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Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's announcement last week that he had decided to shake up his cabinet caught Japan's political class off guard--and set the country on a potentially risky foreign-policy course. Shinzo Abe, a Liberal Democratic Party stalwart who has made a name for himself as a harsh conservative critic of North Korea, was named the government's chief policy spokesman--marking him as the leading contender to succeed Koizumi next fall. Despite Abe's stature as an LDP grandee (he is the son of a minister and the grandson of a prime minister), he had never held a cabinet post, so the new job is a prerequisite to becoming P.M. Taro Aso moved up from his previous role as Communications minister to become foreign minister. That, too, raised eyebrows: back in 2003, Aso claimed that the humiliating policy of forcing Japanese names on Koreans under Japanese colonial rule "originated from Korean people's requests for [Japanese] surnames."

The ascent of two proven conservatives undoubtedly bolsters Koizumi's plans for domestic reform; both men are confirmed loyalists. But the shift underscores Tokyo's more assertive stance toward neighbors China and Korea. Both Abe and Aso are firm supporters of Koizumi's controversial visits to the war memorial at Yasukuni Shrine, and both argue for a more assertive line vis-a-vis Beijing. (By contrast, the moderate Yasuo Fukuda, also regarded as a possible successor, was left in the cold.) That should please Washington, which is reducing its troop presence in Japan in hopes of persuading the Japanese military to take on more responsibility for maintaining security across North and East Asia. But with Beijing, too, looking to assert its leadership role in the region--and already clashing with Japan over offshore oilfields--last week's shake-up could roil more than Tokyo pundits.

Will the real Mahmoud Ahmadinejad please stand up? Last week Iran's hard-line president decided to boot 40 moderate Iranian ambassadors from their posts over the next four months. (The diplomats didn't enthusiastically endorse his recent comments to "wipe Israel off the map;" he also thought some weren't taking a strong-enough line in nuclear talks with Europe.) At the same time, he did not back away from support of continued negotiations with the Europeans, allowing inspectors into previously forbidden sites. Yet in another contradictory move, he announced Iran would start converting a fresh batch of uranium at Esfahan.

What's going on? Observers say there is a method to Ahmadinejad's mixed message. The diplomatic purge puts the bureaucratic nail in the coffin of his moderate enemies; the threat to Israel galvanizes his hard-line base, advertising his revolutionary credentials. For the same reason he's loaded his cabinet with friendly yet inexperienced comrades from the Revolutionary Guards (despite his campaign pledge to eradicate cronyism). Last week he nominated Sadeq Mahsouli, an unknown ex-Guard member, to head Iran's powerful Oil Ministry.

But Ahmadinejad can only go so far, or he risks losing the powerful support of China and Russia, which he needs to fight off sanctions from the United States and Europe. Already his choice of Oil minister has raised concerns in the oil industry, and Parliament has threatened to veto it. Still, says Iran expert Abbas Milani of Stanford University, "dealing with this regime is like playing chess with a monkey. You can have your next 18 moves planned, but the monkey might suddenly grab the queen and eat it." And that means nobody wins the game.

The FBI ended a two and a half year probe into suspicious Niger documents without resolving a mystery: who forged papers used to bolster Bush's case for war in Iraq? The bureau announced that the documents, which purportedly showed attempts by Saddam Hussein's government to purchase yellowcake uranium in Niger, were concocted for financial gain rather than to influence U.S. foreign policy. The CIA sent diplomat Joe Wilson in February 2002 to look into the issue after Italy's military intelligence agency, SISMI, got copies of the forged papers and sent reports about them to the CIA and other Western intel agencies. But a senior bureau official, requesting anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity, told NEWSWEEK the FBI never interviewed Rocco Martino, the Italian businessman who provided the documents to SISMI. Last week Martino told an Italian newspaper he played "a double, triple game"--working as a freelance agent for SISMI and French intelligence. Martino said he was instructed by a SISMI agent to pick up the documents from a woman at the Niger Embassy in Rome. "I was simply the deliveryman," he said, adding he had no idea the papers were fraudulent. Italian intel chief Gen. Nicolo Pollari denied that his agency forged the documents, but claimed that SISMI warned the United States the documents were fraudulent after President George W. Bush mentioned Saddam's interest in buying uranium from Africa in his January 2003 State of the Union Message.

Genesis 2:19 says that "whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof." But Adam probably wouldn't have named a spider Calponia harrisonfordi , a sea snail Bufonaria borisbeckeri or an ant Proceratium google . Those are the work of environmentalists who've stumbled on an unlikely source of publicity and revenue: scientific species names. Lately, the monikers have become celebrity gifts so common you'd think they were showing up in swag bags. Sting has a tree frog named after him, Harrison Ford has an ant as well as that spider and Mick Jagger has a snail, albeit one that hasn't aged as well as he has. (It's extinct.) In April, a dot-com paid $650,000 for the right to call the newly discovered Callicebus aureipalatii the GoldenPalace.com monkey.

Now Brian Fisher, a leading entomologist, is opening up the privilege to regular folks. In exchange for a $10,000 donation, he'll let you christen one of the 600-odd new species of ants he's found in Madagascar. (For just $15,000 more, you can buy an entire genus, but act now--there are only four available.) Fisher is trying to map the distribution of ants all over Madagascar. Since they're "the glue that holds ecosystems together," he says, areas teeming with ants will likely be future sites for national parks. As for that Google ant, which Fisher named earlier this year, it's a bid for the search engine's attention. Fisher wants the company to partner with him in creating a database of all known animal life. The project's prospective name? "Zoogle."

In 2002, shortly after the fall of Kabul, 21-year-old Afghan-American photography student Masood Kamandy went to Kabul to explore his roots. Discovering that photography--"graven images" previously deemed illegal by the Taliban--was still not taught at the university, Kamandy decided he would later return to teach it. Back in New York, he and his professor Stephen Frailey, of the School of Visual Arts, solicited works from 60 well-known U.S. photographers and auctioned them to raise money for the course. True to his word, Kamandy went back to Kabul earlier this year, where he built a darkroom and persuaded 70 students (including 20 women) to sign up for a course in basic photography. The result: "First Light: Teaching Photography in Kabul," an exhibit of pictures taken by 15 of the pupils, currently on view at the SVA Gallery in Manhattan. What the young Afghans captured through the cameras they had borrowed from the university were the prosaic things around them: birds, animals, children, bullet-ridden buses and buildings, men and women going about their humdrum chores. But there's a joy in the ordinariness, captured in black-and-white in the distinctive light of their dusty city. After years of war, daily life in Kabul, as the locals see it, seems pretty simple: in other words, free.

Who are the greatest business visionaries of the 20th century? With help from a survey of 7,000 executives, Harvard Business School's Anthony J. Mayo and Nitin Nohria narrowed the list to 100--ranging from Ray Kroc of McDonald's fame to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons--in their new book "In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the Twentieth Century." The visionaries are divided by decade and category (entrepreneur, leader, manager), but there's a common thread: "contextual intelligence." What set these men and women apart, the authors write, was more than industry experience or intellect; it was their ability to understand the period in which they lived and to exploit opportunities presented to create a business or turn around a failing venture. This well-researched 444-page book offers an examination of both the movements and the movers that shaped the modern world.

In "North Country," Oscar winner Charlize Theron plays an iron-mine worker who launches a sexual-harassment suit. She talked with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.

I do. I think the meaning has changed. Maybe it's just me, but when you say the word "feminist," you think of women burning their bras in the '60s. I think it's evolved over the years.

I don't really wear bras.

There's not a lot to put in the bra.

Watch "Monster." Actors transform. We're not celebrities telling stories, we're actors telling stories. That's my job.

Sometimes. Sometimes they're sneaky. They don't deserve any time to talk about them.

Why do you buy them?

Why? Do you want to see Jessica Simpson pump gas?

I think people don't realize that when you buy those magazines, you're encouraging something that is turning quite dangerous.

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