Brian Braiker

Cheat Sheet: Hot Lines

Hey, big spender. Anyone paying more than $50 a month in phone bills--a.k.a. anyone with a teen at home--should ride this new wave of all-you-can-call plans:VERIZON: VERIATIONS FREEDOM$50 to $60 a month(varies by city) verizon.comFeatures: Unlimited local, regional toll calls and interstate calls within the United States, Canada and U.S. territories.

Shattering The Paradigm

Ithaar Derweesh, a Cleveland surgeon whose family fled Iraq when he was just 9 years old, cried when Saddam lost his grip on Baghdad last week.A member of the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, a Michigan-based nonprofit group that promotes pluralistic democracy for Iraq, Derweesh is a self-described "Iraqi mutt"--his mother is a Shia Arab of Turkish extraction and his father a Kurd whose family lived for generations in Baghdad.

Bidding War

If Saddam Hussein wants any of his stuff back, we know where he can look. In an almost too-predictable side effect of the war on Iraq, items connected to the U.S. government's most-wanted despot have become eBay's hottest commodity.

Cruel April Fool's

The phone rang last Tuesday at the Michigan home of a military family. When a loved one is deployed overseas, fighting in a war with flashes of sheer brutality, every ring can be torture.

Icing The Cakewalk

The first two weeks of war have not exactly been the "cakewalk" predicted by Richard Perle, ex-chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. Western troops, their numbers low on the ground and their supply lines under siege, have been bedeviled by false surrenders and soldiers disguised as civilians.An Iraqi suicide bomber killed five U.S. soldiers last Saturday by luring them to his taxi at a checkpoint north of Najaf and then detonating an explosive.

A Tale Of Two Web Sites

"You can't support our troops if you don't support our president," writes one prolific poster on a popular pro-war Web site called Hugs to Kuwait. But fans of another site, this one called Military Families Speak Out, are more likely to embrace an opposing sentiment--"rest assured," writes one antiwar correspondent, "that it is possible to be both an advocate for peace and a sincere supporter of our troops."Though seemingly opposed in message, the two Web sites have more in common than a...

Did The Real Saddam Just Stand Up?

Iraqi president Saddam Hussein appears to have survived the early rounds of Baghdad bombing. The Iraqi president--or one of his many doppelgangers--defiantly addressed his people early Thursday morning."You, Iraqis, will be victorious," Saddam (or possibly not Saddam) told his country in a televised address. "Your enemies will be in disgrace and shame." Jerrold Post watched the address and was left with several questions.

In Harm's Way

A full 60 percent of the Iraqi population is dependent on the monthly food distributions they receive from the central government. With the first bombs that fall on Baghdad, that system, as well as water and sanitation distribution systems, risk debilitating disruption.As the bombing continues in the urban centers of the country, people will flee their homes, becoming either internally displaced or leaving the country altogether, creating a refugee crisis along the borders of Turkey, Iran,...

Gradations Of Orange

A 12-kilometer race that was to send 5,500 runners jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Sunday has been rerouted. Boston banned bags and containers at this weekend's NCAA basketball games.

As Seen On Tv

For 20 years, Bob Garfield has been turning on the television to watch what most normal people avoid: the commercials. As the columnist behind Advertising Age magazine's "Ad Review," Garfield deconstructs an ad a week, heaping praise or evisceration.Over the years he has evolved into the Pauline Kael of television commercials, the Rex Reed of "Where's the Beef." And in his new book, "And Now a Few Words From Me ..." (McGraw-Hill Trade), he examines why so many commercials are so bad.In the...

Chasing Oscar

Ellen Harrington has a thing for short, bald, septuagenarians. Last year, she spent six months writing letters and making calls in an effort to pick up 15 of them.

The Day The Musical Died

Unfortunately for Broadway producers, there is no such thing as a virtual actor. In a stunning move Friday afternoon, members of Actors' Equity and stagehand unions voted to honor the picket lines of the musicians' union that went on strike early this morning--leaving 17 of Broadway's 18 musicals dark.It was the first time in 30 years Broadway has shut down in a labor dispute. "Our members made it clear they do not want to perform to virtual orchestras," said Patrick Quinn, president of the...

A Tangled Web

In David Cronenberg's new movie, "Spider," the title character is a paranoid schizophrenic who moves into a halfway house in his childhood suburb after being released from a mental institution.

'Saddam Is Not Mad'

When Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein aired on "60 Minutes II" Wednesday, Dr. Jerrold Post was among the millions of viewers watching the much-hyped encounter.

'A Fine First Step'

Ronnie spends most evenings drunk, shuffling through New York's seedy Chinatown on swollen feet. When a volunteer approaches him just after 1 a.m on Tuesday to ask whether he has a place to stay, Ronnie doesn't bother to wipe the trickle of saliva from his chin when he mutters "Yeah, the nearest bench." The volunteer records his answer and asks if he would like a warm bed for the night.

Building A Better Bulb

It sounds like the setup for a joke: how many engineers does it take to change a light bulb? But to the nation's lighting manufacturers, the answer is serious business.

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