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  • Nobody's North

    What a crushing blow to Northern Ireland's quaintly patriotic unionists. These Ulstermen and -women, mostly Protestant, simply can't stomach a future without a British queen. Now comes the news--Britain itself couldn't care less anymore. A poll last week by The Guardian confirms that only 26 percent of Britons believe Northern Ireland should remain in the realm--and a shocking 41 percent believe the province should unite with Ireland. A stark contrast with a Sunday Times poll as recently as June--before the freshest troubles over decommissioning--when 65 percent wanted the North to remain British. But Belfast Catholics shouldn't gloat. The Irish south of the border, having enjoyed a decade of unprecedented prosperity, have turned equally blase about a united Ireland. Often overlooked during the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, they voted overwhelmingly to relinquish their constitutional claim to the northern counties. A pox on both your houses?
  • The Severance Package

    What happened to good old-fashioned placards and peace signs? A group of 20 young South Korean men recently lopped off the tips of their pinkies to protest Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to a disputed war memorial. Last week, in a gruesome display of one-upmanship, Peruvian laborer Eduardo Veliz hacked off one of his testicles in front of the Parliament building in Lima to protest his meager wages--only a year after butchering a vital southern appendage in demand of a job. It was successfully reattached. But enough already!
  • The Bard As Capitalist Tool

    Each summer some of the finest theater professionals in the business trek up to Edith Wharton's Berkshires estate to work with Tina Packer. After an acting career that included work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Productions, the British-born Packer founded Shakespeare & Company in 1978. It is now one of the largest and most acclaimed Shakespeare festivals in the United States. Packer is currently building new theaters, including a copy of Shakespeare's Rose, that will give her a year-round venue for her productions. She talked with NEWSWEEK's Vibhuti Patel at the Wharton home. ...
  • Pakistan: Talking Is Dangerous

    Confined to a small death cell in Rawalpindi's Adiala jail, Dr. Shaikh Muhammed Younus's last hope of escaping the gallows lies with his petition to a Pakistani high court. The 45-year-old medical professor was sentenced to death last week on a charge of blasphemy. He's the latest victim of a growing wave of religious bigotry and intolerance ravaging Pakistani society. Even if Younus is freed, which is a possibility, his life is in danger: armed Islamic fanatics have vowed to kill him for his offense.Last October, Younus was giving a physiology lecture at Islamabad's Capital Homeopathic College. It all seemed innocent enough until the professor starting talking about the prophet Muhammad and certain practices prevalent in pre-Islam seventh-century Arabia. Among other things, the professor stated that Muhammad was a non-Muslim till the age of 40, that he was not circumcised until then and that his parents were non-Muslims. His students and local mullahs accused him of making...
  • American Beat: Taking A Whack At Tony Soprano

    Are they freakin' kidding? Some guys in Chicago are suing HBO because the network's hit show, "The Sopranos," defames Italian-Americans. They claim that such defamation is illegal in Illinois based on an obscure clause in the state Constitution.The whole thing sounds a little weasily to legal experts-the modern equivalent of nailing gangster Al Capone on tax evasion because the murder, bootlegging and gun-running charges couldn't stick."The case is, of course, preposterous," David Meyer, a University of Illinois constitutional-law professor and "Sopranos" fan, said after consiglieres for both sides battled it out in a Chicago courtroom Thursday.The group-which is called the American-Italian Defense Association-says it is seeking neither to halt the production of "The Sopranos" nor any money in damages (Yeah, right! This is America!). All AIDA wants is for Judge Robert Siebel to condemn the show-literally-because it defames Italian-Americans. (Hey, why stop there? Did you see the...
  • 'They Missed A Golden Opportunity'

    The United Nations' World Conference Against Racism was supposed to be a landmark event in the global struggle against discrimination. Mary Robinson, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, hoped it would provide an "historic breakthrough" and a document that would be "a sort of Magna Carta in the fight against racism."Instead, the eight-day conference-which began today in the South African port city of Durban-is mired in controversy over Arab charges of Israeli racism against Palestinians and African demands for slavery reparations. Then there are the disputes over India's caste system, China's rule in Tibet and Europe's treatment of Gypsy communities-all of which could promote intolerance instead of ameliorating it.One of the conference's hottest issues: the decision that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell skip the conference because of what the Bush administration considers offensive language about Israel in preparatory conference texts. While conference organizers...
  • Between The Lines Online: Back-To-School Jitters

    Next week it's back to school. Back to noogies and cooties and all the other ways kids find to scuffle on the playground. And back to a series of endlessly purveyed misconceptions about school violence that color any real understanding of the problem.After Jonesboro, Ark.; West Paducah, Ky.; Pearl, Miss., and especially Littleton, Colo., concerns about school violence led to widespread media coverage and a national discussion. Mostly, this was positive. It reignited a debate about the easy availability of guns (though the Democrats, reading too much into that debate, lost votes in the 2000 election by appearing too pro-gun control). The fallout from the seemingly contagious acts of school violence also led to considerable national soul-searching about the problems of young people. Hundreds of schools and community groups held forums on bullying, social exclusion, parental neglect and other school problems that don't receive enough attention. All useful.The problem comes when parents...
  • Tony Takes On The President

    Did you know that there's an Emmy Award for outstanding commercial? Isn't that like giving a Pulitzer Prize in literature for the best book-jacket copy? Considering how product-placement spots are threatening to turn many TV programs into extended advertisements, blurring the line between art and commerce seems like a dumb thing to do, especially for an industry that wants to be taken as seriously as the folks who make motion pictures. Maybe the TV people think that a commercial is their version of a "short subject."Then again, the Emmys have always been the weirdest of the major award shows. Unlike the other Big Three (Oscar, Grammy and Tony), the Emmys seem to revel in honoring the tried and true rather than what's exciting and new. Sure Dennis Franz is a great actor, but should he get nominated year after year for playing the same character on the same show? At least when Meryl Streep receives her umpteenth Oscar nomination, she has to come up with a new accent and make a new...
  • Starr Gazing: Put The 'Little' Back In Little League

    Even before it was revealed that Danny Almonte, the Bronx's now famous (perhaps about to be infamous) "Little Unit" may actually be 14 years old and not just a precocious 12, I was already sorry I watched the Little League World Series. After all, there was a lot of good sports on TV this past weekend. On Sunday alone, there were two stirring golf duels, a college football opener that knocked Georgia Tech out of the top 10, Barry Bonds in Shea and the return of Pedro Martinez to the mound. So I can't easily explain why I, along with millions of other Americans, gravitated over to this kiddie spectacle that has gone prime time.Even as I watched, I felt there was something just not right about the whole production. Since when do 12 year-olds get the full Musberger, which, unlike the full Monty, requires the recipients to bare more than their bodies. Do we really need to know the nicknames of all these boys from the Bronx, Orlando and Tokyo? Do we need their lifetime stats? Do we...
  • Capitol Letter: A Problem With The Messenger

    A poster on the wall of NOW's Washington office says FIGHT THE RADICAL RIGHT. The slogan sums up NOW's challenge in more ways than one. On Capitol Hill, the National Organization for Women is not taken as seriously as organizations on the right. NOW's new president, Kim Gandy, recognizes this. "Our job is to let every U.S. senator know they have more to fear from us than from the right wing," she says. Republicans "cater to the Rush Limbaughs of the world, and [Democrats] think that progressives have nowhere else to go."Yet the issue that has gotten NOW more publicity than it's had in some time-the case of Andrea Yates, the Houston woman who murdered her five children-makes Gandy and others nervous. Is she a sympathetic figure or not? Should opponents of the death penalty adopt her case and make her a cause celebre? The NOW chapter in Houston forced the issue when it spoke out in defense of Yates, blaming postpartum depression for her heinous act and urging donations to her defense...
  • Off The Wall

    Who is "the King of Pop"? For a sizable portion of today's public, it's Justin Timberlake from 'N Sync. To these young record buyers, Michael Jackson-who just turned 43 and who hasn't put out an album of new material in six years-is just the butt of old jokes.But the gloved one wants his title back, and has launched a campaign to regain it. His long-delayed new CD, "Invincible," hits stores Oct. 30. The first single, "You Rock My World," debuted on radio stations a few days back. Today, he turned up at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York City to preside over the start of the trading day. And then there's next week's concert, "Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary Celebration: The Solo Years," which will be held over two nights (Sept. 7 and 10) at Madison Square Garden. The performances will be videotaped and will ultimately run as one show on CBS, a la VH1's "Divas Live."The celebration is supposed to be not just an assessment of his past triumphs but a means by which Jackson can restate...
  • When Parents Need Help

    Face it: Sooner or later, most baby boomers will have to grapple with how to best care for their aging parents. About 34.9 million Americans are now 65 and over, according to November 2000 Census Bureau figures-a figure that is 12 percent higher than in 1990. Adult children, many of whom are juggling demanding careers while raising their own children, are ill-prepared for the task. Yet foresight and planning can make their lives easier in the long run. "Are Your Parents Driving You Crazy?" (VanderWyk & Burnham, 2001) by Joseph A. Ilardo and Carole R. Rothman, focuses on common dilemmas children face when dealing with aging parents who are having health issues but still have most of their faculties. NEWSWEEK's Laura Fording spoke with them about how best to cope.NEWSWEEK: How can you best prepare for the time when your parents can no longer function without your help?Joseph Ilardo: The most fundamental way is to establish and maintain open relationships. Adult children can also...
  • West Wing Story: Pool Duty

    While most of the press corps slept in last Thursday, Ed Chen of The Los Angeles Times was at the Crawford Elementary School by 5:15 a.m. President Bush was going golfing, and Chen had drawn the short straw: He was on "pool duty." Every time the president goes anywhere publicly, the press pool goes too. The group of thirteen- photographers, camera and sound men, and reporters representing newswires, radio, TV, newspapers and magazines-becomes the eyes and ears for the rest of the press corps. The designated print reporter then has to write a "pool report" for his sleepyhead colleagues.Fortunately, Chen is every bit the early riser that the president is. (The lithe correspondent has actually been going running before the sun rises in Waco, Texas-the only way to run outside and not die of heat stroke.) When I tapped into my computer that morning, his report was already waiting for me, and the entire press corps-as well as the White House staff, which has no editing rights (though they...
  • The Borowitz Report: The Sloths Of Summer

    In a phenomenon that occurs every year during the week before Labor Day, national columnists across America file pointless, content-free "filler" columns, enabling lazy scribes to hit the beach earlier, according to observers who have been following the trend.The filler columns are churned out in a matter of minutes with no loftier goal than meeting a deadline and filling up space-meaning that columnists will often resort to using the same words or phrase again and again and again and again and again.Rather than doing any original writing, slothful columnists will rely on so-called experts to supply them with quotes to fill up space, experts say."They'll often quote people you've never heard of," says Harold Crimmins, an expert on filler columns. "It's pretty shameless."The typical filler column is often written months earlier, in the dead of winter, but the writer will later plug in one cursory reference to current events, such as the Gary Condit scandal, to disguise this fact.In...
  • Living Politics: Mad As Hell, Not Taking It Anymore

    Our dog had the right response: she cowered in the corner of the family room when she heard me yelling at the tangled pile of Ethernet wire and computer equipment at my feet. My 9-year-old son stared at me in pity and impatience. "Dad, did you get it to work yet?" No, in fact, I had not. I was a broadband customer on the edge, cursing the networking gods. All I wanted was secure, high-speed access to the Internet. And it was taking me the better part of a week's vacation to get it.George W. Bush and I endured working vacations this month, dutifully reading David McCullough's new biography of John Adams. But while the president was clearing a nature trail with a chainsaw on his ranch in Crawford, Texas, I was in D.C., trying to blaze a trail of my own-and working up enough sweat for us both.The economy's a mess, and now I understand one reason why: broadband access at home remains difficult to get and hard, even for semisophisticated folks to install and secure. And once you're up...
  • The Making Of A Quagmire?

    Here's a quick primer to the conflict in Macedonia. One side praises NATO to the skies and hopes they'll stay forever. They're the ones who are widely referred to as "terrorists," or, as NATO Secretary-General Lord Robinson put it a couple months ago, "murderous thugs." Even now NATO spokesmen insist on referring to the Albanian guerrillas as the "so-called National Liberation Army."The other side, the Slavic majority, invited NATO to come to Macedonia in the first place-in fact, practically begged NATO to come, and now many of the political leaders on the Slav side regularly denounce NATO for having come. Some young people on the Slav side want NATO to go home so much that they dropped a slab of concrete onto a British Army jeep from an overpass, killing one of the soldiers inside.It gets more twisted still. NATO is now in the country on a 30-day mission to disarm the NLA, and it has already collected perhaps a third of the 3,300 arms that it reckons the NLA's 3,000 fighters have....
  • Letter From Beit Jala

    Nicola Al-Alam peered out the second-floor window of her old stone house in the heart of Beit Jala, a Palestinian town in the West Bank, surveying a street now littered with broken glass and bullet casings. It was just before 5 p.m., and the gunbattles that had raged all day had begun to wind down. But the Israeli tank and armored personnel carrier were still positioned beside her front door, and her house was still being occupied by uninvited guests."We're prisoners," she says. Eight Israeli soldiers had burst into the house shortly after midnight, roused her children out of their beds and forced the family into the rear of their home. Then they had taken up positions in the front rooms, sealed off their section of the house and forbidden the family to leave. "It's crazy," she says, with an incongruous giggle. "Nobody can get in or out. They're hanging out, sleeping on the floor, opening their cans of sardines-the whole house smells of their damned fish." She laughs again. "We're...
  • What Now?

    Singer-actress Aaliyah had completed work on several projects and was in the middle of various others when she died Saturday night in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Now executives at her record label and in Hollywood must decide what to do with the material now that interest in the young R&B star is so much higher-and how to handle criticism they'll look like they're exploiting her death.Executives at Blackground Records, which released Aaliyah's third album in July, say they have yet to discuss future plans regarding singles and videos tied to the CD. The first single, "We Need a Resolution," went to No. 15 on Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop singles chart earlier this summer and its video has been in rotation on MTV. The album's next single would probably have been "Rock the Boat," the video that Aaliyah filmed last week in the Bahamas. Blackground, which distributes through Virgin, is a family-owned label run by Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson. "We do have plans to release the...
  • Feeding North Korea

    Millions of North Koreans depend on Catherine Bertini for their next meal. As executive director of the United Nations World Food Program, she oversees a humanitarian operation that has sent over $900 million in food aid to North Korea since 1995 and currently feeds about one-third of the country's people. This year alone, the WFP will distribute more than 800,000 tons of food, working within a system administered by a hardline communist regime that refuses to implement meaningful economic reforms. Critics, among them aid workers who have pulled out of North Korea, argue that economic assistance, even food, props up dictator Kim Jong Il and simply perpetuates suffering. NEWSWEEK's George Wehrfritz recently spoke to Bertini. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Why should the world keep feeding North Korea?Catherine Bertini: If we don't send food, children will starve. Period. That's the argument.It's that simple?Yes.Some members of the aid community have come to believe that food aid is enabling Kim...
  • A Familiar Tale

    Twenty-one years ago, I crouched at a window, eavesdropping on an argument going on next door, on the porch of my English teacher's house. At my boarding school, the rustic dormitories were shouting distance from some faculty members' homes. And shouting was what I was listening to. The man whose voice I will never forget was the father of one of my classmates."She's my daughter!" he was yelling, his voice cracking with emotion. "She's seventeen! You seduced a seventeen year old girl! You son-of-a-bitch!"The voice that answered him-calmly, smoothly-was also a voice I would never forget. Because it had whispered in my ear, lodged inside me, seducing me, too. He had the same impenetrable eyes as Gary Condit, the same measured, calculated responses, designed to be no response at all. Men like that are frighteningly similar. They are cold blue ice and hard edges. Long ago, they decided to not care.Oddly, I don't recall my teacher's exact words that day, although I could hear them...
  • Perspectives

    "This is NATO's most difficult mission and it has disaster written all over it." A diplomat in Macedonia on the arrival of a British reconnaissance party in Skopje last week that will determine whether 3,500 NATO troops should be deployed to disarm ethnic Albanian guerrillas and stem the violence in the country"Unlike a professional man--who can pick up his briefcase and go--its not easy to pick up your farm and go." Colonial leader of Zimbabwe Ian Smith, on the flight of the white community from the country due to an increase in interracial violence and a tanking economy"You can be as free as you want now, and that's why the judiciary believes they have to stop it." An Iranian policeman on the ongoing tug of war between reformists and conservatives, highlighted when violent protests broke out last week at the site of a public execution in Tehran"I'm interested in her erotic-iconic quality and her ability to provoke extremes of response." London gallery curator Tara Howard, on the...
  • Mail Call

    More than 600 readers responded to our cover story on the Boy Scouts' ban on gays, with a small majority favoring it. "Scouting should be a place for boys to work and play without political issues dominating every activity," wrote one. Declared another, "It would be hypocritical of scouting to ignore its core beliefs to appease the ever-fluctuating values of our society." Many who opposed the ban were sad about it. "What a shame to invoke Scout Law to deprive some people of the lifelong friendships and priceless opportunities that the scouting of my youth offered," wrote one. Said another: "The Scouts' stance on gays contradicts its own message of respect for others."Tradition and Turmoil For the last 10 days I've had the privilege of seeing more than 40,000 smiling, happy young people and their leaders, dedicating themselves to God, country, service to others and personal values. It's too bad that NEWSWEEK didn't see the same jamboree ("Scouts Divided," SOCIETY, Aug. 6). It's a...
  • Exclusive: A Pardon Overheard

    Bill Clinton's political antennae were, as always, on high alert. On Jan. 8, with less than two weeks to go in his presidency, Clinton was speaking on the phone with the then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The subject: a possible pardon for fugitive financier Marc Rich. "I know quite a few things about that," Clinton interjected as soon as Barak raised the matter. He had already gotten a long memo on it, Clinton explained, and he was "working on it." But Clinton also understood there were risks, possibly big ones. "It's best that we not say much about that," Clinton advised Barak on the subject of Rich. The Israeli leader understood. "OK, I'm not mentioning it anyplace," he replied.The two leaders had no reason to believe their confidential chat would ever become public. Yet the Clinton-Barak telephone call that evening, like all conversations between U.S. presidents and foreign heads of state, was monitored by a team of note takers sitting at computers in the White House...
  • The 'Non-Recession' Has America In Denial

    Back in the late 1970s, Cornell University economist Alfred Kahn briefly oversaw the Carter administration's voluntary wage-price guidelines. Kahn was (and is) a jovial soul whose power and influence suffered from his stubborn candor and sense of humor. He once irked the White House by suggesting that rampaging inflation might lead to a recession or a "deep, deep depression"--an assessment that Carter's aides promptly disavowed. Kahn retreated and promised that, in the future, he would refer to a recession as a "banana." He later shifted to kumquat after a big banana company complained.We are, it seems, now in a comparable situation. No one wants to utter the R word, because it signifies a symbolic threshold that, if crossed, might worsen consumer, business and investor psychology. The silence is rationalized by the popular convention of defining a banana as two consecutive quarters of declining economic output, or gross domestic product (GDP). This hasn't happened yet, unless the...
  • A Season In Hell

    Near Medford, Ore., Sean Hendrix checks his radio during the battle to contain a flare-up in the 6,500-acre Quartz fire, one of 42 major wildfires burning across the West last week. Bone-dry, windy weather had firefighters on the defensive and state governments calling for help. On Friday the Pentagon mobilized battalions from the Army and the Marines to reinforce the nearly 21,000 men and women already on the front lines. "It looks like a war zone out there," an Oregon official said, accurately enough. All in all, the fires of summer ravaged nearly 600,000 acres in 10 Western states.
  • Why Can't We Live Together?

    The old joke goes that if you remember the '60s, you probably weren't there. This may help explain why Swedish writer-director Lukas Moodysson seems to remember this era with uncanny accuracy: he wasn't there. Moodysson was born in 1969. Which would have made him 6 years old in 1975, the year that his touching, dead-on comedy "Together" takes place. ("The '60s" didn't end in 1970.)This funny, bighearted movie about an urban commune in Stockholm avoids all the pitfalls that movies about the counterculture so easily fall into, neither demonizing its free-loving, leftist characters nor holding them up as untarnished free spirits to put down the squares. Moodysson sees the follies of earnest dogmatists and bed-swapping couples who pretend to be beyond jealousy. But if his movie critiques the excesses of the times, it does so with affection. "Together" celebrates the communal spirit with warm but clear eyes.Moodysson also understands that these like-minded revolutionaries were not, in...
  • The Solidarity Of Self-Interest

    History cannot be rewritten, but some of its more egregious errors can be corrected--at least in part, at least symbolically, even unto the fifth and sixth generation. Or so assume a growing number of human-rights advocates. And their efforts to square the circle of history have created a climate favorable to arguments for reparations. The evolution of a human-rights culture, however, is not enough to explain why calls for compensation for slavery are suddenly being heard around the globe. Another factor is that groups other than African-Americans have lately seen some benefits in making the case. African governments in particular are drawn to the idea of restitution. At a regional meeting in Senegal in January, African delegates to the upcoming United Nations World Conference Against Racism demanded "adequate reparation" for slavery and colonialism. (Delegates were significantly less eager, it must be pointed out, to condemn African involvement in both current and historical...
  • Cyberscope; Drinking Water Goes Digital

    Electronic money, virtual movie stars... what in the Cyberworld will they think of next? Now, from the Brazilian heartland, comes digital water. Engineers in the state of Tocantins have come up with an unassuming-looking electronic device, known as a water manager, that lets customers draw water on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis. According to state officials, the arrangement saves water, electrical power and money. This is especially welcome news for Brazil, where unseasonable droughts have dried up hydroelectric dams and brought on a nationwide energy crisis.The system works like this: run to the local drugstore or newsstand and purchase a smart card, which, like a long-distance telephone card, is programmed for a certain number of credits. Back home, punch the card's code into the mini-keyboard on a modest-looking microprocessor and push the load key. Automatically, the water manager sends a signal to the Tocantins sanitation company to pump more water into your well. Run out of...