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  • Kyoto Can Be Made to Work

    Climate change has become a "threshold issue." Deny the evidence, ignore the problem, and you look like a Luddite. The new report of the International Panel on Climate Change confirms the scientific consensus: global warming is happening and its consequences will be severe, unless action is taken.The European Commission proposes unilateral cuts of 20 percent in European emissions from 1990 levels. The U.S. Senate is considering four similar bills. The British government will soon present a landmark Climate Change Bill mandating CO2 emission reductions of 60 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. All this is welcome. But the biggest issue has yet to be confronted: how to forge an equitable global compact that sustains the development aspirations of poorer countries and contributes to the battle against climate change.Consider the facts framing this debate. At the moment, the United States accounts for 25 percent of global emissions and the European Union 14 percent. Per capita, emissions...
  • The War: 'Ambiguous' Intel on Iran's Meddling in Iraq

    How solid is evidence that Iran is stoking the conflict in Iraq? The White House has ratcheted up rhetorical attacks, suggesting that Iranian government elements were supplying Iraqi Shia insurgents with deadly weapons technology. But the idea that Iran plays a key role in fomenting violence inside Iraq took a knock last week with the publication, by the U.S. intelligence czar's office, of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq. The NIE, representing the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intel agencies, says that because sectarian antagonisms among Iraqis themselves are so intense and "self-sustaining," Iranian or Syrian involvement is "not likely to be a major driver of violence."U.S. officials still maintain that Iran is helping Iraqi Shia insurgents build bombs that are particularly deadly because they can penetrate armored vehicles. But three U.S. officials familiar with unpublished intel (unnamed when discussing sensitive info) said evidence of official Tehran...
  • He's Ready to Rumble

    John Edwards played defensive back in high school, and waiting offstage to speak, he looked eager to get onto the field and hit someone. That is what he did (rhetorically) in the first scrimmage of the 2008 presidential campaign last Friday. Speaking to the Democratic National Committee after Sen. Barack Obama and before Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he accused Senate Democrats (that is, Obama and Clinton) of caving in to President Bush's Iraq escalation policy. Democrats had to use all their "vigor and tools and strength" to block the surge and begin a withdrawal. "Americans are counting on us not to be weak, political and careful," he said. "It's time for political courage."Isn't it a little early to start calling your opponents cowards, even if you don't do it by name? Not this time: nasty is in season already. One reason is the insane money scramble, which literally raises the stakes. And with such a demographically diverse field, chances for emotional collisions abound. When Sen...
  • Seventh Grade Surprise

    Twelve-year-old Casey Price did his best to fit in as his grandfather and uncle spent the past 18 months bouncing around Arizona. In tiny Payson, Casey invited boys at the local skate park to join a skateboard team he said he'd founded called Plan Z. In Surprise, he donned his charter school's polo-shirt-and-khakis uniform and played with a Sony PSP. And last month, on his first day at Mingus Springs Charter School in Chino Valley, Casey stepped into a football game at recess as quarterback, impressing new schoolmates with a powerful throwing arm.But the seventh grader had made a different impression in the front office at Mingus Springs that morning. From the moment his grandfather brought him in to enroll the afternoon before, staffers thought something was odd. To them, Casey looked older than his years--he looked, they thought, at least 15. They scrutinized his paperwork. A German birth certificate listed his weight in pounds, not kilograms; California guardianship papers showed...
  • To Reach for the Moon

    Western analysts still can't say what Beijing was thinking when it shot down one of its aging weather satellites. True, the recent test was a fine show of marksmanship, destroying a refrigerator-size target sailing at orbital speed 500 miles up (as high as U.S. spy satellites). But was it worth risking a new arms race? Was it even worth the mess it caused? The Union of Concerned Scientists says the test left some 2 million pieces of shrapnel in orbit, each one a threat to any country's passing spacecraft. That's why Washington and Moscow gave up such tests decades ago: the space lanes are already littered with too much potentially lethal debris.The drifting wreckage is a danger not only to other countries' spacecraft but to China's own ambitions for the heavens--which go far beyond blinding the U.S. military. Beijing put its first man into orbit less than four years ago. Today the Chinese are reaching for the moon. The first step, the launching of an unmanned lunar orbiter, is...
  • Justice: Bench Player

    Walk down the hallway on the second floor of the Supreme Court, through the part of the massive marble building the public never gets to see, just past the chambers of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you might think you've stumbled into a gallery. The walls of the long corridor are lined with artwork: there's a Georgia O'Keeffe print, a photograph of a Navajo woman (taken by Barry Goldwater) and a framed editorial cartoon of Lady Justice celebrating the first woman named to the Supreme Court. Turn the corner, and you'll find that woman, retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. "It wouldn't fit in my chambers," she says, pointing at the collection. When she left the court last January, she had to turn over her spacious digs to her replacement, Justice Samuel Alito. But a year later, nestled in a cozy corner office, O'Connor is still hard at work.After her surprise announcement in July 2005 that she was leaving the court, O'Connor seemed likely to follow most of her former colleagues...
  • What the U.N. Won't Tell You

    Last Friday, the intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group charged with assessing the state of the world's climate, unveiled the summary of its latest report. The IPCC Web site claims an impressive number of participants: 450 lead authors, 800 contributors and 2,500 expert reviewers (of which I was one). But it would be a mistake to assume all these experts endorse everything in summary, including its bottom-line assessment: "Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations." Many disagree with the conclusion itself or the claimed level of certainty, but the fact is, we were never asked. Most participants worked only on small portions of the report, handed in final materials last summer and never ventured an opinion on claims made in the summary.Nor can readers check how well the summary reflects the underlying science. The...
  • Campaign Trail Highs. And Lows.

    Barack Obama stepped into the concrete pavilion in Chicago to the roar of some 7,000 hometown fans and the Tina Turner anthem of “Simply The Best.” If the Illinois senator is the pop star of politics, Sunday night’s rally was arena rock. After all of two days as an official presidential candidate, Obama was drawing crowds as big as President Bush did at his final event of the 2006 elections.“It’s good to be back home,” he shouted, as his fans screamed. “Goodness gracious!” Goodness gracious? How earnest and wholesome can this rock star be?RELATED CONTENT Obama, By the Books Fineman: Inside Barack Obama’s StrategyA little too earnest, it turns out. Obama began a lengthy exposition on the failings of the health system and the need for medical records. “They have no paperwork when they take your money,” he said to the crowd’s delight, “so why is there paperwork when you need health care?”Then the hecklers started: a group of maybe a dozen young protesters who consider Obama’s antiwar...
  • Hard Hitters

    Among the racy and obnoxious Super Bowl ads selling everything from beer to insurance, at least one commercial interruption had a more serious intention. VoteVets.org, a political action group affiliated with a coalition of left-leaning organizations including MoveOn.org, ran an ad (only in certain markets) where Iraq war veterans, including an amputee, spoke out against President Bush’s “surge.” NEWSWEEK’s Daren Briscoe recently spoke to VoteVets cofounder Jon Soltz, who served as a captain during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and also served in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: What is VoteVets.org?Jon Soltz: We’re a pro-military group that’s concerned about things that affect the military at the lowest levels. We’re for destroying Al Qaeda and the people that attacked this country on September 11. We’re not an antiwar group at all—it makes me go ballistic when I hear people say that. But you can’t be for the troops and for the president when he talks about continuing a failed...
  • The Mayor's Mistress

    Gavin Newsom, the popular, handsome--and very available--mayor of San Francisco, was one of those men who could seemingly get any women they wanted. Since his 2005 divorce from Fox News commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle, he had become something of a man about town, spotted at all the fashionable places with various beautiful women on his arm.But the chatter over Newsom's dating life took a sharp turn away from mere amusement last Thursday, when the mayor admitted he'd had an affair with a female staffer who happened to be married to one of his closest friends. The San Francisco Chronicle, which broke the story, reported that the brief affair took place in 2005, when Newsom was in the midst of his divorce. His paramour worked as the mayor's appointments secretary. Her husband, one of Newsom's top advisers, worked down the hall. On Wednesday, according to the Chronicle, the betrayed husband, Alex Tourk, quit his job as manager of Newsom's re-election campaign after his wife, Ruby Rippey...
  • Baghdad Briefing

    The long-awaited Baghdad briefing had plenty of props. There were two tables stacked with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, a PowerPoint slide show and, perhaps most importantly, a particularly nasty weapon known as an EFP, or explosively formed penetrator.A trio of American military officials led the show. Their mission: rolling out the administration’s case that Iran is supporting attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq. Under the rules of this afternoon’s briefing, the three could not identified by name. No TV cameras or tapes were allowed in, and journalists’ cell phones were taken away before they entered the briefing room. But if their job was to provide proof of Tehran’s involvement in Iraq’s bloodshed, they’re unlikely to convince the doubters with what was shown Sunday.The centerpiece of the administration’s case was an EFP, a device resembling a large tin of powdered milk that is stuffed with explosive filler and capped with a copper liner. When the EFP detonates, a fist-sized...
  • Kissinger’s Fingerprints

    He is 83 now, very gray and a bit saggy around the edges. But nearly 40 years after he first convened the Paris Peace Talks, Henry Kissinger is still playing the globe like a three-dimensional chessboard. And judging from the moves George W. Bush has been making lately, the president appears to be following the old meister’s advice on Iran. Kissinger’s bottom line: don't negotiate with Tehran until you've realigned the forces in the Middle East so that you're negotiating from a position of strength.Bush is trying to realign, big time. In an extraordinary series of moves, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials have been seeking to create a united front of Sunni Arab regimes and Israel against Shiite Iran as part of an aggressive new approach to Tehran. Fed up with Iran’s recalcitrance in talks to curb its nuclear program, and reports of Iran’s alleged complicity in attacks inside Iraq, the Bush administration is engaged in diplomacy of truly Kissingerian...
  • At War With His Mouth

    Joe Biden has spent a lifetime in the shadows of Democratic presidential candidates, wondering why the spotlight wasn’t on him. The Delaware senator, now the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is perhaps his party’s most senior statesman on foreign policy. He was a fixture of the Senate Democratic cloakroom before anyone in Washington knew who Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama were. With a heavyweight legislative record, Biden, like so many senators, has looked in the mirror and wondered why he is always a bridesmaid, never a bride.A quick answer came in yesterday’s New York Observer. In the midst of heaping praise on Obama, Biden mentioned that his Senate colleague was the “first mainstream African-American” candidate who was “articulate and bright and clean.” Biden quickly sought to clarify the remark—that he hadn’t meant any sort of aspersion on African-Americans or their hygiene habits—but the damage was done. By Thursday, it looked like Biden’s pithy words in the...
  • 'A Window Into Iraq's Future'

    Days after the battle was over, U.S. and Iraqi officials were still trying to make sense of it. Hundreds of heavily armed fighters had secretly gathered at a farm outside Najaf, apparently plotting to seize the holy city and kill Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani during this week’s celebration of Ashura, Shiite Islam’s highest holiday. The gunmen, said to belong to a doomsday cult known as the “Soldiers of Heaven,” were able to hold off Iraqi and Coalition troops for a full day, downing a U.S. helicopter and taking the lives of at least a dozen Iraqi and U.S. soldiers before finally surrendering. More than 200 of the armed plotters had been killed, along with the man who was believed to be their leader, and hundreds of others were captured. Their ranks evidently included Sunnis as well as Shiites, even though the cult was dedicated to the Mahdi, the Shiite messiah figure who is supposed to return just before Judgment Day, after more than 11 centuries in hiding, to set up a righteous...
  • Revisiting 9/11 Failures

    The Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA may be headed for a new confrontation over an old issue: why an internal report documenting the agency’s failures in the run up to the September 11 terror attacks is still being withheld from the public.The report, prepared by the CIA’s inspector general, is the only major 9/11 government review that has still not been made publicly available.When it was completed in August 2005, NEWSWEEK and other publications reported that it contained sharp criticisms of former CIA director George Tenet and other top agency officials for failing to address the threat posed by Al Qaeda, as well as other mistakes that might have prevented the attacks.In a letter sent just this week, three panel members—including Intelligence Committee chairman Sen. Jay Rockefeller and ranking Republican Christopher Bond—revived the issue and asked that an executive summary of the report be declassified “without delay” and released to the public.The letter was addressed...
  • The ‘Lame Duck’ Label

    On Tuesday, President Bush popped in for a surprise visit to the Sterling Family Restaurant, a homey diner in Peoria, Ill. It’s a scene that has been played out many times before by this White House and others: a president mingling among regular Americans, who, no matter what they might think of his policies, are usually humbled and shocked to see the leader of the free world standing 10 feet in front of them.But on Tuesday, the surprise was on Bush. In town to deliver remarks on the economy, the president walked into the diner, where he was greeted with what can only be described as a sedate reception. No one rushed to shake his hand. There were no audible gasps or yelps of excitement that usually accompany visits like this. Last summer, a woman nearly fainted when Bush made an unscheduled visit for some donut holes at the legendary Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant in Chicago. In Peoria this week, many patrons found their pancakes more interesting. Except for the click of news cameras and...
  • The Limits Of Democracy

    No president has attached his name more completely to the promotion of democracy than George W. Bush. He speaks of it with genuine passion and devoted virtually his entire second Inaugural to the subject. His administration talks constantly about its "freedom agenda" and interprets global events largely in such terms. Last summer, for example, as missiles, car bombs and IEDs exploded across Lebanon, Gaza and Iraq, Condoleezza Rice described the violence as the "birth pangs" of a new, democratic Middle East. So it is striking to read this year's annual survey of "freedom in the world," released last week by Freedom House, a nonprofit that is engaged in promoting democracy around the globe. The report points out that 2006 was a bad year for liberty, under attack from creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, a coup in Thailand, massive corruption in Africa and a host of more subtle reversals."The percentage of countries designated as free has failed to increase for nearly a...
  • A Life In Books

    Author of one of the most influential profiles in modern journalism—"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold"—Gay Talese is now working on a portrait of his own marriage. PERI wanted to know which writers were influential to him. Gay Talese has a list: ...
  • To Your Health: Not Hungry? No Problem.

    Every day at 6:15 p.m., 4-year-old Payton and 7-year-old Avery Lumeng sit down for dinner with their parents, who let them eat as much or as little as they'd like. They're free to be excused when they're finished--even if it's after only 15 minutes. If they're hungry when it's not mealtime, they eat snacks--including occasional cookies and candies. "If you have all these hard and fast rules--'My children are never going to eat candy'--it makes it all the more tempting," explains their mom, Dr. Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan's department of pediatrics and Center for Human Growth and Development. She should know: she worked on "Healthy From the Start," a new booklet on healthy eating just out from the nonprofit group Zero to Three ( zerotothree.org ) and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.In the booklet, Lumeng and her colleagues redefine the rules of healthy eating for kids. Faced with a childhood-obesity epidemic (about one in six U.S. kids is fat), experts...
  • A Life In Books: Gay Talese

    Author of one of the most influential profiles in modern journalism--"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold"-- Gay Talese is now working on a portrait of his own marriage. PERI wanted to know which writers were influential to him . Gay Talese has a list: ...
  • Longevity: The Nobel Effect

    The nobel prize isa lot more than a medal. Winners get $1.4 million and the world's best résumé line. Here's another thing to file under "life's not fair": Nobel winners also live longer. New research from the University of Warwick says that academics who get the fateful phone call from Sweden stick around about two years longer than colleagues who don't make the final list. The effect mirrors what's been seen before in Oscar winners, whose life spans grow with every statue they take home. (Tom Hanks will be with us forever.) Since only four people have ever won multiple Nobels, though--and one, Marie Curie, had a shorter life because of her prize-winning work on dangerous radiation--the researchers couldn't document a truly identical trend. Still, they were able to figure out that, as with Oscars, it wasn't the cash that did the trick. Apparently, the key to long life among Nobel laureates was simply having the bragging rights.The research has some lessons for mere mortals, too: it...
  • Editor's Desk

    It was, apparently, a grim session. As Michael Hirsh and Richard Wolffe report this week, President Bush asked some GOP senators to come to the White House to talk about the deployment of 21,000 more troops to Baghdad. Skeptical and worried--as is much of the country; according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll, only 26 percent approve of Bush's "surge" plan--the lawmakers told the president they were particularly concerned about Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Any resolution in Iraq--anything approaching resolution--depends on strong Iraqi leadership. There is, however, a growing fear that Maliki, a Shiite with ties to the anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, may not be able to quell the country's devastating sectarian violence.The debate over the war is intense and heartfelt, but for those of us far removed from combat and who do not have family engaged in the conflict, Iraq can seem abstract--a source of sincere but somewhat clinical concern.At NEWSWEEK, however, the war felt...
  • Davos Special Report: 7 Ways To Save The World

    Forget the old cliché that conserving energy is a form of abstinence--riding bicycles, dimming the lights, lowering the thermostat and taking fewer showers. These days conservation is all about efficiency: getting the same--or better--results from just a fraction of the energy. When a slump in business travelers forced Ulrich Römer to cut costs at his family-owned Hotel am Stadtpark in Hilden, Germany, in 2002, he found that he didn't have to skimp on comfort for his guests. Instead, he replaced hundreds of the hotel's wasteful incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescent ones, getting the same light for 80 percent less power. He bought a state-of-the-art water boiler with a digitally controlled pump, and wrapped insulation around the pipes. Spending about €100,000 on these and other improvements, he slashed his €90,000 fuel and power bill by €60,000--a 60 percent return on investment, year after year after year. As a bonus, the hotel's lower energy needs have...
  • Golly, What Did Jon Do?

    What did Jon Will and the more than 350,000 American citizens like him do to tick off the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists? It seems to want to help eliminate from America almost all of a category of citizens, a category that includes Jon.congenital condition resulting from a chromosomal defect that causes varying degrees of mental retardation and some physical abnormalities, such as low muscle tone, small stature, a single crease across the center of the palms, flatness of the back of the head and an upward slant to the eyes (when Jon was born, Down syndrome people were still commonly called Mongoloids). There also is increased risk of congenital heart defects, childhood leukemia and Alzheimer's disease. Down syndrome, although not common, is among the most common congenital anomalies--47.9 per 100,000 births (compared with 77.7 with cleft lips or palates, which also can be diagnosed in utero, and which sometimes result in abortions).As women age, their risk of...
  • International Perspectives

    "We must give a soul to Europe; we have to find Europe's soul." German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the new European Union president, on the importance of adopting an EU constitution"The Chinese are telling the Pentagon that they don't own space." Michael Krepon, of the Henry L. Stimson Center, on a Chinese antisatellite military test in which a ground-based missile shot down an aging satellite more than 800 kilometers into space. The test was condemned by the United States."Such statements give moral boosts to the terrorists." Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, on statements by the Bush administration describing the Iraqi government as being "on borrowed time""Just because Hitler misused the symbol, abused it and used it to propagate a reign of terror and racism and discrimination does not mean that its peaceful use should be banned." Ramesh Kallidai, of the Hindu Forum of Britain, on a proposed EU ban on the swastika, which was used by Hindus for 5,000 years as a symbol of peace
  • Space: China's Display Of Strength

    An apparent explosion in space on Jan. 11 resounded loudly on Earth last week after U.S. officials announced that China had successfully conducted its first-ever test of an antisatellite weapon.The test, in which China destroyed one of its own weather satellites with a ballistic missile, brought "expressions of concern" from the United States, Britain, Japan and Australia that it would spark an antisatellite arms race. Some experts speculated the launch was a ploy to force the U.S. into negotiating a weapons ban. "The Bush administration has been rattling its sword to say 'We dominate space'," said Philip Coyle, a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information. "China is saying, 'No you don't'."
  • 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...