de la Rua had to promise budget cuts, and he had to look as if he meant it. "It is time for action, and that requires a patriotic effort," he said on live television last week. "We are going to spend only what we collect in taxes, and we are going to fight evasion to eliminate the deficit."At his side, Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo looked weary and pale. With Argentina deep in recession and unemployment swelling, Cavallo announced yet another emergency plan--the seventh in 19 months--and the most punishing yet: $1.5 billion worth of spending cuts in the next six months. His predecessor Ricardo Lopez Murphy proposed $2 billion in cuts when he was appointed Economy minister in March. The cuts didn't take place and were so unpopular that Lopez was deposed two weeks after taking office. Now, Cavallo said, the government would make deep cuts in salaries, pensions and payments to state contractors.The markets sensed desperation. In Latin America, the...

We Still Want Our Mtv

A cacophony of teenage "wooohhhs!" fills the studio as MTV's most popular show, "Total Request Live" ("TRL"), begins rolling. Show host Carson Daly jumps to the task of entertaining like a boxer responds to the bell, while a producer eyes the studio audience for the next kid who will enthuse about his or her favorite track du jour. As each video plays back on the show, boxes called "mortises" periodically appear at the bottom of the screen and, inside, a screaming fan tells America why she loves the artist currently airing. It goes something like this: my name is Kendra, and I requested 'I Wanna Be Bad' by Willa Ford 'cause she's totally hot. Woooohh!!! During the next commercial break, the producer auditions a petite girl who looks younger than the show's required on-air age of 18. She starts off strong, but muffs the climactic howl. "OK, thanks," the producer says coolly, and moves on. After all, it's MTV's 20th anniversary year, and only the loudest wooohh will do.On Aug. 1, MTV...

Venture Capital

For years, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has blamed foreigners for the ills of his country. The Asian financial crisis was a Western plot. Globalization is a scheme of rich countries to impoverish poor ones. Not surprisingly, all of his country's major financial and construction projects have been managed by Malaysians. The results haven't always been stellar. And he's about to find out whether his latest effort to boost the technology sector will do any better.Late last year his government announced that it was putting up $132 million to start a venture-capital fund. Uncharacteristically, officials said that they were looking for outsiders to manage 40 percent of the fund and they would allow some of the money to go for non-Malaysian ventures. Managers from the United States began forgetting their prejudices against Mahathir's insular mentality and put in bids.With results of the bidding due to be announced this month, Malaysia's semiofficial press is not inspiring...

No Thanks, Uncle Sam

Forget his standing with fellow G8 heads of state. As a former businessman who stocked his cabinet with ex-CEOs, George W. Bush might have expected a meeting of minds with CEOs in Europe. It won't happen. Consider the coalition that rose up this month in opposition to an EC directive that would have created a more freewheeling, American style market for mergers and acquisitions. The front included right-wingers, greens, socialists and the biggest names in German business, including BASF and Volkswagen. Bocking the new rules makes it more difficult for these giants to merge and acquire, but it also protects them from larger predators. Frits Bolkestein, the EU Single Market commissioner, called the vote an "important setback" on the EU's slow march toward liberalization.The truth: most European corporations still want little part of Anglo-American "liberalization," or the dog-eat-dog corporate culture that goes with it. Despite fashionable talk of the American model, embracing...

Barak: Separate Or Die

In his first interview since he was defeated last February, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak sat down and discussed Camp David, Yasir Arafat and the bleak legacy of his peacemaking efforts with NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth. Excerpts: ...

Exploring The Beast Within

The two nation-states founded in 1947 on the debris of the British Indian empire had, from their very inception, radically different stories to tell about themselves. One, Pakistan, adopted explicitly religious principles: it portrayed itself as the state of a homogenous people, the first Islamic nation in the world. The other, India, proclaimed a pluralistic nationalism that welcomed religious and cultural diversity, and it opted for an Indian variant of secularism, one that gave official privileges to no religion, nor made the state the vehicle for any particular religious group.For most of the past 50 years, the two nations have trod very different paths. Pakistan has stumbled through a series of military dictatorships that have edged closer to Islamic precepts. Although overwhelmingly homogenous in religious terms, it has often been riven by ethnic and cultural divisions--most notably in 1971, a conflict that resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. India, meanwhile, has...

Pretty Whatever

Julia Roberts's smile has probably been written about as much as the Mona Lisa's. What has been less noticed is how fetchingly, and fiercely, she plays anger. Roberts was in high dudgeon throughout most of "Erin Brockovich," and when her rage comes to the surface late in "America's Sweethearts," this old-fashioned romantic comedy finally seems sort of romantic, and almost comic. The best you can say about the rest of director Joe Roth's Hollywood comedy is that it's resoundingly so-so.Roberts plays the self-abnegating Kiki, sister and personal assistant to vain, narcissistic superstar Gwen Harrison (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who treats her formerly plump sibling like a servant. Gwen and her estranged husband, Eddie Thomas (John Cusack), are the "sweethearts" of the title: a glam Hollywood couple who made nine hit movies together before Gwen dumped him for another leading man. Hank Azaria plays this macho Spanish lover with a funny Castilian accent, a throwback to the '30 s screwball...

Flying Right

Kevin Carlyon, the high priest of British White Witches, made the news last week when he criticized Warner Brothers after seeing a TV promo for the upcoming Harry Potter film. According to Carlyon, Harry can't even fly right. PERI caught up with him to find out which way is the witch way:Yes. In the 16th and 17th centuries, witches were always portrayed flying with the brush at the front. The other big glitch is that you never see male witches riding a broomstick. It's a [female] fertility symbol, hence the brush at the front.Some sources have actually said that we cursed them. We have not wished any harm on anybody connected with the company. What we have done is placed a "binding spell," to slow down the sale of box-office tickets.They haven't made a comment. It's been said that they're fearful that the world's witches have been brushed up the wrong way.It's very similar to getting on a motorbike. You put the stick between your legs with the brush raised up.We believe in a force,...

A Summer Vacation, And So Much More

As my son Josh and I shot the rapids down Utah's Green River last summer, wedged in by canyons of gently sloping stone terraces, home could not have seemed farther away. We were paddling through the tempestuous Disaster Falls, the wreckage site of the No Name, one of Maj. John Wesley Powell's boats on his 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers to the foot of the Grand Canyon. Happily, our boat met with more success than Powell's. We whipped through holes between the rocks masterfully, reveling in the adrenaline rush and the cooling spray of the white water.The sandstone and quartz above us in sun-bleached hues of peach and gray were dotted with the deep greens of Douglas fir and sagebrush. Bighorn-sheep families grazed nearby, with no apparent fear of the river invaders.We were on a four-day, guided white-water river-rafting trip. Josh and I had long talked of taking such a trip. Josh's younger brother, Zach--a landlubber through and through--never shared our enthusiasm....

Pages