News

  • Brazil's Turn To Hurt?

    South America's two giants, Brazil and Argentina, have long been intense competitors. They have sparred in every field, from football to finance, and spent much of the past century vying for the cash and attention of the rest of the world. In the early '90s Argentina was the darling of the moneymen, when the then President Carlos Menem shook the continent with his enthusiasm for market-friendly economics. But by mid-decade, it was Brazil's turn, as President Fernando Henrique Cardoso promised to marry capitalism and social justice.Ever since, Brazil has been winning the race. The government has tamed inflation and unemployment and put the books in the black. And even as the world economy has slowed, Brazil's has looked fit and fortunate.No longer. Just the other day, the cardinals of high finance were saying last rites for Argentina. Now everyone is praying for Brazil, too. The latest troubles began in December, when Buenos Aires's brush with default had much of the Third World...
  • Betrayed By A Badge

    Two years ago Tom Griffith, the local police chief from rural Winfield, Texas, walked into the town's only luncheonette during the lunch rush. He waved to his petite fiancee, Terri Tittsworth, a waitress there, and took a seat at the counter. He began making small talk with a neighbor, chatting about the new deputy sheriff who'd been hired a few months before in nearby Camp County--William (Rick) Henson. Tittsworth was rushing by and overheard their talk. She excused herself and walked to the back of the luncheonette. Perplexed, Griffith followed and found her. She was on the floor, curled up in a ball. She gave a low moan. "He's back" was all she said.Over the next few days Tittsworth told Griffith her terrible secret. Eight years before, when she was 17 years old, she lived in tiny Mt. Vernon, Texas, a region dominated by coal mines and chicken-processing plants. Henson, a newly hired police officer there, had pulled her car over and brought her back to the local station house....
  • Holing Up Inside Fortress Europe

    There's trouble across the Atlantic. The New York Times reported from London that the president's "criticism of America's allies stirred bewilderment and bitterness in European capitals today with the sharpest reaction coming from France." The Christian Science Monitor has noted the rise of anti-Americanism in Europe, "the subject of a major conference held in Berlin by the Aspen Institute with West German, American, British, Dutch, French, and Swedish participants." Another Times article datelined Paris points out that Europeans "who see the United States as an unreliable, bellicose, immoral ally have found seemingly perfect justification." Is this a new low in our relations with Europe?Well, compared with when? March 16, 1974, when the first article I quoted was published? Or July 15, 1981, the date of the second? Or October 30, 1983, when the third appeared? The Atlantic alliance has produced anguished hand-wringing since its inception. With a new administration in Washington...
  • Nepal's Maoist Threat

    The CIA did it, with help from Indian spies and other outsiders. That was the message spread last week by Nepal's Maoist insurgents to explain the massacre of the country's royal family on June 1. Eyewitnesses told a different story: that the king, queen and other royals had been slaughtered in a drunken rage by the crown prince, who then shot himself in the head, sank into a coma, was proclaimed king and finally died. That version of events was so bizarre that many Nepalese were inclined to believe conspiracy theories. And that was a stroke of luck for the Maoist rebels eager to take advantage of a weakened monarchy.With the country slipping toward chaos, Maoist leaders met secretly in Katmandu to plan their strategy. "They are gathering in the capital," reported a local businessman, one of many paying protection money to the insurgents. "They believe they could have a chance to take the country if they play their cards right." In fact, an immediate Maoist takeover of the world's...
  • Annals Of Diplomacy: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

    Prince Philip, Duke Of Edinburgh, who just turned 80, has made nearly 600 state visits to 140 countries on behalf of Britain--and managed to insult nearly everyone along the way. Not even his own family has escaped his self-proclaimed "dontopedalogical" assaults. No wonder the Queen Mum is said to refer to him as "the Hun." To celebrate his birthday, PERI offers a bouquet of notorious gaffes: ...
  • Righting One Wrong Tower

    For much of the last decade, Italy's leaning tower of Pisa was a huge construction site. Crews piled 900 tons of lead bricks around the tower's base. More recently, they drilled holes beneath the tower, inserted pipes and sucked out 70 tons of soil to be carted away by a fleet of dump trucks. As a safety net in case the tower toppled during this operation, restorers encircled its midsection with a four-centimeter-thick cable. Then, a few weeks ago, they packed up their earth-moving machines and went home. The latest effort to keep the 800-year-old tower from becoming yet another of Italy's many ruins had come to a close. And, with any luck, so ends a series of engineering gaffes and accidents that stretch back over most of the second millennium. On June 16, the engineers will turn it over to the city of Pisa at a gala affair, followed the next day by the annual celebration of Pisa's patron saint Ranier. Candles will be floated down the River Arno, and tenor Andrea Bocelli will give...
  • Suddenly Last Summer, Mate

    Shiny with suntan oil, the beefy, retired gangster Gal Dove (Ray Winstone) is basking happily in the Spanish sun at his home in the Costa del Sol when, out of nowhere, a huge boulder crashes down the mountain behind him, bounces over his reclining body and plops into the swimming pool. This is the startling opening of "Sexy Beast," and like much that will follow in this stylish and unsettling English film noir, it catches you off guard, uncertain whether to laugh or shiver.Gal's near brush with death is a sign that his blissful retirement with his adoring wife, Deedee (Amanda Redman), is about to be shattered. Enter Don Logan (Ben Kingsley), his old underworld partner and nemesis. Don wants to lure Gal back into his old life of crime; he's putting together a team for a bank heist back in London, and he won't take no for an answer."Sexy Beast" does end up in London, and a robbery does take place, but first-time director Jonathan Glazer and writers Louis Mellis and David Scinto have...
  • Bigger And Bigger 'Swordfish' To Fry

    Swordfish" is a movie that believes in cutting to the chase. Anyone familiar with the work of action-movie producer Joel Silver ( "Die Hard," "The Matrix") can count on being zapped with the cinematic equivalent of electroshock every few minutes. His slick new demolition derby, directed by Dominic Sena, is so zap-happy it starts with a sequence that in any other movie would be the climax: a spectacularly destructive TNT explosion that sends bodies, cars and trucks flying through the air in gorgeously choreographed slow motion. Mayhem-wise, nothing that follows is remotely as spectacular, and that includes the sight of a helicopter zipping through high-rise downtown L.A. with an occupied bus dangling below.It's a good thing the action is noisily distracting, because you don't want any down-time in which to ponder the plausibility, or the sense, of anything that is happening. This nutty paranoid thriller seems to be about a superrich master criminal (John Travolta) who enlists a...
  • The Future Of Computers

    Someday, perhaps before the decade is out, you may be able to read this story on a sheet of Internet paper as thin as the one you are now holding. After your eye has scrolled down the page, the text will change to display the next page. It won't seem like a computer, but it can be described as nothing else. This new kind of computer, which won't at all resemble the complex, unreliable beasts that we all love to hate, will be making its way into our lives over the next handful of years. But what will it look like? And what will it do?To get a glimpse of what may be in store, NEWSWEEK ventured into a few of the top corporate laboratories in the United States, Japan and Europe. We asked engineers to show us their pet projects, the kinds of things you won't see on retail shelves for at least three years, perhaps more. Rather than precursors to actual products, we wanted to see what ideas engineers were still only toying with. We found sleek new devices constantly connected to the...
  • Bottom Feeder

    Hong Kong supertycoon Li Ka-Shing has made many daring moves in a fabled career. Last week he did it again, reaching into the rubble of a decimated dot-com landscape and plucking out a $110 million stake in Priceline, the online sales giant. The buy increases Li's stake to 30 percent, at a time when many investors still regard dot-coms as fool's gold.Li has a way of conjuring the real thing. His buy into Priceline sparked a run on shares that hiked the stock price 41 percent--only the latest sign of hope that the tech-market crash has hit bottom. "Before the bubble burst, it was buy everything at any price," says Steven Weinstein of Pacific Crest Securities. "Now you're seeing people picking through the rubble saying, 'OK, is there anything worth anything?' The answer is yes. Just because something has a dot-com doesn't mean it's bad."What's good? Priceline is one of several online travel agents on the rebound. Expedia is up 259 percent for the year, to $34. Travelocity has risen...
  • The Tomb Raiders

    Ahmed works the cave on his hands and knees, scooping up soil and then letting the sand sift through his fingers until he's left with a palm full of ancient relics. It's a meager assortment--broken pottery, chipped glass and the hollow clank of human bones. But it's enough for him to determine that this grotto, 15 feet underground, is a 2,000-year-old Roman burial cave and that the robbers, Palestinians who recently looted the site, made off with a trove of treasures. He should know. Ahmed is a grave robber himself who has mined dozens of ancient caves near his home in the West Bank town of Dahariya. But this was the work of fellow villagers. Above him, the desert sun streams through a hole in the rock, training a spotlight on a half dozen tombs that once contained sarcophaguses. "This is how people used to bury their dead," he says, pointing to the empty crypts, "with their most valuable belongings."It's also how some Palestinians are now trying to eke out a living. Grave robbing...
  • Ancient Porn Returns To Your Palm

    Here's a whole new reason for having sweaty palms. Make way for PalmaSutra 2, an updated version of last year's Kama Sutra software (think more sleaze, less Vedic philosophy) for the Palm. The 2.0 edition comes in six different languages and features stunning color graphics. And it includes 25 new positionsd'amour to add to classics like the "accordion" and the "centipede." But is digital love all it's cracked up to be? There's much to be said for pleasure in one's palm, but honestly, peri kinda preferred the book.
  • With This Ring I Thee... Divorce

    Marriages need not end in death or tears. Many American couples are now bowing out in celebration, holding divorce ceremonies as grand as their long-forgotten nuptials: reprisals of the original tunes, video tributes of their years together--anything to make the separation more amicable. And these ceremonies aren't just for New Age secular types, either. Religious institutions are now warming to the idea. Says one Lutheran pastor: "People need to know the church has not deserted them even though their marriage may have failed." For the nearly 50 percent of American couples getting divorced, that should come as a godsend.
  • Periscope

    Despite White House hopes that he would stay longer, NEWSWEEK has learned outgoing FBI Director Louis Freeh has set a firm departure date: June 19. But so far, the White House hasn't settled on a successor, and some aides are not satisfied they've conducted a thorough enough search. The two leading contenders for the job are Robert Mueller, U.S. attorney in San Francisco, and George Terwilliger, deputy attorney general under Bush Sr. A top White House aide says Sterling Johnson, a federal judge and former N.Y. special prosecutor, is also in the running. But some Bush officials worry that none of the candidates have the public stature or proven management skills needed in light of recent bureau foul-ups. "There's a feeling we need a Mr. Fix-it," said one official.Most insiders believe Mueller has the edge, largely because Attorney General John Ashcroft--whose recommendation likely carries considerable weight--seems to like him. Mueller served as acting deputy during his first few...
  • Telecom's Big Tumble

    Steven Bras was the tech industry's dream customer. Perpetually online, he bought books from Amazon, paid his cable bill at his bank's Web site and even printed stamps at stamps.com, all over a high-speed Internet connection in his Seattle-area home. The digital subscriber line (DSL) was set up by NorthPoint Communications, one of hundreds of telecom start-ups launched in the mid-'90s with richly funded dreams of wiring the world. But last March Bras got an unexpected e-mail: NorthPoint, based in Emeryville, Calif., was going out of business. Four days later his superfast line went dead. To Bras's dismay, he was unceremoniously switched to a turtle-paced dial-up connection. Now Bras is reluctantly scaling back his digital life, including, heaven forbid, buying stamps at the local post office. "This great broadband infrastructure," he says, "is falling on its face."In the race for the most catastrophic meltdown of the new century, the telecom industry may have just overtaken the dot...
  • In Search Of A Throne

    Prince Reza Pahlavi was 19 when islamic clerics overthrew his late father, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. He has lived quietly in exile, working within the Iranian diaspora. But lately he has stepped back onto the public stage. Iran is in crisis, he believes. It must remake itself into a secular state, as it was before the 1979 revolution. It is an appeal he makes to a new generation of revolutionaries--the nation's youth--delivered via the Web at www.rezapahlavi.org. The cleric often touted as a "moderate," President Mohammed Khatami, triumphed in last week's elections with more than 75 percent of the vote. Pahlavi derides the ballot as a "fraud," a pretense of democracy that serves only to conceal repression. He spoke with NEWSWEEK editors in New York. ...
  • The Second Coming

    It was a tour de force worthy of the wizard who tamed Argentina's four-digit inflation 10 years ago. Domingo Cavallo flew home at the end of a three-day sweep through New York, London and Madrid two weeks ago with good news for his anxious countrymen. The Economy minister had convinced foreign bankers and government officials to trade nearly $30 billion in short-term Argentine bonds for longer-term instruments, many of which won't fall due until 2005. That bought Buenos Aires crucial breathing room to tame an economy speeding toward calamity. "We have defeated those who were betting against Argentina," declared the hyperactive, Harvard-educated economist. "Now we are heading toward what is really important: economic growth in Argentina."The blithe self-confidence is classic Cavallo. Though his forecast may prove premature, no one could deny that the wildly successful road show had burnished Cavallo's image as the savior of Argentina. Since beleaguered President Fernando de la Rua...
  • Perspectives

    "He now, again, wants to make the final preparations necessary to be ready to die." Robert Nigh Jr., a member of Timothy McVeigh's defense team, on abandoning all efforts to postpone the execution"It is a mandate for reform and investment in the future, and it is also an instruction to deliver." British Prime Minister Tony Blair, on his landslide victory over Conservative Party leader William Hague"I figure if I kill the first one, the word will get out." Former NBA star Charles Barkley, on handling his 12-year-old daughter's future boyfriends"It happens from time to time--you hit the house next door. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to prevent it." Construction worker Jesus Ramos, whose father took a wrong turn in his bulldozer, accidentally knocking down part of a Miami-Dade historic-preservation office"If you're a guy, you gotta come [to the 'TRL' concert]--you got, like, five girl acts and me. Destiny's Child is hot. Eve is hot. Dream: hot. 3LW, they're little, but they're...
  • Confessions From A Crash

    Gone are the double-breasted suits and the copy of the Renaissance painting on the wall. Gone, too, is most of the $10 billion fortune, as well as roughly half of the 2,400 staffers he once employed. Michael Saylor, the CEO of the Vienna, Va.-based MicroStrategy, took one of the most spectacular dives in the dot-com crash. He is still worth about $100 million on paper, but reporters rarely come around these days seeking his vision of the future, and he notes, a little sullenly, that on the charity-ball circuit he has been dumped from the A list "to the B or C list." Last week he sat down with NEWSWEEK to recount, for the first time, what he calls his "near-death experience." He wanted to come clean, to tell a cautionary tale for the age, but he may have revealed more about his pride than his fall.Saylor was having "the best week of my life," he says, when the ominous phone call came. It was mid-March 2000; the Nasdaq was peaking, and Saylor was in Houston, pitching investors on a $2...
  • Tiger's 'Brothers'

    The young man had come to the United Center in Chicago because he needed help. At the age of 21, Tiger Woods had just won the '97 Masters--by an amazing 12 strokes--and the rush of fame was overwhelming. So he sought the advice of the only other person who he thought could relate: the world's greatest basketball player. Woods waited patiently for Michael Jordan to shower, complete his postgame interviews and sign the obligatory autographs. Then the two sped away in Jordan's black Porsche to Lake Michigan, where they boarded a luxury casino boat to relax away from the glare of the spotlight. The two men, who had previously chatted only in passing, talked into the wee hours about the pressures of fame, the strain of competition and what it means to be in the select group of people known as the "greatest ever."A friendship was struck that night, and soon Tiger found himself part of Jordan's inner-inner circle, along with former basketball player Charles Barkley and pro-foot ball star...
  • Keeping Everybody Happy

    Great fun, getting re-elected and all. The trouble is, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party has flopped so far to the right that, to follow through on its promises, it risks losing support of the left.No, Blair will not bring down the pillars of the left, Britain's vaunted public-health and education systems. But the "investment" he does plan--a.k.a. spending--may be tilted toward the private sector. A recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, whose work tends to be a good guide to Blair policy, hints that under Blair II, much of the money spent by the National Health Service on personal social services will end up in the hands of the private sector. Even more so than during Blair I. Indeed, there have already been signs of the opportunities of privatization: new contracts being negotiated with GPs, who have threatened the system with increased industrial action; consultants warning of a mass defection to the private sector.None of which pleases Labour's...
  • You Need Some 'Schooling'

    Your first impressions of Heather McGowan are that she's funny, smart, solitary and, at the moment anyway, sort of freaking out. She wants her first novel, "Schooling," to speak for itself. She declined to pose for a book-jacket photo, and her about-the-author blurb says virtually nothing about the author. Now you've called her in Providence for an interview, a photographer's on the way and McGowan has an endearing case of stage fright. You ask her who she reads, and there's an epic pause: "Oh, God, that's such a dangerous question." You ask her about her hopes for "Schooling." She knows whatever she says will be quoted, and she pauses again, then laughs at herself: "God, I'm just so fearful right now I can't even speak."That's OK, you can talk for a while. "Schooling" is a moving, challenging, almost bewilderingly beautiful novel about 13-year-old Catrine Evans. Catrine's American, but after her mother dies her father dumps her at an English boarding school. She's lost. Her accent...
  • Claiming Another Win

    The day before he left Argentina for a whirlwind tour to sell international investors on Argentina's $29.5 billion debt swap, Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo spoke with NEWSWEEK's Joseph Contreras. Excerpts: ...
  • If Judas Told His Story ...

    If Napoleon had won the battle of Waterloo, the French emperor would have made peace with Britain, ensuring that France dominated the Continent, Russia stayed out and the Germans remained meek and loyal Napoleonic subjects. Or so suggested British historian George Trevelyan in his prize-winning essay "If Napoleon Had Won the Battle of Waterloo," written just before World War I. That was an early example of "what if" or "counterfactual" history, but now the genre is hotter than ever. In "What If?," a recent collection of essays, military historians not only revisit the possibility of a victorious Napoleon but also contemplate a successful Mongol invasion of Europe, and the failures of everything from the American Revolution to the Allied invasion on D-Day. "Virtual History," edited by British historian Niall Ferguson, examines an England without Cromwell and a United States without the assassination of John F. Kennedy.Academics aren't the only ones rewriting history these days. The...
  • 'Producers' Tickets Here!

    Did you hear the story about the empty seat in the fifth row for "The Producers"? A woman who saw the precious perch leaned over to the man sitting next to it. "Is that your seat?" she asked him. "Yes, it is," the man said. "My wife was supposed to come, but she couldn't make it." The woman was dumbfounded. "This is a very popular show. Couldn't you find a friend or a relative to take in your wife's place?" she asked. "I would have," the man replied, "but they're all at her funeral."This is an old joke, of course, but it's especially silly right now. Are there really people who would even let their own funeral keep them from seeing "The Producers"? Mel Brooks's nutsy Nazi musical sold $1.3 million in tickets in one day last week, that being the day after the show walked off with a record 12 Tony Awards. All told, "The Producers" has sold more than $33 million in tickets, with a new batch of seats now available to the end of 2002. The street, as theater people call Broadway, is...
  • Rain-Forest Opera

    It's a long way from Minsk to Manaus, but Igor Jouk is glad to have made the trip. Since the 36-year-old violinist came to this Brazilian river town from Belarus four years ago, he has built a career for himself in an exotic new land. Sure, the heat is oppressive and the food a little strange. But he gets to play Puccini and Mozart for adoring audiences every night--and he does so inside the magnificent Teatro Amazonas, the city's recently refurbished century-old opera house, replete with Carrara marble, wrought-iron balustrades, red velvet chairs and sweeping balconies. "I miss the change of seasons," says Jouk, who left his job with the Minsk Philharmonic. "And I would do anything for a fresh pear. But every place has its charms."Amazonia has many charms indeed, but classical music generally has not been considered among them. Until now. Thanks to Jouk and dozens of other musicians from Russia, Bulgaria and Belarus, the rain forest has a new repertoire. They are the new stars of...
  • 'And What Did You Do For Someone Today?'

    When I was a child, we observed Father's Day by walking to the local Methodist church and listening to my father preach. We didn't have a car--my dad believed he could not "support Mr. Ford" on a minister's salary and still see that all of his seven children went to college. While we understood it was a special day--my mother would have something exceptional like a roast or a turkey cooking in the oven--in many ways it was not all that different from any other day. As soon as my brothers and sisters and I got home, we'd all gather around the dining-room table, where we took turns answering our father's daily question: "And what did you do for someone today?"While that voice and those words always stuck in my mind, they often got pushed aside by more immediate concerns: long hours in medical school, building a career in medical research, getting married, raising children and acquiring the material accouterments every father wants for his family. All the hallmarks of a "successful"...
  • The Mouse That Roared

    Art works by 17th-century masters. Castles. Country estates and 430,000 acres of prime real estate. These are among the treasures confiscated by German forces occupying Czechoslovakia during World War II. Berlin wants to return them to their rightful owners, the Czechs, as war reparations. But there's one (very) small hitch: Liechtenstein, that eyeblink on the autobahn, haven for dodgy dollars and old European nobility. Many of the assets in question were owned by its citizens--and the tiny kingdom wants the wealth back.No way, a German court declared three years ago. The properties are most definitely German, it ruled, because the Liechtensteiners living in the Czech lands of yore were "ethnic Germans." Oh, the Sturm und Drang that has occasioned. Last week Liechtenstein filed suit against Germany in the International Court of Justice in The Hague claiming its "sovereignty" has been violated and demanding compensation, if not the contested assets themselves. Liechtenstein has...

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