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  • What's Your Food Footprint?

    As if counting calories weren't enough, now you can calculate the "carbon cost" of your food. Starting next month, Bon Appetit, a food-service company that operates corporate and university cafeterias, will test a "low-carbon diet," designed to reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions that cause global warming. Instead of, say, a tilapia fillet (frozen using electricity from a coal-fired power plant and flown in from China on a carbon-dioxide-emitting jet), customers can choose a dish using locally produced ingredients. And forget bottled water. "We want folks to realize that their food choices can have an effect on climate change," says Helene York, director of the Bon Appetit Foundation. Studies show that the production, processing, packaging and transportation of food may contribute up to one third of the greenhouse-gas emissions each year. Bon Appetit's Maisie Greenawalt says, "This is about asking yourself, 'Do I need a banana even if it's flown in from Ecuador, or can I replace it...
  • Tensions High Between White House, Justice

    When dispirited Justice Department officials assembled for a senior staff meeting last Tuesday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales surprised them. "I just got off the phone with the president," he said, "and he told me he wants me to keep on fighting. And that's what we're going to do." At a news conference later that day, President George W. Bush said he supported Gonzales, defusing expectations that the embattled attorney general was about to resign. But behind the scenes, things remain tense between the White House and Justice over the U.S. attorney mess. A senior White House aide (who asked not to be ID'd talking about personnel matters) told NEWSWEEK that Gonzales still needs to "demonstrate competence and confidence."The crucial test will come next month, when the A.G. is slated to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Democrats plan to hammer Gonzales for his conflicting accounts of the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. "The president isn't saying 'You better perform...
  • From Iraq, U.S. Troops Write Home

    In an ongoing series, NEWSWEEK publishes letters and e-mails from fallen U.S. troops in Iraq to loved ones and friends back home. The following are unedited excerpts from correspondence provided by families of the deceased.
  • From Iraq, U.S. Troops Write Home

    In an ongoing series, NEWSWEEK publishes letters and e-mails from fallen U.S. troops in Iraq to loved ones and friends back home. The following are unedited excerpts from correspondence provided by families of the deceased.
  • From Iraq, U.S. Troops Write Home

    In an ongoing series, NEWSWEEK publishes letters and e-mails from fallen U.S. troops in Iraq to loved ones and friends back home. The following are unedited excerpts from correspondence provided by families of the deceased.
  • TV Preview: How Will 'The Sopranos' End?

    In the opening moments of the April 8 season premiere of “The Sopranos,” a loud knock at the front door startles Tony and Carmela out of sleep. “Is this it?” she asks, with a flash of panic. Well, Carmela, yes and no. No, the FBI agents at her door are not there to drag Tony away for good. (He spends only a night in jail on a minor charge.) But the larger answer really is yes, this is it: HBO’s celebrated drama will finish for good in June after only eight more episodes. It’s clear that David Chase, the mordantly funny creator of “The Sopranos,” is just having a laugh over all the hoopla about how his show will end. But maybe it’s also a hint: if you chose “Tony goes to prison” in your office pool, it looks you’re going to lose. Chase appears to be telling us that a jail cell is way too mild for this guy. If the season premiere is a kind of prologue, there’s a message here about the final hours of “The Sopranos”: this is gonna get ugly.And yet the beauty of the episode (which was...
  • Q&A: Why Soldiers are Deserting the Army

    The number of soldiers deserting the U.S. Army is rising. A defense lawyer discusses what they're saying about leaving their posts-and whether they're likely to find sanctuary in Canada.
  • From Iraq, U.S. Troops Write Home

    In an ongoing series, NEWSWEEK publishes letters and e-mails from fallen U.S. troops in Iraq to loved ones and friends back home. The following are unedited excerpts from correspondence provided by families of the deceased.
  • A Life In Books: Frank Portman

    If the teenage loser/hero of Frank Portman's "King Dork" met Holden Caulfield catching children on that cliff, he'd probably shove him over. Irreverent of everything but rock bands, this debut novel for young adults—very mature young adults—is scathing and true. An Important Book that you admit you haven't read:I have never been able to finish any book by Don DeLillo. A classic that, on rereading, disappointed: The Bible, by God. Starts great; gets bogged down with religious stuff. Terrific ending, though.
  • 'Big Dog': A New Robotic Pack Mule

    All armies need supplies. Will U.S. Special Forces of the future use "Big Dog" to carry theirs?The creation of robotics pioneer Marc Raibert skirts obstacles it "sees," climbs rock-strewn slopes and can jump a three-foot ditch while carrying double a soldier's load—all without human aid. Big Dog is funded by DARPA, the Pentagon agency that explores "the far side" (as it puts it), bringing way-out ideas to reality. Its record includes the Internet and stealth aircraft, so when DARPA's John Main says "biodynotics"—robots inspired by nature—are "potentially revolutionary," he's worth listening to.
  • Talk Transcript: Mary Carmichael on Exercise and the Brain

    A sound mind in a sound body is a short, but full description of a happy state in this world," wrote the British philosopher John Locke. Three hundred years later, research shows that we should begin thinking of body and mind health as conceptually identical. The two are linked at the deepest levels.For several decades we've known about one effect of exercise on the brain, the "endorphin high" that makes us feel good during and right after exercise. Recently, scientists have uncovered some longer-lasting effects of exercise on the brain. Regular exercise improves your mood, decreases anxiety, improves sleep, improves resilience in the face of stress and raises self-esteem. All these benefits don't come because you notice what you've lost around your waist. Rather, they come from exercise-induced alterations inside your head.With exercise, several biological changes occur that make your nerve cells more robust. The blood and energy supply to the brain improves. The genes in nerve...
  • The Checklist

    SEE "Blood Diamond" on DVD. Edward Zwick's slick, hard-hitting political thriller, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou, pitches us into a barbaric civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.EAT Green & Black's organic ice cream. This British company, known for its rich chocolate bars, has a new line of delicious, airy ice creams in flavors like choco-late, vanilla and, our favorite, white chocolate with strawberries ($4.49 at Whole Foods stores).HEAR "Armchair Apocrypha," by Andrew Bird. His smart and sparkly indie pop, layered with violin, guitar and glockenspiel, is just the right parts darkness and light. Standout: the head-bobbing "Imitosis."SURF utango.com. Need more incentive to stay married? This new shopping site lets users earn points through purchases and years of marriage. Stay true to your spouse and to uTango for a decade and you could earn $10,000.BUY PlantLove lipstick ($20; sephora.com). It comes in a tube made from corn and a box embedded with flower seeds....
  • Talk Transcript: Mary Carmichael on Exercise and the Brain

    The phone call began ominously. "We've got some very bad news." It was a top official at Pfizer calling for Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology, one Saturday evening last December. The official got right to the point. The company was immediately shutting down clinical trials of torcetrapib—the experimental drug that was supposed to slash heart disease by dramatically raising HDL, or "good," cholesterol. In the largest of the four trials, the pill not only failed to reduce deaths, but actually increased mortality by 60 percent. The finding stunned Nissen. "Torcetrapib was expected to be a blockbuster," he says. "People thought the morbidity-and-mortality trial would be stopped early because the benefits were so clear, not because the drug posed hazards."Cardiologists have long hoped for a drug to boost HDL as efficiently and with as few side effects as the statin drugs reduce LDL ("bad"...
  • Health Care: Family Leave Under Fire?

    When President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993, workers-rights groups were thrilled. The law allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child, to cope with a serious illness or to care for a relative without losing their jobs. Supporters say the landmark legislation has already helped more than 50 million families, and they have hopes of expanding the act to make some of that leave paid. But as the clock ticks down on the Bush administration, labor advocates fear there are plans afoot to scale back family leave.A coalition of business groups wants to change the way the Department of Labor interprets the law, claiming the legislation is vulnerable to abuse. "Our employers don't have any problem with employees using the leave for something like chemotherapy treatment or a pregnancy, but you can get it for a cold or migraine headaches," says Jason Straczewski, director of human-resources policy at the National...
  • Gore's Waistline: Clues to Presidential Bid?

    Since the documentary he starred in, "An Inconvenient Truth," won an Academy Award, speculation has only increased about Al Gore's potential entry into the presidential race. He is not taking any overt steps toward running, and that may be the cleverest strategy of all. A Democratic strategist sent Gore a memo sometime ago suggesting he announce, but forgo the traditional campaign trail and continue promoting the cause of global warming. He would be the nonpolitical candidate. Word came back: Gore isn't running. But in fact he is. Whether it results in an official run depends on what the field looks like six months from now. Laurie David, who helped bankroll Gore's film, and whose "personal fantasy" is that he run, says that when she presses him, he's always coy and says his cell phone is breaking up. "I believe him when he says he doesn't have any intention of running," David told NEWSWEEK. "But I also believe the door is not completely shut."As part of his noncampaign, the former...
  • 'Shoes? What Shoes?': Secretive Shopping

    Did you tell your partner about that fabulous pair of Prada pumps you bought last week? If not, you're not alone. In a recent survey by W magazine, 38 percent of female readers admitted to hiding luxury purchases from their significant other on at least one occasion. A similar study by PayPal showed that 82 percent of 3,044 individuals had hidden at least one new item. Alison Burwell, jewelry-news editor at W magazine, says many women (and some men) hide splurges by splitting up the bill among different credit cards, hiding their receipts or paying in cash.Why? To avoid an argument, says Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington: "They feel entitled to get something, even if it isn't something they have agreed upon." To exercise your spending freedom without guilt, Schwartz suggests couples set aside individual splurge funds to use however they'd like. Or try separate bank accounts. One downside: the thrill of doing something wrong—and getting away with it—will...
  • Public Domain Rights: Artists Who Share

    If mediocre artists borrow, and great artists steal, what kind of artists share? Until recently, mostly unknown ones. But that is starting to change as big-name artists, who don't need to give away their work free of charge, are doing just that. Inspired by the idea that appropriation and influence are inherent to the artistic process, musicians and writers are posting their work on the Web for anyone to borrow or adapt. Many of these artists make their work available via licenses from Creativecommons.org, which lets artists give away limited or total access to their work, instead of the standard "all rights reserved." Since its inception in 2002, the nonprofit organization has issued an estimated 150 million licenses.Playwright Charles Mee, author of "bobrauschenbergamerica," instructs writers to "pillage" the structure and contents of his plays as resources for their own work on a section of his Web site he calls "the (re)making project." And science-fiction writer Cory Doctorow...
  • How to Buy a House With Bad Credit

    Regina Miller says she is tired of "throwing away $1,520 each month" to rent the two-bedroom apartment in Long Beach, Calif., that she shares with her 12-year-old son. So two years ago she set some goals, including making more money and buying a condo.She's accomplished the first goal, supplementing her modest hourly wage managing a local gift shop with money she earns selling cosmetics part time. But at least for the foreseeable future, a house may be out of the question. "I thought for sure I could buy something," says Miller, who says her credit rating hovers around 580. "Everyone was getting loans. People with worse credit than me, even."But the once booming housing market is now foundering in many cities, largely because buyers with shaky credit scores like Miller's have been defaulting on their mortgages in record numbers. That means the roughly 13 percent of Americans whose credit score is between 500 and 599 (read: not so good) and who not long ago might have qualified for a...
  • Road Test: Shelby GT500

    A simple way to bulk up muscle without stepping foot in the gym: buy this Shelby GT500. Sinewy and forceful, like a body-builder doing reps on Venice Beach, these wheels are pure showy American beefcake. That 500 on the nameplate stands for ponies, and I motored through each and every glorious one of them. Actually, it was more like navigating a stampede, owing to the 5.4-liter, V-8 sport-tuned engine. Crazy wheel-spinning, gas-sucking power. I can't help but wonder why anyone needs such amplified rear-wheel-drive torque to take the kids to basketball practice, and yet, wow.I craved this delicious ride but had issues with Ford's somewhat shoddy interior. Yes, there's a well-done Euro-inspired stitched-leather dashboard and baseball-stitched leather steering wheel. But I was disheartened by the overuse of cheapo plastics on the audio/climate controls and on the center console and door panels. I liked the firm seats, which are bolstered to brace for that inevitable raucous ride. And...
  • Homeland Security: Too Many Warnings?

    The warning arrived late last week. Yet another alarming bulletin about terrorists. This time, schoolbuses were said to be threatened. State and city law-enforcement groups were told that foreigners with possible ties to "extremist groups" had recently bought schoolbuses and applied for relevant licenses. But counterterrorism officials at the FBI, which had issued the warning along with the Department of Homeland Security, insist they know of no recent intelligence indicating that terrorist suspects are trying to get jobs as schoolbus drivers. Officials contacted by NEWSWEEK said they were unaware of any specific current intelligence reports about extremists infiltrating the schoolbus industry. "This intelligence bulletin was not based on specific suspicious activity," said Richard Kolko, an FBI spokesman. He added: "There is no threat. There is no plot. Parents and children have no reason to worry." A second counterterrorism official who follows daily intelligence reporting on U.S....
  • Tech: Online Book Groups

    You just finished John Grisham's latest, and you can't wait to talk about it ... but your book club doesn't meet until next Sunday. Now you don't have to hold your thoughts. A new crop of literary social-networking sites let you compare notes with other bookworms at all hours of the day. A roundup: ...
  • Iraq: U.S. Soldiers' Letters Left Behind

    They bunked together off base in Anchorage, more like grad students than grunts. One by one, the war claimed their lives. The letters the soldiers left behind.
  • Iraq: U.S. Soldiers' Letters Left Behind

    Of the dozens of e-mails Army Sgt. Sean Fennerty wrote home during his three months in Iraq, the most wrenching dispatch reached his parents on Dec 12, 2006. "I write this with the heaviest of hearts," Fennerty typed into a military computer at his base in Baghdad, after attending a memorial service for two members of his airborne brigade killed in a roadside bombing. "They were two of my best friends and that was the squad I moved to, and then moved back from," he wrote. Fennerty, a 25-year-old college graduate, had a bond with the two dead soldiers, Spc. Micah Gifford and S/Sgt. Henry Linck. The three were older than most members of their unit. While stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, they rented an apartment together off base, decorated the walls with flags and memorabilia from previous postings, and lived more like grad students than grunts. All three left Anchorage for Iraq in October 2006, but kept the apartment and planned to return to it. "My two roommates dead, it's kind of...
  • My Trip to the Postal Service Bomb-Detection School

    When I told my mother I was going to bomb school, she hung up on me. A misunderstanding, I thought, and called back and told her about the U.S. Postal Inspection Service Training Academy I had just visited. “I know what to look for in package bombs.” The line went dead again. Finally on our fourth connection, she explained that talking about “you-know-whats” on the phone is a bad idea; the government may be listening. So if the National Security Agency computers tapped into our lines that night, let me explain: I was wildly singing the praises of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.Founded in 1880, the service, which employs 1,750 men and women (known as inspectors), is the law-enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service. Many of their cases involve mail theft, money laundering, illegal drug trafficking and child pornography. In 1958, they ensured that Harry Winston’s Hope Diamond, then valued at $1 million, arrived safely and soundly at its new home, the Smithsonian. (They shipped it...
  • Jim Webb on the Warpath

    Democrats on Capitol Hill hang on his every word, and Jim Webb doesn’t disappoint. His son was extended in Iraq for the surge, and his resolve to end a war that he opposed from the start is undisputed. He came from 33 points behind to win election in Virginia and tip control of the Senate to the Democrats—largely on the strength of his antiwar, tough-guy military credentials. Democrats owe him, and they trust him to help them find an honorable path out of Iraq.But Webb doesn't favor a timeline for withdrawal, as the Nancy Pelosi bill passed by the House on Friday proposes, or capping the number of troops in Iraq, as Hillary Clinton suggests. Webb wants a diplomatic solution, and he's working with Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, a fellow Vietnam veteran and a friend for 30 years, to come up with a bipartisan bill that would incorporate some of what he calls "the more workable points" from the House bill without unnecessarily tying the hands of the military. He wouldn't say much about it...
  • Goodbye and Good Riddance, Gov. Blanco

    New Orleans, 18 months after Katrina, is still a city of considerable ups and downs. Tuesday was no different; as usual, the bad news came first. The first e-mail I received informed me that a block and a half from our new house, at 1:30 in the afternoon, two hold-ups occurred in less than 10 minutes—and I live in the Garden District, still perceived as a “nice” neighborhood, despite the alarming frequency of similar attacks, along with a recent rash of break-ins of both cars and houses (one of them was mine). First, a gunman wielding a “chrome short nose revolver” relieved a sod delivery man of the $30 in his pockets. Next, he snatched a woman’s purse, jumped into an “unknown black vehicle,” and roared away.As crimes go in the city with by far the highest murder rate in the nation (96 per every 100,000 people in 2006; more than 40 people overall have been killed so far in 2007), these could actually be viewed as good news—nobody was killed or even shot, after all. But the real good...
  • Hirsh: Can Bush Force Iran Into a Deal?

    U.S. forces are massing on Iran, and soon it will be time to strike. No, not militarily—that would be the height of insanity—but diplomatically. The Americans and Europeans are close to achieving the leverage they have long sought against Tehran through a deftly managed policy of political encirclement and economic strangulation. Just two big pieces still need to fall into place: a sign from Iran that it is willing to suspend uranium enrichment, at least temporarily, and a willingness on the part of George W. Bush to take yes for an answer—and strike a deal.On the latter point, the Bush administration does seem to be shifting in tone. With the departure of several key Bush hardliners in recent months, it feels as if the regime-change fever has broken in Washington. While still talking tough, chief Iran envoy Nicholas Burns sounded almost magnanimous toward Tehran on Wednesday as he detailed the “multiple points of pressure” being applied on Iran’s leaders. Speaking at a Rand Corp....
  • Fineman: Cancer and the Campaign

    Is this a great Democratic presidential campaign, or what? The number of candidate “firsts” keeps growing: first spouse of a former president, first African-American with Ivy League credentials, first  Hispanic-American. And now we have the first candidate—John Edwards—to turn his spouse’s illness, and how he and she are dealing with it, into what he contends is an inspirational metaphor for the brand of leadership he offers the country.I’ve seen a lot of press conferences, but none like the one that Edwards and his wife Elizabeth held on a sun-dappled lawn in Chapel Hill, N.C. Bottom line: yes, Elizabeth Edwards’s breast cancer had spread to the bone. No, there was no immediate danger. No, it was not curable, but yes, it was treatable—treatment would last the rest of her life, however long that may be (years or even decades). As for the campaign, he said, “it goes on, goes on strongly.”They sang a memorable duet of praise for each other, and for their determinedly sunny view of...
  • A Rash of Drug Overdoses at a VA Hospital

    The poor conditions uncovered at Walter Reed Army Hospital may be only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sub-standard treatment of veterans. At the Veterans Administration hospital in West Los Angeles, hospital administrators confirmed to NEWSWEEK and NBC News last week that five veterans there died of overdoses of illegal and prescription drugs in less than three months this winter. After learning that family and friends of a dead Iraq War veteran were about to go public, VA administrators ordered major policy changes at the 660-bed facility.Toxicology reports and multiple investigations are still pending, and Dr. Dean Norman, chief of staff of the hospital, says that details of the five overdose deaths vary by case. But veterans treated at the hospital say that lax supervision of prescription drugs was a serious problem, particularly in the domiciliary, the dorm-like residential halls the VA uses to help veterans make the transition to life outside the hospital. “They were...
  • Ellis Cose: American-Born, But Still 'Alien'?

    When a pregnant woman "waits on the border," as Leo Berman puts it, for her chance to cross illegally to give birth in the United States, she is "committing a crime"— one for which neither she nor her child should be rewarded. Berman, a Texas state representative, feels so strongly about this that he is prepared to relegate U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants to second-class status. "Our most precious benefit is U.S. citizenship," he said in his office in the capitol. "And U.S. citizens should be concerned if we are giving it away 350,000 times a year" to children born to undocumented mothers.Berman, a Republican, has authored a bill that would compel Texas to deny benefits to children of what he calls "illegal aliens." He knows the bill, which flies in the face of legal precedent, would face immediate challenge. "We want to go into federal court," Berman says. "The mail on this is running 50 to 1 in support." The courts, he believes, would agree with his contention that...
  • Missing Person: An Iranian Mystery

    Spy agencies on both sides of the Atlantic are scratching their heads over the fate of Ali Reza Asgari, a retired Iranian official who vanished last month. A former deputy Defense minister and Revolutionary Guards general, Asgari, 63, reportedly checked into a Turkish hotel in early February but never used his room; Tehran asked Turkey to help find the missing man.Iranian officials have suggested that he either defected to, or was kidnapped by, a Western intelligence service—such as the CIA, France's DGSE or Israel's Mossad. But no government has admitted holding the Iranian; indeed, six U.S. officials familiar with intelligence activities, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive material, told NEWSWEEK that no U.S. agency has custody of Asgari or is sure of his whereabouts. Two of the officials added that the Bush administration has told Congress it doesn't know what happened to Asgari; diplomats familiar with German and U.K. spy services said those agencies are likewise...
  • You Need to Get to Work!

    Steffany Mohan needs to be organized. The dentist from Des Moines, Iowa, runs her own practice, as well as a school for dental assistants on the side. She has three children under 8—and is expecting her fourth in a few weeks. Her husband is a busy surgeon. Not surprisingly, her desk is a jumble of in-process items. Her to-do list appears endless, and she's constantly struggling to make headway. So last month Mohan flew in productivity consultant Barbara Hemphill from North Carolina for a two-day intervention. Together they purged her office of unnecessary clutter, set up a system of file folders and discussed strategies that would allow Mohan to make decisions more quickly. Not only is Mohan's desk spotless, but her files are so organized she can delegate more work to her assistant. The cost of Hemphill's consultation: $5,000. "It was outrageously worth it," says Mohan.In offices across America, we seem to be at a moment of get-organized-now hysteria. Time-management gurus have been...
  • Capital Ideas

    When you work with a stockbroker or other financial adviser, you're supposed to be paying for performance: The broker earns a commission; in return, you're supposed to get good advice. But that deal often breaks down, says securities lawyer Mercer Bullard, head of the advocacy group Fund Democracy. You pay the commission but get bad advice. Given a choice between a low-cost and a high-cost mutual fund, the broker is apt to sell the one with the higher cost. As a result, you get a lower return.Bullard and his research partner, Edward O'Neal of Academic Wealth Management, looked at 53 mutual funds that mimic the performance of Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks. They all hold the same stocks, so the only difference among them is cost. Part of the cost goes to the broker or planner, for the advice that clients want. What's left is the fund's own operating cost. The study looked only at operating costs. ...
  • Police: Alarming Suicide Rate on the Force

    California Highway Patrol officials are anxious to stop an alarming wave of suicides among their ranks. Since 2003, 15 cops at the nation's biggest state-police force have killed themselves; the latest came last month, and eight died in 2006, five times the national rate for law enforcement and "one of the highest we've seen," says Robert Douglas, executive director of the National Police Suicide Foundation. CHP Commissioner Mike Brown ordered an investigation last spring, but perplexed CHP leaders haven't found an explanation yet. Some officers had personal or financial crises; five faced disciplinary actions. But several lacked any apparent problems. "Frankly, the principal commonality is the fact that the outcome is the same," Brown told NEWSWEEK.Outside experts wonder whether the high rate encourages others. The spike "may be the result of a contagion effect," says John Violanti, a SUNY Buffalo researcher who studies cop suicide (but not the CHP cases). The deaths of admired...
  • Chicago: Globes for Global Warming

    In 1999 Chicago plunked hundreds of life-size cow sculptures on its sidewalks, just for fun. This summer the Windy City will showcase 100 five-foot globes, but with a purpose—each illustrating a different way to reduce global warming. A huge knitted sweater will cover a sphere called "Turn Down the Thermostat." Autographed shoes from athletes like Magic Johnson will festoon a "Use Your Feet" globe. "I didn't want to focus on the doom and gloom," says Cool Globes founder Wendy Abrams. "I wanted to focus on solutions."
  • Fineman: GOP Candidates as Mr. Fix-its

    At Harvard Business School, George W. Bush was what they called a "skydecker"—a guy who sat in the top back row of the lecture hall to minimize the risk of being called on. I asked Mitt Romney, another HBS alum, if he had been one, too. "Oh, no," he assured me, sounding only barely amused by the question. "I wasn't one of those." He was the kind of focused fellow who sat down front, well prepared, hand raised. No one was surprised that he became spectacularly successful as a consultant and hedge-fund manager. He loves "wallowing in the data," as he puts it, applying quantitative methods and a deft managerial touch to knotty problems of business, nonprofit enterprises (the Olympics) and, as former governor of Massachusetts, government.Since when did a taste for data become something to brag about in a race for the Republican presidential nomination? The answer: ever since it became clear, even to most Republicans, that the term "Bush administration" was an oxymoron. A concatenation...
  • The Editor's Desk

    Sharon Begley's longtime love of science began, as so much does, in a classroom with a gifted teacher. Back at Tenafly High School in New Jersey, Sharon got hooked when, she recalls, "my physics teacher skipped tedious subjects like electricity and optics and told us about how space can bend and time can contract, and how the reality you observe depends on what questions you choose to ask of nature." She briefly flirted with becoming a physicist but, she says, "decided I wasn't smart enough, and realized that the best way to stay on top of these mind-bending discoveries was to write about them."I rarely disagree with anything Sharon says, but I have to dissent from the suggestion that she was not "smart enough" to do whatever she wanted—or wants—to do. With this week's cover, we are delighted to welcome Sharon back to our pages. After a wonderful run here in the 1980s and ' 90s, she left us for The Wall Street Journal in 2002, where she wrote the acclaimed Science Journal column....
  • Letters to the Editor

    Decrying poor conditions and bureaucratic obstacles that wounded Iraq war veterans are facing, readers of our cover story called on the Bush administration and Congress to make major changes. "They extol the troops, but fail them miserably. They cite their bravery when it suits their purpose, but abandon them when their usefulness is shattered," one said. Many disabled veterans shared experiences of inadequate care, while some were grateful for quality care they'd received. And several VA employees expressed their concerns. One claims processor wrote, "The system is underfunded and overloaded, but I guarantee every time a veteran takes his life, there is a VA employee shedding a tear and thinking, Could I have done more?" One Vietnam veteran's wife said our flag should be at half-staff for the troubles soldiers and their families have to go through after serving our country. "I pray their sacrifices will shock us into realizing the futility of war."I was horrified to read your...
  • Justice: Videotaping Confessions

    Criminal justice has a spotty record when it comes to incorporating sound science. Most cops stick to traditional lineups, for instance, despite studies showing that they lead witnesses to make more mistaken IDs than lineups showing suspects and ringers one at a time. Now officials have a chance to adopt a better way to tape confessions—but aren't exactly seizing it.Videotaping is meant to minimize false confessions since cops are less likely to use coercive techniques that lead the innocent to confess. Just over 500 police and sheriff's departments now record confessions, says Steven Drizin, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, with all of those in Alaska, Minnesota and several other states requiring it at least for felonies. But according to a growing body of research, not all recording is of equal value. When a camera shows only a suspect's face, studies show, potential jurors are more likely to believe the confession was...
  • Justice Department Firings: A Cover-up?

    Bud Cummins never had any intention of making a fuss. A folksy Arkansas lawyer, Cummins had been abruptly fired last year as U.S. attorney in Little Rock to create a slot for a former top aide to Karl Rove. But Cummins is a loyal Republican; he knows how the game is played in Washington, so he kept quiet. Then last month, as the press picked up on the story of Cummins and seven other fired U.S. attorneys, he was quoted in a newspaper story defending his colleagues. Cummins got a phone call from the Justice Department that he found vaguely menacing.It came from Michael Elston, a top Justice official. Cummins says Elston expressed concern that he and the dismissed attorneys were talking to reporters about what had happened to them. Elston, Cummins says, suggested this might not be a good idea; Justice officials might feel compelled to "somehow pull their gloves off" and retaliate against the prosecutors by publicly trashing them. "I was tempted to challenge him," Cummins e-mailed...
  • Hundreds of Iraq Vets Are Homeless

    Night is when suicidal vets usually show up at the emergency room of the San Francisco VA Medical Center. But a few weeks ago, the ER had one who came in at 10 a.m., frantic and saying he had a gun. "He was haunted, desperate," says Chad Peterson, medical director of the center's posttraumatic-stress-disorder team. "He was going to be redeployed to Iraq and said suicide was his only way out." Peterson managed to talk the man out of killing himself and into a program, but weeks later the counselor is still struggling with memories of what the man told him. "How can you sleep after something like that?" he asks. Peterson has spent thousands of hours treating vets who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, and their horror stories have gradually rubbed off on him. "I'll hear about the things they've seen or done, the close calls, and my pulse quickens," he says. "I'll get agitated or feel hopeless because I can't take this person's pain away."The problem afflicts thousands of...
  • What Lies Beneath

    Scientists at Florida Atlantic University may soon be swimming with the fishes. They're investigating how to harness the powerful Gulf Stream and turn it into electrical power for the condo-crowded state. The school is using a $5 million state grant to start a Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology, where it will study various approaches, including cold-seawater-powered air conditioning, underwater hydrogen generation, thermal power and the one that project manager Frederick Driscoll finds most promising: current power. "If you took the power of all the rivers in the world and multiplied it by 30, that's how strong the Gulf Stream is," he says. The school hopes to have a test turbine in the water by summer.Driscoll says the project—backed by the Navy, Department of Energy, Lockheed Martin and others—could create thousands of Florida jobs and save the state billions in electricity costs. He hopes to see energy-producing ocean turbines by 2012. Florida has major energy...