Newsweek Jun-13-14

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the popes of silicon valley

One sunny day in March, Gagan Biyani, the young and hugely ambitious CEO of Sprig—a company so new you probably have never heard of it—stepped into the main conference room at 2550 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park, California. Here, inside this nondescript Silicon Valley office, everything was about to change for Biyani, and his small company. He was here to pitch his business plan to Greylock Partners. The room is ordinary—a white board, table, some chairs—but through the eyes of a fledgling CEO, it becomes transformed. “Coming in, the first person I see is Reid, right?... And then David is over here; Aneel is there,” Biyani says breathlessly. “It was the biggest moment of my life.” Gathered here on that day were some of the most powerful venture capitalists in…

25 years after tiananmen, china’s underground railroad still saves dissidents

Pastor Bob Fu knows about life on the run. Back in 1996, when he and his wife lived in Beijing, they spent two months behind bars because of their work in the underground Protestant “house church” movement. Friends warned they’d be jailed again soon. The couple hid out in the countryside, then escaped to the then-British colony of Hong Kong via Bangkok. Friends—and strangers—pulled strings so Fu’s wife could give birth in a local hospital and the couple could gain asylum in the West. When they finally boarded a flight for America in June 1997, “we knew what it meant to be rescued,” recalls Fu, now based in Midland, Texas. “What it meant to feel desperate.” Inspired by that experience, Fu now runs a nonprofit called ChinaAid. It works with thousands of…

poison control

“The clock is ticking.” Over the past seven months—since she was put in charge of ridding Syria of its chemical weapons—Sigrid Kaag has uttered the phrase more times than she can count. Kaag, 53, whose official title is special coordinator for the joint mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations, previously worked for Royal Dutch Shell in the U.K. She is blond, statuesque, Dutch and speaks eight languages. She leans toward silk power suits in pastel colors and has darkly varnished nails. There is a steely edge to the woman who is disposing of Syria’s chemical arsenal. Kaag wears elegant heels, but you get the sense that she prefers to be able to hit the ground running. Fast. And she has to. According to…

war in afghanistan: what was won, what was lost?

Afghanistan is about to go back to the polls to pick a new president. Both candidates boast anti-Al-Qaeda credentials. But after America is gone, will the winner manage to keep a country that is perennially on the edge of war from reverting to its bad old ways? President Barack Obama announced in late May a plan to cut the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan by the end of the year and completely leave the nation to its own devices before 2017. The longest war the U.S. has ever fought is about to end, but no one can guarantee that Afghanistan, which once hosted the masterminds of the worst terrorist attack on American soil, will not pose a threat to the U.S. again. Much will depend on who wins: former Afghan finance minister…

putin chop

Russian President Vladimir Putin is often cast as a shadowy chess master making crafty moves on the global stage, a former KGB spy who treats Asia, Europe, the Middle East and former Soviet republics as pawns on a geopolitical chessboard. But another emerging metaphor for Putin’s political style comes from a different contest that happens to be his favorite sport: judo. A black belt in judo whose sparring partners from his working-class childhood in Leningrad now hold high level government posts, Putin has never made secret the significance to him of the martial art. “Judo teaches self-control, the ability to feel the moment, to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, to strive for the best results,” he says on his personal website. “I am sure you will agree that these are…

what kind of president would benjamin carson be?

The official word from Dr. Benjamin Carson, the pioneering Johns Hopkins University brain surgeon who electrified conservatives with his speech at last year’s National Prayer Breakfast, is that a decision on whether he will enter the 2016 presidential race is between him and God. “I have not felt called to run,” he writes in his new book, One Nation. “Nevertheless, if I felt called by God to officially enter the world of politics, I certainly would not hesitate to do so.” Get Carson on the phone, though, and you get the sense it is going to require something considerably less momentous than divine intervention to lure him into the campaign. “Every place I go, people are saying I got to do this,” he tells Newsweek. “I certainly can’t just turn my back…