Periscope

It isn't easy being Mahmoud Abbas. As if the Palestinian president weren't wrestling with enough problems, last week Israel gave him one more headache, when an errant artillery shell killed seven civilians on a Gaza beach. Abbas vowed to go ahead with his referendum on a peace plan crafted by jailed Palestinian leaders--one that would recognize Israel if it withdrew to the 1967 borders. But at the same time, Hamas militants resumed attacks against Israel for the first time in 16 months, and even Abbas was forced to condemn the beach tragedy as a "bloody massacre"--not exactly an ideal bumper sticker for his referendum campaign. And Israeli leaders also now seem determined to scuttle Abbas's plans, which they portray as unrealistic. Last week Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told a British newspaper that he considers the vote a "meaningless" exercise and an "internal game."

Olmert was being diplomatic. A better description of the increasingly savage power struggle between Hamas and Fatah: low-grade civil war. The trouble started in earnest three weeks ago with two attempted bombings on Fatah members. Rafiq Fawzi Abu Teebeh, an 18-year-old Preventative Security officer loyal to Abbas, described to NEWSWEEK how Hamas militants recently kidnapped him from a Gaza hospital. His kidnappers shot him four times in the right leg as they tried to get him to name other top Preventative Security officials. "Every time I said, 'I don't know,' they shot me again," he recalls.

Conventional wisdom holds that the Palestinian public is significantly more dovish than Hamas; some polls suggest that almost 80 percent of Palestinians would vote for Abbas's plan. But other polling experts are carefully watching another key indicator: the number of Palestinians who support attacks on Israeli civilians. Even before the beach incident, more than half of all Palestinians--52 percent--said they supported such attacks, according to pollster Khalil Shikaki. That's a dramatic change from the less-belligerent mood just one year ago, in the wake of Abbas's election. If the Palestinian public continues to demand blood, Abbas may be forced to forget about his peace plan, referendum or not.

Kevin Peraino

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Pyongyang's nuclear program is deepening the rift between erstwhile allies South Korea and the United States. A free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two nations seems like a grand idea. It would give U.S. agricultural and service companies a boost in key Asian markets, and strengthen South Korean exporters against rivals.

But there are so many political sticking points that a deal, which the two sides began negotiating last week, seems doomed already. Chief among them: the issue of the Kaesung industrial complex in North Korea. Seoul insists that Washington recognize Kaesung goods--made using cheap labor--as South Korean-origin products so that they can enjoy preferential tax benefits under the FTA. Washington isn't eager to boost the North Korean economy in any way.

There are other stumbling blocks. Seoul is already fearful that U.S. farm products, along with banking and telecom services, would wipe out domestic sectors. Farmers and civic activists held large anti-FTA, anti-U.S. demonstrations in Washington last week. And public resentment of U.S.-driven neo-liberal globalization has been growing for years. "Global free trade deepens economic polarization, particularly in small-scale open economies like Korea," says Kwak Soo Jong, a researcher at Samsung Economic Research Institute. It has already polarized relations with Washington.

With Taliban attacks on the rise again, NEWSWEEK's Patrick White spoke with Canadian Brigadier General David Fraser, who is in charge of the 6,000 NATO troops patrolling southern Afghanistan:

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I have not seen an increase in the presence of Taliban [in the south]. I have seen Taliban moving around and attacking government institutions because those government institutions now have capabilities that did not exist this time last year. The Taliban see the inevitable coming, and they are pushing back this summer because the window is closing.

There are insurgent characteristics here. They attack governmental institutions because they see the government as threatening the Taliban's illegitimate positions.

My experience with the Pakistani military has been positive and cooperative.

We engage mullahs. We engage the Islamic scholars in discussion. We have experts in all these areas. We have our own imam that Canada has brought over to help out those discussions. We've learned in our past history of operating that it's not just about soldiers; it's about everybody working together. It's an attitude more than anything else. We have to make sure we don't offend those people that actually invited us here.

Trouble is brewing again in Detroit. Last month the United Auto Workers union voted to strike bankrupt car-parts maker Delphi if it goes ahead with a plan to have a bankruptcy judge toss out its labor contracts. A Delphi strike would quickly shut down its biggest customer, GM, still reeling after losing $10.6 billion last year. The union and both companies struck a deal last Friday, but there are bigger issues to resolve before an Aug. 11 court hearing on Delphi's bid to void its labor contracts. The parts maker wants to shed thousands of workers and cut wages from $27 an hour to $12.50. With Detroit's future on the line, UAW president Ron Gettelfinger now has to engineer a new, leaner model for work and pay in the struggling U.S. auto industry. The hardest part will be selling it to his anxious members. Last fall the rank and file barely ratified a plan to trim their generous medical benefits to help GM and Ford with their crippling health-care costs. Gettelfinger may have a chance: he is a sophisticated negotiator who hired Wall Street bankers last year to go over GM's books to convince himself--and his members--that the automaker was really in crisis. GM CEO Rick Wagoner says Gettel-finger "recognizes that our interests and our fates are quite intertwined."

Woody Harrelson plays a singing cowboy in Robert Altman's "Prairie Home Companion." Awaiting the imminent birth of his third child, he spoke with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.

That's what we thought. It was between Italy and Ireland. I was pulling for Ireland, but Laura preferred Italy, so that was that.

I always liked him, but it wasn't like I listened every week. But I've heard him enough times. I've always loved his stories.

I kind of like that vibe. Most of the times you're shooting a movie, if you make the slightest sound when someone else is talking, you get chastised.

What's that got to do with anything?

I don't want to talk about it.

I'm not highlighting the use of marijuana. I think hemp is important as a sustainable crop, to be used in clothing and paper and all kinds of different things. Marijuana, I just believe I should be free to smoke it in a free country.

Since the 1970s researchers have been investigating whether animals, like humans, have "self-awareness"--whether they can think about themselves, their past and their future. To find out, they draw markings on animals' bodies and put them in mirrored rooms. If the animals spot the markings and pose so as to examine them better, they understand that they're seeing themselves. According to the theory, they're self-aware.

In April, a study in Neuron announced that the part of the brain that makes humans self-aware is the superior frontal gyrus, found in the frontal lobes. Bottlenose dolphins don't have a superior frontal gyrus like ours, and by that standard they shouldn't be able to recognize their reflections. But boy, can they--give them a mirror and they vogue. Emory neurobiologist Lori Marino says the research shows us that "there's more than one way to be smart." She expects that other cetaceans, including orcas and even sperm whales, could also pass the test.

Meanwhile, animals that have failed the test are proving their intelligence. Capuchin monkeys interact with their reflections in ways that don't mirror (ahem) any other known behaviors--females flirt and stare deeply into their own eyes, while males intimidate themselves. There's only one other beast known to show that kind of behavior: a toddler.

From a teeming NASCAR speedway to a dilapidated Southwestern U.S. town on the old Route 66, "Cars" fills the screen with superrealistic computer animation so fanatically detailed, so packed with shiny goodies that it could have been made only by the folks at Pixar. Their movies have redefined state-of-the-art CGI, and "Cars" is as eye-popping as anything Pixar has done. But the film inspires more admiration than elation. This time around, John Lasseter and his codirector, the late Joe Ranft, seem more interested in dispensing Life Lessons than showing us a roaring good time. In this nostalgic paean to small towns, the villain is the high-tech interstate that put a wedge between us and nature. The irony is that this elegy for the antique comes from the computerized company that has relegated hand-drawn animation to the dustbin.

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