Newsweek April 12, 2013

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


downward spiral

EVERY NOW and then I encounter some random piece of historical trivia and I remember: the Republican Party used to be sane. The last such epiphany occurred when I was researching the assault-weapons ban, which first passed the Senate in 1993. Scanning the roll call, I noticed an odd letter—“R”—next to some of the senators who had voted yes. Overall, 10 Republicans voted for the assault-weapons ban back then, almost a quarter of the GOP caucus. Today, by contrast, not a single Republican senator supports such a ban. Even the Obama administration’s less controversial proposal for background checks faces overwhelming GOP opposition. Today, in fact, most Senate Republicans don’t merely oppose new gun-control legislation; they oppose even holding a vote. Looking at those names from 1993 is like fingering pottery shards…

a mother in limbo

ARLINE KERCHER—the mother of Meredith Kercher, whose 2007 killing in Italy led to the conviction, then acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito— will soon find herself forced to relive her daughter’s death yet again. That’s because, last month, the highest court in Italy overturned the duo’s acquittal, setting the stage for still more trials in the case. “It is always distressing to hear and read about the murder,” Arline told me by phone from England, where she lives. “We have to brace ourselves for another round of this nightmare.” And yet, while at some level she is dreading the revival of the spectacle surrounding the case, she is also glad the pursuit of the truth is continuing. “We want justice for Meredith,” she told me. “We don’t want anyone who…

fakhruddin g. ebrahim

IT’S A difficult task, and many fear that Fakhruddin Ghulam Ebrahim, Pakistan’s chief election commissioner since July, may not be the right man for it. Given his age—he’s 85—and the activist Supreme Court’s deep involvement in the election process, can Ebrahim ensure that his country’s first-ever transition from one fully civilian elected government to another takes place smoothly? Elections for the national and four provincial assemblies are scheduled for May 11. And the controversies have already started. Over the past week, judges serving as election officers have humiliated candidates by asking them to recite the national anthem (which is in Persian), recite from the Quran (in Arabic), and spell words such as “graduate” and “economics.” Some of these returning officers also remarked on the looks of politicians appearing before them. One candidate…

activism, 21st-century style

HUMAIRA BACHAL was just a teenager when she looked around her impoverished Karachi neighborhood at the children roaming the barren streets, and realized that she and her sister were the only ones who were going to school. Bachal’s mother was making sure her daughters got an education, against her father’s wishes. When her father discovered she was going to take a high school entrance exam, he beat her mother. He also beat her. She took the exam anyway. And then, determined to improve the shameful number of girls completing a primary education in Pakistan—only 59 percent—Bachal started teaching a handful of local children in her home. A decade later, Bachal was sitting on stage in an ornate theater at Lincoln Center in New York, talking about the 1,200-student school she runs…

first world problems?

HERE’S SOMETHING to smile about: researchers have known for a while that there’s a connection between emotions and health. People with positive emotions tend to report being healthier—they even live longer—and those with negative emotions report being less healthy. But a limitation of this research was that it was focused on people in the developed world, leaving one team of researchers to wonder if the connection between emotions and health was just a “First World problem.” In other words, in a part of the world where people might not have adequate food or shelter, would emotions still be strongly tied to health? To answer that question, they surveyed more than 150,000 people in 142 different countries, asking them about recent positive feelings, negative feelings, their self-reported health, and questions about whether…

too small to fail

THE POLITICAL elites in Brussels can once again breathe a sigh of relief. Cyprus did not implode and take the euro with it. In many ways, the latest drama in Cyprus followed a familiar pattern: the so-called troika of European leadership (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) flew to a country on Europe’s periphery to rescue its failing banks, that country’s leadership balked, and then eventually caved to Brussels’s demands. In the past, the troika had rescued failing banks with taxpayer-financed bailouts, where shareholders took a hit but bondholders and depositors were left unscathed. This is the familiar model we saw in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and again in Greece. So what was different about Cyprus, and why did things turn sour? Well, this time,…