Russia: One Man, One Vote
Chechnya's Oct. 5 elections are closing in fast. So why is there none of the usual pre-election madness? Perhaps it's because everyone already knows the winner--current Chechen administrator Akhmad Kadyrov. With nary a vote cast, he's already hard at work preparing to assume the presidency. "How will I start work? I will continue what I have been doing, " he says, and "put an end to the conflict between Russia and Chechnya." That was the Kremlin's plan for these elections: Chechnya votes, elects its own president and a "normalization" of relations between Russia and Chechen separatists is confirmed. But the fact that Kadyrov is a shoo-in--and that many consider him a Kremlin puppet--only really proves one thing: peace in Chechnya is a sham.
It's been that way from day one, say observers. The last serious competitors bailed out of the race a month before polling day, complaining of intimidation, official pressure and even the murder of staffers. Kadyrov has enjoyed the uncompromising and obvious support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has put all the Kremlin's resources behind the favorite. Residents of the capital, Grozny, have given NEWSWEEK detailed accounts of how members of the current Moscow-appointed administration have for months been leaning on them at schools and workplaces to vote for Kadyrov.
This comes as no real surprise to the people of Chechnya, who are deeply skeptical of Putin. Tens of thousands of Chechens have died since 1992, and hundreds of thousands of others have fled as refugees. Those who have stayed and survived are no more sympathetic to Moscow now than they ever were: In a recent independent poll, 61 percent of Chechens rejected the idea of Kadyrov as their president. But many may still vote for him anyway. That, local rebels warn, only means more trouble. "Everyone believes that he and his son will be executed," says rebel representative Salambek Maigov. "Even other pro---Moscow Chechens hate Kadyrov. He'll be killed not because he's too pro-Russian. He has too much blood on his hands."
All this bodes very badly for Putin. A genuine election could have given Chechen elites a stake in restoring order in the republic. Now that they've been shut out, Moscow's only choice will be to invest all its resources in the increasingly isolated and unpopular Kadyrov. And that will leave the Kremlin back at square one, denying all indications that the war still rages on. Only this time, Moscow officials won't have an election to look forward to in Chechnya. They'll be too busy worrying about their own parliamentary elections in December and Putin's own re-election in March 2004.
The One Step Forward, Two Steps Back Edition
Egypt was leading the Arab world, Argentina was alright, and Iran was reform-ready. Not anymore. At least Indonesia's still on the right track.
Egypt Nationalist criticism of Hosni Mubarak is growing. And pushing son Gamal into the limelight may backfire--nepotism could unite the opposition.
Argentina It's got an IMF deal, but if Argentina doesn't commit to structural reforms soon, confidence will be shot again. Insecurity continues to reign.
Iran Hardliners will bow to global pressure on nukes. But in return, moderates will have to back off on new progressive laws. Reform remains stalled.
Indonesia At year's end, the IMF is out. But Indonesia's own economic plan has the market's confidence--and the country has shown it can recover from terror attacks.
Weapons: Light at The End of The Barrel
One of the few things that concerns antiterrorism officials almost as much as the proliferation of nuclear arms is the proliferation of small ones. No wonder sub-Saharan Africa is such a region of concern: for years it has been seen as an unregulated arsenal of handguns and light weapons, with an estimated cache of some 100 million small arms. But perhaps a new study will put those fears to rest--or at least into perspective. The Small Arms Survey, an independent project focusing on small-arms issues, has found that there are likely no more than 30 million small arms in sub-Saharan Africa--a mere fraction of the previous estimates. Several African nations have been making progress in seizing such weapons and, most encouraging, the survey found that there is a "downward trend" in armed conflict in Africa, which is reducing demand for small arms. But while this news may shock U.S. and European law-enforcement officials, so should several relatively unnoticed conclusions released by the Small Arms Survey earlier this summer. There are an average of 17.4 guns per 100 people in the EU. And German civilians buy nearly as many private firearms per capita as Americans--who, incidentally, now lead the world in most guns owned. This summer the Yanks officially outgunned the Yemenis, with roughly nine guns for every 10 people.
China: Dousing The Flames
With yet an-other protester attempting suicide last week--the fourth since late August--Beijing is growing concerned about the level of overt dissent in the Chinese capital. Wang Baoguang, a truck driver protesting the demolition of his home, was emulating a provincial farmer who had tried to set himself on fire the week before. (Wang wound up in a hospital bed, burns covering his body.) With a major party meeting scheduled for mid-October in Beijing, authorities fear such copycat protests could snowball into larger demonstrations. In the last week, protests against a range of government abuses--especially the demolition and construction that have destroyed thousands of homes with little notice or compensation--have continued to mount.
The party's Propaganda Department has gone into damage-control mode, warning local journalists to quit reporting on antidemolition protests. But it may be too late. As many as 1,000 demonstrators and grassroots organizers from across China have already converged on the capital. And at the party plenum in October, there could be even more. Beijing activist Liu Anjun says that like-minded groups from all over the country hope thousands will deliver a joint petition against "official corruption and illegal demolitions" during the meetings. Meanwhile, authorities are still scrambling to find ways to defuse the current protests, without appearing too hard or too soft. By the looks of it--and Wang's protest last week--it's clear they've yet to find one.
Technology: Computers That Care
By 2006, more French will retire each year than enter the work force. By 2028, 71 percent of Germany will be retirees. And come 2050, Japan will have 1 million 100-year-olds. Coping with the increase in elderly will be tough on established facilities, but high-tech companies are currently testing innovations that could revolutionize the way we grow old. Some items in the works:
Pressure pads. Intel researcher Eric Dishman is testing pressure pads in senior citizens' favorite chairs. People with advanced Alzheimer's disease tend not to be very mobile, and caregivers fear leaving them alone. With the pads, relatives will be alerted through their PCs, phones or by text message if an elderly relative gets up or falls.
Wireless motion sensors. Intel is testing sensors that can be placed throughout a home to monitor behavior and help with daily routines. If, for example, the data say that Grandma has not been in the kitchen that morning, a message will pop up on her TV screen reminding her to eat. The sensors may one day be able to guide her through the steps of cooking and know if she has gotten confused midtask.
TV pop quiz. People with minor memory loss may be able to avoid public embarrassment by quizzing themselves on familiar names and faces (the "first things to go," according to Dishman) through their TV, thanks to Intel.
GPS watch. This gadget, now being tested by Texas's Sears Methodist Retirement System, can help relatives track down a senior who has wandered away from home.
Medication dispenser. At the appropriate time, this pill dispenser reminds an elderly person to take his medicine. If the pills are not removed from the machine after a series of reminders, a home-care facility will automatically be notified.
History: Revisiting a Martyr
A member of Ireland's Protestant elite, Robert Emmet was an unlikely republican hero. Yet after he was executed 200 years ago on the Dublin street where he had staged an ill-fated rebellion in July 1803, he was transformed from an obscure, rather confused rebel leader into a central figure in Irish nationalism. In her new book, "Robert Emmet: The Making of a Legend," Marianne Elliott explores the creation of his myth, noting his youth, his idealism and his tragic love affair as key factors ensuring his posterity.
An account of Emmet's hanging, written 40 years later, first set the stage for his martyrdom, describing how onlookers dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood as mementos. Berlioz dedicated a composition to him, Shelley a poem. Yeats referred to him in a 1912 speech as "saint of nationality." He was the subject of countless popular songs, and the speech he made at his trial has been recited endlessly in Irish schools since.
In her short, powerful study, Elliott also addresses elements of Emmet's life that many Irish patriots would rather ignore. His execution helped fix the notion of blood sacrifice and heroic death firmly in the mentality of nationalists. And his rebellion signified an abrupt end to an era of tolerance that had previously been established, leaving stricter security measures and greater sectarian violence in its wake. But though historians are revising these traditional tales of Irish victimhood versus British brutality, their bitter legacy in Northern Ireland's communities has proved much harder to remove.
Guides: Everyone's A Critic
If there's anything we critics hate, it's letting other people make up their own minds. Maybe that's why we're so threatened by the ever-expanding Zagat empire--with its charmingly populist message that anyone who eats in a restaurant is qualified to review the meal. How ludicrous! Since 1979, Tim and Nina Zagat (that's Za-GAT) have been publishing their best-selling burgundy books, compiling thousands of reviews from layman gourmets around the world. In New York alone, their annual restaurant handbook moves 650,000 copies, outselling the dictionary and the Bible. And now--thanks to online surveying and a massive database--they've ventured into new territory: nightlife, shopping, golf courses and Broadway shows. They recently announced a business traveler's guide to wireless Internet access, and they're working on a series of travel books, as well as making city-specific versions of their popular nightlife guides.
Their most ambitious project to date may be the "Zagat Music Guide to the 1,000 Top Albums of All Time." "Music's not my area," says Tim Zagat. "I'm learning lots of new vocabulary. Like 'burning' a CD. Our reviewers do lots of that." (Although music purists might find the guide "overly simplistic" with "hard-to-fathom rankings," most casual listeners will agree: "It's the coolest thing since hi-fi.") What next? "I only do subjects people are passionate about," Zagat says. "I wouldn't do cars. But I would do sports cars."
Movies: Learning Deadly Lessons
Counterinsurgency is almost always the dirtiest kind of war. And it's often the hardest to win. In a powerful new documentary, "Death Squads: The French School," filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin dips into this dark, timely subject, and explores the lessons learned by the French while battling anticolonial movements.
The film starts with the independence struggle in Algeria. The French Army devised tactics specifically for urban warfare to snuff out the Algerian insurgency, relying largely on commando patrols, torture and death squads. Carefully reconstructing events through chilling accounts from veterans, Robin deftly weaves in footage from the 1966 drama "The Battle of Algiers" to convey the horror and to make up for a lack of archival reel.
The use of the drama in Robin's documentary should not be sneered at. "The Battle of Algiers" itself was more than a movie; it was an instructional video. South American military academies lapped it up in the 1970s, using it to educate new recruits. Robin traces how the so-called French doctrine was praised and followed by an entire generation of U.S. and --Latin American military officers in the early 1960s. Her film, which also features hidden-camera footage of Latin American generals issuing French-style training instructions, may follow a similar path; it has already caught the eye of Argentine justice officials, who are considering using it to investigate past war crimes.
PAUL MCCARTNEY Now 61, sir Paul McCartney is enjoying something of a renaissance. His latest tour drew 500,000 outside the Colosseum in Rome and grossed $126 million worldwide. In November, McCartney will release a cleaned-up version of "Let It Be" called "Let It Be Naked." NEWSWEEK's Jonathan Alter stopped by for a chat with the ever-cool star.
Why do you think the tour was so big?
For some, nostalgia. These are songs you can sing to. The kids don't care when they were recorded. To them, all of the psychedelic clothing is the future, not the past. There's just something there that's timeless.
Your legacy is so secure. Why the fight [with Yoko Ono, over reversing writing credits from "by John Lennon and Paul McCartney" to "by Paul McCartney and John Lennon"]? Why would you care about the credit?
Why do I care? I dunno. I'm human. I've given up--I'm not going to bother with it. It's very unseemly for me to care because John's not here and it's like walking on a dead man's grave.
Do you think if John Lennon hadn't been killed [in 1980] that the Beatles would have reunited?
I think we might have. The dust would have settled. We [he and Lennon] were talking a lot more just before [his death], about his new son and all kinds of other things. But we'll never know, will we?