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  • Green Wheels

    Now you can save the planet by riding a scooter. Motorbike manufacturers are creating environmentally friendly alternatives that are both powerful and great to look at. The new Vectrix Maxi-Scooter is the first electrically powered vehicle on the market that offers maximum performance with zero carbon emissions. It accelerates rapidly and reaches top speeds of 62mph and is available through dealerships or stores in Miami, London, Lisbon, Rome, Madrid and Melbourne ($11,000; vectrix.com). Vectrix isn't the only bike maker going green; the Yamaha Passol, an electric-powered scooter with its own onboard charger, is currently available only in Japan ($1,742; yamaha-motor.jp). And Honda is developing the Moped-EV, an all-electric 97-pound scooter designed for in-city commuting (honda.com). Getting there never felt so virtuous.
  • Gaza's Middle Class Flees

    Iraq is President Bush's war, but the Democrats are quickly getting tagged with some blame for it. One of the reasons Congress is in such bad odor—less popular even than Bush in recent polls—is that Democrats look feckless on how to proceed in Iraq, and not just because they lack the votes to cut off funding. Are they neo-isolationists, determined to exit the region as soon as possible? Democrats like Pennsylvania freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, who saw ground action as an Army captain, insist not. They want to get out of Iraq and get tough on Al Qaeda at the same time. But the idea isn't getting through.Last week's attack on what remained of the Golden Mosque in Samarra—one of the most revered shrines of Iraq's Shiites—was apparently another sign that the organization known as Al Qaeda in Iraq remains a serious threat. The bombing (along with the violence in Gaza) was also a reminder that Democrats could still be in trouble on national security in 2008. Politically, the "war on...
  • Wal-Mart:  Changing Clothes

    Starting this week, Wal-Mart shoppers will encounter employees clad not in iconic bright blue vests or smocks, but in khakis and navy blue polo shirts with the Wal-Mart logo. In surveys and focus groups, shoppers said the new outfits (already in use in some regions of the country) make Wal-Mart workers seem more knowledgeable and helpful; senior VP Celia Swanson says more than 95 percent of employees prefer the new look.But here's the challenge: what should Wal-Mart, which has been touting its recycling and environmental initiatives, do with the more than 1 million vests that employees will return to the company? In August, the retailer will announce that it's converting the old uniforms into free supplies for the U.S. military. In partnership with the VFW Foundation and Hallmark, Wal-Mart's used vests will become lap blankets, to be handed out at Veterans Administration hospitals in November, and packages of greeting cards, which will be sent to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in...
  • The Editor's Desk

    He would have loved it all, particularly the thunder. On a stormy Tuesday afternoon in New York last week, in the Gothic grandeur of Riverside Church on the banks of the Hudson, David Halberstam was remembered as father, husband, friend and journalist. Paul Simon sang "Mrs. Robinson." John Lewis spoke of the war David covered in the American South, while Neil Sheehan recalled the one in Southeast Asia. There was a fireman from the house Halberstam wrote about after September 11, and a Korean War veteran, a source for David's final book, to be published this fall, who spoke of the shock of hearing that the imposing yet gentle Halberstam had died in a car crash in April. Anna Quindlen noted that one of her children always thought God was on the line when David, with his booming voice, would ring the house. Wonderfully, God (or Nature, depending on your point of view) made his presence felt at the service. As the eulogies unfolded, there were great crashes of thunder outside, filling...
  • On The Road: Memphis, Tenn.

    In August it will be 30 years since Elvis Presley sagged to the floor and died alone in the upstairs bathroom of Graceland, the Memphis estate that was his Mount Vernon. This year, Graceland's managers expect the annual candlelight vigil on Aug. 15 to break all records.Since his death, the aura of the King and the Colonial revival mansion he bought in 1957 has never stopped growing. During an official U.S. visit last summer, the then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi insisted on touring Graceland. There, before a chuckling President Bush and Elvis's once wife, Priscilla, and daughter, Lisa Marie, Koizumi mugged like the King and crooned "The Impossible Dream."Elvis was casual about money, and that is the only reason that the Graceland house—which would be dwarfed by a modern rock star's pool house—is open to visitors. Although Presley transformed America's music, he left an estate so relatively small (reportedly less than $5 million) that Lisa Marie, his principal heir,...
  • IEDs: A Failure to Protect U.S. Troops?

    For U.S. troops in Iraq, May was the worst month since 2004, with 126 killed. The summer months may be worse, given a new Pentagon assessment concluding the surge is not reducing violence. Now a former Marine officer says the corps has failed to supply its Marines on the front lines with the best protection against the improvised explosive devices that cause most of the carnage. Since the start of 2005, the number of IEDs placed by insurgents has more than doubled. Retired Maj. Franz Gayl, a former adviser to the commander of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, told NEWSWEEK the Marine Corps shunted aside an "urgent" request back in February 2005 for 1,169 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to replace the outclassed Humvees on Iraq's roads. The MRAP vehicles are on raised wheels and have a V-shaped chassis that diffuses the force of a blast underneath. "It was criminal negligence," says Gayl. "The numbers of preventable deaths from the MRAP delay are in the hundreds,"...
  • Q&A: Would Closing Gitmo Make a Difference?

    If there's an upshot to the wrangling last week over whether top Bush administration officials intended at a key meeting to discuss the fate of Guantanamo Bay, it's this: the closing of the detention center there now seems inevitable. Advocates like Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have gained the upper hand in the debate, in part by arguing that if President Bush doesn't shut Guantanamo soon, Congress will. But what will that mean for the 400 or so detainees there? Bush has argued that the detainees are enemy combatants—a special status that exempts the United States from granting them the rights of either Americans or prisoners of war. The status is necessary, he says, in order to continue gleaning information they may have and to prevent them from rejoining the war against the U.S. Neal Katyal is a law professor at Georgetown University and one of the policy's most outspoken critics. Katyal successfully argued Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the 2006...
  • Entertainment: Disney's New Magic

    Walt Disney was so proud of his submarine ride that he wanted to show it off to Nikita Khrushchev. (No luck.) Some 40 years later, in 1998, tourists were no longer impressed with hokey fish dangling from wires, and Walt's fleet was decommissioned. Last week the ride resurfaced with whiz-bang video and audio effects that allow the animated sea creatures from the Pixar hit "Finding Nemo" to seemingly swim and talk in the water. "Isn't it awesome!" Pixar chief John Lasseter said during the maiden voyage, gazing through a porthole. "This is the marriage of Pixar and Disney consummated to its fullest," says Bob Iger, chief executive of the Walt Disney Co., which bought Pixar last year.More than a retooled ride, Disneyland's "Finding Nemo" Submarine Voyage is emblematic of Disney's efforts to keep its parks relevant in a digital age. Designers—"Imagineers"—are "bringing new magic to our classic attractions," explains Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney's theme parks and resorts. That means...
  • Globalization: Making Connections

    Rarely has there been as neat a fit between a book's subject and its author's biography as in "Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization," by Nayan Chanda. It's easy to see why the subject fascinates Chanda; he's a self-proclaimed Francophile of South Asian origin, who studied French in Calcutta, then took courses on China in Paris, wrote a noteworthy book about Southeast Asia, ran a magazine in Hong Kong and ended up launching an online journal devoted to globalization at an Ivy League institution. And in this engaging analysis, he answers such intriguing questions as "How did the coffee bean, first grown only in Ethiopia, end up in our coffee cups after a journey through Java and Colombia?"In examining these specific questions—and larger ones about how the world is interconnected—Chanda does not emphasize his own experiences. But when appropriate, he uses small, personal details to cut big social, economic, cultural and sometimes...
  • Q&A: Calif. Pizza Kitchen Founders

    Law school can be great preparation for all kinds of careers. But former federal prosecutors Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax have deployed their expertise in an unusual niche: wood-fired pizzas. In 1985 the pair launched California Pizza Kitchen, which has grown into a $554 million-in-revenue chain with 213 restaurants. In an interview conducted as part of the NEWSWEEK-Kaplan M.B.A. program, NEWSWEEK Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Richard M. Smith spoke with the co-CEOs about the lessons they've learned during 22 years in the kitchen and boardroom. Excerpts: ...
  • Mail Call: America After Bush

    Readers applauded Fareed Zakaria's June 11 analysis on America after the Bush presidency. Many called it "required reading for all citizens and aspiring politicians," as one put it. Another said "Zakaria has an uncanny ability to see the mistakes of our current administration and project rational solutions." Some weighed in on how to restore America's place in the world. "We may be the biggest, baddest and best-armed kid on the block, but we must learn to play well with the other kids on the playground," one wrote. "Fearmongering and bullying just don't work." Another said, "What happens after Bush is not so much about mending ties with erstwhile allies; it is about realizing that we have long lost the right to tell the world what to do." Others thought the criticism of Bush unfair: "The only certainty of the last six years is that the heinous leader of Iraq has been expunged and that Osama bin Laden is cowering in a cave."Fareed Zakaria's essay "beyond Bush" (June 11) was the most...
  • Ecopolitics: It's a Capitol Idea

    Usually when you hear the word "green" in Congress, you think of money. But environmentalism is sprouting on Capitol Hill. In March, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called for a plan to make the House of Representatives a model of sustainability. This week, she will unveil the blueprint, which aims to cut the House's energy consumption in half in 10 years and reach carbon neutrality in just 18 months. NEWSWEEK's Anne Underwood got a sneak peek at the plans. ...
  • Press J for 'Jammy'

    Vidi, vici, vino. forget wine in a box. The grape new thing is a sommelier in a box, figuratively speaking. Roughly half a dozen companies are testing and marketing interactive touch-screen wine kiosks for placement in grocery and liquor stores, as well as wine shops. The kiosks vary but do the same thing: allow confused shoppers to search for wines by name, grape, region, price or menu compatibility. And they allow wine sellers to answer customer questions without having to hire a full-time wine pro.In stores with kiosks, says Jim Grinsfelder of WineConnect in Minneapolis, "we've seen an increase in wine sales of as much as 12 to 20 percent." That presumably helps the proprietor pay the $400 monthly fee for the kiosk. A competitor, the Wine Expert, in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., charges $2,000 a year to install and maintain its wine database on computer terminals that store owners buy for between $4,000 and $5,000. The firm says it expects to be in seven countries and close to...
  • One Word: Plastics

    The plastic industry is commemorating its 100th anniversary—just in time to showcase how far synthetic furniture has come since it ruled the lawn. Now there's a place for it even in the most stylish living room. Vitra's glossy, fire-engine-red Panton Chair is molded in one piece for comfort ($230; vitra.com). For a bit of luck, the Clover Chair by Driade features a wide-cupped seat and curved clover-shaped backrest ($665; driade.com). The air-molded Air Table by Twenty-twentyone is as light as its name implies, is suitable for indoor or outdoor use, and comes in pale yellow or white ($299; twentytwentyone.com). The Limited Edition Veuve Clicquot Loveseat by Karim Rashid is composed of two pink, petal-shaped seats facing one another with an ice bucket nestled in between—just waiting for that bottle of bubbly ($8,000; ariashop.co.uk). "The beauty of plastic furniture is that there are seemingly no limits to the designs that can be produced," says Kamy Kaur, Aria's marketing director....
  • Trends: 'Mannies' for Hire

    "I have changed more diapers than any human should ever have to think about, and starting this June, I could be changing diapers for YOU!" reads an ad for a male-nanny, or "manny," on craigslist from Mike in Denver. In New York, along with child care, Tristan offers "shopping, errands, driving, cleaning, laundry and cooking" (he's "not a gourmet"). As frazzled parents hire more help—and with increasing numbers of single moms and older dads—mannies are becoming a logical choice. John and Pamela Lent, from Pelham, N.Y., hired Mark Brizzi as a manny for their two boys. Brizzi, who stayed on the job for eight years, felt no stigma: "It was the absolute greatest conversation starter," he says. "I never had anyone look down on me and, frankly, women loved it."While the number of male nannies is still very small, there are growing signs of acceptance. At Cambridge, Mass.-based Cultural Care Au Pair, men represented 8 percent of roughly 7,000 total applicants in 2006, up from 4 percent in...
  • Teen Drivers: Don't Be Like Paris

    Now that school's out, teenagers can study another subject: driving. But instead of ruining your child's summer with tedious classes, look into more-creative options for teaching the importance of road safety.Up the cool factor by registering your new driver for a course given by real-life racecar drivers. Driver's Edge travels the country to give daylong, hands-on training sessions. Teens discover firsthand what it feels like when antilock brakes kick in and then practice maneuvering out of a skid going 20mph. A bonus: the sessions are free, thanks to donations, grants and corporate sponsors like Bridgestone (driversedge.com).Teens with busy schedules may need a flexible curriculum. For $189, Driver Ed in a Box (driveredinabox.com) sends videos, CD-ROMs and workbooks for home-study driver's education. Parents administer the tests, so they know whether their teens are actually learning.If your teen has authority issues, consider a driving school taught by police officers, like...
  • A Life In Books: Patricia O'Toole

    Pulitzer Prize-nominated biographer Patricia O'Toole has chronicled the lives of powerful figures such as Henry Adams ("The Five of Hearts") and Teddy Roosevelt ("When Trumpets Call"), but she has a soft spot for an artistic fellow named Harold. An Important Book I haven't read: "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad. Conrad gets my prize for Least Seductive Great Writer. I did see the movie. Does that count? A book I hope parents will read to their children: "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson. With his crayon and his imagination, Harold is able to remake the world—a wonderful possibility for 2-year-olds (and their parents) to entertain.
  • Essay: The Myth of Boyhood

    Picture a world where your father walks with you down a starlit road, pausing to point out Orion. He recites Robert Frost, knows how a battery works—and all the rules about girls. "The Dangerous Book for Boys," by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden, is peaking on Amazon's best-seller list (No. 5 last week) by recalling just that world. The compendium of trivia, history and advice is geared toward preteen boys, but it's found a surprising audience in men in their 30s and 40s, too. The book's marbled endpapers, archival illustrations and dry, humorous tone ("excitable bouts of windbreaking will not endear you to a girl") offers a portal back to a time of "Sunday afternoons and long summer days."But did this world ever exist? The book's success suggests we'd like to think so. First published in Britain last year, it was conceived as a homage to the popular "Boy's Own" periodicals from the early 1900s. It's inspired a host of copycats, including "211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do," by Thomas...
  • Fred Thompson: The Reel Problem

    Fred Thompson may be able to finesse GOP voters when it comes to his old positions on abortion and campaign-finance reform. But as he prepares to launch a presidential bid, is Thompson ready to answer for his embarrassing film roles? "There were a few that I'd say were not my finest hour," Thompson recently admitted to "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno. Apparently, he's not the only one who's thought so.According to records found in Thompson's Senate archive on file at the University of Tennessee, his staffers once debated whether to mention Thompson's box-office bombs in his official Senate biography. According to an undated series of revisions, one film always made the cut: "The Hunt for Red October," in which Thompson played a tough Navy admiral. Another, "Days of Thunder," skirted by because of Thompson's well-known costar. An unnamed aide suggested adding "starring Tom Cruise." But several other films weren't deemed worthy, including "Curly Sue," "Baby's Day Out" and "Aces: Iron...
  • Environment: The Bottled-Water Battle

    Nothing irks Salt Lake City Mayor Ross (Rocky) Anderson more than seeing people tote water in plastic bottles. In fact, he argues, his city has some of the best tap water in the country. Several months ago, Anderson instructed department heads to stop buying bottled water for the city's 2,200 workers and provide coolers and fountains instead. "For a long time, I've viewed [bottled water] as a huge marketing scam," he says.Considering that Americans chug more than 30 billion single-serving bottles of water a year, Anderson's campaign is at most a drop in the you-know-what. But there are signs of a push to bring back the tap, led by mayors who want to cut down on global warming. Anderson is urging the U.S. Conference of Mayors to promote tap water as a way to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. In San Francisco, residents who sign an online pledge not to buy plastic water bottles get a free stainless-steel water container. Some cities, aware that companies filter and sell municipal tap...
  • Finance: Blackstone's Billion-Dollar Baby

    Fortune magazine hailed Steve Schwarzman as "The King of Wall Street"—but lately there's been more attention on his wallet than his crown. Schwarzman cofounded the Blackstone Group, the private-equity giant whose $4.1 billion initial offering last week constituted the biggest IPO in five years. The deal valued Schwarzman's stake at nearly $9 billion.That payday has attracted congressional attention. Private-equity firms have long enjoyed cushy tax treatment; in Britain, critics grouse that private-equity bosses pay lower tax rates than their cleaning women. In June, two U.S. senators introduced a bill to close this loophole; Congress plans hearings later this summer.The proposed legislation, however, has done little to rein in investor enthusiasm. Blackstone shares rose 13 percent on its first day of trading, and rivals like Kravis Kohlberg Roberts are now reportedly mulling offerings, too. (A KKR spokesman declined to comment.) Of course, going public carries a price, as the...
  • College Students: Failing the Health Test

    College students now have more to stress about than finals: they are as much at risk for serious diseases, like diabetes, as their parents or grandparents.A new study of 800 undergrads at the University of New Hampshire found many students had risk factors ranging from high cholesterol to low bone density. Sixty percent of male students had high blood pressure, and two thirds of females were not meeting their needs for calcium, iron or folate. More than one third were overweight or obese, the same as in the general population. "Many of the students were astounded that they could be at risk for what they would view as elderly-related diseases," says Joanne Burke, a researcher who led the study.Previous research has confirmed these health concerns on campus. A 2005 study of undergrads at Washington University in St. Louis found that 70 percent had significant weight gain between freshman and sophomore years. "It's scary to see these things, because people are dying from the effects of...
  • Iran: Broken War Drums?

    What was Joe Lieberman, the maverick Democrat from Connecticut, thinking when he recently said the United States should be prepared to take "aggressive military action against the Iranians"? In a June TV appearance, Lieberman went on to suggest U.S. forces launch a "strike ... over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers."For months, U.S. officials have said that Iranian government elements—particularly a Revolutionary Guard unit known as Department 9000—have been supplying Shia, and perhaps even Sunni, insurgents in Iraq with ordnance to kill U.S. troops. However, three officials familiar with current intelligence reporting on Iran (who asked for anonymity due to the sensitive subject matter) said that some key details were sketchy at best. "There are a couple of locations in Iran that we think [lethal Iranian-made roadside bombs] are coming from ... but this remains...
  • A Certain Sense of Calm

    Earlier this month at the Venice Biennale, Karl Lagerfeld introduced an unusual accessory for Chanel: pale-colored, curvy and soft-looking, it was hard to tell from a picture whether it was some kind of jaunty tote bag or perhaps a fetching new hat. In fact, it was a model for a building, the latest extraordinary design from Zaha Hadid: a mobile, collapsible art pavilion that Chanel plans to tour through major world cities next year. Once again, Hadid created a structure unlike anything anyone's ever seen, the kind of fearless, far-out design that's put her among the top rank of starchitects. But while Hadid and her high-profile peers like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel grab the design headlines, a number of gifted architects around the world have been quietly taking a radically different tack. Ignoring 21st-century fashion, they've been working under the radar, focusing on architecture's most timeless and essential elements—light, scale, proportion—to create serene spaces that can be...
  • Secret Habits of the Super Rich

    There are bespoke suits. And then there are bespoke books. For the mogul who truly has everything, there's something new: a custom-made autobiography. For any where from a few grand to $100,000, Myspecialbook.com, a publishing company started a few years back by wealthy Argentines, will write, design and publish a book all about anyone who can afford it. The glossy pages will be filled with beautiful photos, personal letters and other mementos, artfully laid out to illustrate a life of wealth and privilege. The text will feature quotes and anecdotes from the subject's rich and powerful friends. Milton Pedraza, director of the New York-based research firm the Luxury Institute, recalls a well-known private-equity billionaire who was recently brought to tears after receiving such a birthday gift from his wife. "It's the story of your life, told by the people who love you," he says. "Can you imagine anything more personal? That's real luxury."The luxury industry sure isn't what it used...
  • Home Shopping Network

    In the old days, ladies traveled to Paris to attend the couture shows in the ornate salons of the designers' headquarters. Afterward, they met with their personal vendeuses—or saleswomen—to try on the creations they desired. Then they hit the slopes or the beach until their garments were ready. Couture was a fun and civilized affair for clients, and a very good business for fashion houses.During the past two decades, however, as the number of people enjoying such lavish lives of leisure has declined, couture has struggled to survive. In the 1950s, according to the Federation Française de la Couture, there were 20,000 clients; in the 1980s, 2,000, and in the past 10 years, the number has dwindled to a few hundred worldwide-mostly wealthy socialites and businesswomen-who still regularly visit top designers for made-to-measure clothes. Several houses—including Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and Versace—have shut their ateliers. The twice-annual couture weeks in Paris have shrunk to...
  • Have You Seen This Man?

    Probably, and looking exactly like this. Warner Sallman's 1940 oil painting "The Head of Christ" is believed to be the most reproduced religious work of art. It's been copied a billion times, if you include lamps, clocks and calendars. ...
  • Clift: Joe Biden's Horse Sense

    It was classic Biden. He was late for lunch and would have to leave early, but in the 20 minutes he stayed and took questions, he got more words out than most politicians do in twice the time. He didn’t have anything scripted to say, his press aide told us, but then again he rarely does. Joe Biden makes it up as he goes along, drawing on his 34 years in the U.S. Senate.He is a force of nature—smart, even brilliant; passionate about what he believes, and a challenge for any mere staff person to rein in. At least four aides circled around trying valiantly to corral him. He had five minutes to get back to the Senate. He is willing to miss votes if his absence won’t change the outcome, he explains, unless there are political implications. The Senate was voting Thursday afternoon on a card check, which labor unions oppose, and Biden, who’s running for president, wanted to be there even though his vote was not needed to defeat the measure.Biden is carving out a role for himself as a truth...
  • Power Shortage in the Middle East

    Who will lead the Middle East out of its current crisis? Hard to imagine any of the parties now at the table have the strength, as they grapple with the consequences of what many Israelis are already calling “the second Six Day War,” Hamas’s coup seizing power in Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now in Washington to discuss this crisis with President George Bush.  Which is to say, a lame-duck American president with the lowest approval ratings in two generations is discussing with an Israeli leader whose government is on life support how to help a Palestinian leader who’s just had his administration ejected from half its territory. Can this beleaguered trio really hope to achieve anything substantive—except, at best, buy time? Time for new governments, new leaders, to take over in all three countries, perhaps.The State Department has pronounced itself optimistic. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, after all, declared progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian settlement to...
  • Day Three: Telling Jokes in Iran

    The elites mock the president as a religious extremist with a lousy approval rating. Iran may be more like America than you think.
  • The Trouble With Political Videos

    It was safe to assume that by now there would be numerous reinterpretations of the abrupt, clipped-off final scene of “The Sopranos.” It begs to be manipulated, mashed-up and parodied by the video-savvy merrymakers of the YouTube generation. But who could have predicted that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton would be among those with her own Web riff?Clinton’s campaign took to the Internet yesterday with a short spoof of the “Sopranos” scene, tailored to the former First Family. Hillary sits in a booth at a diner, mulling over the offerings in the booth’s jukebox. Bill breezes in and joins her, then is disappointed to learn that when she announces that she has “ordered for the table,” she’s referring to a basket of carrot sticks, not onion rings. All the while, there are cuts to the other customers in the diner, suggesting that they’re all waiting breathlessly for Hillary to find the right song. Naturally, this all leads up to that polarizing black screen, and viewers are told to...
  • What Bloomberg’s GOP Departure Means

    Party affiliation has always been a fleeting thing for Michael Bloomberg. When the billionaire and lifelong Democrat ran as a Republican for mayor of New York City in 2001, his conversion had nothing to do with epiphany and everything to do with expediency (as the GOP candidate, he’d face an easier primary field and could spare himself the labyrinthine nominating process he'd face on the Democratic side). As mayor, he has been the quintessential air-quotes Republican—supporting gay marriage, promoting radical measures to make the city greener and staying as far away from President Bush as he possibly could. Term-limited in New York, the mayor's aides have actively talked up the possibility of his running as a third-party presidential candidate in recent months. Today's news that Bloomberg was changing his party status from "Republican" to "unaffiliated" is hardly Earth-shattering. It was only a matter of time before he and the Republican Party stopped pretending like their marriage...
  • Fineman: Americans Warm Up to Universal Health Care

    Michael Moore is a uniquely American hybrid: the profit-making, anti-establishment agitator. In that line of work, your instincts have to be sharp. His are. In films that mix brave journalism and brazen agitprop, he has been ahead of the curve on the demise of heavy industry; the deadly blend of teenage rage and the gun culture, and the shaky reasoning behind, and execution of, the Iraq War. In person, he is a friendly bear of a guy—until the tape is rolling. Then the populist piranha pops out. I watched him working the lobby of one of his Washington premieres. He had a film crew in tow. Beltway types (including me) were glad to say hello. Few (including me) lingered on camera.Now Moore is back with "Sicko," his docu-tribe about our health-care "system." Once again, Moore's timing is perfect. Aside from Iraq, there is no bigger issue on the minds of voters. Two presidential candidates, John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama, have come forth with ambitious plans that call for vastly...
  • Bandar and the $2 Billion Question

    Hundreds of pages of confidential U.S. bank records may be the missing link in illuminating new allegations that a major British arms contractor funneled up to $2 billion in questionable payments to Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. The BBC and Guardian newspaper reported last week that BAE Systems made "secret" payments to a Washington, D.C., bank account controlled by Bandar, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States who is now the kingdom's national-security adviser. The payments are alleged to be part of an $80 billion military-aircraft deal between London and Riyadh. Last week British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged that his government shut down an investigation into the payments, in part because it could have led to the "complete wreckage" of Britain's "vital strategic relationship" with Saudi Arabia. Before the U.K. closed the inquiry, British investigators contacted the U.S. Justice Department seeking access to records related to the Saudi bank accounts. Many...
  • Iran, Arms and Help for Hizbullah

    A little-noticed train accident in Turkey last month offered new clues about alleged Iranian efforts to stir up trouble in the Mideast. The train was carrying two shipping containers of explosives and small to medium-size weapons like rocket-launcher pads, according to U.S. officials and a Turkish news report. Three U.S. officials familiar with current intel, who asked for anonymity due to the sensitive topic, told NEWSWEEK they believe the train was ferrying the equipment from Iran to Syria; from there, they believe, it would have been sent to the Lebanese movement Hizbullah, a longtime client of Tehran. Authorities believe the train derailed after Kurdish separatists blew up the tracks.One of the U.S. officials said that during last summer's war between Hizbullah and Israel, Iran air-freighted munitions to Lebanon via Damascus. Since then, two of the officials indicated, intel agencies believe Tehran has sent several trainloads of weapons to its Lebanese allies; the train that...
  • The Editor's Desk

    The topic could not be more emotionally fraught. Karen Springen, a correspondent of ours based in Chicago, was interviewing Debi Clancy, 49, for this week's cover story. The subject: the challenges Clancy faces in taking care of her 82-year-old mother, who suffers from Alzheimer's. "I'm very upset with myself most of the time," Clancy said. "I'm mad because I can't fix it. Even as a child, I had to fix everything and make it better. This is the first time in my life I can't make it better." Clancy started to cry. Then Karen started to cry, too.Tears seem an entirely understandable response to the complexities and role reversals that Clancy and millions of other Americans are confronting as the number of Alzheimer's cases inexorably rises. Many readers are, I think, generally inured to what we sometimes call "coming crisis" stories. There is always something bad lurking just ahead, whether it is the cost of entitlements or a growing health problem. Such issues are important, and we...
  • Mail Call: Fresh Hope for Those Who Battle Pain

    Chronic-pain sufferers and health professionals were heartened by our cover story on the search for new strategies to fight pain, especially for those returning from the battlefield. One chronic sufferer referred to pain as the "quiet killer of body and soul" and wrote: "The advancements being made to help the soldiers wounded in the line of duty are well deserved, and I can only hope they will reach the talented physicians working tirelessly to help those of us who suffer from crippling disease." A disabled RN suffering from fibromyalgia and spinal disease also hoped for carryover. "Maybe the war on pain fought by these soldiers will help people like me." Others suggested relief from chronic pain ranging from various opioids to medical marijuana. But with new research comes the hope for alleviating dependency. One said, "The ultimate promise of new research on the brain is pain relief without narcotic drug dependence."As one of millions in this country suffering from chronic pain,...
  • Alter: Best Ideas for Fixing America? Listen to Gore, Bradley

    As the primary campaign gets rolling, are we going to hear big, bold solutions to our big, hairy problems? The past is not encouraging. Seven and a half years ago—in another America—Vice President Al Gore and former senator Bill Bradley battled for the 2000 Democratic nomination. It got nasty, with Gore playing the heavy. As recounted in Bob Shrum's delicious memoir, "No Excuses" (which is actually full of excuses for Shrum's losing streak as a consultant), the vice president twisted Bradley's ambitious health-care plan until it looked as if Bradley had neglected seniors. At first, Bradley was too aloof and gun-shy for an effective response. Later, he overreached by comparing Gore to Richard Nixon.Similar hostilities will eventually break out among the contenders in 2008, with fresh ideas and plans little more than cannon fodder. But there's also plenty of countervailing pressure now to confront problems with more than platitudes. Candidates are torn between the need to show some...
  • Aftermath: Eric Fair's Abu Ghraib Confession

    What happens when a whistle-blower blows the whistle on himself? Eric Fair confessed in a February Washington Post opinion piece to abusing a prisoner while serving as a civilian interrogator in Iraq in 2004. Fair told NEWSWEEK he had hoped the mea culpa would encourage other interrogators to talk openly about torture. Instead, it ruined friendships and prompted death threats. "I didn't anticipate how palpable the hatred would be," the 35-year-old former GI said from his home in Bethlehem, Pa. Readers accused him of undermining troop morale, even of engaging in treason. Some suggested he appease his own guilty conscience by committing suicide (Fair said in the op-ed that images of the prisoner's standing naked all night in his cell disturbed his sleep). A few offered to pull the trigger.Still, for every hostile letter writer, two expressed support—including interrogators who said they wished they could tell their own stories. "For people who want to continue working for the Pentagon...
  • Is McCain Aide a Secret Obama Fan?

    Barack Obama has an admirer in the inner circle of GOP rival Sen. John McCain. Mark McKinnon, a senior media adviser to McCain, wrote in a January internal memo that he'd quit the campaign if Obama were the Dem nominee, according to two McCain advisers, anonymous when discussing the issue.McKinnon, a lifelong Democrat but also a Bush adviser, shares McCain's support for keeping troops in Iraq. McKinnon wrote that while he opposed Obama's policies, especially on Iraq, he felt the Illinois senator, as an African-American, could play a unique role and didn't want to work against him. Obama's campaign said he'd never met McKinnon; McCain's camp had no comment.
  • Can Hillary Overcome Her Likability Gap?

    Some grudges just don't die. In the 1990s, David Bossie worked tirelessly as an investigator for Rep. Dan Burton's government-reform committee. Burton was a top-echelon antagonist to Bill and Hillary Clinton, leading wide-ranging investigations of Whitewater and campaign finance. All the digging didn't amount to much: six years after the Clintons left the White House, Burton is a little-heard-from member of the minority party and Hillary Clinton is the front runner to be the Democrats' nominee for president in 2008.But Bossie is still working away. In recent months, he has returned to investigating the Clintons, this time for a tough documentary scheduled for release in theaters this fall. One of the documentary's key potential audiences: a new generation of voters who don't remember the old Clinton wars. He points out that someone who is 18 today was "4 years old when the travel-office scandal broke." These young voters, he predicts, will be hungry for Hillary dirt, new and old. ...
  • A Life in Books: Jennifer Egan

    Jennifer Egan, author of National Book Award finalist "Look at Me" and, more recently, "The Keep," finds that raising two sons enhances her reading: "it's delicious to have an excuse to revisit the books" she read as a child. An Important Book you haven't read: "The Man Without Qualities" by Robert Musil. It's still in plastic, in a beautiful box set. I feel so bad about it; what can I say? I'll get there eventually. A book you want your kids to read: "Little House on the Prairie." I really want them to love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, because they were important to me, but I'm worried they won't because they're boys.
  • McCain, Giuliani: On the GOP's Wrong Side?

    John McCain likes being on the wrong side of his party, almost too much. At a town-hall meeting last week in New Hampshire—the state where he emerged as an unvarnished truth-teller in 2000—the Arizona senator went bare-knuckled with voters on an issue that threatens to cripple his campaign: immigration reform. McCain is proud to be a chief cosponsor of a reform bill, now stalled, that includes a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants. But most of the people he needs to back him in a GOP primary oppose it. "Do I think it's perfect?" McCain asked the crowd in New Hampshire. "No." But to do nothing, he quickly added, "is the worst of all worlds." That explanation wasn't enough for one voter, who stood and told McCain she simply couldn't support his bill. "I understand," the senator replied, a bit testily. "And when you have a better proposal, I would love to hear it."It seems unlikely that McCain will win that woman's vote. "Doing the hard thing...