Newsweek Jul-18-14

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


boko haram: terror’s insidious new face

It’s several weeks since the Islamist militants of Boko Haram kidnapped more than 260 girls from a school in northeastern Nigeria and the general wants me to see what he’s up against. He invites me to his office in the capital, Abuja, and opens his laptop. The general clicks on one folder titled Abubakar Shekau. A first clip shows the future leader of Boko Haram in his years as a preacher, in a white cap and white babban riga, the traditional Nigerian pajama, tunic and cape. A second clip is more recent, from 2013, and shows Shekau in a clearing, looking far bulkier, in full combat camouflage. The next clip shows Shekau’s former No. 2, Abu Sa’ad, a few months before his death in August 2013. He is giving a speech to…

dixie turns blue

Henry L. Marsh III wanted to see President Barack Obama’s second inauguration in person because, at 79, he figured he might not live to see another black president elected. So the Virginia civil rights lawyer spent January 21, 2013, in Washington, D.C., witnessing a part of history he had dedicated his life to making possible. His presence at Obama’s inauguration, however, set off one of the dirtiest political maneuvers in recent history. Marsh is a Democrat in the Virginia Senate, a chamber that until last month was divided evenly along party lines, with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. But with Marsh 100 miles away in Washington, Republicans briefly enjoyed a 20-19 majority, if only for a few hours. In a power grab so brazen it caught even the GOP governor by surprise,…

give war a chance

In February 1946, just six months after two atomic bombs leveled the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II in the Pacific, the General Headquarters of the Allied forces in Tokyo—at the initiative of its leader, General Douglas MacArthur—quietly put forward an idea so radical that upon its adoption nine months later, some conservative Japanese cabinet members “wept openly,” as the historian John Dower wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning 1999 book, Embracing Defeat. MacArthur had insisted that Japan adopt a “peace constitution.” In its preamble it forthrightly renounces war, and in its famous “Article 9” the country formally commits itself to a pacifist course. The military constraints thus placed on Japan have for six decades always angered the more hawkish members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Over the years,…

not your grandfather’s jihad

The biggest threat to Al-Qaeda may now be its erstwhile allies. In fact, the extremist group that has long been the international symbol of jihadist terrorism faces a growing risk of irrelevance, and that poses new dangers to the West. The strongest evidence of this comes from a recent declaration by a Sunni fundamentalist group in Iraq that it was founding a global Islamic state and naming its own leader as the supreme religious and political ruler of the new sovereign nation. In recognition of its decision, the group—previously called Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS)—also announced that it was changing its name to the more grandiose “Islamic State” (IS). The pronouncement that IS is forming what is known as a caliphate may seem inconsequential to some in the West—a…

you’re half the person you used to be

The typical American family hasn’t just taken a hit from the Great Recession. It has taken a beating. According to new research from the Russell Sage Foundation, the typical American household saw its wealth cut nearly in half as a result of the Great Recession. Prior to the recession, median household wealth had been gradually rising. Over five years from 2003 to 2007, median household wealth adjusted for inflation rose 12 percent. But from 2007 to 2013, median household wealth, adjusted for inflation, decreased 43 percent, from $98,872 to $56,335. While such a rapid evaporation of wealth is alarming, the explanation is straightforward. For most working people, their most valuable asset is their home. When home prices collapsed, that pulled household wealth down sharply. High unemployment took a toll too, as idled…

bad to the last drop

When a 60-year drought slowed the mighty Colorado back in the 12th century, it didn’t much matter. The river had to feed only local wildlife and not the millions of people who have since settled in sprawling and hugely water-dependent metropolises like Las Vegas. Today another dry spell is blistering much of the Southwest. Of course, no one can say whether this 14-year-event will become a decades-long megadrought, but the city is taking no chances. Counter to its reputation, Las Vegas has been one of the country’s most progressive municipalities when it comes to water conservation. Despite explosive population growth, per capita water use has dropped 40 percent in the past two decades, water recycling is up, and homeowners are pulling up their sod in record numbers to save H2O. But it’s…