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  • Starr Gazing: Roger Clemens Should Step Up To The Plate

    I have been blessed, both as a sportswriter and a devout baseball fan, to have seen some remarkable things on the diamond. My mental scrapbook includes two no-hitters (Earl Wilson in Fenway back in 1962 and Dave Righetti on the 4th of July, 1983, in Yankee Stadium) and countless other thrills. But the memory that stirs me this week is a oddball one, a bizarre episode involving Roger Clemens back in 1997.Clemens was then in his first year with the Toronto Blue Jays and, having bolted the Boston Red Sox after 13 record-setting seasons, was demonstrating that pitching well is the best revenge. By the time I popped up to Sky Dome, he had won his first 11 games. Our interview was cordial, by Roger's uptight and somewhat prickly standards, but not very informative. He tends to answer questions reflexively ("I'm exactly the same pitcher I always was") but not reflectively. So I was really hoping for a stirring performance on the mound that night to jump-start my tale. But as luck would...
  • Between The Lines Online: Bill And Bozo

    I'm in Chicago this week, where two bits of totally unrelated news have combined in my strange brain to capture the changing face of American cities:On the south side, Bill Clinton and John McCain are taking part in City Year's "Convention of Idealism" at the University of Chicago. City Year, which is now in 13 cities, is a high-energy, well-run national-service program that puts a group of 17- to 24-year-olds to work for a year in after-school programs, senior centers and other community-building activities. The highly diverse corps, wearing their trademark sport shirts, khakis and Timberlands, has attracted strong corporate and philanthropic support for its boot camp-meets-Peace Corps mix of camaraderie and service.Clinton first saw the program in action in Boston in 1991 and modeled his AmeriCorps national-service initiative on it. (In seven years, AmeriCorps has enrolled 250,000 young Americans serving 4.5 million others in a wide range of service programs. That makes the...
  • Arts Extra: Big In Japan

    I am a proud, arrogant New Yorker. I am the kind of New Yorker you probably hate-you know, the kind that believes the world plunges into a rocky, smoky abyss at the borders of Manhattan (and, OK, four or five neighborhoods in Brooklyn). By virtue of my comfort here, I have always considered myself impossible to overwhelm. Bring on your puny city, with its puny buildings and easily navigable streets, for I am from New York!And then I went to Tokyo.I don't have the exact figures on hand, but something like seven zillion people live in Tokyo, and they all cross the street at the same time. Since I returned home, I've been telling all my friends that the single most astounding thing I saw in Japan was-seriously-the sight of Japanese people crossing the street in Tokyo's Shibuya district at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. Like two marathons starting simultaneously on opposite sides of the block. Like Moses putting the sea back together. It ain't like Times Square, where jaywalkers break rank...
  • West Wing Story: ¿Cómo Se Dice Malaprop En Español?

    Before he landed in Madrid on Tuesday, President Bush had been briefed on everything from youth trends in Spain to how to pronounce the Spanish letter Z (pronounced as a "th" sound). The White House had carefully chosen Spain as the president's first stop in Europe not only because he can hablar a little Espanol but because President Jose Maria Aznar is a straight-talking conservative like Bush. The 48-year-old Spanish leader had also made it clear that he would be more sympathetic than other European leaders to Bush's signature issue: missile defense. Pictures of the men together showed two energetic guys in their shirtsleeves checking out Aznar's "ranch."But somebody forgot to brief Bush that Spain is not Mexico, that the cowboy chic is not fashionable in Europe. The Spanish press howled when the U.S. press called Aznar's grand country retreat a "ranch." (Sorry, that's what all of our briefing books said.) Los Quintos de Mora-as it is known-is a 20,000-acre national game preserve,...
  • Haunted Memories

    The debate over the death penalty entered my consciousness at the age of 14. It burrowed under my skin, kept me awake at night, for one simple reason. My father, then governor of California, had refused to give clemency to a prisoner on death row, sealing the man's fate, making it inevitable that he would be put to death.The prisoner's name was Aaron Mitchell, a black cop killer who had appealed his conviction all the way to state and federal Supreme Courts, and had, each time, been sent back to San Quentin State Prison to await execution on death row.On April 11, 1967, at 10 a.m., he died in the gas chamber, which was how they did it then. The night before, there were demonstrators outside the rented house that functioned then as the governor's mansion. While they protested, my father prayed with the Rev. Donn Moomaw, the pastor of my parents' church at the time. My father said later that it was the longest night of his life. He believes in the death penalty, believes it deters...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Wayne Gretzky

    Wayne Gretzky was hockey's most legendary scorer. He won four Stanley Cups in the 1980s with the Edmonton Oilers and retired in 1999 holding nearly every scoring record the NHL keeps track of. Gretzky is the league's all-time leader in points, goals and assists-in the regular season and in the playoffs. No wonder he's known as "The Great One." NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon spoke with Gretzky:NEWSWEEK: Did you get nervous in big-game situations?Wayne Gretzky: No. I never did. It's amazing now, because as a player, of course I'd be excited, but I never got nervous. But now as an owner [of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes], I sit up there, and I sweat every game, every minute. I'm truly nervous now. Because you really don't have a lot of control over what happens on the ice. But when you're playing, when they drop the puck, that's right where you want to be. I never got nervous.Did you simply not get nervous or did you get even more calm?I got more calm, believe it or not. I remember the very first...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Martina Navratilova

    For almost a decade, no tennis player, male or female, dominated the sport as thoroughly as Martina Navratilova. Powerful and relentless, Navratilova peaked in pressure situations, winning a record nine Wimbledon singles titles as part of her 167 career wins. At one point in her career, she spent nearly seven straight years ranked as the No. 1 tennis player in the world. Navratilova spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about hard work, being clueless to her own intimidation tactics-and the one match that got away.NEWSWEEK: How much of dominance is a mental thing as opposed to a talent thing?Martina Navratilova: Well, at this level, talent is a given. But I know Tiger [Woods] works harder than anyone out there, and that's why he's kicking butt. It's not an accident when you hit a great shot, because you've done it in practice. You've put in the work. It doesn't just happen. Every great shot you hit, you've already hit a bunch of times in practice. That's how it works.There are a lot of...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Bob Gibson

    Bob Gibson was one of the most intimidating starting pitchers in baseball history. He won two Cy Young Awards and two World Series tiles with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s, and, in 1968, he had what many consider to be the most dominant season ever by a pitcher: 23 wins, 7 losses, with a 1.12 earned-run average. He was so overpowering that the league lowered the pitcher's mound the following year in an attempt to slow him down. It didn't work. NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon spoke with Gibson:NEWSWEEK: Did you develop your level of intensity or was it something you were born with?Bob Gibson: Pretty much from the time I was a kid, I've been very intense. I never had peaks and valleys. I was always on the same line. I was intense, and today I'm still intense, and I don't even play.How does it come out now? Do you play golf?Oh I try to play golf. Golf pisses me off. I don't play it that much.Were you ever satisfied with what you accomplished in the major leagues?No, I always thought I...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Michael Johnson

    Of all his accomplishments-Olympic wins, world records and so on-sprinter Michael Johnson is most proud of one thing: "All gold," he likes to say, his shorthand for the fact that he has never finished anywhere but first in a major competition. Johnson won the gold medal in the 200- and 400-meter dashes at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, then successfully defended the 400-meters-his favorite event-at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about his toughest competitor: himself.NEWSWEEK: How did you motivate yourself when you were so far above the competition?Michael Johnson: For myself, knowing that I'm physically gifted, I never wanted that to go to waste. The only way to do that is to go out and use it. The other thing is, once you become great or you show the potential to be great, that pressure is there to continue that. So I would never accept anything less. I know I'm capable of running 43 seconds every time I run 400 meters. So running a 44.2 and still...
  • Living Politics: Are The Kennedys Still A Dynasty?

    The White House Correspondents Dinner is an oppressive event: a ballroom full of insufferably self-important Washington insiders stuffed into tuxedos and gowns for a long evening of forced fellowship, bad food and worse jokes. So I sympathized with the stricken, deer-in-the-headlights look Max Kennedy wore as he surveyed that scene last spring. "What am I doing here?" he seemed to be asking himself.Good question. Handsome, earnest and smart, the 36-year-old son of the late Robert F. Kennedy was poised to run for a congressional seat in Boston, the city from which his family launched a dynasty that helped shape the nation for half a century. But Max flinched. He stunned the world of politics, if not his own inner circle, by opting not to "go."I have been told by two very good Boston-based Democratic sources that a decisive element in Max's decision was the advice he got from his uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy. Max was counting on Teddy's help, big time, but the senator explained that even...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Reggie Jackson

    In the final game of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson hit three home runs, a feat only one other Yankee had accomplished: Babe Ruth. During the series, Jackson's five homers against the Dodgers earned him the title "Mr. October." Recently he spoke to NEWSWEEK's Bret Begun about how he approached his game and what makes Tiger Woods so good.NEWSWEEK: How did prepare yourself for a World Series game?Reggie Jackson: I looked it right in the eye for what it was. It is the biggest game of the year, it will change my career if we win a World Series. If I have success it will affect my image and my history and legacy. I did not look at being compared to Ruth or Gehrig or Mays, but I did want to be accepted within the corral of great players of the past. You had to have approval, and you could only earn that in big games, big events, playoffs, postseason. Postseason turns the tide for becoming a champion. I would be the first guy to say that there are players who are a whole hell of a...
  • The Borowitz Report: A New Report Rates Bush The Greatest U.S. President Ever

    A new report released today has named President George W. Bush the "greatest president in U.S. history," topping perennial favorites such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson."His keen intelligence, dogged work ethic and encyclopedic knowledge of international affairs and domestic issues put President Bush way at the top of the list," says the report, which is sure to give a much-appreciated shot in the arm to the Bush White House."President Bush is doing a really, really good job," the report goes on to say.The report appears in this month's issue of Sarcasm: The Journal of Sarcastic Articles, published by the Sarcastic Institute of America in Bethesda, Md.The report, penned by historian I.M. Kidding, praised President Bush for his handling of the Chinese spy-plane episode, his advocacy of arsenic as an ingredient in drinking water and what Kidding referred to as his "savvy brinkmanship and diplomacy in his dealings with Sen. Jim Jeffords.""For all of these...
  • Memo To Bush: Stay In The Balkans

    Even for countries not on the itinerary, President George W. Bush's first official trip to Europe could have a significant impact. And few are watching the president's visit more closely than political leaders in the ever-volatile Balkans. Tonino Picula, 39, became Croatia's foreign minister early last year after a broad-based center-left coalition succeeded the nationalist government of the late Franjo Tudjman. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Roy Gutman during a visit to Washington shortly before Bush's departure.NEWSWEEK: It's now 10 years since Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. For a long time, the United States did not favor this move and was the last major power to recognize the country. What is the U.S. role today?Tonino Picula: I think the United States of America was not the only one taken by surprise by the developments in the world of the former Soviet zone of influence. Even people on the ground in the former republics of Yugoslavia did not expect war, conflict,...
  • The Macphersons: Week 45: Looks Like Home

    The place and era where I grew up, Southern California in the 1950s, did not disappear. It apparently moved to Darwin, Australia. Walking around town the first day we arrived, Charlie was laughing. "Maybe you'll meet your parents," she said. They died near Anaheim in 1955.We'd come off the night flight from Bali spilling into an empty airport rotunda. We looked up to see a bulletin board, "What's Happening in Darwin This Month," with nothing listed underneath. This part of Australia, the "Top End" of the Northern Territories, was going to be even more different than we imagined.Darwin is a port and fishing town on the Timor Sea that the Japanese bombed to smithereens, and not much has happened to compare since for excitement. The downtown looked to us strangely like a rural California citrus-growing town that was waiting for the Population Boom. Aborigines dozed on patches of brown grass and huddled tragically drunk in the shade of gum trees; their social afflictions mirror our...
  • Top-Secret Session

    One of the nation's most influential rabbis, Marc Schneier, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan held a top-secret meeting in New York Monday night. The session was a first step toward repairing Farrakhan's relationship with American Jews and bolstering the historical civil-rights alliance between that group and African-Americans.With the parties unreachable or declining to comment, the specifics and the results of their hours-long session remain unknown. But the fact that the two men met at all is significant. Schneier is the founding rabbi of the Hampton Synagogue on Long Island. In the late 1990s, he organized and still leads the North American Board of Rabbis, which aims to foster a spirit of cooperation among Judaism's various branches. Schneier also heads the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which, among other things, has promoted a black-Jewish economic roundtable.Farrakhan has emerged as an enormously influential, if controversial, leader of African-Americans....
  • Unhappy Endings

    It's a beautiful morning to nab a $1.5 million motor yacht. The predawn mercury is topping 70 degrees, there's a balmy breeze and we're speeding along in an inflatable, hard-bottomed tow boat toward a marina in North Palm Beach, Fla. It won't be long before the sun brings out other sailors and dockhands. But by then, if all goes according to plan, our six-man crew will have motored off with a 58-foot Viking sports-fishing boat, replete with Global Positioning System, four TVs, DVD player, fax machine and a freezer stocked with bacon and Haagen-Dazs.The raiding party includes some old salts, like Capt. Dag Blidback, a 55-year-old Swede who has skippered ships from the North Atlantic to the South China Sea. "I just drive the boats," Blidback says as we glide through the darkness en route to the marina. "I let the other guys do the nasty stuff."What that means, precisely, is not clear to me at this point. What I do know is that this is not your usual boat heist; it's what bankers...
  • Molly's Journal Entry

    At the moment, I'm lying in my top bunk in Kakadu National Park. After a day we haven't seen one mammal! I mean in Africa there'd be zebras everywhere you looked, but here not one kangaroo, or a single wallaby, not so much as a Kangaroo rat! We went on a river cruise down a river full to the brim with crocodiles, but we didn't see a...Oops! Sorry. We did see one croc, but it was lying on its back, and when it saw us he swam away very fast. Our guide told us that there was a very famous croc that was 20 feet long and 5 feet wide but, he also mentioned, it doesn't come out very often. I also found out that crocodiles use 80 percent of their brains, while we only use 16 percent! I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, Daddy says we're leaving tomorrow to go somewhere worth seeing, so I think we'll be at the Great Barrier Reef in five days. I really feel sorry for Mommy because she's really into diving and she taught in Florida, but three weeks ago she got a sinus infection and it still...
  • Perspectives

    "He is getting back some of his own." Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on her son George W. Bush--who had his own problems with drinking--facing those same issues with his twin daughters"The FBI proved his case for him--that the system is hopelessly corrupt." Bob Papovich, a Michigan friend of convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who announced last week that he will seek a stay of execution"Based on overwhelming evidence and McVeigh's own repeated admissions, we know that he is responsible for this crime, and we will continue to pursue justice." Attorney General John Ashcroft, announcing his staunch opposition to any further delays"The Bible is very sensual, and we are going to exploit that. We want to take the Bible off the dusty back shelf and put it on coffee tables." Gustaf-Wilhelm Hellstedt, a Swedish entrepreneur creating a sexed-up version of the Bible featuring, for example, Claudia Schiffer as Eve"This is a big win for me, but it's not the end of the line. The end...
  • Cyberscope

    When it comes to personal computers, change always comes at a price. That's why it's so difficult deciding whether or not to upgrade your PC's software. A case in point: an upgrade of Microsoft Office, one of the most widely used software products in the world, is due for release throughout the world later this year.Although the new Office XP offers many benefits and improvements, buyers have reasons to be wary.Most of Office XP's improvements lie in its usability. Data-recovery enhancements make it possible to rescue that document you didn't have time to save before your computer crashed. Smart Tag icons that appear over words and numbers present a menu of options (allowing you to, say, correct Word's automatic spellcheck). he new Task Pane, a display panel loaded with commands, makes many jobs easier: in Word it allows you to create programs more easily, and in PowerPoint, the presentation program, it helps in formatting slides by gathering them all in one place. Outlook, the e...
  • A Blessing For China

    China and the Roman Catholic Church: seldom if ever has history produced a more irreconcilable clash of culture and politics. Roman Catholics have been part of China's political life since the early 1600s, when Jesuit Matteo Ricci entranced Emperor Wan Li with gifts of prisms, maps and clocks. But after the 1949 communist victory, Mao Zedong cut his country's ties to Rome. An official, "patriotic" Catholic Church was started, which rejected papal authority. The Vatican's anti-communist envoy was expelled from Beijing and fled to Taiwan.After 1958 official Catholics began ordaining their own bishops without Vatican approval. Vatican loyalists countered by holding underground services of their own, starting a bitter rivalry between the two factions. One of the prickliest issues is whether Beijing or the pope has ultimate authority to ordain bishops, control finances, allow abortions and decide other key church matters. Relations between China and the Vatican hit a low point last year...
  • Fun And Games In Lima

    A Peruvian journalist once described last Sunday's runoff election between Alan Garcia and Alejandro Toledo as "a choice between the gas chamber and the electric chair." However overstated the metaphor, the pronouncement by talk-show host Jaime Bayly two months ago faithfully mirrored the sentiments of many Peruvians as they trooped to the polls. In the final run-up to the balloting--the country's fourth national election in 14 months--anywhere from one fifth to a quarter of Peru's 15 million registered voters were expected to spoil their ballots or leave them unmarked--a silent protest over their meager choices: a former head of state who fled the country to avoid prosecution or a technocrat of dubious personal morals and fickle politics.The real shocker is that either man would be an improvement in Peru. Whatever its final outcome, the election will end the chaos that began with last year's corrupt elections and bring to power a legitimate, democratically elected president. That...
  • 'Captain Of My Soul'

    Timothy McVeigh was pronounced dead at 7:14 a.m. Central Time today. He died quietly, with his eyes open, say media representatives who saw his last moments. The Oklahoma bomber took care to raise himself from his gurney to make eye contact with those there to witness his execution, but he chose not to deliver any final words. Instead, he gave prison warden Harley Lappin a handwritten copy of the 1875 poem "Invictus," by British author William Ernest Henley which hails the human spirit, to pass on to media witnesses.The execution, which also was watched on closed-circuit TV by 232 witnesses in Oklahoma City, drew a wide range of reaction. Some of the responses:"It's a demarcation point. It's a period at the end of a sentence. I needed to know in my heart that I was done with this man.""Unless you've gone through something like this, I don't think you realize there will never be closure.""I anticipated this to be a very difficult thing to do and it was.""His eyes became increasingly...
  • Letters

    Our May 7 story on Vladimir Putin prompted mixed reviews about the Russian leader. "Putin's ideals could be dangerous if it means sacrificing individual freedom," said one reader. "Putin is at least holding Russia together and preventing it from sliding into chaos," dissented another. A few criticized us for an "alarmist" article. "The examples you give of Putin's oppression are nothing like that of the Soviets," one argued. "I'm disappointed to see you resort to distorted truisms." The Return of Soviet Values? Your article on Vladimir Putin was excellent ("Comrade Putin's New Russia," EUROPE, May 7). Whatever one's opinion of Putin, he is at least holding Russia together and preventing it from sliding into dangerous chaos. His only real disastrous mistake is the continued war in Chechnya. In the same issue, your interview with Mikhail Gorbachev was a delight to read ("Gorbachev on His Legacy," INTERVIEW). It was Gorbachev who, in reality, brought freedom to Eastern Europe, German...
  • Is Mccain Off The Range?

    At lunch in Phoenix late last week, John McCain eagerly retold his favorite episode of "The Sopranos." Tony's guys botch the whacking of a mobster, a former Army commando who turns on them in snowy woods. "I'm Russian!" the character sneers. "I wash my balls with ice water!" He attacks the hit men, then flees, leaving them shivering in their thin leather jackets. At the end of the season, the Russian is still on the loose--and now a deadly threat to the Sopranos. "I love that scene!" McCain said, laughing.As a viewer, McCain was amused by the Russian. As a politician, he is the Russian--on the run in a life-and-death battle with the Family: Republican leaders and President George W. Bush. Inspired by his crusading 2000 campaign, angry at what he thinks were Bush's dirty tactics, adored by the media and egged on by advisers who share his reformist agenda and his love of the limelight, McCain is war-gaming options that include bolting the party--and another run for president, in 2004,...
  • Kids In The Bunker

    For years they've lived "off the grid" in northern Idaho, without telephone, power or water service. But last week the McGuckin family suffered a full-fledged blackout. Jo Ann McGuckin, the mentally ill mother coping with the recent death of her husband, was arrested on charges of child abuse. When officers went to rescue the children, the six kids, 8 to 16, holed up -- reportedly with guns -- while snarling hounds kept the law at bay. The standoff ended after five days when an SUV sped the children to a nearby hospital, plugging them back into society, at least for the moment.
  • Execution Day: Letter From Terre Haute

    It was the one lottery nobody really wanted to win. At a white, ranch-style complex on the outskirts of the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., about 40 of us in the national print media pool were gathered at the request of the prison staff. It was 4 a.m. and still dark outside. Inside, a prison spokeswoman held up a white plastic bucket and a roll of carnival-style tickets. She handed everyone in the room one half of a numbered stub and dropped the duplicate in the bucket. The winner's gruesome prize: a front row seat at the execution of Timothy McVeigh.Prison rules stipulated that 10 witnesses from the media would be chosen to watch McVeigh injected with a fatal combination of sodium pentothal, pavulon (a muscle relaxer) and potassium chloride (which stops the heart).The attitude of most of the journalists there was similar: It would be disturbing, but it was part of the job. All along I was eager to be a witness; now I wasn't so sure.The number on my yellow ticket read 082005...
  • Tax Cuts: Who Will Get What

    It was like watching a fatal accident in slow motion. For a few moments everyone was alive, and then--kaboom. In the same way, for just a few moments we had breathing room to provide for Social Security, Medicare and other unmet needs. Now, after 15 years of budget struggles and tears, huge tax cuts could take those opportunities away.The tax-cut document itself is a contemptible piece of consumer fraud. To make it appear to fit the budget, Bushies faked the cost. They ginned up long-term "savings" by providing for every cut to expire in 2011. That would hike taxes back to where they are today.That won't happen, of course. Some cuts will be rescinded, but others will hold. The Bushies have created "facts on ground," which future policy will have to take into account. Long-run deficits may be larger, public services fewer and other taxes higher.Here are a few of the tax changes coming your way:But what about all the yapping in Congress about the need to cut tax rates to encourage...

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