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  • A Cheerful Anachronism

    Some rice farmers from congressman Ron Paul's district were in his office the other day, asking for this and that from the federal government. The affable Republican from south Texas listened nicely, then forwarded their requests to the appropriate House committee. It may or may not satisfy their requests in some bill dispensing largesse to agricultural interests. Then Paul will vote against the bill.He believes, with more stubbornness than evidence, that the federal government is a government of strictly enumerated powers, and nowhere in the Constitution's enumeration (Article I, Section 8) can he find any reference to rice. So there. "Farm organizations fight me tooth and nail," he says, "but the farmers are with me." Of course they can afford to indulge their congressman's philosophical eccentricity because lots of other House members represent rice farmers, so rice gets its share of gravy. Still, Paul is a likable eccentric, partly because he likes his constituents while...
  • Hassle And Humiliation

    It was a great idea--a program to build bridges between young Arab modernizers and Americans. The Arab and American Action Forum, launched last September at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, is an exercise in soft power, bringing together 100 young Arab leaders from all walks of life and introducing them to a similar group of Americans. The goal was to begin a dialogue, build trust and create joint projects for both peoples. The group's Arab organizers are pro-business and pro-American, many with degrees from U.S. colleges and fond memories of their time in America. Aside from Bill Clinton, the forum is backed by the two leading modernizers in the Middle East, Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and Jordan's King Abdullah.As I said, it was a great idea, until these young Arab leaders landed at John F. Kennedy airport. The first group of participants, mostly CEOs of large companies, were pulled out of the regular immigration lines and made to stand for two to...
  • I Did It My Way

    Tony Blair is back where it all began--Myrobella, the house he bought after being elected to Parliament in 1983. It's a ramshackle place, half home, half office, tucked behind a row of old miners' cottages in the north of England. It would be quaint if it weren't for all the police, or if you didn't know President Bush's Marine One chopper once tore up the field next door.He has claim to grander residences, of course--10 Downing Street and the country estate at Chequers. But this is his political home. With Blair on the way out of office, a fin de régime pall suffuses the place these days. It's inescapable even amid the hustle and bustle of his security detail and his traveling staff, weighed down by satchels and carryalls and, poignantly, the scuffed, iconic "red box" in which British government ministers carry their overnight paperwork. Blair has disappeared upstairs to change into jeans. His small downstairs study fills with people waiting to see him: John Burton, his local...
  • Road Test: Maserati Quattroporte

    Gawk at the babe-alicious lines of the redone Quattroporte: smart, sassy, sexy and oh so Italian. Nice job, Maserati. But the exotic marque's latest spruce-up of its popular sedan (made even more seductive thanks to the carmaker's presence on "Desperate Housewives" and "The Sopranos") isn't just showroom pretty.Wearing a new six-speed automatic transmission, the Quattroporte rides smoother than ever and offers nearly seamless shifting. Though you can still buy the DuoSelect transmission, which gives a more serious manual-like shifting feel, this new automatic version appeals to those of us who crave sportiness without the unsettling jerkiness of a manual. The new engine gives the Quattroporte near-perfect weight balance, offering noticeably better road handling, improved braking and zero to 62mph in a snappy 5.6 seconds (with a 168mph top speed). And like any self-respecting high-maintenance beauty, this one demands a choice of wardrobe. How about a selection of five kinds of...
  • Ties Of Blood And History

    The last time the United States and Britain threatened to go to war against each other was in 1895. As European powers raced to expand their empires, Britain coveted a mineral-rich slice of Venezuela along the border of its colony British Guiana. Invoking the Monroe Doctrine, President Grover Cleveland vowed to "resist by every means" British adventuring in the Caribbean. The prospect of taking on Britain thrilled some jingoistic Americans, including Theodore Roosevelt, who was at the time a New York City police commissioner. "Let the fight come if it must," he wrote to his friend Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge. "I don't care whether the seacoast cities are bombarded or not; we would take Canada."Fighting a war with England, whose Navy floated 55 battleships against America's three, because of a border dispute in Venezuela was a preposterous idea. (TR was still going through the Sturm und Drang period of adolescence, explained philosopher William James.) Both governments calmed down when...
  • Perspectives

    "The drug dealer is us."White House drug czar John Walters, on a report showing that prescription-drug abuse among teens is not declining, though teen marijuana use is down"Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I'm ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I'm asking you to give me."Comedian Al Franken, announcing that he is running for the U.S. Senate in 2008"I'm ready to bear all responsibility for what happened."NASCAR star Michael Waltrip, after his racing team was caught cheating with a banned fuel additive. Waltrip said he considered dropping out of the Daytona 500 preparations over the incident."We're assuming it was male, although they did have a mask on."Sgt. Mark Clark, of the Scottsdale, Ariz., police, on a report of a person dressed as Batman running across a middle-school campus and disappearing into the desert. Some local schools were puton lockdown as a precaution, but "Batman" was not located."It's...
  • The More, The Merrier

    If you think planning a vacation is difficult, try organizing one for a family of 14. That's what Helga Knox, 54, did last year for her husband, George, three of her stepchildren and their spouses and six stepgrandkids. They splurged on an eight-day, small-ship cruise through Alaska's Inside Passage, debarking to hike, raft, kayak and--the trip's highlight--ride a helicopter to stand on Juneau's 7,000-foot Mendenhall Glacier. "It was the perfect trip," says Knox of last July's adventure. "I just get excited about it whenever I think of it."Families like the Knoxes make up one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel industry. In 2003, 38 percent of family vacationers took at least one trip that involved three generations, up from 19 percent in 1999, reports the Travel Industry Association. And travel agents say the number of large family groups going away together is still rising. "Five years ago I didn't do any of this, and now each year we're doing more and more," says Patty...
  • Now Comes The Hard Part

    The ink was barely dry on the nuclear deal signed February 13 by North Korea and the other members of the Six Party Talks before pundits began to blast the agreement. The arrangement--under which North Korea promised to seal and then disable core parts of its nuclear-weapons programs in exchange for energy aid and gradual relief from international sanctions--has been attacked by hawks, including former Bush staffers, as a reward for bad behavior.Former Clinton aides, meanwhile, say it's nothing more than what they negotiated in the 1994 Agreed Framework--which would still be in effect had Bush stuck with the plan. As happens so often these days, the left and the right are converging to attack the president. But while the deal may not be perfect, both sides have got it wrong.To start, the new accord goes way beyond the 1994 agreement, which promised North Korea two light-water nuclear reactors worth more than $5 billion and hundreds of millions of dollars of heavy fuel oil in...
  • And There's More! A Deal That Hard-Liners Hate.

    Hard-liners already loathe the new deal in which Kim Jong Il's regime has agreed to halt activity at its main nuclear plant in return for emergency oil supplies. John Bolton, who recently departed as U.S. envoy to the United Nations, told NEWSWEEK: "We violated the principle that we don't reward bad behavior." Promises to ease North Korea's economic squeeze are among key elements of the deal (struck by the United States and other participants in the Six-Party diplomatic talks). Among the provisions of the agreement are promises by the United States to begin direct talks with North Korea about "moving toward full diplomatic relations," and that Washington will take steps to remove Pyongyang from its official list of state sponsors of terrorism. In return, Pyongyang agreed to "shut down and seal" its main nuke reactor at Yongbyon.But Pyongyang may also get access to controversial bank accounts. Meeting in Beijing three weeks ago, North Korean and U.S. Treasury officials held detailed...
  • Working 9 To 5

    Once, clutches were precious evening accessories, done up in beads and velvet. But come this spring, they're working the day shift. "The big bag has gotten really big," says Sophia Chabbott, accessories editor at WWD. "Women want an option that lets them be more free." Tuck one inside a larger bag, or bring it solo to a weekend lunch date and give your shoulder a much-needed break.
  • Governor Romney, Meet Governor Romney

    There is something a little too good to be true about Mitt Romney. The former governor of Massachusetts and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is so buff and handsome in late middle age that when a brochure from a recent campaign showed him standing, bare-chested, on a swimming float, he was accused of sexually pandering to women voters. Romney, who is still married to his high-school sweetheart, doesn't drink, doesn't smoke and doesn't swear. His wife has said that, in private, he never even raises his voice.As a candidate, he can appear slightly overproduced, a little too smooth for the hurly-burly of the hustings. Lately, Romney has been courting the evangelical vote, key to winning Republican primaries. He knows that some evangelicals regard his religion, Mormonism, as heresy (according to the National Journal, more than a quarter of self-identified evangelicals tell pollsters that they won't vote for a Mormon). So last week, at a lackluster rally in the Bible...
  • The Dawn Of The Next Cold War

    The 32-minute blast Vladimir Putin delivered at a recent security conference in Munich will go down as a classic. America's "uncontained" militarism, the Russian president declared, has created a world where "no one feels safe anymore," and where other nations feel almost forced to develop nuclear weapons in their own defense. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates tried to laugh it off, joking that "as an old cold warrior" the speech had "almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time"--and went on to tout Washington's preference for partnership and good relations.Make no mistake, though. Putin delivered a message, and the White House heard it loud and clear. It goes something like this: in the 1990s, America pushed us around. On NATO expansion, we asked you to consider our national interests. You answered with an advance into former Soviet territory in Eastern Europe. You spoke of energy partnership yet built new pipelines to bypass our territory. Western companies took...
  • A Man Of Mystery

    Robert Novak, as usual, had a scoop to unload--only this time, it was from the witness stand. Testifying last week in the trial of Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the conservative columnist gruffly described how he first learned from two top Bush administration officials that Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq war critic Joseph Wilson, was a CIA officer. But then Novak injected a new name into the drama--one that virtually nobody in the courtroom knew.Asked by one of Libby's lawyers if he had talked about Plame with anybody else before outing her in his column, Novak said he'd discussed her with a lobbyist named Richard Hohlt. Who, the lawyer pressed, is Hohlt? "He's a very good source of mine" whom I talk to "every day," Novak replied. Indeed, Hohlt is such a good source that after Novak finished his column naming Plame, he testified, he did something most journalists rarely do: he gave the lobbyist an advance copy of his column. What Novak...
  • A Bombthrower's Life

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali moved to the United States last September when she was invited to join the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. Last week her controversial memoir, "Infidel," was published here. With armed guards just outside her office, she sat down with NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant to discuss the Muslim extremists who have threatened to kill her, life in America and whether she's a "colonial feminist": ...
  • The Editor's Desk

    She remembered the sound of splashing, then the shot. It was the early 1920s, and my grandmother, then a small girl, was being given a bath by an aunt who had come to stay with the family while my great-grandmother battled what was called "melancholia." As the little girl played in the tub, her mother slipped away to another part of the house, took a pistol and killed herself.I was told the story in the way of warning: depression ran in the family. And as Julie Scelfo writes in our cover this week, men need all the warnings about mental health they can get. As remarkable as it seems in the age of Oprah and Dr. Phil, we remain reluctant to confront the possibility that our irritability, dark moments and even despondency are not random feelings but may be symptoms of clinical depression, and are thus treatable if diagnosed. What William James called "a positive and active anguish" is yielding, slowly but in significant ways, to scientific analysis and medical treatment.For many...
  • The Couples Campaign

    In January 1992, as Bill Clinton's candidacy was foundering amid allegations of infidelity, his wife joined him at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire. They were on a rescue mission. "We love each other," Hillary Rodham Clinton told the crowd. "We support each other." As for Bill, he sold himself to the onlookers as one half of a political team; Hillary was the reason that he had run. "She woke up one morning and said, 'Bill, we have to do this'." He touted her résumé: Yale Law, successful attorney, years of work on education and children's issues. He had a new campaign slogan, he said: "Buy One, Get One Free." It worked, of course.On her first swing through New Hampshire recently, Hillary and Bill were a team once more--even if he wasn't with her. Republicans fear Team Clinton above all, she said. "I'm the one person they're most afraid of because Bill and I do know how to beat them; we have consistently, and we will do it again."But this time, the Clintons aren't the only legal...
  • The Checklist

    RENT "Babel." This tale of cultural misunderstandings and cruel twists of fate, with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, won a Golden Globe for best drama. But is it Oscar-worthy? See for yourself. FLY first class on American Airlines. The company is offering free upgrades to business-class travelers flying to London from New York City's JFK airport until March 31. READ an Oscar book. Used- and rare-book site Alibris.com is offering deals on such titles as "The Last King of Scotland" (from $7.94), "The Devil Wears Prada" (from $2.95) and "Children of Men"(from $4.27). SEE Jeff Wall at New York's Museum of Modern Art. Featuring about 40 of the conceptual artist's best-known works, including his lightbox photographs. It then moves to Chicago and San Francisco. SURF ticketreserve.com , where you can buy options ($19 to $125) on college basketball's Final Four tickets. If your team makes it that far, your options allow you to buy tickets at face value.
  • Ice Storm Edition

    Global warming is real, but it's hard to get worked up about it if you're shoveling 10 feet of snow or stuck on the runway. Bush (down) Gives a press conference about Iran, Iraq and no one listens. At least the Aflac duck isn't lame. Surge vote (equal) Dem-controlled House says no to Bush buildup. But it's only talk--and lots of it. What comes next? Giuliani (up) "America's Mayor" throws helmet in ring and polls show him beating any Dem. New Yorkers know better. Romney (equal) Could GOP nom really come down to an NYC mayor and a Massachusetts governor? Sounds kind of blue. Anna Nicole (minus) Custody fights for baby and body are nuttier than her life. CW suggests: Bury her with James Brown. JetBlue (minus) TVs in seat backs don't cut it when you're frozen on the tarmac without booze or food for 10 hours.
  • For Chrysler, Dr. Z's Startling Prescription

    Remember those Chrysler commercials, where the mustachioed Dr. Z, with thick German accent, raved that Chrysler's cars have "the best of American and German engineering and design"? Apparently even the doctor couldn't make this transplant work. Last week Dr. Z--a.k.a. DaimlerChrysler chairman Dieter Zetsche--stunned Detroit by putting Chrysler on the block. "All options are on the table," he said, as the German automaker considers what to do with its American problem child. Just last fall, Zetsche insisted Chrysler wasn't going anywhere. But Zetsche said he "revisited" the issue after Chrysler lost $1.5 billion last year as $3 gas drove its SUV sales into the ditch. Now, while Chrysler chief Tom LaSorda attempts a repair job by cutting 13,000 workers and engineering more fuel-efficient models, DaimlerChrysler has hired JPMorgan to shop for suitors. Late last week reports emerged that GM is in talks to buy Chrysler; both companies declined to comment. Other possible buyers: Nissan...
  • The Great Courtship

    When it comes to presidential politics, Richard Land has seen better days. As policy chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention, Land remembers back in 1999 when a Republican presidential hopeful named George W. Bush came calling for support. "He was one of us," Land recalls. Eight years later, things aren't so simple. With Bush sidelined and no heir apparent in sight, voters on the right are surveying the 2008 field with a certain level of despair. The three GOP front runners--Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Mitt Romney--have all violated conservative principles. Other hopefuls, like Sam Brownback and Mike Huckabee, are beloved by the right but face doubts about their ability to beat a Democrat in the general election. Will social conservatives support the candidate they most agree with--or the one who can win? Land predicts electability, citing fear of a Hillary Clinton White House. "I wouldn't underestimate Clinton's ability to unite social conservatives around a candidate ......
  • Commentary: Left, Right Or Center?

    Tony Blair will leave an enormous political legacy. There can be no doubt about that. Trouble is, it will comprise large debts as well as large assets, and history will have to decide the balance. Blair's putative heir, Gordon Brown, will be at once the principal beneficiary and the man who will have to try to pay off the accumulated debts.First, the positive side: Tony Blair has transformed the Labour Party and, more important, British politics as a whole. When he took the leadership in 1994, Labour had lost four consecutive national elections and had been out of power for nearly a generation. By jettisoning socialism, loosening ties with the unions and presenting Labour as the party of fiscal responsibility, Blair made it electable. More than a decade later, it still is.Blair's transformation of the entire British political landscape has been even more remarkable. Before him, Labour was still a party of the traditional European left: identified with the working classes, wedded to...
  • Injected Into A Growing Controversy

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry caused a firestorm with a recent executive order requiring girls entering the sixth grade to be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, or HPV. The FDA-approved vaccine, known as Gardasil, would protect against the two HPV strains responsible for 70 percent of all cervical-cancer cases. Conservative opponents argue that making an inoculation for an STD mandatory may encourage premarital sex and violates parental rights. Even medical organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics agree it's too early to mandate a vaccine approved just last June. Renee Jenkins, president-elect of the AAP, says there is a need for more education about the vaccine. But some states may not wait that long. At least 18 others are considering measures similar to Texas's. "It might work out fine," Jenkins says. "But we don't need to walk down this road until we understand what the fallout might be."
  • Meals On The Cheap

    A new survey from the Pew Research Center says that restaurant dining doesn't just hurt your diet, it blows your budget. Consumers are most likely to splurge on eating out and entertainment--and that's where they want to cut back, too. Here's how to save, without ruining your fun. ...
  • What Are You Doing Here?

    Judging by the photos on the walls of his vast office, the new Treasury secretary has a gentler approach to the world than, say, Vice President Dick Cheney. While Cheney likes to hunt small birds with a shotgun, Hank Paulson shoots them with a camera. Photos of unusual birds--Paulson's vacation pictures, taken by his wife--hang above Bloomberg computer terminals feeding the latest Wall Street data to his desk. "If you look around here," he tells NEWSWEEK, gesturing at his photos, "I have spent a huge percentage of my time off in beautiful places, outdoor places, saving the land, wilderness, parks ... Conservation is my passion."Paulson is a rare species inside the Bush administration. Environmentalists see this White House as a bastion of backward thinking; Bush has angered them (and America's allies) by sometimes questioning the science of global warming. Yet Paulson cares deeply about climate change: during his seven-year run as chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, the investment...
  • The Cinderella Plant

    Jatropha Circas is the Cinderella of the plant world. Throw a seed in the poorest soil on the planet, and up comes a bush that will likely last 50 years. During a drought, jatropha bushes simply drop their leaves and keep pumping out seedpods. Livestock won't eat it, pests don't appear to like it. For longer than anybody can remember, Africans used it as living fences meant to keep back the encroaching Sahara and Kalahari deserts. It wasn't good for much else.Now this humble bush appears poised to become a global star. In recent years studies have shown that jatropha oil burns with one fifth the carbon emission of fossil fuels, making Africa's hardscrabble ground a potentially fertile source of energy. Scientists estimate that if even a quarter of the continent's arable land were plowed into jatropha plantations, output would surpass 20 million barrels a day. That would be good news for Europe, where the thirst for biodiesel is growing. The European Union has decreed that consumers...
  • A Life In Books: Nathan Englander

    While writing his upcoming novel, "The Ministry of Special Cases," Nathan Englander was wary of picking up any old book because he was afraid of messing up his own voice. Now that he's done, his nightstand is in danger of collapse. ...
  • The Games Gap

    If you can feel the excitement as the International Olympic Committee nears a July vote on the site of the 2014 Winter Games--well, you have a delicate enough touch to win gold in curling. After frenzied bidding for '08 (Beijing) and '12 (London), this race--between Pyeongchang, South Korea; Salzburg, Austria, and Sochi, Russia--is low-profile even by Winter standards. Winter Olympiads are largely a way to put a ski village on the map; the Summer Games can be an image-changing urban-renewal tool. IOC pickers increasingly vote for the Winter site defensively, factoring in whom they favor for the next Summer Games. One aspect that could add urgency: global warming may cut the number of cities cold enough to host. "The Alps may become a dwindling prospect," says Ed Hula, editor of the Around the Rings newsletter.
  • Beijing's New Internationalism

    In many respects Hu Jintao's recent dash through africa--he traveled to eight countries in over a week, signing trade deals, forgiving debt, extending loans and securing rights to natural resources--looked like business as usual for Beijing. For years, China has courted new business partners and tried to gain access to oil and other raw materials around the world while scrupulously avoiding controversial issues such as human rights and good governance. Beijing has long stuck to a strict, 19th-century view of sovereignty, which holds that whatever a government does at home is no one else's business. Its mantra has been reciprocal "noninterference." "We never impose on other countries our values ... and we do not accept other countries imposing their values on us," declared Deputy Foreign Minister Zhai Jun last November.This model has seemed good for business--Chinese trade with Africa skyrocketed from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $40 billion last year (for perspective, U.S.-Africa trade...
  • Global Warming: Get Used To It

    The most inconvenient truth about global warming is that we cannot stop it. Please don't mistake me for a skeptic. I'm fully persuaded by the evidence that climate change is real and serious. Of the 12 hottest years on record, 11 have occurred since 1995. Temperatures have risen by 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past century. (If that seems small, keep in mind that the difference in temperature between the ice age and now is about 5 degrees C.) And human activity appears to be one important cause. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has risen dramatically since the industrial revolution. Methane has doubled and carbon-dioxide levels are up 30 percent since 1750. The projections going forward are highly plausible scientific estimations. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that by 2100, temperatures will have risen by somewhere between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees, and as a result, sea levels will rise by 18 to 59 centimeters. The...
  • What's The Deal With The Diapers?

    The sad story of astronaut turned accused stalker Lisa Nowak raises so many questions. Why didn't NASA testing screen out what appears to be a case of obsessive attraction? What is it about William Oefelein that evidently makes him catnip to the female shuttle folk? And, perhaps most indelicately, what's up with the diaper?To avoid time-wasting rest stops, Nowak drove the 900 miles from Houston to Orlando wearing a diaper, according to authorities. The detail caught the eye of many curious readers, but in the aerospace community it's not a new concept.In Neil Armstrong's day, astronauts wore urine and fecal containment systems under spandex trunks. The reason, says camp director Teresa Sindelar of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, was purely practical: "You can't just drop your space pants and go." But by the early 1980s, flight crews were routinely spacewalking for seven or more hours at a stretch--without bathroom breaks. To suit their needs, NASA invented space diapers ...
  • The Debunker

    The Indian government is worried--again--that its sensitive locations will be at risk if Google Earth doesn't blur the images it depicts on its site.But that concern is much ado about nothing. "These [images] are available all over the world, and even newer-generation information with more details is available," says Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, the Indian police officer responsible for quelling terrorism in Punjab in the 1990s. "I think the stance taken that they can't publish such maps is ridiculous." Google is working with India on a solution.
  • Target: U.S. Choppers

    Six U.S. choppers (including two belonging to a private security company) have crashed in Iraq since Jan. 20, killing a total of 27. Investigators have concluded four were shot down and are still sifting through the debris of the fifth crash site. (The sixth crash had no fatalities.) The Pentagon says publicly it's too early to determine whether the surge points to new tactics by insurgents. But a U.S. counterterrorism official said it looks as if some Iraqi fighters have been getting special training lately on how to down helicopters. The official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitive subject matter, indicated that intel analysts were divided over the question of Iranian involvement in the training and that evidence so far was not conclusive. He said low-flying helicopters are being brought down by what amounts to small-arms fire--insurgents aiming machine guns or even rifles at the chopper's vulnerable spots. Some intel analysts believe insurgents have acquired armor...
  • So You Want To Be A Comedian

    It started on my 14th birthday in 1961, when my parents gave me a copy of "Inside Shelley Berman," an album by the young comic (now an octogenarian, he plays Larry David's father on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"). I played the record so often that the grooves must have nearly cut all the way through to China as I emulated Berman's wording and comic timing.When I went off to college, I put away such childish things, aside from my stash of Tom Lehrer records. Still, somewhere in the back of my mind lurked the notion that there were laughable things you could do with a stool beyond milking a cow. Maybe it was inevitable that at 48 (encouraged by a friend who needed another act to fill out her stand-up bill) I found myself onstage in a New York comedy club telling political jokes as a bizarre counterpart to my then day job as a columnist for USA Today. My comic style was built around telling semi-realistic stories about adventures on the campaign trail rather than that of a bada-bing, bada...
  • Tomorrow, Tomorrow

    Tomorrow. That's when the United States should begin to bring combat forces home from Iraq. Today would be a better option, but already it's tomorrow in Baghdad, in the Green Zone fortress Americans have built in the center of the city, out in the streets where IEDs are lying in wait for passing soldiers and every marketplace may be the endgame for a suicide bomber.The course of this war has been a consistent scene of carnage with ever-changing underpinnings. Uncover weapons of mass destruction, lay hands on Saddam Hussein, oversee elections, teach the Iraqis to police themselves. Bring stability to the region. The last has been an illusion. Over the last year many Americans have finally realized how thoroughly they were sold a bill of goods. The picture of the peaceable kingdom painted by the Bush administration nearly four years ago was that of a country, riven by religious and ethnic violence for centuries, suddenly turned into the equivalent of a Connecticut suburb: town...
  • Perspectives

    "We're just saying no."United States Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, on the Democrats' decision to challenge President George W. Bush's troop-surge proposal for Iraq"All my life, I tried to be honest. Today is no different."New York taxi driver Osman Chowdhury, a native of Bangladesh, who returned 31 diamond rings left in his cab by a passenger who had given him a 30-cent tip"I really don't know whether we'll be printing the Times in five years. And you know what? I don't care either."New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger , who told an Israeli newspaper he's focusing on the Web"If we can no longer laugh at the terrorists, what weapon is left for the citizen?" ...
  • Travel: Desert Paradises

    During prime winter months, prices at Southwestern desert resorts get as steep as the jagged mountains surrounding them. But if you venture just outside the main tourist areas, you'll find some hot bargains. Top picks:( miramonteresort.com ) This resort about 20 minutes from downtown Palm Springs is set against the Santa Rosa Mountains (rates from $220). Take an easy two-hour guided hike ($15) through a pristine desert landscape ( livingdesert.org ), then relax with a Lushly pedicure ($75) at the spa. ...
  • Now, Watch Very Carefully

    Even obsessive "Harry Potter" fans don't seem to have noticed that Hogwarts has had a makeover from the first two films. "As you approach, the Great Hall and the tower housing Professor Dumbledore's office are off to the left, and there's a viaduct connecting them to a series of buildings on the right," says Oscar-winning art director Stuart Craig, who has designed all five "Potter" movies, including this summer's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." "If you look to the right of that viaduct, there are considerable changes there": a whole new set of towers and spires. "Sometimes it was done to improve a particular shot, but sometimes it was just because I was anxious to improve the silhouette," he says. "Nobody's objected so far, and hopefully they won't." Craig has made lots of alterations to Harry's world over the past six years. He agreed to share a few of them in an exclusive NEWSWEEK interview:* Hagrid's house was an octagonal one-room hut in the first film, but Craig...
  • Rapid Descent

    Lisa Nowak was a super-mom. She helped raise three kids--a teenage son and twin 5-year-old daughters. She cooked and baked, preparing sumptuous Easter brunches and extravagantly decorated Christmas pastries. She played the piano, collected rubber stamps and cultivated African violets in the foyer of her home in suburban Houston. Beyond this, Nowak was also a NASA astronaut, known as one of the two "Robo-chicks" who operated the robotic arm on the space-shuttle Discovery last July. To many who knew her, Nowak, 43, appeared to pull it all off with aplomb. But others, like her friend Jonathan Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon whose astronaut wife, Laurel, died in the Columbia shuttle disaster, knew the kind of stress Nowak was under. Juggling family and such an all-consuming job creates "a huge amount of marital strain," says Clark. It can be "brutal."After reaching the pinnacle of her profession on her shuttle mission last summer, Nowak nose-dived, landing in police custody in...
  • Health: Battle Of The Binge

    Ron Saxen's problem with binge eating started when he was 11. He hid the disorder well enough--through exercise and yo-yo dieting--to sign a modeling contract at the age of 21, when he was 6 feet 1 and weighed 179 pounds. But the pressure to remain thin proved to be too much. He quit the catwalk and eventually ballooned to 295 pounds. "In the darkest days, I would get two Big Macs, a large order of fries and a chocolate shake, then pull into Taco Bell before finishing my McDonald's," says Saxen, author of "The Good Eater: The True Story of One Man's Struggle With Binge Eating Disorder" due out next month.But Saxen, now 44 and recovering, is one of the lucky ones. This month Harvard researchers found that binge-eating disorder, or BED, is the most common eating disorder in the United States--more prevalent than anorexia and bulimia nervosa combined. Its definition: single bursts of uncontrolled eating that last less than two hours and occur at least twice a week. Because of the...
  • The Wobble Before The Fall

    The era of the oil populists is getting interesting. Oil states enjoyed dizzying visions of power when prices hit $78 last July, and the bonanza emboldened populists like Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russia's Vladimir Putin to boost spending programs and extend their reach through checkbook diplomacy. Since then, oil prices have bounced as low as $50, exposing how these populists may handle leaner times.Ahmadinejad and Chávez are in an odd position--spending heavily enough to fuel inflation, but not well enough to meet rising expectations. Ahmadinejad, in particular, faces rising discontent. In the face of charges of economic mismanagement he has turned conservative, basing this year's budget on an oil price of $34, down from $42 last year. But Iranian M.P. Mohammad Khoshchehreh, a former economic adviser to Ahmadinejad, says this is for show. The "real price in the budget is $46," which the government "has managed to conceal through accountancy tactics."...
  • Green Living

    It takes more than a few solar panels to be at the cutting edge of green living. Architect Norman Foster's Santa Giulia complex, now under construction in southeastern Milan, is part of a new wave of "sustainable architecture" that is turning green a luxury. Foster's 120 square hectare "city within a city" will have classic energy savers like solar panels and heat pumps, and it will use "co-generation" technology in which heat emitted as a by-product of electricity generation is used to warm the building. But Foster has also looked at the big picture, forming the structural layout into a spiral shape around the private park, channeling air currents to allow breezy ventilation—and cutting out the need for air-conditioning—even during Italy's humid summers. Foster will spend €2 billion on the project, and each apartment will go on sale for an average of €1.7 million. "If you want to save the planet, you have to think about how we live in cities," says Stefan Behling, senior partner...
  • The Editor's Desk

    Our history with Iran is, to say the least, a checkered one. In the 1950s, under President Eisenhower, a CIA operation restored a pro-American shah to power; in the 1960s, the Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled; in the 1970s, the Islamic Revolution toppled the shah, Khomeini took control of the country and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, helping elect Ronald Reagan and George Bush (an event that made the presidency of George W. Bush a possibility), and in the 1980s, the United States supported Saddam Hussein in his long war against Iran. For a generation, the mention of Iran tended to evoke images of protesters chanting "Death to America!"As the new century began, then, Tehran and Washington did not enjoy the cheeriest of connections. When Osama bin Laden struck America, however, Iran saw a chance to build up some good will by reaching out. For a few months in the autumn of 2001, we were allies in the war against the Taliban. But by January 2002, when President Bush decided to...
  • Road Test: Honda Cr-V

    If you love the look of BMW's SUVs but can't afford them, eye Honda's redesigned CR-V, which borrows design cues from BMW's X3. The new CR-V is one of those citified SUVs: small(er), unrugged and built to ferry around your brood rather than ford a raging river. I found the ride quite comfortable though I was disappointed in the vehicle's cargo capacity. Even folding the back seats flat, I had to take the front wheel off my son's bicycle to make it fit.I did like the CR-V's excellent visibility, something I don't always experience on big SUVs, which can be riddled with blind spots. And the soft velour seats come with comfortable armrests for driver and front-seat passenger. I also liked the easy-to-use climate controls and audio system. What a pleasure to just turn an intuitive dial to start the heater. Two power outlets upfront let my husband and me charge our cell phones at the same time. Nice. And a lively gauge cluster is crisp with contemporary graphics and jazzed up with a...
  • Do It Online

    Microfinancing for poor entrepreneurs is one of the hottest ideas for helping the developing world, particularly since its founding thinker, Muhammad Yunus, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Global demand for microcredit is estimated at up to $300 billion a year, however, so Yunus's Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank can't possibly reach them all. But the Internet can. Alex Counts, president of the Grameen Foundation, calls the Net's potential "tremendous."Kiva.org is perhaps the leader in the field of microcredit online. Launched just over a year ago by two California idealists, Kiva ("unity" in Swahili) started out listing just seven Ugandan entrepreneurs as applicants, and has since brokered $2.5 million in loans to thousands of businesses. By 2008, it expects to surpass $10 million.With as little as $25, users lend to business owners of their choice, whether a seamstress in India or a juice seller in Mexico. Money is transferred through handpicked microfinance institutions, which...
  • I'm Real. Really.

    In the fall of 2005, John Edwards sat down with a pad and pen and scrawled out three simple words: "I was wrong." It was nearly three years after he'd joined a Senate majority in voting to authorize war in Iraq. After an unsuccessful run as John Kerry's vice presidential candidate in the 2004 election, Edwards had returned home to North Carolina and watched as the war descended into chaos. Increasingly filled with regret, he concluded that the three-word confession would be the right way to start a Washington Post op-ed admitting his vote was a mistake.But when a draft came back from his aides in Washington, Edwards's admission was gone. Determined, the senator reinserted the sentence. Again a draft came back from Washington; again the sentence had been taken out. "We went back and forth, back and forth," Edwards tells NEWSWEEK. "They didn't want me to say it. They were saying I should stress that I'd been misled." The opening sentence remained. "That was the single most important...
  • Toy Business: American Girl, On The March

    Beth Miller--an Atlanta mother with daughters 5, 7 and 12 years old--will visit the new American Girl doll store when it opens in her city this fall. "I'm sure I will have to," she says. AG owner Mattel is counting on moms like Miller to boost its $440 million in revenue last year--up just 1 percent from $436 million in 2005. "We wanted to bring the success of our flagships to smaller markets where we know we have customers," says AG president Ellen Brothers. Last year 3 million people made pilgrimages to the three existing AG stores in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to ogle the $87 dolls and their pricey accessories. This fall Mattel is opening AG "boutiques" in Atlanta and Dallas. The new stores will be smaller, without live theater. "The big, big stores are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many girls," says Brothers. "We didn't want to have too many of those around the country." Is bigger better? Next year AG is moving its 40,600-square-foot Chicago stand-alone store to a...
  • Gray Matters

    When my sixtyish mother went back to school last month, she assumed she would be the oldest person in her current-affairs seminar. It turns out she was one of the youngest.She shouldn’t have been surprised. For one thing, Japan’s retirees are going back to school in droves—Google “elderly college” in Japanese and you’ll find nearly 4 million hits—and community centers and colleges all across the country now offer a wide selection of courses designed to cater to what some tactfully call the "silver generation." While most “colleges” are more or less like extension schools, a growing number of regular universities and graduate schools are welcoming the elderly by offering lower tuition and less demanding entrance screening.The bigger reason, though, is that in her 60s my mom is hardly alone. Last December, a state-run think tank published a report noting that right now one out of five Japanese are over the age of 65—making Japan one of the oldest populations in the world. And the...
  • The Checklist

    Our top picks for the week ahead. RENT "The Departed." Martin Scorsese's profanely funny, savagely entertaining Oscar contender marks his return to the underworld turf he explored in such classics as "Mean Streets" and "GoodFellas." READ "The Double Bind," by Chris Bohjalian ($25). In this imaginatively crafted novel, a young woman inherits a trove of black-and-white photos, then traces the owner's life back to West Egg, the fictional home of Jay Gatsby. BROWSE global-rent-a-scope.com (subscriptions from $99) to view and snap pictures of distant galaxies and nebulae. Round-the-clock customer service keeps neophytes from getting lost in space. BUY wedding insurance from Travelers (from $160; protectmywedding.com). This new policy covers everything from military deployment towedding-day appendectomy. HEAR "West" by Lucinda Williams ($13.98). Sparsely textured guitar and intimate lyrics make this one of the alt-country queen's most personal albums yet.
  • Anna Nicole's Tabloid Odyssey

    Anna Nicole Smith, born Vickie Lynn Hogan, said she wanted to be Marilyn Monroe. She became instead a kind of bombshell circus freak, a star in the lewd carnival of American pop culture. Smith always seemed to be spilling out of her dress in front of a camera, or coming and going from a court of law, or both. Her apogee, or nadir, may have come last May, when, dressed in body-clinging black, she sashayed past the paparazzi up the marble steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to pursue her right to claim half the fortune of a billionaire husband she had married when she was 26 and he was 89. There was grittiness and pathos in her pursuit of celebrity; she was an underdog some cheered for. But her death last week of unexplained causes seemed more tawdry than sad. Her psyche did not appear all that complicated. In her guileless way, she explained that she loved photographers because they gave her the attention she had missed as a child. More interesting and revealing is the way the tabloid...
  • The Solution

    The Problem: To celebrate the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday, on Feb. 12, 1809, Bob Stephens, a retired scientist, is organizing more than 850 celebrations worldwide--parties with bearded impersonators, serious debates and a guy in England who's skipping work, in jest, on religious grounds. How can American proponents of intelligent design respond? The Answer: The Discovery Institute, America's major proponent of intelligent design, is sponsoring a talk on whether Darwin is "being turned into a saint for secular humanists." The institute's John West says he wants to counteract events that "bash religion." Stephens's reply: while the Darwin Day events include 500-plus pro-evolution sermons, he's publicizing the institute's event with all the others, since he rejects only those that are "really quite inappropriate." In other words, even an odd fit will survive.
  • A 'Straight Shooter' Or A Temperament Problem?

    Until recently, discussion about which GOP candidate might be temperamentally unsuited for the presidency has revolved around Sen. John McCain, who has a short fuse. But with former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani now poised to run, questions about the Big T are also hovering over Hizzoner.Giuliani gets mostly high marks as mayor--for cutting crime and welfare and for heroic leadership after 9/11. But New Yorkers also remember his thirst for power and bouts of unwarranted nastiness. After 9/11, the mayor briefly weighed challenging the city constitution that barred a third term. "He was hellbent on doing it," says one former aide from this period, who wouldn't be named for fear of retaliation. McCain was among those who talked Giuliani out of it, arguing that he'd be better off going out on top.Other examples of temperamentally questionable behavior go back more than a decade. After Police Commissioner William Bratton's innovative crime-fighting landed him on the cover of Time magazine...
  • Boycott Who?

    South Korea has a tradition of protest, usually against the powers that be. This time the people turned on the people. In a nation known for its patriotism and a leveling instinct, consumers are boycotting Hyundai Motors because they think its striking union is greedy and hurting the economy.Tens of thousands of consumers have signed an online petition denouncing "aristocratic" Hyundai union members, who make $60,000 a year, two times the national mean, and are striking for more. They also criticize Hyundai chairman Chung Mong Ku, who appealed a three-year jail term he received last week for embezzlement and breach of trust. Many Koreans still hold dear traditional values of hard work and honesty. So the patriotism that once fueled Hyundai sales has turned on it. Between the strike and the boycott, Hyundai sales last month fell 2 percent from the previous January, lowering its home market share from 54 to 48 percent. The main beneficiaries were Japanese and European carmakers.
  • Timing Is Everything

    In diplomacy, good timing can mean the difference between an impasse and a breakthrough. In Jerusalem Monday, where Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the American's timing couldn’t be worse. The three-way summit, set up weeks ago, was supposed to focus on reviving a long-dormant peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. The strategy this time was to bypass the conflict’s usual minutiae—the military checkpoints and settler outposts, for example—and go right for “final status” talks. More broadly, the summit was aimed at signaling to America’s Arab allies that resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict was still a priority.But a power-sharing deal struck last week between Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) and the hardline Hamas group has shifted the focus to crisis management. The agreement, brokered in Mecca by Saudi Arabia, helped ease tensions between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah group, which had...
  • Money: Paper Or Plastic?

    Every kid wants his own credit card. Now companies are rolling out prepaid cash cards that let you transfer money automatically from your account to their wallets. Recommended for kids ages 13 and up, the Payjr Prepaid MasterCard ( payjr.com ) wraps the card in an elaborate allowance system, transferring money as soon as parents sign off on the Web site that the chores are done. The Allow Card MasterCard ( allowcard.com ) puts teens through a series of online financial lessons, like how to create a budget. The Visa Buxx card ( visa.com ) has been around a little bit longer and can also be used as an allowance-payment system.The advantage is that kids can use the cards to shop online and avoid losing cash. But you might want to pair the cards with an old-school savings account to encourage responsible spending. And all the cards have fees of up to $20 for setup, money transfers and other services. So, if your bank is willing, a cheaper alternative might be to get your teen a debit...