News

  • 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. ...
  • The Rising Cost Of Labor

    The small Burmese peasant with the red-stained teeth and the fearful eyes hardly seems capable of unnerving one of the world's most repressive military regimes. Maung is not a terrorist, a guerrilla or even a dissident. He is something that, in this era of globalization, can be even more troublesome: he is a plaintiff in a United States court case. And his target is none other than the American energy giant Unocal, one of Burma's biggest foreign investors. ...
  • The Heist: Round Two

    Ronnie Biggs, the great train robber, spent the past 35 years on the lam as Britain's most famous fugitive. With 14 members of his gang, he pinched [Pound sterling]2.6 million in a celebrated 1963 mail-train heist, then was caught and jailed--only to escape in 1965 to lead a very public life in Rio, snuggling buxom beach bunnies and dancing away at Carnival. But time eventually caught up with "Ronnie," as his many fans still call him. His money ran dry, reducing him to hosting tourists at barbecues near his small Rio flat--and charging by the head. ...
  • Waterloo For A True Believer

    Asked by his own Sunday Telegraph last Christmas to recommend a little-known book, the newspaper tycoon Conrad Black nominated "Napoleon and his Marshals" by A. G. Macdonnell. "Napoleon emerges as a magnificent swashbuckler, more sinned against than sinning," wrote Black. ...
  • The Middle Is The Message

    Robert Pennoyer registered as a Republican in 1946. He is partial to quoting from a bronze medal given to his father to commemorate the centennial of the party, engraved with a quotation from Dwight D. Eisenhower, in whose administration the younger Pennoyer served for six years. "In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human," he reads aloud in his New York City law office. "In all those things which deal with the people's money or their economy or their form of government, be conservative." It seems a good way to sum up his political philosophy, and to explain why he just sent out the form that will change his party affiliation, at the age of 76, from Republican to Democrat. "I'm making a clean break," he says. ...
  • Had All Your Shots?

    Think chickenpox is just a childhood disease? Think again. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells of a 23-year-old mother in good health. She had just helped her two preschoolers through a nasty bout of the pox. Two weeks later she developed the classic rash herself. Soon she was coughing up blood and having trouble breathing. She entered a hospital to start treatment for pneumonia, but her condition worsened, and she was transferred to a second facility. There, despite stepped-up care, her rash began bleeding uncontrollably and her kidneys shut down. One by one, her other systems failed, too. Within 10 days she was dead. Cells taken from her rash and her windpipe revealed varicella zoster, the chickenpox virus. ...
  • Perspectives

    "How could they have possibly made a mistake this huge?" Kathleen Treanor, who lost her 4-year-old daughter and her in-laws in the Oklahoma City bombing, on the FBI revelation that it had inadvertently withheld thousands of pages of evidence from Timothy McVeigh's lawyer. As a result, Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed the convicted murderer's execution by one month."It's been real. Thanks, buddy." Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, concluding his cell-phone conversation with President George W. Bush, who called to thank the senator for his help in passing the budget resolution"The administration has sort of told us to take a flying leap in a rolling doughnut." California energy adviser David Freeman, on the White House's hands-off approach to the state's energy crisis"Your Honor, let's be honest here. A woman should not be disposed to this matter. This should be between the male persons of the world." Eugene Holmes, of Cherryville, N.C., asking the judge to replace the female public...
  • The Canal From Hell

    When the rainy season starts this month, dozens of places in Mexico City will overflow with gray flood-water. Drivers will stall on the highways, subway riders will tiptoe through the muck and stores will sell loads of platform shoes. City workers will pump away massive quantities of water, but there is no stopping the inevitable. Since the Aztecs built Mexico City on a lakebed in a bowl of mountains nearly 700 years ago, its rulers have been struggling with the same problem: how to prevent residents from drowning in rainwater and their own effluent--much of it now swelling out of a canal of sewage in their midst. ...
  • The Illusion Of Knowledge

    The economy's slide has one familiar feature: few, if any, economists predicted it. We should not be surprised. Economists routinely miss the turning points of business cycles and, indeed, have missed most of the major economic transformations of the past half century, whether for good or ill. The great boom of the 1990s was barely anticipated. The same was true of other upheavals: sporadic "energy crises," the sharp rise of inflation in the 1970s, its dramatic fall in the 1980s and various shifts in productivity growth. ...

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