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  • The Editor's Desk

    When Barack Obama burst onto the national political stage in 2004, there were many things about him that Americans found fresh and intriguing. He was young and optimistic; he seemed able to rise above the nasty partisanship that's corroded our politics in recent years. He was a candidate of conviction who also was able to empathize with his ideological foes. But there was something else about Obama that was more intangible: the ease with which he talked about race, a subject that is as central to the American narrative as it is fraught. It's a quality surely born of his restless search to understand his own identity—as the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas whose childhood was divided between Hawaii and Indonesia.But can Obama sustain that easygoing confidence over many months under the glare of a national campaign? And can he appeal broadly to both blacks and whites, as he'll need to do in order to win? That's what Richard Wolffe and Daren Briscoe set...
  • Beverly Sills: An Appreciation

    Beverly Sills made her 1975 metropolitan Opera debut in Rossini's "The Siege of Corinth"—almost a decade later than she should have. The audience went wild. They knew that the soprano, born Belle (Bubbles) Silverman in Brooklyn, had pulled off a rare feat: an American singer had made it to the top, had an international career and had been on the covers of NEWSWEEK and Time years before scaling the operatic Everest, the Met. The company's general director, Viennese-born Rudolf Bing, had kept her out, but when he retired, she arrived. The morning after that "Corinth" premiere, a photograph of Sills taking a curtain call took up the entire front page of the New York Daily News.Sills died of cancer last week, at 78. Through formidable vocal and dramatic gifts, irrepressible humor and a will of titanium, she changed the face of opera in America. A frequent, hilarious guest on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show," she wanted people to know "that opera singers don't have horns."At 4, she was...
  • The Checklist: Our Picks for the Week Ahead

    RENT "After the Wedding," Susanne Bier's Oscar-nominated, two-hankie Danish melodrama with Mads Mikkelsen as a man invited to a wedding that changes his life. Full of secrets, lies, surprises and deep emotions.HEAR "Reflections," by violinist Gregory Harrington. This debut CD features a sultry "Summertime" and a haunting performance of the theme from "Schindler's List" that, said one reviewer, rivals Itzhak Perlman's recording.READ "Out Stealing Horses," by Per Petterson. From the first terse sentences of this mesmerizing Norwegian novel about youth, memory and, yes, horse stealing, you know you're in the hands of a master storyteller.SURF notcouture.com. Submit posts to this design-centric fashion Web site where editors pick the most stylish products for public viewing and voting and, of course, buying.BUY Martha Stewart Floor Designs, with FLOR (from $12.99 per 20-square-inch tile; at flor.com, starting July 15). Stewart adds her touch to this popular line of sleek, modular...
  • Talk Transcript: Wolffe on Obama and Race

    His is a peculiarly American paradox: Barack Obama is both transracial and largely defined by race. He stands with one foot in a longed-for postracial future and the other in America's thoroughly racialized past. That reality, along with his stirring message of hope, gives his candidacy much of its power. It also presents Obama with a challenge: to win the presidency, he must convince white Americans he speaks for them, while convincing Americans of color he is uniquely their own.That Obama cannot take the "minority vote" for granted is a reflection of progress in America's struggle to get beyond race. It also is a reflection of the unprecedented diversity among Democratic presidential candidates. With a black man, a Latino—and a white woman, of course—in the race, clan solidarity is less of an issue for minority voters than at points in the past. "Usually, when you have one [person of color] in a contest, there is a rush to support them ... but some of that has been lost," observes...
  • Over the Rainbow: Colored Diamonds

    White diamonds are still the stones of choice for engagement rings. But colored diamonds are catching up. Last month the Gemological Institute of America, one of the largest independent diamond-grading labs, reported a twofold increase in demand for the gems since 1999. And online merchant bluenile.com just launched its first collection of colored stones. The growing interest stems from the wave of celebrities (most recently, Brittany Murphy and Rebecca Romijn) getting engaged with them.Most colored diamonds, because of their rarity, cost more than white ones. But some, including "cognac" (brown) and mixed colors like orangey-yellow, are still attractive but cost less.Make sure to do your research before shopping: the rules for buying colored diamonds are far different from those for buying white ones. "Color is king; everything else is secondary," says Fred Cuellar, author of "How to Buy a Diamond." Don't worry if you see minor inclusions, or imperfections, when you hold your stone...
  • Uncorked: Red Zinfandel

    When you hear zinfandel, don't think pink. Instead, get ready for bold California reds with lots of ripe fruit and zesty spice. With their jammy fruit flavors and easygoing structures, these wines are great for barbecues and summer sipping. Here are some names to look for:
  • Real Estate: Call Your Agent

    House shopping? It's good to have help, especially in a buyer's market like this. If you're just driving yourself from one open house to another, you're missing homes buried in the multiple-listing services that only agents have access to. And an agent who specializes in helping buyers may be able to negotiate a better deal than you could.But not all buyer agents are created equal. Most home shoppers use agents who work for companies that also list properties, and they're likely to steer you to company listings first, says Stephen Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America. "It's an irreconcilable conflict of interest," he says.To get around that, you can find a buyers-only agent at the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents (naeba.org). If there isn't one in your neighborhood, you can use a selling agent as a buyer agent, but do some screening. Ask about their track record of saving clients money, their training in negotiations and property evaluation, and their loyalty...
  • Kids' Eyes: Foresight Is 20/20

    Adults choose eyeglasses based mostly on fit and style. But kids' glasses have to withstand the abuses of tree climbing, the playground and boisterous games of tag. For kids younger than 10, David Coats, an ophthalmologist at Houston's Texas Children's Hospital, recommends frames made of plastic, because they're "more likely to withstand a blunt force." Choose clear, impact-resistant lenses made of Trivex ($70 to $150) or polycarbonate ($50 to $100), which also have the bonus of providing 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. Stuart Danker, a pediatric ophthalmologist from Baltimore, also recommends photochromic lenses that darken in the sun and clear up in the shade ($65 to $90; transitions.com).Pay attention to fit. Anything too big or too heavy can slide down and leave the child looking through the wrong part of the lens. Kids' heads are shaped differently from adults', and a good optician will make sure the glasses fit at three crucial points: the widest part of the face (it...
  • Mail Call: A Growing Radical Threat in the Mideast

    Readers concerned about renewed violence in Gaza wondered why the Bush administration was so blindsided by Hamas's victory in last year's election. One mused, "How misguided we have been to believe that democracy would spread throughout the Middle East." Another added, "Palestine stands at a crossroads." One explained the administration's support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah over the more-Islamist party this way: "Hamas's racist stance toward Israel set the stage for America's refusal to support it. But the final act was precipitated by its isolation after it won elections and subsequent U.S. attempts to overthrow it." And one reader pessimistically pointed to the larger geopolitical picture. "The new wave of violence—arising out of old hatreds nurtured by a growing radical threat to America's hopes for the Mideast—is a definite and well-defined 'time bomb' ready to explode." ...
  • Lady Bird Johnson Set the Model for First Ladies

    Lady Bird Johnson loved history. And it helped her survive what she called "the harness of hairdo and gloves." Though the duties of First Lady were suddenly sprung upon her, Johnson was probably as best prepared as anyone could be. She had read about First Ladies for years and, as a congressional wife, she took constituents to a Smithsonian exhibit on presidential wives. As a young political spouse she came to personally know Edith Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt, exemplars of personal influence and policy power, respectively, in the presidency. Learning from their lessons, she forged a new First Lady role that remains the basic model: loyal spouse, accessible chatelaine, self-determined political figure and expert advocate for policy that "makes your heart sing." In her case, that was famously her "beautification" efforts, a ladylike word for her umbrella of serious environmental projects.My first interview with Johnson, in 1987, ran nearly two hours over the time limit she initially...
  • Lisa Nowak’s Strange Spacewalk

    Lisa Nowak is still in orbit. The space shuttle astronaut was transformed from local hero to intergalactic spectacle last February, following a madcap, diaper-clad, 900-mile drive she made to confront—and, police say, assault—a romantic rival with pepper spray. Now, Nowak is back in the news, after the Florida State Attorney’s Office released a transcript of her interview with authorities the day she was apprehended. According to the 72-page document (Part 1, Part 2), she tells police that she only pursued Navy Captain Colleen Shipman to ask if she was aware of Nowak’s relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. Both women were involved with Oefelein over the last year: Nowak as a shuttle mate/maybe girlfriend, Shipman as a friend/maybe lover. The transcript doesn’t resolve the nature of the relationships in this mysterious triangle. It does, however, offer a few new elements of intrigue and titillation to the story line, interspersed with enough fast and fractured dialogue to...
  • Obama’s Hawaii Alma Mater: A Green Leader

    The 166-year-old Punahou School in Honolulu is justly proud that Sen. Barack Obama is a graduate—along with golfer Michelle Wie and AOL cofounder Steve Case. But the institution, one of the nation’s largest independent schools, is just as pleased to be ranked one of the top 10 green schools in America.Each year The Green Guide, a bimonthly newsletter that the National Geographic Society purchased earlier this year, surveys schools to pick those friendliest to the environment. Using 10 categories including green building and construction, recycling programs, food choices and environmental curriculum, the Guide awards up to 10 points per category, for a maximum of 100 points. Punahou garnered 77.7 points, and much of the credit is likely due to the innovations on display at the Case Middle School, a nine-building complex that opened in 2004.According to Steve Piper, director of physical plant at Punahou, the administration didn’t intentionally set out to build what turned out to...
  • Two Mayors, Two Sexcapades

    It’s a tale of two cities, two rising political stars, and two sex scandals. In other words, it’s a California classic. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa admitted last week that he’d been carrying on an affair with a Telemundo television reporter 19 years younger than he is. The news came six months after his neighbor to the north, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, was forced to admit that he had had an affair with the wife of his campaign manager—a confession accompanied by the mayor’s admission that he had a drinking problem, and would be seeking outpatient counseling.Is there a deeper meaning to be discovered—beyond the fact that it’s a lively time to work the political beat in the Golden State, and leaders here make good fodder for late-night comics? (The latest on L.A.: “It was so hot our mayor was having sex with a reporter from an Alaskan TV station—that’s how hot,” Jay Leno joked Wednesday night). A closer look at how the mayors have handled their respective messes does...
  • Twist of Irony

    The comments are matter of fact; the threat is stark. It was late November 1981, around Thanksgiving, Ronald Reagan recalls in his diaries, that he and his top aides first learned of a purported assassination plot instigated by Libya’s eccentric leader, Muammar Kaddafi. “A 'hit band' is supposed to have crossed into the U.S. by way of Canada with me, George B. [presumably Vice President George H.W. Bush], Al Haig [then secretary of State] and Cap W. [presumably Caspar Weinberger, then secretary of Defense] (any or all) as targets." The suspected mastermind ? "Our friend in Libya," the late president wrote in “The Reagan Diaries” (edited by Douglas Brinkley; published this month by HarperCollins).A few days later, Reagan wrote about a National Security Council meeting to discuss what to do about Kaddafi. "No conclusions reached except that we can't do anything until we find an answer to the 1,700 Americans still working in Libya." Reagan only makes a handful of references to the...
  • Obama's Hawaii Alma Mater: A Green Leader

    The 166-year-old Punahou School in Honolulu is justly proud that Sen. Barack Obama is a graduate—along with golfer Michelle Wie and AOL cofounder Steve Case. But the institution, one of the nation's largest independent schools, is just as pleased to be ranked one of the top 10 green schools in America.Each year The Green Guide, a bimonthly newsletter that the National Geographic Society purchased earlier this year, surveys schools to pick those friendliest to the environment. Using 10 categories including green building and construction, recycling programs, food choices and environmental curriculum, the Guide awards up to 10 points per category, for a maximum of 100 points. Punahou garnered 77.7 points, and much of the credit is likely due to the innovations on display at the Case Middle School, a nine-building complex that opened in 2004.According to Steve Piper, director of physical plant at Punahou, the administration didn't intentionally set out to build what turned out to...
  • Lisa Nowak's Strange Spacewalk

    Lisa Nowak's fate is still in orbit. The space shuttle astronaut was transformed from local hero to intergalactic spectacle last February, following a madcap, 900-mile drive she made to confront—and, police say, assault—a romantic rival with pepper spray. Now, Nowak is back in the news, after the Florida State Attorney’s Office released a transcript of her interview with authorities the day she was apprehended. According to the 72-page document (Part 1, Part 2), she tells police that she only pursued Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman to ask if she was aware of Nowak’s relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. Both women were involved with Oefelein over the last year: Nowak as a shuttle mate/maybe girlfriend, Shipman as a friend/maybe lover. The transcript doesn’t resolve the nature of the relationships in this mysterious triangle. It does, however, offer a few new elements of intrigue and titillation to the storyline, interspersed with enough fast and fractured dialogue to rival...
  • How Green Was Live Earth, Anyway?

    A 24-hour, global concert series featuring 125 artists performing at 11 separate venues across seven continents, Live Earth may well be the largest, most complex one-day entertainment event ever held. According to the early returns, the show—spearheaded by Al Gore and Kevin Wall, who two years ago helped organize the Live 8 concerts and has since founded his own climate-focused group, SOS (Save our Selves)—was a hit. An estimated 10 million people tuned in via streaming Internet. The concert’s partnership with MSN hosting online content is drawing early praise for its easy user interface and speed. And Live Earth’s organizers hope to have reached two billion people through a media campaign spanning the Web, radio and TV.Still, this wasn’t just a rock extravaganza; all of the activity was supposed to be in service of building global awareness of climate change and what to do about it. Just how Green was Live Earth, really? Large stadium concerts aren’t exactly eco-friendly, and while...
  • Santorum Criticizes GOP Senators' Iraq Revolt

    On Thursday, GOP Sen. Pete Domenici became the third prominent member of his party in the past two weeks to part ways with President Bush on the Iraq War. The 34-year Senate veteran from New Mexico joined Republican colleagues Richard Lugar of Indiana and George Voinovich of Ohio in calling for a “new strategy” that would move the troops out of combat operations.With growing unease on the right about prolonged U.S. engagement in Iraq, the White House is finding it more difficult to find defenders of its policies. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Sam Stein, former GOP senator Rick Santorum criticized his former colleagues who have broken with their commander in chief. After losing his seat last fall, Santorum became a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington think tank dedicated to applying “Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy.” He’s also writing a book on radical Islam and global terrorism. Excerpts: ...
  • Clift: The Real Tragedy of the Libby Case

    It was always obvious that President Bush would not let Scooter Libby go to jail. The real tragedy of the affair is that more people weren't tagged with his crime.
  • The Wages of a Hate Crime

    David Ritcheson’s wounds finally seemed to be healing. After the Mexican-American teen was beaten nearly to death and sexually assaulted in 2006 by two young men yelling “white power” slogans, he struggled to overcome immeasurable physical and emotional trauma. But there he was in April, testifying at a congressional hearing in favor of hate-crimes legislation, publicly recounting the horror he had endured. Dressed in a smart suit, the cherubic high-school senior from suburban Houston spoke in a clear, strong voice. “I appear before you as a survivor of one of the most despicable, shocking and heinous acts of hate violence this country has seen in decades,” Ritcheson said. Yet in the aftermath, “as each day passed, I became more and more aware of everything I had to live for. I am glad to tell you today that my best days still lay ahead of me.”Yet his wounds evidently continued to torment him. On Sunday, Ritcheson, 18, died after leaping from the upper deck of a cruise ship in the...
  • A Human Smuggler on Immigration Reform

    When the immigration bill died in the Senate last week, hopes of seeing any meaningful immigration reform this year were mostly dashed. Yet the U.S.-Mexico border remains as busy and chaotic as ever. Though Customs and Border Protection figures show a decrease in the number of illegal immigrants apprehended in the last year, that influx continues to overwhelm authorities. To get a closer perspective on the movement of people across the border, NEWSWEEK’s Monica Campbell spoke to a human smuggler, or coyote, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. The smuggler, 23, requested anonymity to protect himself and his business. Excerpts: ...
  • Stuart Taylor on Race and the Court

    Measured by the passion of the dissenters, today’s 5-4 vote to strike down two school districts’ use of race-based student assignments to promote integration could be the biggest Supreme Court decision of any kind in years. Justice Stephen Breyer’s 77-page dissent—which he summarized from the bench in a tone of mounting indignation, for a near-record 27 minutes—thundered that “to invalidate the plans under review is to threaten the promise” of “true racial equality” that Brown v. Board of Education established. Breyer added that the position of the four most-conservative justices “would break that promise.”Breyer’s apocalyptic language notwithstanding, the decision may not be the watershed that he and the other three liberal dissenters feared. The majority opinion of Chief Justice John G. Roberts—especially the portion that the man in the middle, Justice Anthony Kennedy, declined to join—exuded skepticism of all government programs that consider the race or ethnicity of individuals...
  • Backstage at the Fred Thompson Show

    Fred Thompson isn’t officially a candidate for president, but he might as well be. The pomp and circumstance accompanying his highly publicized visit to South Carolina on Wednesday—home of the “first-in-the-South” presidential primary—followed just the script you’d expect from a onetime Hollywood actor turned White House hopeful.Reporters looking for the Clarion Hotel where Thompson was set to speak at a $50-a- head luncheon didn’t have to look hard. His soon-to-be GOP rivals had blanketed nearly every vacant corner near the hotel with their own campaign signs—as though warning Thompson that he was walking into a fight. Across the street from the hotel’s entrance, there were 33 John McCain signs alone, ranging in size from small to gigantic. The reminders of his rivals weren’t limited to real estate. Every few minutes, a Ron Paul supporter drove by, with signs touting the Texas congressman’s campaign taped to each side of his car.A lone protester arrived early, staking out his spot...
  • Hagel's Home-State Headache

    For the past few months, Sen. Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, has flirted with the idea of running for president as an antiwar Republican. Now, however, that platform is threatening Hagel’s standing within his own state and party.In a race that has received scant national attention, Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s 38-year-old Republican attorney general, is challenging Hagel’s bid for re-election to the Senate--by attacking him from the right. Bruning charges that Hagel’s stance on Iraq, as well as his criticism of the president and members of his cabinet (see: Alberto Gonzales), put the incumbent out of touch with the majority of Nebraskans.“Nebraska is more conservative than the nation as a whole,” Bruning told NEWSWEEK. “Senator Hagel, however, has become more liberal. And for some reason he has an anger to George Bush that is not particularly productive.”How substantive a threat does Bruning pose? No reliable independent sounding has yet been taken. According to a poll recently...
  • Hirsh: A New Way Out on Iran?

    U.S. and European officials are still very angry at Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, for appearing to concede that Iran’s uranium-enrichment program is here to stay. “Every time he gets up there, he comes out with Iranian talking points,” snipes one Western diplomat. But NEWSWEEK has learned that the British recently drafted a proposal that shifts the West’s “red line” closer to  El Baradei’s position as a way of breaking the stalemate in the talks.The draft proposal, which is being circulated among the governments but has not yet been formally submitted to Iran, calls for a “freeze for freeze” rather than an outright suspension of enrichment. The “freeze” concept is similar to the “timeout” that ElBaradei first called for last January. In order to get talks started, both ideas effectively permit Iran to continue with the uranium enrichment it is doing already, but they demand that Tehran freeze further construction of centrifuges and...
  • Patti Davis: Ann Coulter's Driving Lesson

    I have an affliction that I’ve been trying to cure for years: I get angry at other drivers on the road who tailgate me, cut me off, or speed past at 90 miles an hour. I’ve never chased someone down or threatened anyone. I would never go so far as to hurt another person, no matter what they did. My anger takes the form of expletives hurled out the open window and, of course, that always-reliable middle finger. It’s not technically road rage, but it’s certainly incendiary behavior.This is not the person I want to be. I don’t like the fiery anger that leaps up inside me when I look in the rear-view mirror and see another car two inches from me. I’ve tried picturing Jesus in the passenger seat. Or my father. Or a small, impressionable child. I keep the driver’s side window up, so if my hand does jut out, middle finger extended, it will hit the glass and I’ll bruise myself. That will teach me, I’ve thought.I’ve made progress, but I still end up swearing inside the car and extending my...
  • Summer Travel: Create a Green Vacation

    Visitors to England's annual Glastonbury Music Festival (June 22 through 24; glastonburyfestivals.co.uk) used to have one choice for accommodations: camping out on the festival grounds. But in 2005 Jennifer Lederman, a former attorney from London, came up with a better idea. Wanting to build more upscale lodgings without marring Glastonbury's bucolic setting, she founded Camp Kerala, a "pop-up hotel" that uses handmade tents from India to shelter 75 luxuriously appointed rooms (about $12,000 per two-person tent for three nights, including organic meals and festival tickets). Each room comes with all-natural bath products and wood furnishings from sustainable forests. Guests also have access to water-saving village loos and a top-shelf bar. When the festival bands pack up, so does Camp Kerala; an 18-person crew dismantles each tent and piece of furniture and stores them until next year. "We put it up and take it down within a matter of two weeks," Lederman says. "When you leave the...
  • A Life In Books: Neil deGrasse Tyson

    No matter what American Museum of Natural History astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says, we still think Pluto's a planet. But we'll take his word on Earth's best books. A classic that, on rereading, disappointed: George Orwell's "1984." Why I would believe it would be interesting beyond the date, I don't know. In the 1970s it was scary. By the 1990s it was quaint. You almost can't blame it. A Certified Important Book you haven't read: "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. For not having read it, I feel I may be a little undereducated. I could be missing some insight into the human condition, because after all, what is life but the interplay between war and peace?
  • Transition: Kurt Waldheim, 88

    The polished, former two-term secretary-general of the United Nations was campaigning for the Austrian presidency in 1986 when it was revealed that he'd hidden his role as a Nazi officer during World War II. He won that election but became an international pariah; he made few state visits and was banned from entering the United States. Experts concluded Waldheim probably did not personally commit any atrocities, but through knowledge and inaction—he was implicated in the shipment of Greek and Balkan Jews to Nazi death camps, among other acts—had been complicit in the deaths of thousands.
  • Fresh Security Breaches at Los Alamos

    What's going on at Los Alamos?  The nation's premier nuclear-weapons laboratory appears plagued with continuing security problems.  Barely 10 days after revelations of a leak of highly classified material over the Internet, NEWSWEEK has learned of two other security breaches.In late May, a Los Alamos staffer took his lab laptop with him on vacation to Ireland.  A senior nuclear official familiar with the inner workings of Los Alamos—who would not be named talking about internal matters—says the laptop's hard drive contained "government documents of a sensitive nature."  The laptop was also fitted with an encryption card advanced enough that its export is government-controlled.  In Ireland, the laptop was stolen from the vacationer's hotel room.  It has not been recovered.  This source adds that Los Alamos has started a frantic effort to inventory all its laptops, calling in most of them and substituting nonportable desktop models. (The source’s account was confirmed by a midlevel...
  • Toys: Thomas Derailed

    For the past 61 years, Thomas the Tank Engine has been chugging along as a favorite book character, written by a minister for his son. But he was suddenly derailed this month when RC2, a company that licenses Thomas, recalled 1.5 million toys due to lead in paint from a manufacturer in China. In total, there were 22 products, from January 2005 to April 2007, that could potentially be dangerous. (High levels of lead exposure can damage the brain.) Parents scrambled to send back the runaway trains, as they were offered free postage, replacement models and an $11 wooden choo-choo.Still, many were unhappy and confused about the extent of the recall. Beverly Beck, from Highland Park, Ill., gathered and hid six boxes' worth of Thomas toys that belonged to her five kids over the years. She's worried that any wooden Thomas toys with red paint, even those not on the recall list, could be dangerous. "I'm trying to redirect my son to be interested in other toys," she says.For now, RC2 isn't...
  • 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...