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  • 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...
  • Blood And Memory: The Cycle Has Started

    Blood feuds flourish where family ties are strong and the rule of law is weak. Add the righteousness of competing faiths along with fierce memories of ancient wrongs and you have the makings of savage, seemingly endless conflicts from Northern Ireland to the Balkans, the lake regions of Africa to the arid Holy Land. And Iraq--well, Iraq is in a class by itself: a breeder reactor where explosive hatreds were both incited and contained by Saddam Hussein's brutality, only to become an uncontrolled chain reaction after the U.S.-led invasion liberated both the country and its vendettas. Arab culture cannot be solely blamed for the furies that have been unleashed in Iraq since 2003. But it guarantees they will not be soon, or easily, tamed.The tradition of "an eye for an eye" is so ancient and dangerously ingrained among the desert Arabs that 1,400 years ago the Qur'an called on good Muslims to forgo vengeance in order to expiate their sins. But the old codes of honor remained, and in the...
  • A Life In Books: Geraldine Brooks

    She may have won a Pulitzer for her novel "March," but Geraldine Brooks confessed to PERI that her To Read list still includes Thomas Mann's "Buddenbrooks." Yeah, we haven't gotten around to that one, either. A profile of the writer as reader: ...
  • A Powerful Response

    Something unprecedented happened tonight, beyond the doorkeeper announcing, "Madame Speaker." For the first time ever, the response to the State of the Union Message overshadowed the president's big speech. Virginia Sen. James Webb, in office only three weeks, managed to convey a muscular liberalism—with personal touches—that left President Bush's ordinary address in the dust. In the past, the Democratic response has been anemic—remember Washington Gov. Gary Locke? This time it pointed the way to a revival for national Democrats.Webb is seen as a moderate or even conservative Democrat, but this was a populist speech that quoted Andrew Jackson, founder of the Democratic Party and champion of the common man. The speech represented a return to the tough-minded liberalism of Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey, but by quoting Republicans Teddy Roosevelt (on "improper corporate influence") and Dwight D. Eisenhower (on ending the Korean War), he reinforced the argument that President Bush...
  • Hillary’S Real Competition: Her Husband

    Because Hillary Clinton is now the first woman presidential candidate with a serious chance of winning, she doesn’t have any role models to be judged against. Comparing her to Pat Schroeder or Elizabeth Dole isn’t very productive. And the same goes for exciting male candidates of the past like John F. Kennedy, to whom Barack Obama is increasingly compared.But there is one candidate against whom Clinton will inevitably be measured. He happens to have the same last name, and he went on to be elected president. Starting right away, Hillary Clinton will be compared to her husband in nearly everything she does—sometimes favorably, sometimes less so. In fact, the whole issue of how she stacks up against Bill Clinton will be one of the major themes of the upcoming campaign.The Clinton campaign knows that Bill is a major campaign asset. But they believe the asset depreciates when the former president—one of the great political talents of modern times—appears alongside his wife. This was...
  • Dirge For A ‘Surge’

    When President George W. Bush declared earlier this month that the only way to quell sectarian violence in Iraq was to send more than 20,000 additional American troops, he probably knew the move would be unpopular. Indeed, the latest NEWSWEEK poll finds that Bush’s call for a “surge” in troops is opposed by two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans and supported by only a quarter (26 percent). Almost half of all respondents (46 percent) want to see American troops pulled out “as soon as possible.”Bush’s Iraq plan isn’t doing anything for his personal approval rating either; it’s again stuck at its lowest point in the history of the poll (31 percent). Meanwhile, the new Democratic-controlled Congress is getting relatively high marks. And 55 percent actually trust Congressional Dems on U.S. policy in Iraq, far more than the 32 percent who trust their commander in chief.While Democrats and Republicans have roundly criticized Bush’s proposal, the president—who received his lowest ratings so...
  • 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. An Important Book that you admit you haven't read: "The Magic Mountain" by Thomas Mann. I keep climbing up the mountain and then I stop. I've read the first 150 pages three times. Which classic did you go back to and find disappointing?There are things that I loved in high school that I will not revisit for fear that they will not hold that place anymore.
  • 'We're Unable to Protect People'

    Somewhere in the harsh landscape around the North Darfur town of Kutum, some 30,000 people have effectively vanished. It's a semi-arid area that hovers between desert and savannah, with thorn trees and grass and dry riverbeds that fill in the brief rainy season with just enough water to support either the pastoralists, like the Arab nomads known here as the Janjaweed, or the agriculturalists, who are the majority of the Darfur population, non-Arab Africans from a variety of tribes.The dispute over how to use that land is at the root of the Darfur conflict, and with the Sudanese government supporting and arming the Janjaweed, it's easy to see who is losing. Flying over that area earlier this week in an African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) helicopter (a Russian-made Mi-8 leased by Canadians from an American company and flown by Ukrainian pilots for the South African Army), one village after another appears with mud-brick buildings and grass huts burned, fields untended, animals and...
  • What Were His Parents Thinking?

    After years of writing about families and a decade and a half of my own humbling experiences as a mom, I tend not to judge parents too harshly—not in private and not in print. Most of us, I’ve learned, are just trying to do our best to raise decent kids. When I watched Pam and Craig Akers and their 15-year-old, Shawn Hornbeck, on television, though, I felt a little queasy.The facts: their son is the Missouri boy who was abducted at the tender age of 11 and for the last four years has apparently endured God-knows-what kind of psychological torture—and possibly physical and sexual torture as well—allegedly at the hands of a pizza-delivery guy named Michael Devlin. Now, less than a week after Hornbeck is delivered by the authorities back to the bosom of his tearful family, he appears on my television screen. His parents put him on national television show to tell their story.I only imagine how traumatized—and simultaneously euphoric—all the members of the family must be. The crime that...
  • Here Comes the Judge

    The Bush administration announced Wednesday that a secret court has authorized intelligence agencies to monitor suspected Al Qaeda phone calls into and out of the United States. As a result, administration officials said that President Bush will now put his controversial warrantless surveillance program, which he authorized without court approval after 9/11, under judicial supervision. The officials say he will abide by secret rules set down by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.The news, made public in a letter sent by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, certainly seemed politically convenient for the White House. Today, Gonzales is scheduled to make his first public Judiciary Committee appearance before the new Democrat-controlled Senate, where he was expected to face tough questioning about warrantless wiretapping.Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking minority member Arlen Specter have both criticized the Bush...
  • Potomac High

    You knew Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in high school. At least I did. They were candidates in the student senate election. She was the worthy but puffed-up Miss Perfect, all poodle skirts and multicolored binders clutched to her chest. He was the lanky, mysterious transfer student—from Hawaii by way of Indonesia no less—who Knew Things and was way too cool to carry more than one book at a time. Who would be leader of the pack?Presidential elections are high school writ large, of course, and that is especially true when, as now, much of the early nomination race is based in the U.S. Capitol. It is even more the case when the party in question, and here we are talking about the Democrats, is not sharply divided ideologically.They have a good chance in ’08 to oust the fading prep/jock/ROTC/Up With People alliance.The Capitol’s tile-floored, chandeliered corridors are clammy with adolescent posturing and intrigue.Hillary thought she had the thing wired through sheer hard work and a...
  • A Tale of Two Speeches

    Presidents don’t typically deliver two major addresses during the month of January—especially not less than two weeks apart. But the deteriorating situation in Iraq has denied Bush the luxury of laying low at the start of the year, developing the domestic policy goals that he hoped would be the legacy of his second term. Instead, the White House was forced to work on two tracks—one speechwriting team focused on next week’s State of the Union address, another on last week’s “troop surge” speech.Both Bush aides and congressional Republicans had hoped that by dealing with Iraq in a separate speech to the nation, Bush would be able to focus on other pressing issues during his annual speech on Capitol Hill, including a renewed push for alternative energy, immigration reform and efforts to make his tax cuts permanent. But like so many of Bush’s goals in recent years, the majority of his State of the Union pledges have been overtaken by events in Iraq. The flagship address is still days...
  • Rough Weather

    The Indian monsoon has always been a matter of intense interest to farmers on the subcontinent because it brings the summer rains, which account for 80 percent of annual rainfall. The phenomenon also drives weather patterns for a vast region that stretches from eastern Africa to Indonesia. Now scientists have found that global warming may have a much bigger impact on this key driver of Asian weather than previously thought. In a paper published today in the journal Science, researchers have now found that the climate system in the entire region is tightly linked to water temperatures in the Indian Ocean. This means that as global temperatures rise, Asia will undergo an upheaval in climate patterns, causing chronic droughts in some places and increased flooding in others. The key mechanism behind this change is the so-called Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)—an annual event in which warm and cold water change places in the Indian Ocean, causing an east-west flip in wind direction, triggering...
  • An Unlikely Alliance

    A group of 28 scientists and evangelical Christians today announced their commitment to working together to address global and environmental climate change--an issue that they say is pressing enough to trump any theological differences between the groups. Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, is one of the scientists leading the collaboration. In an interview with NEWSWEEK’s Samantha Henig, Chivian discussed the origins of this peculiar union, what the two groups have in common, how the evangelical Christian community can help scientists and the spiritual significance of his fruit garden. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Scientists and evangelicals have announced that they are coming together to address global warming and environmental change. What exactly does this collaboration entail?Eric Chivian: We believe that it was very important for these two groups--scientists and evangelical Christians--to get together and speak with one...
  • Congress: Is a Katrina Probe On?

    One early indication of how aggressively Capitol Hill Democrats will investigate the Bush administration--and how strongly the White House will resist--will be how vigorously the new congressional majority pursues Katrina inquiries. Under GOP leadership, both House and Senate committees sought copies of Katrina records, but the White House declined to turn over messages between the president and his top advisers. According to a GOP investigator involved with the probe, who asked to remain anonymous discussing sensitive matters, Bush aides indicated that if Congress pressed harder, the White House was likely to claim such material was covered by executive privilege. But now that the Democrats have subpoena power, an effort to force the White House to turn over the messages is a "possibility," says a House Democratic source, who also asked to remain anonymous due to political sensitivities. Democrats have ample reason to believe such material could provide new evidence of White House...
  • In Scandal's Shadow

    Last April, Duke lacrosse star Reade Seligmann huddled with his dad at a Durham, N.C., law firm. A stripper hired to perform at a team party on March 13 claimed several players raped her. In a lineup, she'd identified three of them as her alleged assailants. Seligmann now awaited a call from the prosecutor that would tell him if he was one of the players she'd singled out. He felt certain he would be cleared. The call came. Reade, 20, was being indicted for first-degree rape, kidnapping and sexual offense. He had a strong alibi--cell-phone records would show he was busy calling his girlfriend at the time the alleged crime was taking place--but the D.A. declined to hear it. As he heard the news, Reade looked at his dad. It was the first time he'd ever seen his father cry. Then it hit him: how was he going to tell his mom? Kathy Seligmann was home in New Jersey with her three other boys. He dialed her number. "Mom," he said, "she picked me."Just before the new year, Reade sat with...
  • Sidestepping The 'Surge'

    Before Barack Obama was a senator, he opposed the war in Iraq. Now that he is one, he says that sending more troops would be "a mistake that compounds the president's original mistake." But don't expect Obama--or most other Dems--to try to block George W. Bush when he asks Congress in the coming weeks for another billion-dollar bundle for the war. The party won't deny the funds, and may not even try to attach conditions to them. Obama made that clear last week when I saw him in his office, a sunny space filled with portraits of Thurgood Marshall, Abraham Lincoln, Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali. "To anticipate your question," said the Harvard-trained lawyer, "is Congress going to be willing to exercise its control over the purse strings to affect White House policy? I am doubtful that that is something we are willing to do in the first year."Marriages of convenience are common in Washington. The war in Iraq is producing the opposite: a divorce of calculation. President Bush has no...
  • Fast Chat: Changing Your Heart

    Dr. Arthur Agatston's first book, "The South Beach Diet," was a best seller that turned into a national phenomenon. Now the cardiologist is back with "The South Beach Heart Program," which aims to reduce heart attacks and strokes. He spoke with Julie Scelfo.It turns out that view is completely wrong. Instead, plaque develops like a little pimple in the vessel wall, but instead of filling with pus, it fills with cholesterol. Blood flow remains normal until the plaque "pimple" ruptures. The healing process includes a blood clot, and if the clot is big enough, that's what blocks the artery.The cosmetic-surgery approach to coronary arteries--making them look nice with balloons and stents--doesn't really work. That's going after the wrong plaque, the kind that has already ruptured and is no longer a threat. Instead, it's the soft plaque pimples that are little ticking time bombs, because they blow up and cause a sudden blockage. We're spending billions of dollars going after the wrong...
  • Hagel Could Have a Shot

    Let's try an elementary thought experiment for Republican Primary voters. It may help explain why it's far too early to tell what might happen in 2008, the first election since 1928 with no incumbent president or vice president of either party on the ticket. (Truman's vice president, Alben Barkley, ran in 1952, but didn't win the Democratic nomination.) The results of this experimentmay also explain why Washington is so often out to lunch on the direction of American politics.One Republican--we'll call him "Candidate A"--has among the highest support levels for President George W. Bush's conservative agenda in the Senate. He championed the president's 2001 tax cut, which many Republicans believe is the litmus test of today's GOP. After initially voting to give Bush the authority to go to war, he became an early and outspoken critic of the Iraq policy, a view now endorsed not just by the American public and Democrats but by Republicans as well.Republican "Candidate B" has the inverse...
  • Intel: A Writer's Blocked

    A CIA panel has told former officer Valerie Plame she can't write about her undercover work for the agency, a position that may threaten a lucrative book project with her publisher. Plame's outing as a CIA officer in July 2003 triggered a criminal probe that culminates next week when Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby goes on trial for perjury and obstruction.But in what could be a pre-cursor to a separate legal battle, Plame recently hired a lawyer to challenge the CIA Publications Review Board, which must clear writings by former employees. The panel refused Plame permission to even mention that she worked for the CIA because she served as a "nonofficial cover" officer (or NOC) posing as a private business-woman, according to an adviser to Plame, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive issue. "She believes this will effectively gut the book," said the adviser. Larry Johnson, a former colleague, said the agency's action seems...
  • Family: Sleeping With Dino

    Which sounds cooler: "pass the popcorn" or "pass the pterodactyl egg"? If your kids are begging you to take them to the hit family film "Night at the Museum," you can do them one better--an after-dark museum adventure of their own. Natural-history museums across the country offer sleepover events, which allow kids to be like the film's bumbling security guard, exploring exhibits armed with flashlights and their imaginations. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City has been so inundated with interest that its sleepovers are sold out until April. At its events, which are scheduled through June, kids camp out under the giant blue whale in the Hall of Ocean Life (ages 8-12, $79 per person; amnh.org ). Chicago's Field Museum offers its Dozin' With the Dinos event on Jan. 12, where participants will hear stories from night watchmen (ages 6-12, $47 per person; fieldmuseum.org ). Dinosaur enthusiasts will thrill at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's year...
  • Money: Pros And Cons Of New Condos

    Scott Arkills's newly built, two-bedroom condo in Cleveland is stocked with every urban amenity: floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic city views, granite kitchen countertops, gleaming hardwood floors, a roof deck and a gym. "With a new development, you have the ability to design a place that really reflects your choices," says Arkills, a portfolio manager who paid $500,000 for his triplex penthouse in The Condominiums at Stonebridge. "And there's more of an assurance that the building, the entire design, is going to be really good."Long deemed undesirable, new urban developments have come into vogue in the last several years, thanks to the high-profile designs of star architects. Between November 2005 and November 2006, new-home prices rose 6 percent, while existing-home prices fell, according to the National Association of Home Builders. "Their prestige value drew in a whole new audience of buyers," says Pamela Liebman, CEO of the Corcoran Group, a real-estate brokerage in New...
  • Cheerleaders: The Trail Of Cheers

    One photograph shows a cheerleaderin a risqué pose, offering a glimpse of her panties. Another features a bikini-clad teen sharing a bottle of alcohol with a friend. Posted on MySpace.com, the girls in these pictures were cheerleaders from McKinney North High School in Texas, engaging in behavior you'd expect from a "Girls Gone Wild" video. The most infamous photo of all: five smiling cheerleaders in a Condoms to Go store. They're posing with large candles shaped like penises; at least one of them appears to be simulating fellatio.These images are at the heart of a scandal that has rocked McKinney, an affluent community north of Dallas. By many accounts, the group of cheerleaders, known as the Fab Five, were an elite, out-of-control social clique that flagrantly flouted school rules but faced few sanctions.They seemed like stereo-typical "mean girls." Instead of inflicting physical harm, such girls wage war with what psychologists call "relational aggression." Their weapons: cutting...
  • 'It's People Dying for No Benefit'

    If there was one constituency President Bush could count on to back the war in Iraq through the past four years, it was members of the military. Now, their support is also ebbing. A poll conducted recently by Army Times, a commercial publication, showed only 35 percent of service members approve of the way Bush is handling the war, down from 63 percent in 2004. When asked if success in Iraq was likely, 50 percent said yes, compared to 83 percent two years ago.In a sign of the erosion, more than 1,000 soldiers will urge their congressmen in a written appeal this week to "support the prompt withdrawal" of all American forces from Iraq. "Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price," the statement says. Anti-war appeals are common these days but this one is different: all the signatories are active duty soldiers and some have served in Iraq.One of the appeal's organizers is Liam Madden, a 22-year-old Marine Corp. Sergeant now based Quantico, VA. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Dan...
  • The Last Van Standing

    When Chrysler designer Ralph Gilles first became a family man, he wasn't ready to drive a dowdy minivan. So he pimped out a '99 Dodge Caravan with big wheels, dual racing stripes and a monster engine. "I thought, 'If I'm going to have a minivan'," he says, " 'I'll have it my way'." Now Chrysler is letting him have his way with its entire minivan lineup, injecting some style into what is essentially this generation's station wagon. The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan that will be unveiled at this week's Detroit Auto Show sport the big rims, blinding chrome and massive grilles that are a hallmark of Gilles's designs. Far from egg-shaped eyesores, these minivans are direct descendants of his 300C sedan, a car so cool that 50 Cent drives one. "We asked ourselves, 'How can we sprinkle some of the magic bling dust from the 300C on the minivan?' " says Gilles.Chrysler badly needs a sequel to its 300C, a blockbuster when it was introduced in 2004. The company lost about $1.2...