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  • A Damning Witness

    Ari Fleischer may turn out to be a stronger—and more credible—witness than he was a White House press secretary.During several hours on the witness stand in the I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby Jr. perjury and obstruction trial Monday, President Bush’s former chief spokesman was cool, unruffled, chatty and at times combative—especially when he underwent hostile cross-examination from one of Libby’s lawyers. But he stuck to his story and, in the process, delivered what may have been the most damaging testimony yet against Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.Fleischer described with damning new details a lunch he had with Libby in the White House mess on July 7, 2003, just as the controversy over the president’s State of the Union claim that Iraq had sought to buy uranium in Africa was spreading into a major Washington firestorm.During that lunch, Fleischer said, Libby was anxious to rebut criticism by former ambassador Joseph Wilson. In a New York Times op-ed piece, Wilson had...
  • Perspectives

    "Such statements give a morale boost to the terrorists."Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on remarks from the Bush administration describing the Iraqi government as being "on borrowed time""The jury will not be asked to render a verdict on the war."Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, on the jury selection for the trial of former White House aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby. Libby--whose attorneys are reportedly trying to weed out anti-Bush jurors--is charged with lying during an investigation into the identity leak of a former CIA agent."Our leaders in Washington seem incapable of working together in a practical, common-sense way."Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, on why he has formed a presidential exploratory committee. Obama said he'll announce definitively whether he'll run or not on Feb. 10."[The Bush library] will promote a point of view that is contrary to the Methodist point of view."Retired minister Milton Jordan, on an online petition organized by ministers urging Southern...
  • Opinion: A Race Away From The Past

    When Jesse Jackson ran for president in 1984, he resembled Barack Obama in some striking respects. A charismatic and compelling figure in his early 40s, Jackson leapt into the contest and forced America to wrestle with questions of political access and equal opportunity. In many important ways, however, Barack Obama is no Jesse Jackson--and that is a key to Obama's political appeal. Whereas Jackson was a fully formed public figure--with all the baggage that entails--Obama is a work in progress who has the ability to embrace nearly whatever qualities he chooses.Before setting his sights on the White House, Jackson had been a major presence on the national stage for nearly two decades. He was "bloodied up from the civil-rights battle," as he told me last week, and already had won the allegiance of many blacks and the enmity of many whites.Obama, in contrast, "did not come up through the ranks in our community," says Jackson. Instead he "fell out of the sky in Boston," a reference to...
  • Crime: Living With Evil

    In 2002, Shawn Hornbeck Was Abducted While Riding His Bike. He Turned Up Four Years Later--Alive, The Alleged Captive Of A Pizza-Parlor Manager. The Saga Of A Kidnapped Boy And His Accused Tormentor.
  • The Priest On The Hill

    On the same day that tens of thousands of people marched in Washington against the Iraq war, the country lost one of its most principled and dedicated antiwar voices. Rev. Robert F. Drinan, the first Roman Catholic priest to serve as a voting member of Congress, died in the nation’s capital at age 86.Elected in Massachusetts in 1970 during the height of opposition to the Vietnam War, Father Drinan left his seat 10 years later out of deference to a papal order that said no clergy should hold public office. In perhaps his last public appearance, he celebrated mass on Jan. 3 for Nancy Pelosi at her alma mater, Trinity College, an all-women’s Catholic college.In a measure of how much the intersection of politics and religion has changed, Drinan noted that Pelosi is the first “mom” to become Speaker of the House. The fact that she is also Catholic was a footnote. And nobody was checking with the Vatican to see if it was OK, least of all Drinan. If Rome thought this progressive priest...
  • Politics: Pelosi In Pixels?

    In 1960, a young JFK outshone Richard Nixon in a televised debate, proving the political importance of physical appearance. Now, leaders may have to manage their image in a new medium: virtual reality. "Capitol Hill," launched earlier this month, is a new location in the over-2 million-member online community Second Life--a 3-D world that users traverse with personalized characters called "avatars" (think SimCity on a massive scale). The forum may soon allow everyday people digital face time with elected leaders. Rep. George Miller of California appeared "on the Hill" Jan. 4, fielding questions via his avatar, which he described to NEWSWEEK as having "a big mop of gray hair."Since that appearance, Clear Ink--the Internet marketing firm that designed Capitol Hill for Second Life--says three more House members' offices from both parties have expressed interest in the forum. An avatar for Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already been created; Pelosi's office says she would consider appearing...
  • International Periscope

    Does the international war on terror have a new front? Earlier this month, police in western Xinjiang province swept down on a camp where, Chinese authorities say, armed Muslims were stockpiling explosives: 18 militants were shot dead and 17 arrested. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the militants were members of the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) who had "carried out a series of violent terrorist activities" and were "associated with international terrorist forces." It was the first time China had ever claimed the presence of a foreign-linked terrorist base on its soil.For decades China has battled militants of the Muslim, Turkic-speaking Uighur minority who seek an independent homeland. After the U.S. launched its "war on terror" in 2001, China began to brand the separatists "international terrorists," with Washington's approval. But it never proved a foreign link. After the recent raid, however, the official Xinhua news agency claimed that Al Qaeda had...
  • Beliefwatch: Surf's Up!

    There is at least one moment in every religious person's life where commitment to faith collides, inconveniently, with desire. For Zeena Altalib, that moment occurred last year at the local swimming pool. An American Muslim of Iraqi descent, Altalib wanted to take her baby son, Yusif, for a swim. But what to do about the fact that her religion requires her to wear hijab , to cover herself from head to toe? A commercially available swimsuit was out of the question--not modest enough--but the makeshift options available to her were, as she puts it, "yucky." Tights and a long T shirt? Yuck. Some kind of lightweight tracksuit? Yuckier. So Altahib decided to take matters into her own hands. Today the swimsuit she designed is available online through her company, Primo Moda. It's a strikingly unsexy two-piece: a neck-to-ankle Lycra body stocking with a loose vest that goes on top. After years of swimming in her clothes, donning an actual swimsuit, says Altalib, "was an amazing feeling....
  • Food: Hot Cocoa

    It's one of late winter's few perks. But which brand to buy? Tasters sampled eight varieties, and these were the best. THE TOP FIVE FINISHERS69 cents per pouchLand O'Lakes won raves for its buttery milk-chocolate flavor and creamy sweetness.$8 for 21 servingsTasters found it to be rich and sweet, with a dark-chocolate flavor that wasn't overly sugary.$2 for four servingsSome thought it had "the perfect sweetness," while others complained that it was "a little sugary."$2.79 for 16 servingsIts creamy, delicious flavor is perfect for kids, but some felt it tasted too artificial.$1.99 for 10 servingsNestlé lost points for its overwhelming saccharine taste, which masked its chocolate flavor.
  • Money: Paying For Less

    If your credit-card bills are putting a damper on your new year, it may be time to transfer your balances to one of the low-rate offers in your mailbox. But keep in mind that balance transfers can hurt your credit. Just how big the ding will be varies based on the formula used to concoct your credit score. That includes the number of new accounts you've opened and your credit-utilization rate--the amount of money you owe as a percentage of all available credit, which should be about 35 percent. If your credit is good, the temporary nose dive won't hurt you. In fact, it might help your score, since opening a new account temporarily increases the amount of credit you have available. But if you're already on shaky ground (a credit score below 559), the dip in scoring could get you further in the hole. The good news is, the credit-score dip will last only a few months, especially if you make payments on time. For more info go to bankrate.com , creditcard assist.com or cardweb.com . And...
  • Still Busy--But Staying Out Of The Spotlight

    Don't write Karl Rove's political obituary just yet. After the GOP's midterm thumping, President Bush's top aide fell out of the spotlight. But behind the scenes, according to administration officials (anonymous in order to discuss White House matters), Rove has been laying the groundwork for Bush's State of the Union address and mulling how the GOP can regain momentum in 2008. Earlier this month Rove showed up at a weekly meeting of influential D.C. conservatives, surprising attendees with his bubbly demeanor after weeks of rumors that he might be headed out."I think some people had given him up for dead, but he was good old Karl, upbeat and enthusiastic," says GOP activist Grover Norquist, who hosts the weekly sit-down. At the meeting Rove previewed Bush's final two years in office, saying Social Security reform was likely off the table and that Iraq and the economy would be the biggest issues for 2008. Rove offered a $5 bet to anyone in the room that Bush would not raise taxes...
  • Ground Support

    Michelle Obama has always been a creature of discipline and decorum. As a young lawyer, she initially brushed off advances from her future husband, Barack Obama, because they worked at the same firm. A reporter, visiting her Chicago home in 2004, noticed a to-do list for her two daughters that included time for "play." She is in bed most nights by 9:30 and rises each morning at 4:30 to run on a treadmill. "She'll sacrifice the sleep so she can make sure she has that time," says Susan Page, a friend since Harvard Law School. "Once she has a plan, she goes for it."Now, however, Michelle's once orderly life is tending toward the chaotic, in the form of a presidential campaign, and no amount of planning can stave it off. Last week her husband's name was on the lips of every Democrat from Boston to Berkeley after he announced he was forming a presidential exploratory committee. But Michelle was out of sight--the Obama campaign declined to make her available for this story--even as many...
  • The Checklist

    RENT 'This Film Is Not Yet Rated.' Kirby Dick's feisty documentary skewers the Motion Picture Association of America's secretive ratings system. Last week, the MPAA announced a revamp. HEAR the Shins's 'Wincing the Night Away' ($15.98). Their highly anticipated third album is as unpretentious as it is melodically heavy in all the right places. "Phantom Limb" is the single that Brian Wilson will wish he had written. SURF bedandbreakfast.com whether you want to celebrate Valentine's Day or flee it. The site offers special deals, plus a new list of the best undiscovered inns (click "resources," then "press room"). BUY Patagonia Design It Yourself Shoe ($30; patagonia.com). Design a cool pair of kicks and be good to the planet. All parts are made from recycled leather recovered from the factory floor. SEARCH winezap.com. This oenological search engine lets you look up wine recommendations and local prices via a mobile device.
  • Not That Edgy

    I'm hit upside the head with all the blingage: blindingly reflective chrome wheels, trim and a gianormous front grille. But except for the shine, the Edge looks perfectly at home parked on a turf-wrapped suburban driveway. And nothing suburban is ever edgy.Still, the comforts are plenty, with a wealth of electronic spoils--including a reverse sensing system, full-color navigation and satellite radio. As for performance, this five-seat, six-speed automatic moves well for its size, with enough power from a 3.5-liter V-6 engine. I found the all-wheel drive great for foul-weather driving, though somewhat of a guzzler at the tank. Inside, there's a pleasing mix of colors and a truly massive sunroof, but I was disappointed by the cheapo audio and climate controls. In all, the Edge is a fine family ride--just, please, call it something else. Tip: Pocket $4,725 and get a smidge better fuel economy with the front-wheel drive version.
  • Davos Special Report: We're No 'Monster'

    Alexander Medvedev is deputy chairman of Gazprom, the huge company at the heart of Russia's emerging energy empire. Last week he announced that profits rose 43 percent in 2006 to $37.2 billion, even as European leaders were voicing open concern about Russia's use of oil and gas shipments to pressure small neighbors like Belarus and Ukraine. Medvedev is among the Gazprom execs preparing to travel to Davos, where "power shifts" to new players like Russia lead the agenda. They'll try to present Russia as a reliable partner and head off European moves to diversify. Medvedev spoke to NEWSWEEK's Owen Matthews in Moscow: ...
  • We Can Win The White House

    I am blessed. I love my job. I wake up every Monday morning excited about the week ahead. The one downside is how consuming it is. I don't have much time for leisure activities. So whenever I can, I fit in a nice bike ride through New York City. It's good exercise, it helps me relax, and it's a great time to noodle on difficult problems. In the fall of 2005, I somehow found time for a late-afternoon bike ride. It was just about halfway between the 2004 and 2006 elections. As I pedaled around Brooklyn and Queens, incognito behind my sunglasses and helmet, I was consumed by the question that Democrats in every part of the country are asked almost every day: What does the Democratic Party stand for? How can it help the middle class and those struggling to make it there?From the Great Depression through the 1960s, the Democrats were the party of the middle class. We won by talking about the social safety net, neglected groups and a stronger federal government. In 1980, Ronald Reagan...
  • Media: Trying A New Journey

    Adventures in Capitalism" was the high-testosterone tag line for The Wall Street Journal's previous ad campaign, in 1997, to promote the brand. The paper was recently made over--taking three inches from the width and adding an emphasis on forward-looking journalism--so it's time to freshen up with a new campaign. "Every journey needs a Journal," says the new tag line, positioning the paper to speak less to readers' inner Striver than their inner Seeker. The ad blitz begins next week in major publications and Web sites. The ads are essentially celebrity endorsements, highlighting the Journal's role in the inspiring "life journeys" of a diverse mix of people including singer Sheryl Crow, "Freakonomics" coauthor and University of Chicago professor Steven Levitt and Jack Burton, founder of Burton Snowboards.The Journal wanted people who weren't megafamous but who "had an interesting life journey, read The Wall Street Journal and were successful," Ann Marks, Dow Jones's chief marketing...
  • Marketing: A 'Little House' Makeover

    Sometimes it's good that you can't judge a book by its cover. This month, for the "Little House" books' 75th anniversary, the first eight stories appear with photos of models as Laura instead of with the Garth Williams illustrations. (The text is unchanged.) "Girls might feel the Garth Williams art is too old-fashioned," says Tara Weikum, executive editor for the "Little House" series. "We wanted to convey the fact that these are action-packed. There were dust storms and locusts. And they had to build a cabin from scratch." (The new tag line: "Little House, Big Adventure.")Publishers are altering cover art--often tied to anniversaries and movies--to appeal to kids weaned on videos and computer games. The thinking is that children are more likely to pick up "Charlotte's Web" with Dakota Fanning on it than with Williams's illustration of a girl and a pig, or Newbery winner "Bridge to Terabithia" with a scene from the Disney movie (in theaters next month). "A Wrinkle in Time" is...
  • Travel: May I See Some I.D.?

    Attention, all snow bunnies and sun seekers. Thanks to the Department of Homeland Security, starting Tuesday, all Americans will need a passport to enter or re-enter the United States by airplane from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. (Until now, only a driver's license was required. Those traveling by boat, train or car from those destinations will be able to get back into the United States with a driver's license and birth certificate until Jan. 1, 2008.) If you don't have a passport yet--and 79 percent of us don't--go to travel.state.gov for instructions and applications that can be downloaded. The fee is $67 plus $30 for processing. Oh, and go to smartertravel.com for info about some Caribbean countries like Nassau and Jamaica that are rebating passport fees for travel this winter and spring. How's that for a break?In "May I See Some I.D.?" (TIP SHEET, Jan. 29) we erroneously referred to Nassau as a Caribbean country. It is, in fact, a city. NEWSWEEK regrets the error.
  • Behind The 'Madrassa Hoax'

    What will the first full week of Campaign '08 be remembered for? That Barack Obama was under attack for his behavior as a 6-year-old. It’s worth revisiting the Madrassa Hoax story for what it tells us about our warp-speed politics.The subtext of the story was that Obama was some kind of Muslim Manchurian Candidate (or the Russian spy played by Kevin Costner in “No Way Out”)—trained in an Indonesian religious school to be a jihadist who would do Al Qaeda’s work from within. Under the old media order, the whole thing would have made for a nice joke amid the somber mood surrounding President Bush’s State of the Union address. But this is a different time, when every campaign lives in fear of being Swift-Boated. Even after the story was debunked, the folks at Fox News Channel wouldn’t apologize, and in one case kept pushing a line on the air they knew was false.The pathetic little saga begins on the Web site of Insight Magazine, a scandal sheet connected to the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s...
  • A Sorry State

    President George W. Bush concluded his annual State of the Union address this week with the words “the State of our Union is strong … our cause in the world is right … and tonight that cause goes on.” Maybe so, but the state of the Bush administration is at its worst yet, according to the latest NEWSWEEK Poll. The president’s approval ratings are at their lowest point in the poll’s history—30 percent—and more than half the country (58 percent) say they wish the Bush presidency were simply over, a sentiment that is almost unanimous among Democrats (86 percent), and is shared by a clear majority (59 percent) of independents and even one in five (21 percent) Republicans. Half (49 percent) of all registered voters would rather see a Democrat elected president in 2008, compared to just 28 percent who’d prefer the GOP to remain in the White House.Public fatigue over the war in the Iraq is not reflected solely in the president’s numbers, however. Congress is criticized by nearly two-thirds...
  • Sat Wars?

    China’s been playing follow the leader in space for a long time. Back in 1957, when the Soviet Union launched its first object into orbit, the late Great Helmsman Mao Zedong complained that Beijing “couldn’t even put a potato into space.” But Beijing’s been scrambling to catch up ever since. In 1970 China launched its first successful satellite, and sent a Chinese astronaut into orbit for the first time in 2003. The fact that much of China’s space technology is derived from decades-old Russian and American models hasn’t deterred Beijing from pursuing antisatellite weapons, which Washington and Moscow both stopped testing way back in the ‘80s. To some, China’s version of “Star Wars: the Sequel” was shaping up to look more like an attack of the clones.Even so, the international community was startled by China’s successful test of a satellite-killing ballistic missile on Jan. 11, which triggered protests from the United States, Japan, Australia and other countries. A defunct Chinese...
  • Payback Time For Trent Lott?

    Senate Republicans are in a quandary. They don’t like the Iraq war, but most are not willing to openly break with the White House—not yet, anyway. A vote taken Wednesday in the Senate Foreign Relations committee opposing the latest troop escalation won the support of only one Republican, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel. If it had been a secret ballot, it would have passed overwhelmingly.These are the sentiments roiling the Republican caucus as the leadership tries to shape a “sense of the Senate” resolution that doesn’t embarrass President Bush yet gives political cover to nervous senators looking for a way out of unconditional support for an unpopular war. Counting the votes for an antiwar resolution and limiting the damage to his party falls to Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, whose election to the second highest position in the Republican leadership was one of last year’s biggest political comebacks.One of the reasons Lott has the job is because his colleagues know he won’t reflexively be...
  • Delicate Balance

    News that China had destroyed one of its own satellites with a missile last week sent shockwaves through capitals from Washington to Tokyo. But for security experts like Lin Chong-Pin, who have closely watched the rise of China’s military in recent decades, Beijing’s capability came as little surprise. Lin has studied the People’s Liberation Army as a scholar, and verbally sparred with China as a top Taiwanese government official. Now, he watches developments across the Taiwan Strait and in the region from his perch at a Taipei think tank. NEWSWEEK’S Jonathan Adams spoke with Lin about Beijing’s satellite-slaying test, the cross-strait military balance and China’s ambitions for regional domination. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Why did China decide to go ahead with this antisatellite test?Lin Chong-Pin: This didn’t happen overnight. I remember in the late ‘80s they were talking about “occupying the heights” in the future, which meant space … The technology has reached a stage at which it now...
  • Washington: A Dysfunctional Democracy

    Why are Washington policymakers so skeptical that George W. Bush’s surge plan for Iraq can work? In large part because they don’t trust Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. The consensus in town: Maliki must get his act together, fix Iraqi governance and quell the out-of-control sectarian hatred in his country if America is to have any hope of success.What’s missing here is that Maliki and the rest of the world have every reason to be skeptical themselves about America’s own governance, not to mention our out-of-control sectarian divisions. And if they don’t think we can get our act together and speak with a common voice, they may cut separate deals (in Maliki’s case, with Tehran).All these problems were on display in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday as it debated a resolution opposing the president’s decision to send another 21,000 troops into what Sen. Chuck Hagel called "the grinder” of Iraq. “Don't hide anymore; none of us!” Hagel barked to his fellow...
  • L.A.’S New Gang War

    Next month Los Angeles officials will announce details of a new anti-gang initiative aimed at suppressing a resurgence of gang crime in and around L.A. After falling for several years, gang-related crime rose 14 percent last year; 58 percent of the city’s murders were gang-related in 2006, up 50 percent from the previous year. Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has brought together what he calls an “unprecedented collaboration” to fight the gangs—including prosecutors, the LAPD, the L.A. Sheriff’s office and other local police, along with such federal agencies as the FBI. The plan: to target the city’s most violent gangs, including one notorious Latino gang that has allegedly been targeting black victims in south Los Angeles. Bratton spoke with NEWSWEEK Los Angeles correspondent Andrew Murr about his confidence that this plan can drive down gang crime and help provide a template for other cities battling these deadly rivalries. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Gang crime went up 14 percent...
  • Exceeding Expectations

    All the commentary leading up to the State of the Union noted the president’s historically low poll ratings and unpopular Iraq strategy. But it really isn’t an option for any president to go before Congress and take the fetal position—and it isn’t a temptation for this president. Instead, he gave a speech that matched genuine outreach with ideological boldness. Once again the expectations of the president were driven down by exaggerated commentary. Once again he gracefully exceeded those expectations.The president’s graciousness to the new Speaker, and mention of her father, set a tone of civility. And the president used that tone to argue for a series of creative domestic initiatives. His health plan moves in the direction of universal, government-subsidized, individual ownership of private health plans, the only feasible alternative to a statist reorganization of American health care. His immigration plan repudiates the worst, nativist elements of his own party, and has an...
  • Deadly Triggers

    Why is the Bush administration escalating its accusations that Iran is backing Shiite extremists inside Iraq? One reason: mounting intelligence indicating Tehran has been supplying insurgents with electronic sensors that trigger roadside bombs used against U.S. troops.The devices in question—which cost as little as $1 a piece—are called "passive infrared" sensors or detectors. They are commonly used to turn on lights or burglar alarms when someone or something passes in front of them. Over the past year, U.S. forces in Iraq have repeatedly fallen victim to sophisticated homemade bombs—known as “IEDs”, or improvised explosive devices—which are often rigged with passive infrared sensors.Recent reports from U.S. intelligence agencies show that Iranian agents or brokers have ordered the devices in bulk from manufacturers in the Far East, said one U.S. counter-terrorism official, who asked not to be identified discussing sensitive matters. Bruce Riedel, a senior intelligence official who...
  • A General’S Baptism Of Fire

    Room 325 of the Senate’s Russell Office Building—the cavernous and overgilded Caucus Room—makes an unlikely theater of war. But Lt. Gen. David Petraeus underwent a baptism of fire there at his confirmation hearing to be the new commander in Iraq. In the space of four hours Tuesday, Petraeus faced probing attacks from both flanks, a couple of ambushes and—from presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton—a full-blown artillery barrage. Petraeus had come with only light reinforcements: three aides instead of the 10 for whom chairs had been reserved. Still, he defended his position with all the tenacity of a former commander of the 101st Airborne until he was lured into an incautious expeditionary sally beyond his lines, strayed into a minefield and had to be rescued by a coalition of forces.All in all, it was excellent preparation for Iraq.At some point in this brief but intense campaign of words, Petraeus might have been forgiven for reflecting that Prussian military strategist...
  • A New Tone

    For the all the hype generated over energy policies and health-care proposals, last night’s State of the Union Message ended up being less about what President Bush said than how he said it. In his second-to-last major speech before the Congress, Bush sounded like a different leader than he was just a year ago, a reflection of the difficult political circumstances he faces in Washington heading into the final years of his presidency.Last year, Bush came before Congress as a man who refused to cede any ground on Iraq, lambasting Democrats for their “defeatism” on the war. Last night was a different story, as Bush essentially pleaded with Democrats and many Republicans to stick with him on his plan to send additional troops to Iraq. “This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in,” Bush somberly admitted, urging lawmakers to “give it a chance to work.” Few presidents in recent memory have ever been so contrite in a speech before the Congress, but that’s the...
  • What Bush Will Say

    For all the hype, the State of the Union speech has a disappointing history. Few presidents have ever delivered a memorable address. Despite a few rhetorical flourishes that stick—41’s “thousand points of light,” for example—most are just laundry lists of promises soon broken or forgotten. Remember President Clinton’s detailed plan to store up 15 years of budget surpluses in order to salvage Social Security? Neither do we. President Bush has uttered one memorable State of the Union phrase in his six-year tenure: “axis of evil.” You don’t hear it much around the White House these days.Despite the speech’s sorry history, Bush knows he needs a big night tonight. His last address, announcing a “surge” of American troops as his new way forward in Iraq, failed to catch fire with the public, and left a growing group within his own party looking for other answers. In order to come out from under the Iraq cloud, and regain momentum on his domestic agenda, Bush is returning to a topic...
  • A Man Apart

    George W. Bush wanted to be Harry Truman (patron saint of embattled presidents) in his State of the Union speech, but he may have reminded voters of Slim Pickens in "Dr. Strangelove." You know the famous scene: the giddy pilot in a cowboy hat hops aboard his own payload to Armageddon.Say this about the president: he is going to stick with his vision, his strategy and his decisions on Iraq—no matter what the world, the American voters, the new Democratic Congress, the ’08 presidential contenders or even his fellow Republicans want.All the buzz before the speech was that Bush would do something of a quick shuffle past Iraq. Yes, there was much domestic throat clearing—more than a half hour’s worth of it (though not a single mention of Katrina and New Orleans)—but when it came time to turn to Iraq and the “war on terror” he did not flinch.Nothing he said was remarkably new—which, in and of itself was nothing short of remarkable.Bush said, with all earnestness, that his goal in Iraq and...
  • 'Scapegoat:' Scooter's Stunning Defense

    It was the last thing the White House needed at a time when President Bush is already on the defensive over Iraq: a circular firing squad in a federal courtroom in which the president’s men—and Vice President Dick Cheney’s—are all shooting at each other.But that’s how the perjury trial of I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Cheney’s former chief of staff, began. Libby’s long-awaited defense was laid out for the first time Tuesday in opening statements and it turned out to be a stunner: a “scorched earth” strategy in which his main defense lawyer pointed accusatory fingers at White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove as well as other top current and former Bush aides.Almost no legal experts had expected this plan of attack in the trial, the outcome of a drawn-out investigation into who leaked the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative, to the media. According to chief prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the leak occured amid an effort by Bush administration officials to discredit Plame’s...
  • Gadgets: Apple Makes A Cool Call

    Steve Jobs, shiny object in hand, lays it out for me: "This is five years ahead of what everybody's got." Predicting the future is gamy, but a tour of the iPhone--it's called that pending a trademark dispute with Cisco--makes the claim seem credible. At its best, Apple transforms a product category plagued by awkward interfaces, inadequate utility and ungainly packaging and transforms the experience into something effective and fun. The iPhone--actually a combination of a smart phone, Internet communicator and iPod--is a case in point.Here are the details: a 4.8-ounce palm-size slab dominated by a bright "multitouch" screen you control with your fingers. It runs on the Macintosh operating system, so it has sophisticated e-mail and Web browsing, along with stuff like Google Maps. It lets you handle voice mail like e-mail, choosing which message you want to hear. It's got a revamped iPod interface that makes the most of the iTunes ability to let you watch movies and TV. And with the...
  • Evidence Of Guilt?

    The firestorm burned hot and fast: within days of acknowledging one of its divisions was publishing O. J. Simpson's "hypothetical" account of the murders of his ex-wife and her friend, News Corp. reversed course and canceled the book in late November. Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman, apologized for the "ill-conceived project." Then the company fired Judith Regan, the hard-charging publisher who acquired the book for her ReganBooks imprint and who had conducted a TV interview with Simpson to air on Fox. All 400,000 copies of the book were recalled for destruction, save for one locked away in a News Corp. vault.Regan and News Corp. were pressured to drop the project (NEWSWEEK was among the critics) because they were, in effect, paying Simpson at least $880,000 to tell how he might have committed the murders, money that should have gone to satisfy the $33.5 million judgment a 1997 civil jury ordered him to pay to the victims' families. Throughout the uproar, however, almost no...
  • A Blessedly Boring Year

    In the last year or so, 11 Latin American countries held presidential elections. Citizens in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela all went to the polls. The confluence of so many elections was unusual. What was downright astounding was that, except in Mexico, the results were generally accepted. That's no mean feat in a region where losers have too often fought decisions that didn't go their way.The big question now is: just how permanent was this shift? Were the elections a fluke, or a sign of things to come?So far, the evidence looks promising. In the last 20 years most of Latin America has gone democratic, and those gains seem to have been consolidated. Consider the signs: no military stepped in because it didn't like a result, and losing candidates (except in Mexico) accepted their defeat, even when the margins were razor thin. The costs of cheating, moreover, seem to have become too high: even Hugo Chávez in...
  • Conventional Wisdom

    After months of considering how to fix the mess he got us in, Bush comes up with ... throw more gas on the fire. Coming soon: War with Iran, Syria?Bush (down) Rejects overwhelming consensus and stubbornly doubles down even when his cards stink. Scary.Pelosi (equal) Her "100 hour" agenda sailing through with bipartisan support. But without Senate and prez, it's symbolic.Maliki (down) Iraqi leader doesn't even want the "surge" and won't crack down on his Shiite masters. Some ally.Rice (down) Flayed on Hill for "augmentation" (not escalation) dodge. She's going down with the ship."24" (up) Who needs a troop surge when Jack Bauer is back? He'd clear out Baghdad in a day.McGwire (down) Nice guys and complete players Ripken and Gwynn are in. Popeye ("Let's not talk about the past") Mark is out.
  • Periscope

    Has George W. Bush ordered up a "secret war" against Iran and Syria? Some administration opponents on Capitol Hill began asking this question after U.S. forces in recent weeks arrested two groups of Iranian government representatives inside Iraq. Bush particularly alarmed critics when, in announcing his new Iraq policy, he pledged to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria" and to "seek out and destroy the networks." Sen. Joseph Biden, now Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman (and a Dem presidential contender), sent a letter to Bush after a question-and-answer confrontation with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Biden said Rice had been evasive on whether Bush's statements meant that U.S. military personnel could cross into Iran or Syria in pursuit of insurgent support networks. He also asked whether the administration believes the president could order such action without first seeking explicit congressional approval--as Biden thinks he must. A White House aide...
  • Beliefwatch: Ivy League

    In your prayers tonight, you might want to thank God that no one has put you in charge of the Task Force on General Education at Harvard.The job wasn't going to be easy. Harvard has been looking at revising its core curriculum--established in 1978 to ensure that all undergraduates are educated in certain subject areas--for years. Committees were convened and disbanded, defeated by internal politics and conceptual stalemates. The most recent iteration, the aforementioned task force, is now drafting its final recommendations for a vote next month by the faculty. It will likely succeed, but not without sustaining considerable damage from the culture wars.In October, the task force issued an innocent-enough proposal. Given the prominence of religion in the world today, all students should be required to do coursework in an area called "Reason & Faith." "Religion is realpolitik , both nationally and internationally," the report said. "By providing [students] with a fuller...
  • Perspectives

    We haven't made any progress ... We've lost ground.Outgoing State Department terror coordinator Henry Crumpton , on the U.S.-led war on terror"Fatherland, socialism or death--I swear it. I swear by Christ--the greatest socialist in history."Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, echoing Fidel Castro"My Fox guys, I love every single one of them."U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , referring to correspondents working for the Fox News Channel. Rice's comment was inadvertently picked up by an open microphone in between morning television interviews."The Anglo-Saxons arrived in Australia in shackles. [Muslims] came as free people. We bought our own tickets. We are entitled to Australia more than they are."Sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilali, Australia's top Muslim cleric, during an appearance on an Egyptian television show"It was good theater for you--and for Jay Leno."New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to members of the press, on the mysterious gaslike odor in Manhattan last week. City...
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    Blame For The Top Brass

    Given all the recriminations over the mess in Iraq, it is remarkable how little criticism has fallen on the U.S. military. Americans want to honor the sacrifice of the troops in the field and they may feel guilty about the cold reception given many veterans returning from the Vietnam War. But in the public blame game that's erupted on Capitol Hill and on the cable news talk shows, the armed services are largely given a free pass.Some top soldiers, however, aren't so sure they should be let off the hook. Is there, NEWSWEEK asked retired Gen. William Nash, who commanded U.S. forces in Bosnia in the 1990s and remains plugged in, a sense within the Army of mistakes made in Iraq? "It's pervasive," he answered. Gen. Jack Keane, the Army vice chief of staff at the time of the Iraq invasion in March 2003, told NEWSWEEK: "Everyone recognizes that we made mistakes. The harder part is what to learn from them."No one understands the Army's march of folly in Iraq better than the commander who...
  • The Duke Case: Standing Down

    The three Duke lacrosse defendants just got more good news. District Attorney Mike Nifong, who'd once called them hooligans, has asked to be recused from the case, suggesting a special prosecutor be appointed to take over.The pressure on Nifong to step down has been building. In December the state bar accused him of disparaging the defendants and misleading the public about evidence. Then the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys--his own colleagues--urged Nifong to recuse himself "in the interest of justice."The case itself is imploding. The accuser, who'd already changed her story numerous times, did it yet again, according to a motion filed by defense attorneys. In this new version, she says she was attacked by two men, not three. She'd originally singled out Reade Seligmann as having forced a specific sex act on her. Now, according to the documents, she told Nifong's investigator that Seligmann said he couldn't go through with the rape because he was getting married....
  • The Editor's Desk

    He is just 14, but already sounds like someone who has seen much, and feels much, and resents much. A soldier in the Mahdi Army, the militia controlled by the Shiite strongman Moq-tada al-Sadr, Ali Sadkhan lives in the Shia holy city of Karbala. Ali comes from a poor but proud family; he idolizes not only Sadr but Sadr's martyred father, a revered Shia cleric whom Saddam Hussein murdered in 1999. For Ali, the political and the personal have always been linked; in 2003, when America toppled Saddam's regime, he went to a Hawza seminary in Najaf, a center of Shia doctrine. Two years later, as the war dragged on, Ali joined the militia. "I should learn how to fight thieves and foreigners who would think to steal our rights," Ali recently told a NEWSWEEK stringer in Karbala. "I want to be like Sayeed Moqtada and his father, who never felt afraid of anything. His father stood against Saddam, and he stood against the evil of America." Americans, Ali said, "want to make a new Middle East, a...
  • Terror: 'We're Going To Get Hit'

    Intel director John Negroponte gave Congress a sobering assessment last week of the continued threats from groups like Al Qaeda and Hizbullah. But even gloomier comments came from Henry Crumpton, the outgoing State Department terror coordinator. An ex-CIA operative, Crumpton told NEWSWEEK that a worldwide surge in Islamic radicalism has worsened recently, increasing the number of potential terrorists and setting back U.S. efforts in the terror war. "Certainly, we haven't made any progress," said Crumpton. "In fact, we've lost ground." He cites Iraq as a factor; the war has fueled resentment against the United States.Crumpton noted some successes, such as improved joint efforts with foreign governments and a weakening of Al Qaeda's leadership structure. But he warned of future attacks. "We don't want to acknowledge we're going to get hit again in the homeland, but we are," he said. "That's a hard, ugly fact. But it's going to happen." Crumpton cited no specific intel, but said the...
  • Viral Video: A Youtube Is Born For The Arab World

    Where can you find a Saudi breakdancer, a Lebanese temptress and a narcoleptic sheik? At Ikbis ("click" in Arabic), a new Web site that lets Arabs join the file-sharing craze. Internet use in the Middle East has increased fourfold in the past six years, with more than 20 million logging on each day. The first Arabic-language service of its kind, Ikbis.com has already struck a chord--more than 1,000 files went up within a week of its November launch, and the site now tops 30,000 page views a day.Like YouTube, Ikbis attracts humorous clips. But politics are never far behind in the Mideast; users have shared George W. Bush parodies and home movies of the recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza. The Saddam Hussein execution video was up briefly, before administrators took it offline for being too disturbing. ("We all agreed that in a region full of atrocities, that reality needs to be conveyed somewhere, but not on Ikbis," site co-creator George Akra wrote in an e-mail.)Ibkis's creators say...
  • Fear In The North Woods

    The northern Wisconsin woods have become a flash point in an American hunting culture clash. On Jan. 6, authorities discovered the body of Cha Vang, 30, a recent Hmong immigrant to Green Bay, Wisc. He had been shot and stabbed while hunting. His death follows the killing of six white hunters two years ago by Chai Soua Vang, another member of Wisconsin’s tight-knit Hmong community, which includes Laotian refugees who immigrated to Wisconsin after fighting for the U.S. in a covert war in Southeast Asia in the 1970s.Each deep-woods murder is tinged with racial overtones. James Nichols, 28, of Pertigo, Wisc., the white hunter arrested for killing Cha Vang, told authorities that the “Hmong group are bad,” according to the criminal complaint against him for first-degree intentional homicide. Chai Soua Vang, who is serving multiple life sentences for the 2004 killings, claimed in his defense that he was the target of racial slurs and that members of the white hunting party fired first....
  • Technology: Valley Of The Gadgets

    On the eve of the massive Consumer Electronics Show--a bacchanalia of gizmology, with 140,000 conventioneers packing Las Vegas to visit 2,700 companies spread over several football fields' worth of booths last week--Gary Shapiro sighed when he talked about who wasn't there. "We invite him every year," says the CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the show. "It would be great to have him here." But in 2007, as in the past, instead of joining an all-star keynote lineup that this year included Bill Gates, Michael Dell, Motorola's Ed Zander, Disney's Bob Iger and CBS's Les Moonves, Apple CEO Steve Jobs presided over his own conference in San Francisco. So for the first two days of CES everybody obsessed about what Steve would do. During the last two days, after Apple had introduced its iPhone, they obsessed about what Steve had done.Of course there were plenty of things to see at CES. Electronics behemoths rolled out major products at packed press conferences,...
  • Tough Talk About Iran: How Far Will It Go?

    Has George W. Bush ordered up a "secret war" against Iran and Syria? Some administration opponents on Capitol Hill began asking this question after U.S. forces in recent weeks arrested two groups of Iranian government representatives inside Iraq. Bush particularly alarmed critics when, in announcing his new Iraq policy, he pledged to "interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria" and to "seek out and destroy the networks." Sen. Joseph Biden, now Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman (and a Dem presidential contender), sent a letter to Bush after a question-and-answer confrontation with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Biden said Rice had been evasive on whether Bush's statements meant that U.S. military personnel could cross into Iran or Syria in pursuit of insurgent support networks. He also asked whether the administration believes the president could order such action without first seeking explicit congressional approval--as Biden thinks he must. A White House aide...
  • The Taliban’S ‘Bloody Spring’

    Turmoil in Iraq gets most of the headlines these days. But in Afghanistan, where the Bush administration began its war on terror in October 2001, the trend lines are not good, either. The number of suicide attacks and roadside bombs is soaring, and the once-dormant Taliban is resurgent. Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United States, Said T. Jawad, worries that Iraq has diverted key resources away from his country. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Washington bureau chief, Jeffrey Bartholet, Jawad also said he expects Washington to announce a huge aid increase soon. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: The top American commander in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, has been pressing for a dramatic increase in funding for your country, a request you clearly support. Do you have a sense of how the administration is going to respond?Jawad: It is very positive. The numbers are not yet finalized, but they show a significant increase in funds for building the security institutions as well as...
  • We Might 'Win,' But Still Lose

    Everyone seems quite certain that George W. Bush's new plan for Iraq is bound to fail. But I'm not so sure. At a military level, the strategy could well produce some successes. American forces have won every battle they have fought in Iraq. Having more troops and a new mission to secure whole neighborhoods is a good idea--better four years late than never. But the crucial question is, will military progress lead to political progress? That logic, at the heart of the president's new strategy, strikes me as highly dubious.Administration officials have pointed to last week's fighting against Sunni insurgents in and around Baghdad's Haifa Street as a textbook example of the new strategy. Iraqi forces took the lead, American troops backed them up and the government did not put up any obstacles. The Wall Street Journal's Daniel Henninger concluded that the battle "looked like a successful test of unified [American-Iraqi] effort."But did it? NEWSWEEK's Michael Hastings, embedded with an...
  • Education: Learning Takes Time

    It doesn't sound like much at first. Students attending a public school in urban Chicago go for 5 hours and 45 minutes daily, while the New York City school day is 65 minutes longer. Now, factor in that New York City kids attend school 12 more days than their Windy City counterparts. Add it up, and it's clear the New York kids have gained a distinct advantage--eight more weeks of instruction time a year.Those striking inequities--and others--were highlighted by a new database produced by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Gates Foundation-funded watchdog group. Researchers waded through phone-book-size union contracts and school-district policy booklets to come up with a portrait of how the 50 largest school districts are educating American kids (nctq.org/cb).The dramatic disparities--for example, kids in Memphis get about five weeks less schooling than kids in Houston--have reignited enthusiasm for an old idea: close the achievement gap by making the school day longer. This...
  • Videogames: Defending 'Columbine'

    Since its arrival in April 2005, Super Columbine Massacre RPG!--a downloadable videogame re-creating the school shooting--has drawn outrage and disgust. But last week there was a demonstration in defense of the game, after it was cut from the list of finalists at Utah's upcoming Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition. Six of 14 finalists quit the indie festival in protest. Their argument? Games should be able to tackle tough subject matter. The designers say that controversial films--even ones relating to real-life tragedies--are shown at indie film festivals, and that their art form deserves the same freedom. "As long as we persist in believing that games are just for kids ... we're not going to get where we need to go," says ex-finalist Jonathan Blow, who withdrew his game, Braid.A discussion of the game has been added to the event schedule, but Slamdance president Peter Baxter says the protests haven't changed his mind, and that SCMRPG! is still out. "Just consider the ...
  • No Place Like Rome

    The story of Dido and Aeneas gets my vote as the great tragic love story. In the early chapters of Virgil's Aeneid, Aeneas, on his way from the smoking ruins of Troy to the shores of Italy, is shipwrecked on the shores of Carthage. There he meets Dido, the Carthaginian queen. They fall in love. He helps her build her royal city. Then Jupiter gets angry because Aeneas has lost sight of his duty to found the Roman empire. So the god sends a message to Aeneas: get moving. When Aeneas complies, Dido flies into a fit of rage and grief that culminates in her suicide as Aeneas and his fleet disappear over the horizon. As you read about their tear-stained confrontation, it's hard not to smile--this might be the first modern love story. Dido gets mad because Aeneas has commitment issues. Aeneas, with one foot out the door, sounds like the original heel. Love? Marriage? No way. Look, babe, I've got an empire to found.Maybe it was the effect of Robert Fagles's superb new translation of the...