U.S.

  • Cw: Anna Nicole R.I.P. Edition

    The Senate seems to have forgotten that the people spoke in November. They want an end to parliamentary bull and a real debate on Iraq. Pelosi (down) Sure Hastert had military jet, but seeking bigger one (to go nonstop) makes her sound like a 757 liberal. Edwards (equal) Smart health-care plan, but don't throw stones at ex-Senate colleagues on Iraq when you blew it, too. T. Russert (up) Big witness at Libby trial answers questions for a change, but the CW (hey, he is the CW) believes him. Nowak (down) An astronaut's final frontier: Donning diapers to mace her romantic rival. Houston, we've got a problem. Anna Nicole (up) Buxom Marilyn wanna-be and over-dose victim finally gets some cultural respect. Say hi to Norma Jean. Super Bowl ads (down) Trying too hard, they just tick some group off. They should get YouTube belly laughs, not just Snickers.
  • Beliefwatch: Interfaith

    Christian pastors do it with Muslim imams. High-school seniors do it with each other. Actors and authors do it, as do comedians and combat pilots. It's interfaith dialogue, and in the world of religion, it's very much in vogue.In the modern times, "interfaith dialogue" has come to mean both negotiating the crisis in the Middle East and holding a Passover Seder at the local church, and since 9/11, such efforts have exploded. A Nexis search of the words "interfaith dialogue" in the headlines of major national newspapers and magazines came up with 173 entries since 1977; more than 100 were in the past five years alone. All of which may lead a skeptic to wonder, What good does all this well-intentioned talking do?Well, a lot. It was interfaith dialogue that led Pope John Paul II to reach out to the world's Jewish population in 1987, to condemn the Holocaust and give his support to the state of Israel, saying "the Church experiences ever more deeply her common bond with the Jewish people...
  • The Last Word: Alex Leong

    Hong Kong has an election coming up for its next Chief Executive on March 25. The choice won't go to the people, however; the only voters will be 800 bureaucrats and functionaries vetted by Beijing. Yet defying all odds, Alan Leong Kam-kit has managed to get on the ballot as a pro-democracy candidate. Not only that: if he somehow manages to defeat the incumbent Donald Tsang, Leong vows to bring universal suffrage to Hong Kong residents within five years. During a telephone interview last week, Leong talked with NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu about his quixotic race and whether Beijing should trust Hong Kong's residents with free elections. Excerpts: ...
  • Chávez Lives Castro's Dream

    Fidel Castro used his reappearance on TV late last month to show that his health has finally improved. But he also carefully staged the event to send a serious message to the world. He could have had himself filmed alongside his family or his brother and successor, Raúl. Instead, he picked Hugo Chávez: a sign that Fidel possibly views the Venezuelan, and not Raúl, as his true heir.Chávez was thrilled: he wants nothing better than to inherit Castro's radical mantle, and hopes to overshadow Raúl. Behind this dance, however, lies a more worrisome story. The alliance between Cuba and Venezuela is finally taking shape and becoming a significant force in Latin America. Taking advantage of the failure of Brazil, Mexico, Spain or the United States to show leadership in the region, the Caribbean caudillos have begun to extend their influence to Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.Thanks to Chávez, Fidel is finally realizing a 40-year-old dream. Ever since the early 1960s, Cuba has...
  • Time On The Mind

    How does the brain track time intervals? A new paper in the journal Neuron by Dean Buonomano of the UCLA Brain Research Institute proposed a theory that time is measured not like a clock, but by tracking changes in neurons as they propagate through the brain following some kind of signal or event, such as hearing a sound that could be either the word "the" or the start of "this." Imagine throwing a pebble into a pond, he says; you could calculate how much time has gone by at any moment by comparing how far the ripples have spread with a set of reference pictures for different intervals. The brain does something similar, he believes-- and within a 10 percent margin of error. Measuring small intervals could prove useful in other sensory modes, such as touch. This insight could someday be useful in treating conditions, such as dyslexia, that involve impairments to language.
  • 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. ...
  • Reality Check

    Hollywood celebs with anorexia or bulimia get the headlines. But a new study from Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital shows binge eating--eating beyond the "full" point at least twice a week--is more common than those two illnesses combined. 3.5% of women and 2% of men in the U.S. binge, compared with 0.9% of women with anorexia and 1.5% of women with bulimia. Scientists now call bingeing a "major" U.S. health problem.
  • Ptsd: For Social Workers, The Price Of Caring

    Listening to a victim of sexual assault or a survivor of a natural disaster, social workers hear traumatic stories. Recounting these upsetting events helps victims heal, but, says a recent study, can hurt social workers in the process. A study in the journal Social Work (by Brian Bride, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia) shows that social workers face a heightened risk of developing post-traumatic-stress disorder: 7.8 percent of the general population experiences PTSD in their lifetime, compared with 15 percent of the active social workers that Bride surveyed. Forty percent of participants reported thinking about their traumatized clients repeatedly and unintentionally; 28 percent reported difficulty concentrating and 26 percent felt emotionally numb. This "secondary traumatic stress" could reduce the quality of care social workers provide and may be responsible for driving people from the profession, which already suffers personnel shortages. Bride thinks many...
  • Shooting The Messenger

    A Pentagon office headed by a former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney has rejected the findings of a new report that sharply criticized the handling of pre-war intelligence on Iraq.In a blistering internal memo obtained by NEWSWEEK, Eric Edelman, under secretary of defense for policy, characterized portions of the inspector-general's report as “egregious.” Edelman—the Pentagon’s No. 3 official—also staunchly defended the actions of his predecessor, Douglas Feith, who has been criticized for his pre-war efforts to promote the idea that Saddam Hussein's regime had a relationship with Al Qaeda.The protests of Edelman—and his success in getting acting Pentagon Inspector-General Thomas Gimble to drop recommended policy changes from his report—shows how current and former Cheney aides still wield their clout throughout the government.During the run-up to the Iraq war, Edelman served as Cheney’s foreign-policy adviser, directly under the vice president’s then chief of staff and...
  • Preacher Primary

    The Republicans’ first primary contest is next week, and it’s not in New Hampshire. It is in Orlando, at the annual meeting of the National Religious Broadcasters. GOP presidential candidates will be there to try to generate buzz that will translate into evangelical airtime—and support in "the base” in 2008.Unlike 2000 (and of course 2004) George W. Bush and Karl Rove don’t have the event wired. So it is wide open—just as the Republican nomination race is—and so Orlando is an important pit stop, especially for Sens. John McCain and Sam Brownback and former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. All of them want to win the nomination by building from the base outward, the way it’s been done in the party since the days of Reagan.One candidate will be conspicuous by his absence: Front runner Rudy Giuliani. I am told that he won’t be there, but in a sense he doesn’t have to be. He’s not trying to win by getting right with the religious conservatives on cultural and faith issues. If he...
  • Not-So-Straight Shootin’

    President Bush stepped into the East Room on Wednesday with a clear message about the intel on Iran: the situation is murky.For a self-styled straight-shootin’ Texan, this was more than a little confusing. Just a few days ago, senior military officials told reporters in Baghdad they were certain that a new type of deadly roadside bomb was reaching Iraqi fighters with the approval of top leaders in Tehran.President Bush wasn’t so sure about the Tehran part. But he also wasn’t so sure that he cared. “What we do know is that the Quds force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that,” he explained. “And we also know that the Quds force is a part of the Iranian government. That's a known. What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did.”That explanation left a lot of reporters looking puzzled. So the president tried again.“Either they knew or didn't know, and what matters is, is that...
  • About Face

    More than anything else he has done in his second term, George W. Bush’s embrace of a fuel-for-nukes accord with North Korea shows that he is adjusting to the harsh realities of diplomacy—and straying ever further from the ideology of regime change. The proof: the president has cut a deal that is likely to help a member of his notorious “Axis of Evil,” Kim Jong Il, stay in power longer, even while it may make the world safer.The agreement announced today represents a major change in attitude that goes beyond North Korea. The most evident sign is that the accord, under which Pyongyang will immediately get 50 tons of emergency fuel oil with nearly a million more tons to come, is plainly a reversal of the administration’s previous principled stand against the “nuclear blackmail” that it accused Bill Clinton of engaging in. Until this week the administration refused to reward “bad behavior”—secret weapons programs—by promising dictators like Kim goodies in return for giving up nukes. ...
  • Stop Pandering on Education

    The crazy thing about the education debate in the United States is that anyone with an ounce of brains knows what must be done. Each political party is about half right. Republicans are right about the need for strict performance standards and wrong in believing that enduring change is possible without lots more money from Washington. Democrats are right about the need to pay teachers more but wrong to kiss up to teachers unions bent on preventing accountability.As President Bush's flawed (but landmark) No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program comes up for reauthorization this year, the onus is on Democrats. Will they cave to their party's biggest special interest--or do what most of them acknowledge in private is essential? Among Democratic presidential candidates, supporting accountability with teeth and more charter schools should be a litmus test for anyone serious about proving he or she is not just another hack.The good news is that we're getting some leadership in New York, long a...
  • Periscope: The War: 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...
  • The Last Word: George Clooney

    George Clooney has played everything from a doctor to a CIA operative. But these days, the 45-year-old Oscar-winning actor (and Oscar-nominated director) is reveling in his role as an activist. Since first visiting Darfur in 2006, Clooney has been an outspoken critic of the genocide currently taking place in western Sudan. Last September he addressed the United Nations Security Council, urging it to act in Darfur. In December he traveled to China and Egypt to meet with state officials to put pressure on the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. And January saw the U.S. television debut of "A Journey to Darfur," a documentary coproduced by Clooney and his father, Nick, a veteran television journalist. NEWSWEEK's Ginanne Brownell spoke to Clooney, who, lest anyone forget, is still a Hollywood actor. (He was recently voted People magazine's "sexiest man alive" for the second time and appears as a journalist in the new film "The Good German.") Excerpts: ...
  • Perspectives

    "A world is collapsing."French writer Philippe Delerm, in an editorial in Le Monde lamenting France's recent ban on smoking in public"I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider."Republican U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, challenging President George W. Bush on his Iraq-war clout during a hearing on Congress's war powers"Your dignity should not be an issue: I will guard it like a precious material in my heart even when thoughtless jokes come out of my mouth."Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, in a public letter of apology to his wife, Veronica Lario. She demanded the apology in a letter of her own published by La Repubblica newspaper. Berlusconi has a reputation for making sexist remarks, and her rebuke after ignoring them for the past 27 years of their marriage caused a media storm."This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate by people on either side of anissue. It is...
  • Happy Birthday, Abe

    Beschloss's next book, "Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989," will be published in May.A hundred and ninety-eight years after Abraham Lincoln's birth, the White House's Lincoln Bedroom finally looks like a room the great man would recognize.Until recently, Lincoln furniture and a copy of the Gettysburg Address were displayed against the pale walls, curtains and carpet of a 1950s city hotel--not the vivid golds and purples, heavy fabrics and large patterns of Lincoln's era.One reason for this mild historical fib was to focus attention on the chamber's historic objects. Another: midcentury Americans disdained Victorian décor, which they equated with the horrific house in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."But now, under First Lady Laura Bush and White House curator Bill Allman, the bedroom has been impressively restored to the time of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, which Lincoln signed there in 1863.The chamber, of course, was never...
  • 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...

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