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  • Will a Jury Convict Phil Spector?

    Will a jury convict Phil Spector of murder? The legendary rock and roll producer goes on trial Wednesday in Los Angeles, charged in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, 40, more than four years after he emerged from the back door of his hilltop California mansion holding a revolver and blurting to his startled chauffeur, “I think I killed somebody.” The televised trial, which was delayed by a cautious investigation—the coroner took eight months to declare Clarkson’s death a homicide—and Spector’s decision to change lawyers twice, promises to be equal parts L.A. noir and courthouse melodrama. Spector, 67, will be represented by mobster John Gotti’s former lawyer, Bruce Cutler, who is heading up a team that includes many of the forensic experts made famous during the O.J. Simpson trial. If convicted of murdering Clarkson, a struggling blond actress moonlighting as a nightclub hostess at the House of Blues, Spector—the architect of the “Wall of Sound” who produced hits for the...
  • Fineman: The Return of Pragmatism?

    As he prepared for the Democrats’ first presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama sought advice from a wide circle, including, I am told, Gen. Colin Powell, who now deeply regrets his role in making the case for war in Iraq.On the Republican side, Gov. Mitt Romney (another foreign policy neophyte) has reached out to a number of advisors, among them, I am told, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, an early foe of the war in Iraq and a close ally of Powell’s from the first Bush presidency.We are in a crucial—but little understood—phase, not only in the presidential campaign, but also in the shaping of foreign policy. ...
  • Russia: Pressure on Putin

    Billionaire Boris Berezovsky helped groom Russian President Vladimir Putin for power. Now, six years after Putin's "totalitarian tendencies" pushed him into self-imposed exile, Berezovsky is calling for the "violent overthrow" of the regime. "Authoritarian regimes only collapse by force," Berezovsky told NEWSWEEK. "Democratic pressure will not work." He said he was funding members of the "Russian elite" in Moscow—whom he refused to name—to bring about a "revolution."Putin is unlikely to suffer: his popularity is above 80 percent and he has formidable control over Russia's security services and media. But the Kremlin called the challenge "a criminal act" and vowed to renew extradition attempts. British police are expected to investigate whether Berezovsky's remarks violate U.K. laws, says a Brit official not authorized to speak on the record. The exile isn't worried. "Britain is a free country and you can say what you want," he says.
  • A Life In Books: Michael Ondaatje

    To create such a brief list, Booker Prize-winning novelist Michael Ondaatje had to limit himself to 20th-century works and assume Faulkner, Cather and García Márquez went without saying. His new novel, "Divisadero," is out this month. The book you care most about having children read: I would give young readers T. H. White's "The Sword in the Stone," "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas, or Rudyard Kipling's "Kim." A classic that, on rereading, was disappointing: None yet. In rereading "The Red and the Black" by Stendhal, I am still stunned at how adventurous it is, full of subtle character and experimentation.
  • Imus: Race, Power and the Media

    As he spoke, Don Imus had no inkling—none, he later told NEWSWEEK—that he had said anything that would cause him trouble. Wednesday, April 4, started and finished like any other day for the talk-show host. Enthroned in his high-backed chair in his New Jersey studio just outside New York City, Imus, cragged and cranky as ever, bullied and joked and cajoled his way through his volatile four-hour morning radio program, broadcast nationwide five days a week by CBS affiliates and simulcast on MSNBC. Always particular about his looks, Imus wore his hipster cowboy jacket with the collar flipped up, his studiously tousled hair grazing his shoulders.Imus's show that day was supposed to be the usual mix of the high-minded and the profane. Among the guests: Sen. Chris Dodd, an Imus favorite who had announced he was running for president on the show earlier this year. In a sports segment, talk turned to the NCAA women's basketball game between Rutgers University and Tennessee. "That's some...
  • Evolution: T. Rex and His Family

    The answer is: like chicken—with a hint of frog and notes of newt. It's not that many people have been asking what Tyrannosaurus rex tasted like. But in a feat that demolishes beliefs about how long biological molecules can survive, scientists have isolated tiny amounts of the protein collagen from the thigh bone of a T. rex that died 68 million years ago in what is now Montana. There was just enough for scientists at Beth Deaconess Medical Center to determine the protein's sequence of amino acids. The sequence it matches most closely, reported in the journal Science, is that of modern-day chickens, followed by frog and newt.The match is the first molecular support to the hypothesis (based on bone similarities) that birds and dinosaurs are evolutionary cousins. But unrelated species can evolve similar anatomies. The molecular match is stronger evidence that crows hopping around some roadkill can claim velociraptors as great-uncles.The discovery that proteins endure so long means...
  • Mail Call: Learning to Survive Without a Cure

    Readers of our April 9 cover package, many of whom have suffered through their own cancer ordeals, were inspired by Jonathan Alter's essay on the highs and lows of his battle with the disease. "Jonathan Alter has given me another level of acceptance and renewed energy to invest in the quality of my survivorship," one said. Another marveled, "Alter tells us what it is like, and we are right there with him—the terror of the diagnosis, the effects it has; normal life blown apart. And when he gives his analysis of how we might not know how to relate to him, asking about symptoms to calm our own wild fears— he nails it." Others simply seemed comforted that their own cancer fight was so similar to Alter's: "I have asked that all my family members read Jonathan Alter's story to better understand my experience," a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma survivor wrote. "My life perspective has changed for the better." ...
  • On Campus: Addicted to Exercise

    During her years at Smith College, Caitlin Scafati battled what's known as exercise bulimia—a type of eating disorder that drives patients to cut their weight by working out at least two hours a day. In addition to extreme weight loss, the syndrome can lead to stress fractures or early osteoporosis. At the peak of her illness, Scafati, 24, burned thousands of calories daily at her dorm's gym, a facility unsupervised by the school. It was only after Scafati lost close to 100 pounds that a professor finally took her to rehab. "I knew I was sick," she says.School officials have been struggling since the mid-1990s with which role to play in dealing with overexercisers, a group particularly prominent in the stressful college environment. There are no hard numbers, but 44 percent of U.S. undergrads and graduate students say they know someone suffering from exercise bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. "It used to be too much drinking or drugs [to deal with...
  • The Editor's Desk

    In the summer and autumn of 2004, I was part of a series of panel discussions on MSNBC, anchored by Chris Matthews, on the presidential campaign. One morning my colleague Jonathan Alter stopped in the doorway of my office to ask if I was OK. Yes, I replied; what made him ask? Don Imus, he told me, had apparently been—how to put it?—underwhelmed by my performance the night before, and had referred to me as a "dope" who should get off the air so that he could hear another colleague, Howard Fineman. Up to that point, I had never really listened to Imus, but, being human, I began to tune in, especially when NEWSWEEK people were on the program, if only to find out whether the host would take another shot at me.Then, in December 2005, I wrote an essay about the history of the Nativity narratives. Imus liked the piece, and I got a call: would I come on the show? I did not think twice about saying yes. The program was a venue for senators, anchors and historians: to be part of the crowd...
  • Starr: Don Imus Is Us

    There's another hot story in morning radio: African-American comedian Steve Harvey. In 17 months, his show has rocketed to prominence in top-50 markets. He's based on urban stations, but exhibits strong crossover appeal. He and his studio gang talk about race, to be sure, but with nonabrasive humor and upbeat music. They dispense advice on subjects ranging from love (be faithful) to barbecuing in the front yard (don't). "He's not a shock jock," says his syndicator, Martin Melius of Premiere Radio Networks. "He wants to be inspirational and positive, not divisive."Winning by division has long been the reigning theory of radio—not to mention politics and, in the age of George W. Bush, international relations. Democrats and Republicans compete to see who can be more convincingly apocalyptic about the other side. No sense addressing the entire country, let alone the world. You stick with your crowd. You target and narrowcast. To combat terrorism, you identify an Axis of Evil, and...
  • Campaign 2008: The 'Health' Primary

    Fred Thompson's decision to go public with his fight against cancer has fueled further speculation that he's going to run for prez. The former Tennessee senator turned "Law & Order" actor announced that he had been diagnosed in 2004 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a slow-growing form of cancer that has since gone into remission. "I'm one of the lucky ones," Thompson said. "I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms." Former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, a close Thompson pal, tells NEWSWEEK that Thompson is "psychologically ready to run" for the GOP nom but is waiting to gauge public reaction to his medical condition. "There are no other major hurdles," Frist says.Should Thompson get into the race, he'll be the third GOP candidate with a history of cancer, in a campaign where age and health are increasingly prominent issues. John McCain underwent surgery for skin cancer in 2000; Rudy Giuliani is a prostate-cancer survivor. According to their campaigns, both men undergo...
  • Science: Can Animals and Robots Be Self-Aware?

    Whether it is an eerily human bot in a virtual-reality game, an animal looking at you with soulful eyes or a patient in a vegetative state, the question nags and nags and won't go away: is there a thinking, self-aware, conscious mind in there? Not one that merely exhibits intelligence, since silicon chips do calculations that leave the human brain in the dust and even discover mathematical proofs. And not one merely capable of empathy or grief or cooperation, which chimps, elephants and species in between all manage. No, the capacity that distinguishes humans has come down to something Augustine identified 1,600 years ago when he asked what "can be the purport of the injunction, know thyself? I suppose it is that the mind should reflect upon itself."It's called metacognition—the ability to think about your thoughts, to engage in self-reflection, to introspect. It was long thought to be not just something that we have more of or do better than machines or animals, but that we have...
  • What Really Happened That Night at Duke

    They spent a year accused of kidnapping, assault and rape. Now, though, the three Duke lacrosse players were told they were 'innocent.' The inside story of the infamous evening.
  • Starr: Don Imus Is Us

    There is a predictable pattern to these things. Someone prominent—almost always a male—says something indisputably vile. And when his world explodes as a result, he belatedly begs forgiveness.Don Imus, of course, is the latest example of an über-alpha male stuffing his foot in his mouth. It's unclear why he thought it funny to call female basketball players "nappy-headed hos." What is clear is that they were not amused. Their emotion-filled press conference fueled a bonfire of indignation that ultimately engulfed all the efforts to preserve Imus's reputation and career.Foremost among those trying to save him were the well-placed journalists and politicians who loved to go on Imus's show. Among his outspoken defenders—all of whom seemed to be other white males—was presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, who may be something of an expert when it comes to racially loaded slurs. In 1992, the future mayor of New York egged on and bonded with a mob of cops demonstrating against then...
  • Videogames: You Play, You Pay

    One of the videogame industry's biggest and most surprising recent hits has been Guitar Hero. Since its release in November 2005, nearly 3 million copies of Guitar Hero and its sequel have been sold in the United States alone, according to the market research firm NPD Group. Until now, however, the joy of strum had been limited to PlayStation 2 owners. So when the Xbox 360 version shipped last week, would-be rock stars rushed to stores for the brand-new white guitar, crisper graphics and online rankings. The biggest hook, however, was that gamers would be able to download additional songs for a fee, rather than being limited to the tracks on the disc. Then the publisher Activision announced its retail strategy—songs would be sold only in packs of three at a cost $6.25—infuriating legions of Hendrix wannabes.Some were upset at the per-track price of $2.08, wondering why the songs, all performed by cover bands, were priced higher than an iTunes download. (Hint: an iTunes track isn't...
  • Scandal: Boos for Wolfowitz

    It's not easy to alienate an institution of 10,000 people. But Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank, once lost control of an even bigger institution—the Defense Department. The bank controversy erupted last week over the former deputy Defense secretary's meddling in the career of his longtime girlfriend, World Bank communications expert Shaha Riza. After seeking at first to "recuse" himself from decisions concerning Riza in 2005, Wolfowitz heeded the recommendation of the bank's ethics committee and had her moved to the State Department. But then, in an Aug. 11, 2005, letter, he directed his VP for human resources, Xavier Coll, to give Riza a 37 percent raise (to $180,000, after taxes) and specified how she was to be promoted.Last week Wolfowitz apologized, saying, "In hindsight, I wish I had trusted my original instincts and kept myself out of the negotiations." But staffers heckled him when he tried to explain himself. Wolfowitz is discovering just how unpopular he has...
  • U.S. May Be Softening Stance on Muslim Brotherhood

    A brief encounter at a Cairo cocktail party could signal a shift in Bush administration policy toward the Muslim Brotherhood, a worldwide Islamic movement that the United States has shunned because of its alleged ties to terrorism. The party, at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Francis Ricciardone, was for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and other visiting members of Congress. While there, Hoyer told NEWSWEEK, he was introduced by a U.S. Embassy official to one of the invited guests: Mohammed Saad el-Katatni, a Brotherhood leader who also serves as a chief of an "independent" bloc in the Egyptian Parliament allied with the movement, which itself is banned by the Egyptian government. Hoyer told the embassy he wanted to hear "alternative" voices in Egypt. He had met el-Katatni with other Parliament members earlier in the day. But, Hoyer said, "we didn't ask that the Brotherhood be included in the reception. Frankly, we were surprised to see him." During their five-minute...
  • A First Responder Relives Those First Hours

    Virginia State Police Sgt. Matthew Brannock, 31, had already spent a few hours catching up on paperwork in his Salem, Va., office that fateful morning, when some chatter on the police scanner got his attention. He heard something about local county police tailing a vehicle that may have been involved in “an incident” at Virginia Tech. “It piqued my interest a little bit,” he said; he’d been doing work on some recent bomb threats at Virginia Tech, so the school was on his mind. But when he checked in with the dispatcher, he was told that his help wasn’t needed. He kept an ear on the scanner, and went back to his paperwork. A couple hours later, he heard Trooper Ken Kozar say that “a suspect had barricaded himself” in a campus building. Brannock decided to head toward campus, normally a 20-minute drive. A few minutes later, Kozar was back on the scanner, his voice now clearly betraying stress. “There was a chance the suspect was armed.” Brannock flipped on his sirens and picked up...
  • Profile: A Surgeon Who Treated 17 Victims

    A 58-year old general surgeon at Montgomery Regional Hospital in Blacksburg, Va., Dr. Randall Lester has been fixing broken bodies since his medical residency at the University of Pittsburgh in the 1970's, when the hospital's pioneering liver transplant program was just starting up and marathon 18-hour surgeries weren't uncommon. So he wasn't overly alarmed when two shooting victims from nearby Virginia Tech were wheeled into Montgomery Regional’s emergency department early last Monday morning. One of the victims, a male, was dead on arrival, and the other, a female, had sustained a gunshot wound to the head but was still alive. Montgomery Regional has no neurosurgeon on staff, so Lester helped stabilize the young woman (who would later die) for transport to the level-one trauma center at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, about 35 miles from campus. Lester then went about his day, performing two of the five routine surgeries he had on his schedule. "Monday was just Monday," he...
  • A New Controversy in the Shadow of Columbine

    Last Tuesday, as Blacksburg, Va., was reeling from the slaughter at Virginia Tech, the city council of Littleton, Colo., reached out in sympathy. “We wanted to send a message of hope,” the town’s mayor, James Taylor, says softly in a telephone interview. Taylor paused for a moment, adding in exasperation: “I just don’t know how you stop this kind of stuff.”The “stuff” Mayor Taylor is talking about is a pain Littleton knows all too well. Eight years ago today—on the morning of April 20, 1999—the world watched in horror as Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, students at the nearby Columbine High School, unleashed a flurry of violence as random and incalculable as the Virginia Tech massacre this week. Twelve students and a teacher were killed. Twenty-four were wounded. For the residents of Littleton, a tight-knit Denver suburb of 42,000 that bore the brunt of that day’s carnage, the gunfire left an awful legacy that resonates to this day.So, on Tuesday, Taylor and his six colleagues on the...
  • After Duke, Rape Counselors Fear the Future

    For the three Duke lacrosse players, the ordeal is over. Not only did North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announce last week that he was dropping all charges against them, but he went a step further and declared them innocent of the charges that they had sexually assaulted a stripper at a team party last year. FBI statistics suggest such false accusations are not the norm. Nonetheless, advocates for sexual-assault victims fear that one effect of the Duke case may be that future accusers may find their charges greeted with greater skepticism. NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas spoke with Scott Berkowitz, founder of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network—an organization that assists sexual-assault victims and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline--about possible fallout from the Duke case. Excerpts:  ...
  • Clift: The Abortion Wars and Campaign 2008

    It was buried in the avalanche of coverage of the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech. But the Supreme Court's partial-birth ruling will likely have a much bigger impact on Campaign.
  • Hirsh: A World of Trouble

    The next U.S. president will have a tough job turning around the world's opinion of America, a new survey shows.
  • The Sensitive Art of Marketing After a Tragedy

    The shooting at Virginia Tech wasn’t even a day old when Mobile Campus e-mailed a press release to technology reporters. “Everyone’s asking why the students at Virginia Tech weren’t notified of the shootings more quickly and efficiently,” it began. “I’d like to suggest a story on a proven emergency-notification system.” The system, naturally, is made by the company pitching the story. MIR3, another business that offers a similar mass-notification service, sent out a pitch of its own, claiming that universities had reacted to the Virginia Tech disaster by considering implementation of their technology. Several high-profile media companies, meanwhile, quickly bought shooting-related keywords to drive search engines to their coverage.Are these examples of socially responsible marketing, or crass exploitation of tragedy? If technology can alert thousands of people via text message, e-mail and cell phone to a potentially life-threatening situation, is the aftermath of an atrocity the...
  • Did Cho Buy the Guns Legally?

    The disclosure that Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui was once involuntarily detained for mental illness may change the typical debate over gun control that inevitably follows gun-related tragedies.At the time Cho legally purchased the weapons used in the shootings, he had no criminal history and was a permanent legal resident with a green card. He followed the law and underwent the required background checks. Thus, in the  immediate aftermath of the shootings, law-enforcement officials said there was nothing that would have prevented him from buying the guns—short of major changes to the gun laws that most members of Congress were clearly not ready to support.Were they wrong? Contrary to initial reports, Cho may not have been legally eligible to acquire the two semi-automatic weapons that he used to murder more than 30 students at the school on Monday. Critics say Cho was able to collect his firearms without a hitch because of a gaping hole in the enforcement of existing federal...
  • Cho and S. Korea's Bittersweet View of the U.S.

    Cho Seung-Hui's landlady remembers the Virginia Tech killer as a "calm and quiet" boy who lived with his parents and sister in northern Seoul. The landlady, known only as Lim, recalls his family's departure for the United States in the early '90s—one of the waves of emigrants who left their native country for a better life in the United States during that period. "It was too tough to live [in Korea]," she says.The landlady's account of the Chos' life in a two-room apartment in one of the capital's poorer suburbs was part of the slew of coverage in the South Korean media about the young man who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech before turning the gun on himself on Monday. But behind the Korean public's fascination with the tale of a native son who made good before making spectacularly bad, was the ambivalence of the country toward the United States. Koreans have long had a love-hate relationship with America. Young people there routinely take part in protests against the American...
  • Va. Tech: Counselors Discuss Trauma Management

    The short-term effects are invariably similar. Anyone connected-directly or indirectly--to the ghastly killings at Virginia Tech on Monday inevitably will be grieving in the days and weeks ahead. But what about the long-term impact of exposure to the massacre? In the past, trauma counselors believed everyone exposed to events like these were at high-risk for debilitating emotional problems. New research, however, suggests that most adults recover quite well and that only 10 to 20 percent of the population is at risk for severe or lasting problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Whether it’s a school shooting, natural disaster, war or accident, most people respond to a horrible event with a combination of grief, surprise, anger or shock. “These emotions are completely normal,” says Lawrence H. Bergmann, a certified trauma specialist and founder of Post Trauma Resources in South Carolina. “They are appropriate responses, but they will go away in time. In the past we...
  • TV: When No News Is Not Good News

    If you were looking to build a case for the sheer pointlessness of 24-hour cable-news networks, Monday afternoon’s coverage of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech would’ve been a great place to start. It was excruciating to watch the afternoon cable-news coverage for much more than an hour, and not just because what happened in Blacksburg, Va., was so nightmarish. Any sane person would quickly feel the need to look away. But any sane person would also want answers, and within minutes of turning on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News, it was clear that no one had any. No one knew who the killer was. No one knew who the victims were. No one knew why the shootings happened. No one knew how the gunfire ended or why it went on so long. But that didn’t stop any of the three cable networks from repeating, ad nauseum, just how much they didn’t know. When that got old, they filled in the dead air with empty speculation, hearsay and unconfirmed half-truths. They all showed the same stock photos of parked...
  • Columbine Father on Va. Tech Shootings

    The father of a Columbine victim talks about the massacre at Virginia Tech, the grieving process, and why he thinks kindness is the best way to prevent further attacks.
  • Va. Tech Shooting: Portrait of a Killer

    Students and faculty say Cho Seung-Hui seldom spoke, and gave feedback to his fellow English students only in writing. His own work so worried professors that authorities were notified. Portrait of a killer.
  • A Trapped Student's IM Trail

    A student trapped in a locked-down building Monday morning exchanges anxious messages with her family, as the violent ordeal unfolds.
  • Home Gardening: Spring Flowers

    It not may feel like it everywhere, but spring is here. If you're raring to get back into your garden, don't wait for May flowers; pull on your Wellies and plant some bulbs now. How to get started:If you forgot to plant bulbs last fall, you can celebrate spring with Smith and Hawken's collection of preforced tulips and narcissus. Pop them in the ground or in a container, sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer and wait for the show (from $21 for 12 bulbs; www.smithandhawken.com).For July fireworks, put lilies (try Asiatic for some color, calla for some bling) in the ground now. Make sure you plant them in a sunny spot with moist soil. They like their roots cool and their faces hot. Add lots of compost or manure to the soil to help them survive hot weather. Check out the selection at Brent and Becky's Bulbs (from $7 for 5;www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com).If you're the hands-on type, go to your local nursery and choose your own selection. Try flowers you've never planted before, like...
  • Taxes: Refund Smarts

    Getting a tax refund? The IRS has made it easier than ever to hang on to that money. Here are the best ways to get that windfall working for you. A Roth or traditional IRA. You can put in as much as $4,000 a year ($5,000 if you're at least 50). Get it in before April 17 and you can count it for 2006. A 401(k). You shouldn't even be getting a refund. Go back to HR and have them cut your tax withholding and increase your 401(k) contribution. Use this year's refund for any extra paycheck deductions. That emergency fund. Money-market mutual funds are paying more than 5 percent now. Jump-start an account with your refund. A financial education. Buy Microsoft Money or Quicken, get a few hours with a CPA or independent financial planner (www.garrettplanningnetwork.com), buy some smart investment books and start positioning yourself for solid finances forever.
  • Quinn: Appointing Kids as Beneficiaries

    Do you carry a life-insurance policy that protects your young children if you die? Most parents do—but there's a legal angle you need to think about. Minor children can't receive money directly or open a bank or investment account to handle the policy's proceeds. Even though they're named as beneficiaries, the insurer, by law, isn't allowed to write them a check. This leads to complications and could upset your estate plan. Here's what happens if you name minor children as direct beneficiaries: ...
  • New 'Harry Potter' Foe: Unpretty in Pink

    The first female villain hits Hogwarts in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." Imelda Staunton, Oscar-nominated for "Vera Drake," plays Dolores Umbridge, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. A year before Staunton got the part, a friend suggested she would be perfect for it. "I read the book, and Umbridge is described as a short, ugly, toadlike woman," Staunton says. "I thought, 'Oh, thanks very much'." Staunton plays her as an apple-cheeked schoolmarm—drenched in pink angora—who is restricting freedoms (and free thought) to "protect" the students. "There can't be any mess or any individuality," Staunton says. "But, of course, that leads to brainwashed people."With this film, Staunton joins a long list of British luminaries who have starred in the "Potter" films, including Dame Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh. "Every great British actor is either in the movies or desperate to get into them," says Jason Isaacs, who plays Lucius Malfoy. "It's a real...
  • Many Easy Pieces

    Following your dream isn't always child's play. Just ask Nathan Sawaya. Two years ago, Sawaya, then 31, found himself at the Seattle Boat Show. Having recently quit his $150,000 job as a Wall Street lawyer, he was now scrambling to build a 10-foot model of a speedboat—entirely out of Legos, and in only 10 days. His first thought: no problem. But after the second day, Sawaya recalls, "it hit me: I'm not going to pull this off." So he stopped sleeping, then showering, then eating. Eight 18-hour days later, he snapped the last brick (number 250,000 or so) into place. "I was a zombie," he says.Such is life for a freelance Lego artist. Since 1961, 178 of the best Lego bricklayers have won gigs as official designers and artisans at Lego workshops and theme parks around the world. There are roughly 40 of these "Master Builders" currently on staff, and for a time it looked as if Sawaya would join them. He won Lego's 2003-04 national Master Builder search by assembling, among other things, a...
  • Transition: Coach Eddie Robinson

    EDDIE ROBINSON, 88 In 56 seasons as a football coach, Robinson brought national stature to Grambling State University, a small, historically black college in Louisiana. His program sent more than 200 players to the NFL, including four Hall-of-Famers and a Super Bowl MVP.When Robinson retired in 1997 with a career mark of 408-165-15, he was the winningest coach in college-football history. But he'll be best remembered as a mentor who cared for the education and character of his players. His refrain: "You've got to coach each boy like you want him to marry your daughter."
  • Building an Empire One Block at a Time

    Like most parents, Phil and Karyn Corless face a constant struggle to keep their home from becoming overrun with toys. They have a specially designated toy closet in their Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, home, and when playtime is over, they cajole their children—Ethan, 8, and Megan, 5—to store their Play-Doh and Hot Wheels, crayons and Barbies. But there's an exception to this put-it-away rule, a toy that enjoys most-favored status: the family's Lego collection. "They're one of those toys that always stay out, because ... when [friends] come over, you know they're going to play Legos," says Phil, who has fond childhood memories of building elaborate Lego mazes for his hamster. "I've never seen a kid who didn't want to build something."Like potato chips and pandas, Legos seem universally appealing: does anyone not like them? For managers at the privately held, Danish-based company—which celebrates its 75th birthday this year—that's mostly a blessing. At a time when parents struggle to pry...
  • A Life In Books: David Hajdu

    He loves Henry James, though he admits James's novels are full of dead ends. Then again, as a biographer, David Hajdu has a knack for working around dead ends, resulting in the detailed life stories of musicians Joan Baez and Billy Strayhorn. An Important Book that you admit you haven't read:I read lots of classic novels, but what I'm more bothered by is my inability to keep up with great stuff that's being written now. I'd love to get around to reading "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers. Everyone says it's great. A classic that, on rereading, was disappointing: "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes. It's great, but I haven't been able to get through it again. I'm sure it's not his fault, it's mine. I suppose I'd like it more if I learned Spanish, but working with English is hard enough as it is.
  • Perspectives: Quotes in the News

    "Some of us feared the worst."—Capt. Chris Air of the Royal Marines, on being held in Iran for nearly two weeks with 14 other British sailors and Marines. They were released last Thursday. ...
  • Letters to the Editor

    Our April 2 Special Issue drew hundreds of letters from Americans overcome with emotion while reading the words of fallen service members in Iraq. One called it a "somber and poignant compendium of the words of brave men and women who gave their lives for our freedom." Many said it should be "required reading" for the president and his advisers. "Please send 1,000 copies of this issue to the White House. I will return mine if you need extras," one wrote. Others also mourned the loss of innocent Iraqis who, as one put it, "survived the brutality of Saddam's regime only to have their lives taken by their so-called liberators." Grateful to finally have some faces and words to go along with the usual lists of those killed in action, one reader echoed the sentiments of many, saying, "Before this week I did not know anyone who had died in Iraq. Now I do, and my heart is broken."Your special issue devoted to the letters written by American troops killed in Iraq was the most powerful piece...
  • Technology: Unchain My iPod!

    Here's great news for digital-music fans: at a press conference last week, EMI, one of the four major labels, said that beginning next month it will let Apple sell its entire catalog on iTunes without the anti-piracy software known as digital-rights management, or DRM. Now iTunes songs can be played on devices other than the iPod, as well as allowing law-abiding customers to make all the personal copies they want. EMI says it's also negotiating with other online stores.The bad news is that it will cost more. While you can still buy the current format (DRM-laden tracks for 99 cents), the new format, with no DRM and improved sound quality (near CD-level), sells for $1.29 per track. You can upgrade your old songs for the 30-cent difference. (If you buy an album, you get the new format for the same price.) Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicts other labels will follow.
  • Crime: Stolen Civil War Treasures

    Denning McTague, a 40-year-old unpaid intern at the National Archives in Philadelphia, wasn't home last October when a team of FBI and National Archives agents entered his apartment. They discovered 80 original Civil War-era documents; another 80 had already been lost to bidders on eBay.On Wednesday, McTague pleaded guilty to stealing 164 pieces of government property valued into the tens of thousands. "But they are of incalculable value to historians," says U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan. The pilfered documents include the May 4, 1865, telegram from the secretary of War's office ordering gun salutes in honor of President Lincoln, whose funeral was that day, and a letter from the war's most notable cavalryman, J.E.B. Stuart.At 40, McTague was old for an intern. But that didn't arouse suspicion, says archives spokeswoman Susan Cooper: "McTague had several advanced degrees and perhaps he was interested in securing a permanent job at the archives." McTague told investigators he would...
  • A Money Race Reader's Guide

    Presidential candidates just released their first-quarter fund-raising totals, but we'll have to wait until they file with the FEC on April 15 to get the full breakdown. Look for ...
  • Derby Day: Mint Julep, Anyone?

    To watch the "greatest two minutes in sports"—the Kentucky Derby—you can mix yourself a mint julep and turn on the tube. Or you could head to Churchill Downs for the 133rd Run for the Roses, which is held on the first Saturday in May. You're already too late to snag one of the 55,000 seats. (Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, are among those who have already secured spots.)But if you've got $40 and love a good party, you can get tickets on race day that will allow you and about 100,000 other Derby Day fans—some more sober than others—access to the infield. Bring a crazy hat and be at the gates before they open at 8 a.m.; the first race is at 11. Go to kyderby.com for more. Consider arriving on the Thursday before the Derby to watch the free Dawn at the Downs workouts from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Or attend the fillies-only races at Kentucky Oaks on Friday, where admission is $25. Think about staying out of town or camping in an RV at the Kentucky fairgrounds for a real...
  • The Editor's Desk

    Thirty-seven years ago, in the Jan. 26, 1970, issue of NEWSWEEK, our friend and colleague Kenneth Auchincloss, whom we lost to cancer in 2003, wrote a cover essay titled "The Ravaged Environment." Ken began: "It seems the curse of modern man continually to confront new possibilities of self-destruction. He emerged from World War II armed with nuclear weaponry that soon gave him the power to obliterate all human life ... And now he has come face to face with a new man-made peril, the poisoning of his natural environment with noxious doses of chemicals, garbage, fumes, noise, sewage, heat, ugliness and urban overcrowding." Then as now, Americans seemed to be growing more mindful of environmental perils; those sentences were published the same year the country began commemorating Earth Day.And then, as now, California was a crucial force. "Ecology," said Jesse Unruh, the Democratic leader of the California Assembly, "has become the political substitute for the word 'mother'." Unruh...
  • Inside the Tragedy at Va. Tech

    The early morning calm was shattered by the sound of gunfire. By the time it stopped, at least 33 were dead. Inside the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
  • Alter: McCain's Meltdown

    By his own admission, John McCain knew a little something about crashing aircraft when he was in the Navy. Three times, he ended up losing control in the cockpit, and that doesn't even include when he was shot down over Hanoi and taken prisoner in 1967. Now the combination of his surprisingly poor third-place showing in early fund-raising and that embarrassing photo op at a Baghdad market has sent his presidential campaign spiraling downward. Given his five and a half years as a POW in Vietnam, even serious political mishaps aren't likely to faze him. But he has no easy way to pull out of this tailspin. McCain's in trouble because he is out of sync with the country and with himself.The senator's timing seems off in a way that might be admirable if it weren't so politically clumsy. McCain trashed President Bush when he was popular—and now champions him when he's down. The trashing angered many Republicans, who could never fully trust McCain again after his apostasy on tax cuts,...
  • Gonzales Crams for a Senate Grilling

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has virtually wiped his public schedule clean to bone up for his long-awaited April 17 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee—a session widely seen as a crucial test as to whether he will survive the U.S. attorney mess. But even his own closest advisers are nervous about whether he is up to the task. At a recent "prep" for a prospective Sunday talk-show interview, Gonzales's performance was so poor that top aides scrapped any live appearances. During the March 23 session in the A.G.'s conference room, Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers—including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan—about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and "getting his timeline confused," said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got "exasperated" with...