News

  • Periscope

    AMERICA ABROAD Missile Defense: 'Serious Questions' Earlier this month, top Bush officials fanned out to capitals from London to Beijing to sell the president's missile-defense program. Last week they slipped back into Washington to hold "classified only" briefings for Congress. They had good reason to avoid wider scrutiny. Even key U.S. allies the system is meant to protect, such as Germany and Japan, were skeptical. Many doubted the imminent threat from "rogue" states or that MD would remedy it. Russia, whose support Bush is actively courting, was completely unconvinced. Said one Western diplomat: "[MD] is a crock." ...
  • The Other Bubble

    This is the story of the other Internet bubble. Not the dot-com crash, but the potentially more devastating collapse of the race to roll out third-generation, or 3G, mobile phones in Europe. What distinguishes 3G mania is the size of its victims and their ambitions: they are not little start-ups, but the world's major phone companies and manufacturers. They are not building pets and toys dot-coms, but a communications channel still arguably as crucial to this century as roads and railways were to the last. And they were egged on to spend more than they could afford not only by California venture capitalists, but, wittingly or not, by the supposedly responsible states of Europe. This was a bubble built on greed--and government policy. ...
  • The Character Of Our Campuses

    It's commencement season in America, and for the next week the country's youth are in for a lot of advice on life after college. I wonder if they need it. College kids today are so industrious, goal-oriented and responsible that it is amazing and, well, a little bit frightening. I remember talking to a junior at my old college last year and asking him what he thought he might do when he graduated. His reply: "I'm trying to decide between investment banking with a technology focus or management consulting that also involves venture capital." He had just turned 20. ...
  • Cyberscope

    When a fishing trawler accidentally cut through the main fiber-optic cable linking China to the United States last February, Billy Tam was ready. His "boutique" data center, iLink Holdings, was one of the few to keep its clients clicking with uninterrupted Internet service. As elsewhere in the world, the dot-com crash has hammered Asia's big data centers--the high-tech outsourcers that host Web servers and data communications for corporate customers. Riding the global boom, many of these centers built themselves up on debt. The frenzy was particular intense in Hong Kong and Singapore, home to many of Asia's biggest data centers, among them iAsiaWorks and iAdvantage. Developers cleared out whole skyscrapers to accommodate the sprawling infrastructure of the new Internet economy. But now a bleak new day is upon them, characterized by falling demand for their services--and not enough customers to pay the bills. ...
  • Random Access Online: Wa's Up?

    A fellow countryman with experience here cannily laid out the road map for the two-day Shonan Experts' Live-In Seminar on "Emerging Electronic Communities: Intellectual Property Rights, Privacy Rights and Control of Contents," in which I'd be one of the (shudder) "experts." "First there will be the presentation by the Americans," he said. "Then there will be some polite rumblings in response to what the Americans said. At night, everyone will drink some alcohol and say something closer to what they actually think. And the final day, they'll make sure everything closes with a consensus." Which happened to be exactly the way things unfolded. ...
  • Political Lives: Hell Week

    This was supposed to be the best week of George W. Bush's young presidency. Instead, it's turned into the worst. Yes, he's getting his $1.35 trillion tax cut, the centerpiece of his agenda, but, on other matters, he suddenly looks like a rookie whose naivete and inattention led to avoidable mistakes. In the last few days he's gotten hammered for not paying enough attention to: the symbolism of what was going on at Dick Cheney's house; the worsening bloodbath in the Middle East, and, of course, diplomatic relations with a senator from Vermont. ...
  • Arts Extra: Talking Through Tidiness

    He's neat. She's messy. Soon they're at each other's throats. Can this marriage be saved? Yes, but the chances are vastly increased if the couple tackles this common problem early on, before resentment mounts and causes irreparable damage to the relationship. ...
  • Hip-Hop Honor Code

    When rap music stars such as Snoop Dogg and Fat Joe gathered at the Chicago home of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan in 1996, the meeting was aimed at finding an end to the East Coast/West Coast rap wars that eventually claimed the lives of both Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. Another summit, spearheaded by hip-hip impresario Russell Simmons, will convene next month in New York. But the goals will be vastly different from that sit-down five years ago. ...
  • Arts Extra: Less Is Mueck

    Tall and skinny in jeans and sneakers, Ron Mueck looks like he might be just another assistant helping out around the gallery, adjusting the lights on the work in somebody else's highly anticipated first solo show in America. You get the idea, in fact, that Mueck would almost rather be in the background while another artist gets the press attention. The sculptor, who was the quiet, artist's-artist sensation of the infamous 1999 "Sensation" exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum of Art (with "Dead Dad," a four-foot-long sculpture of a deceased old man with every pathetic anatomical and dermatological sign of lifelong wear faithfully rendered), still isn't comfortable with the public part of being an artist. He's extremely wary of people scribbling in notebooks and clicking switches on tape recorders. "I spent my whole childhood alone in a room making stuff," he says. "I'm still mainly doing that.... I try to put the ego into the work. If I have to put it into promoting myself, then the...
  • Voices From The Hill

    Senator Richard Shelby calls it a political earthquake. Senator John McCain hopes it will teach Republicans how to deal with members "who occasionally dissent from party orthodoxy." And supporters in Senator Jim Jeffords' home state of Vermont are applauding what they consider a remarkable phenomenon: "a politician with conscience." What the capital-and the nation- is saying about Jeffords' decision to leave the Republican Party: ...
  • Arts Extra: Here, There And Everywhere

    Time was when Beatles fans were starving masses. First, they hungered for a reunion-a dream that died along with John Lennon in 1980. Next, fans pinned their hopes on the Beatles's legendary archives, fantasizing that the band would start releasing secret treasures. Oddities. Rarities. Studio banter. Original takes of "Strawberry Fields Forever" (when it was just a beautiful little folk song) or "The Long and Winding Road" (before producer Phil Spector slimed it with all those sickly strings). Something. Anything. ...
  • Between The Lines Online: Back To The Battlefield

    One day last month in the lobby of New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, I was approached by Chris Ruddy, the "journalist" who gave the world the "Vince Foster Was Murdered!" story. Ruddy introduced the smiling gentleman with him as "Dick Scaife": yes, Richard Mellon Scaife. After a cheerful hello, the reclusive right-wing billionaire, now nearly deaf, said that he couldn't think of any reason to criticize President Bush so far. This was extraordinary-the symbol of the far right in total agreement with the president. Then I asked him what he was going to do now that he didn't have Bill Clinton to kick around any more. Scaife, who spent several million dollars over eight years on the "Arkansas Project" and other efforts to destroy Clinton over Paula Jones, Whitewater and the rest, shouted with a grin: "There's always Hillary!" ...
  • Starr Gazing: Loving This Game

    Unbeknownst to most NBA fans, there has been more than a bit of trench warfare this season between reporters who cover pro basketball and the league's savvy and aggressive brass. Having lavished praise-"we loved that game"-on the NBA for more than a decade, the press chorus turned sour this year. We denounced the NBA's millennial product as a torpid version of its heyday and its "next" Michaels, Larrys and Magics as impostors. The NBA response was swift and merciless. They pronounced us idiots who parroted the conventional wisdom without a second thought or a second glance. (At least they called me an idiot; I couldn't have been the only "idiot" they singled out.) ...
  • The End Of The Road For The Explorer?

    Ron Wright, an inventory-control manager at Houston's Lone Star Ford is trying to stay upbeat about sales of the Ford Explorer-even if Ford Motor Co. has launched a massive second-round of tire replacements on the vehicle. "People still buy cigarettes, don't they?" he asks. ...
  • Hell Of A Haven

    Sometimes things get so bad at home you lose track of what's going on around you. With soaring unemployment, impenetrable visa restrictions and a booming black market, Romanians have little choice: turn to crime or hightail it outta there. Which is what eight did early last week. Crossing the border from Serbia, they stepped right into war-torn Macedonia, immediately to be captured by Albanian rebels. "We didn't know whether to give them a good meal or throw them out to face the other side," said one rebel commander. Doubled over in laughter at the fact that the Romanians "had no idea what [was] going on here," the rebels decided on the meal, then turned them over to the Red Cross. The lost eight were returned home on Wednesday, unharmed but shaken. Let this be a lesson. Always look both ways before crossing borders. Photo: Wait a sec . . . this isn't Club Med!
  • Crumbling Britannia?

    Bob and Audrey Dale are waiting outside the National Railway Museum in York, England. They've just spent the day learning about how train travel has evolved since the days when George Stephenson's Rocket locomotive set a record speed of 29 miles per hour in 1829-and they've learned a lot about waiting too. "You wouldn't think there had been any progress since the days of steam," says Bob Dale after a day of train and taxi delays that almost doubled the time of their journey from Newcastle. "It takes as long now to get somewhere as it did in the Victorian era. Except now you have to pay a hundred times the money for the joy." ...
  • West Wing Story: A Yale Man Returns

    One thing about George W. Bush, he has a long memory. When a Yale classmate asked him to contribute to their 25th-reunion class book several years ago, Bush responded: "I don't have such great feelings about the place right now." He was a no-show at the reunion. While governor of Texas, Bush turned down a prestigious Chubb Fellowship from the university. ...
  • From Russia, With Love

    My expectations were low. Even before leaving the United States, I was convinced that my four-week volunteer stint in a Russian orphanage would be one of the most depressing months of my life. I pictured children chained to beds, half-starving, staring up with blank looks in their eyes, their souls long since dead. I was wrong. ...
  • The Borowitz Report: The United States Of Halliburton?

    In a move that his supporters are calling his boldest to date, President George W. Bush today advocated a merger between the United States of America and the Halliburton Co., one of the world's largest oil-producing concerns. ...
  • Power Policy: The Energy War Within Us

    If nothing else, George W. Bush's energy program reminds us of one of the great paradoxes of American public opinion. By word, we are a nation of ardent environmentalists. A CBS poll last week found that Americans favor increased energy conservation over higher production by a huge 60 percent to 26 percent margin. But by deed, we crave energy-draining comforts--from sport utility vehicles to bigger homes. Since 1970 the typical new home has increased 47 percent in size; meanwhile, 84 percent now have central air conditioning, up from 34 percent. And, of course, we holler if energy costs rise. Witness the present furor over gasoline prices (more than $2 in some cities) and California's electricity rates. ...
  • My Meeting With A Medicine Man

    I wanted to meet a medicine man. And Samosir Island in the middle of Lake Toba in northern Sumatra was the perfect place to look. ...
  • Fraser's Journal Entry

    We were lacing our sneakers and putting on our coats for the volcano. We drove ten minutes to the base of the volcano. It erupted 200 years ago; too bad we missed it. It was a three-hour hike up a cobble stone path until you got to the "real" volcano. At the base you couldn't tell it was a volcano, you would just think it was a mountain. When we summitted (got to the top) it smelled strongly of sulphur, and, if you were lucky, sometimes you would hit a spot that smelled of newly opened tennis balls. The sulphur-rich geysers were really cool. If there were rocks nearby, they would grow an outer lime green crystal, because of the gas. There was a big wall on the west edge of the volcano. That was really neat too because it was a pale, faded, army-green color, because not enough gas came to the wall. There were roughly 7 to 10 geysers in all. There were two guides, one of which I climbed quickly down with. There was one muddy, steep, slippery (not safe) slope. Near the end the guide...
  • Can Macedonia Be Saved?

    Europe is trying to heed the lessons of Balkans Wars past. But will it be enough to save Macedonia?
  • Tracking War Criminals

    Carla del Ponte has been chief prosecutor of The Hague tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda since 1999. Her determination, her record and her no-nonsense style have won her respect in Western capitals but caused run-ins with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. In Washington for her first meeting with Bush administration officials last week, she talked about The Hague, war crimes and Slobodan Milosevic with NEWSWEEK's Roy Gutman and Daniel Klaidman. Excerpts: ...
  • Will Allergy Sufferers Get Cheap Relief?

    As millions of americans suffered through high pollen counts last week, relief seemed a little closer. On Friday an FDA panel took a big step toward making the antihistamines Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec available without a prescription--against drugmakers' wishes. (The FDA will make a final ruling soon.) Allergy sufferers' unlikely hero: insurer WellPoint, which had pushed for the switch to help control its own soaring costs. But forcing the drugs off prescription might not save consumers money any time soon. Right now insurers pick up most of the tab for the three drugs, so many patients don't realize that they cost up to $85 a month. If the drugs do go over the counter, patients will have to pay for them out of their own pockets--and although prices will likely drop, it is unclear by how much. Many OTC antihistamines, which cost as little as $5 a month, can cause drowsiness. So companies may still be able to charge more for newer drugs like Claritin. And even if they go off...
  • Cheerleading Gets Tough

    If you'd told Erykah Ward a few years back that one day she'd be trying out for a cheerleading team, she probably would have gagged. A hard-core gymnast who at one time was training for the 2000 Olympics, Ward used to sneer at the pompom crowd. "How stupid," she'd say. "Jumping around, laughing--what kind of sport is that?" She was used to rigor--40 hours a week of training and such frequent injuries that, she says, "I lived in a cast." When she eventually burned out on gymnastics three years ago, a friend suggested cheerleading. "I was, like, pfff, no," recalls Ward, 17, who lives in Arlington, Texas. "I don't want to hang out with them. I'll want to kill them all." ...
  • Friends Are For Favors

    The surest sign that Tony Blair was kick-starting an election campaign wasn't his traditional trip to Buckingham Palace to tell the queen. More important was Rupert Murdoch's early-May call on 10 Downing Street. Through two decades and three prime ministers, the News Corp.'s chairman has reigned as Britain's political kingmaker. Support from the largest of Murdoch's four British papers, The Sun, helped Blair win in 1997, and its declaration back in March that a Labour victory was "in the bag" killed any suspense surrounding next month's election outcome. Blair began courting Murdoch in 1995, when the Labour leader flew to Australia for a meeting. At the time, the move bordered on heresy for Old Labourites: Murdoch's Sun had been virulently anti-Labour during the '80s and early '90s. But Blair's radical pragmatism echoes Murdoch's own. ...
  • Blame It On Yourselves

    Who cost the United States its seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission in the recent secret vote? Theories abound. Was there a European Judas--or three, or five? Is the world tired of being bullied by U.S. strong-arm human-rights tactics? Or did China help bring the Bush administration down to earth? The United States "deserves the defeat" for arrogance and "imposing its human-rights standards on others," Beijing gloated. ...

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