When Shamil Basayev was killed last week, Chechen rebels lost their most daring and bloodthirsty leader. Basayev became Russia's most wanted man after his followers seized a Moscow theater in 2002; he also ordered the 2004 school siege at Beslan that left 331 people dead. Basayev died after a truck full of arms and explosives he was riding in exploded--apparently part of a "special operation" by Russia's Federal Security Service.
In some ways, though, Basayev was already yesterday's man. For the past two years, Chechnya itself has been relatively quiet as rebels have been ruthlessly rounded up and imprisoned. The new threat is extremist violence flaring up elsewhere in the North Caucasus. Worryingly for Moscow, much of the violence seems motivated by radical Islamism, similar to what Basayev preached. At least two officials and a police chief were slain in neighboring Ingushetia last month, while in the republic of Dagestan, five separatists were killed in a shoot-out with police.
The authorities' brutal reaction to the unrest has made the situation worse; anger is fueling the spread of grassroots Islam. "More and more young people in North Caucasus come to the mosques," says Shafig Pshikhachev, mufti of Kabardino-Balkaria, scene of a violent Islamist uprising last November in which 24 Russian police and up to 90 rebels were killed. Several Ingush villages have converted to the radical Wahhabi sect of Islam, as have a swath of villages in western Dagestan. The human-rights group Memorial says a growing number of politically driven Islamic institutes in the region are funded by Saudi Arabia. Russia's reprieve may be short-lived.
Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova
Memo to Kim Jong Il: If you're going to risk international condemnation, the least you can do is make sure your missiles get off the ground. NEWSWEEK asked Yale security expert Minh Luong about what Pyongyang's scientists are doing wrong:
Toughen up: Intercontinental missiles rely on gravity to get them to their final destination, so they need to have enough initial thrust to reach the mesosphere (about 80 kilometers up). The missiles also have to be strong enough to withstand the three tiers of booster rockets it takes to get them up so high. Kim's missiles couldn't even make it past the launch before they buckled--try a composite alloy with some titanium to boost their durability.
Solidify: Solid fuel is a must--it's more complicated to manufacture but also more reliable. Liquid fuel, like the kind Kim used, could accidentally be ignited by a stray spark. Also, the nitric acid in liquid fuel can corrode the fuel-regulator mechanism, polymers, seals and other sensitive components of the missile.
Bulk up: A missile is only as strong as the weapon it's packing, and Pyongyang's can't take the weight of big warheads. While even the lightest nuclear bombs weigh 90 to 180 kilos, the missiles launched by North Korea couldn't handle much more than 45 kilos.
Scandal of the Week
So much for a World Cup honeymoon: an ongoing match-fixing probe concluded last Friday, and four of champion Italy's top teams have been kicked out of Europe's premier division. Here's what it's going to cost them: Fiat-owned Juventus is stripped of recent championship titles; World Cup hero Buffon is likely to leave for England's Arsenal, and TV and sponsorship losses could total $250 million. Fiorentina-owner billionaire Diego Della Valle could lose 10 percent of his net worth and is banned from the sport for five years. Silivo Berlusconi's AC Milan gets to stay in Series A, but won't have much competition.
Famed Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji plans to go on a hunger strike this week at the United Nations in New York to protest the regime in Tehran. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Maziar Bahari.
We chose three detainees from three different movements as the symbols of the political prisoners in Iran and have staged a hunger strike to defend them. They include Masoud Ossanloo from the labor movement, Akbar Moussavi Khoeini from the students' movement and Ramin Jahanbegloo, an intellectual.
Not much. The nuclear program has become the butt of jokes among ordinary people. The reformists within the system are against it and have sent a letter to the supreme leader. Many conservatives within the government disagree with each other about the program.
We, Iranians, should be more afraid of the government's nuclear program. They obtained all their equipment in the black market and there is no quality control on the facilities. I'm just afraid that something like Chernobyl can happen in Iran.
I can't read the Americans' minds. But I know that Iranian people want peace not war. Military invasion will not help the democratic movement in Iran. Actually it will do exactly the opposite. If they plan to attack our infrastructure that would not destroy the Islamic Republic, rather it will destroy Iran.
I think they will arrest me as soon as I arrive in the airport and put me in jail.
President George W. Bush's top aides got $4,200 raises last year, according to a list of staff salaries just released by the White House. A look at some of the pay and perks for staffers:
$165,200: Annual salary of 17 senior aides, including chief of staff Josh Bolten, political guru Karl Rove, spokesman Tony Snow and counsel Harriet Miers. The VP's salary: $212,000
$30,000: Annual salary for aides who catalog gifts and handle mail, the bottom of the scale
$8,000: Worth of four Kennedy Center tickets given to Bolten last year
$100,000: Salary of Stuart Baker, a policy chief at the Homeland Security department, as "Director for Lessons Learned." A White House spokesman says the title refers to the administration's study of its handling of Hurricane Katrina.
$2,073: Worth of a gun bought by Katherine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where Cheney accidentally shot a man. She chipped in with adviser Mark McKinnon and others to buy Rove a Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon II, a 20-gauge hunting shotgun.
According to her online profile, Anastasia, an attractive and petite blonde, likes car rides, walking through Nashville's Centennial Park and "stalking small creatures." Anastasia's no psychopath; she's a miniature schnauzer, whose owner posted her profile on Dogster.com.
As human social-network-ing sites like Friendster.com and MySpace.com have become increasingly popular, similar sites have popped up for pets. Dogster.com, the first of the sites, launched in 2004 and now boasts more than 180,000 members in 182 countries. Catster.com has 76,000 members. With fewer than 1,000, Hamsterster.com is tiny--but growing. Folks with a less conventional pet--like a chinchilla--can sign up for the more inclusive Petster.com, which has some 11,000 members.
Conservative groups often promote abstinence in part by saying condoms don't prevent certain diseases like human papillomavirus, or HPV . A study published last month in The New England Journal of Medicine, however, found that women whose partners consistently used a condom were 70% less likely to contract HPV. A vaccine against the strains of HPV responsible for 70% of cervical-cancer cases will be available soon.
Are Chinese proverbs the new power tie? Fortune 500 execs and other industry leaders are abusing Confucian sayings to show that they're hip to today's global economy. A word of wisdom: don't.
"When the wind rises, some people build walls. Others build windmills," advises Hollywood producer Lawrence Bender.
WHY NOT JUST SAY: When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.
"When is the best time to plant a tree? A hundred years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Yesterday," according to one high- profile lawyer.
HOW ABOUT: There's no time like the present.
"May you live in interesting times."
OR NOT: This curse is likely the invention of a 1950s science-fiction writer named Eric Frank Russell.
"The character for crisis is the same as the one for opportunity."
NOPE: The Chinese word for "crisis" requires two characters: one means "opportunity," and the other "danger."
From the streets of Cairo to your average college dorm, water pipes (a.k.a. hubble-bubble, hookahs, shishas, or nargilas) are usually considered a harmless pastime for young and old alike. That's the wrong impression, according to a study by Sana S. Al-Mutairi from Kuwait University released this month. Al-Mutairi concluded that not only do hookah smokers ingest a high amount of cotinine and nicotine, but they are also more likely to exhibit chronic bronchitis symptoms than cigarette smokers. Last month the World Health Organization also linked water-pipe smoking with lung disease. The effects are made worse by the fact that smoking sessions tend to last longer than with cigarettes and that each puff contains 10 times more smoke than a cigarette drag.