Newsweek August 16, 2013

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


casting the commander in chief

Casting the most familiar figure in America—the president—is problematic. The performance has to reflect reality, but it should also transcend impersonation. There is a lot, in other words, that can go wrong. And when it does, everyone can tell. Which is why Lee Daniels was “absolutely terrified” when it came time to cast his new movie, The Butler. He didn’t have to cast one president. He had to cast five. “There were two ways to go about it,” he tells Newsweek. “Either I could make the actors disappear, or I could make a big fuss about it. I wanted to make a big fuss about it. I wanted people to talk. So I rolled the dice.” The Butler tells the fictionalized story of a real African-American maître d’hôtel—a character who witnesses and participates…

a certain smile

Deep below the ruins of the Sant’Orsola convent in Florence, workers in white jumpsuits gently brush away the dirt surrounding the skeletal remains of eight women buried here more than five centuries ago. One of the skeletons is very likely that of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, believed to be Leonardo da Vinci’s model for his famous painting of Mona Lisa. But in order to find out which of the ancient bones are hers, archeologists led by the head of Italy’s national committee for cultural heritage, Silvano Vinceti, are going to extreme measures. The bones of the youngest skeletons were carbon-dated last spring to determine with precision which were most likely to have been buried in the 1500s, when Lisa Gherardini was laid to rest, according to family records. Once the most…

paradise lost

It was an awful week for Tanzania: religious tensions erupted, and a horrifying acid attack on a pair of young British women spurred international headlines. The country’s tourism officials may want people to focus on Zanzibar’s white sandy beaches, but an increasing religious radicalization, led in part by the notorious Islamic cleric Sheik Ponda Issa Ponda, is beginning to hurt Zanzibar’s image abroad. On August 7, two men on a moped threw acid on two 18-year-old volunteers, Kirstie Trup and Katie Gee, who suffered burns to their torsos, hands, and faces. There is no suggestion that Ponda, a hardline preacher who has been an outspoken critic of the largely pro-Western government for more than a decade, was personally involved in the attack. But authorities claim that he has worked darkly behind the…

the mayor vs. the judge

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was unfair and “a nightmare,” and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called it “offensive,” “disturbing,” and “recklessly untrue.” But by August 12, when federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin rendered her historic 195-page verdict in Floyd ruling “unconstitutional” the way in which the city’s cops disproportionately subject blacks and Latinos to the department’s crimefighting “stop and frisk” tactics, she had long been at war with the powers that be. Back in May, in a highly unusual move, Bloomberg’s operatives publicly questioned the 67-year-old Scheindlin’s judicial integrity as she was beginning the three-month trial in which David Floyd, a 33-year-old African-American medical student who was stopped and frisked twice, claimed his rights had been violated by racially profiling police. The mayor’s staff leaked to the media an in-house…

a perilous peace plan

A few months ago Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos was on a roll. Two out of three Colombians approved of the Santos government—a rock-star standing by the bruising political standards of the Andes. The country’s $370 billion economy was soaring, overtaking Argentina as the fifth largest in Latin America. Foreign investors lined up as prospectors found oil, gas, and coal practically everywhere they dug. Crime, once a national scourge, was plunging. The only thing missing was peace. And so, late last year, the savvy 62-year-old economist turned president declared, “The stars are aligned,” and set out to secure a peace deal that would end the insurgency by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has lasted more than half a century. But, after 12 tough rounds of negotiations in Havana,…

money man with moxie

In a slow, grinding summer for the markets, one investor’s name kept popping up: Carl Icahn. Deep into his eighth decade, Icahn, a 1980s-era corporate raider, has transformed into a social-media-savvy scourge of entrenched management. Icahn, 76, is possessed of deep pockets (his stake in the eponymously named investment vehicle Icahn Enterprises is worth about $7 billion) and a mordant wit. His routines at investor conferences are half Borscht Belt shtick and half disquisition on the structural problems of board governance at large U.S. companies. This year, Icahn has further raised his profile by publicly injecting himself into several high-profile corporate tussles —often going toe-to-toe with other billionaires. When Michael Dell, the founder and chief executive officer of Dell Computer, proposed taking the struggling PC maker private, Icahn stood up and essentially…