Newsweek Jun-27-14

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monty python has the last laugh with farewell reunion

The Monty Python team got into hot water over their 1979 life of Jesus spoof, Life of Brian. Now, though, the team might reflect ruefully on Christ’s words that “a prophet is not without honor, except in his own country.” None of the five surviving Pythons would describe themselves as prophets. But they can’t have failed to notice a distinct lack of honor in their own country’s press comments on their much-publicized reunion show. The Guardian blasted, “Rock bands, such as the Rolling Stones, may feel they can get away with touring songs about pulling teenaged chicks when they are well into their 60s and 70s, but the Pythons should be sharp enough to know better.” Nonetheless, “Monty Python Live (Mostly)” opens in the London Arena on July 1 and runs for 10…

from accused terrorist to medical adventurer

Steven Hatfill and I were sitting near a balcony overlooking a hangar of bomber jets arranged by war. We had wandered for hours across the vast aerospace gallery of the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. Hatfill—doctor, ex-Army private, ex-expatriate—relished the chance to kill time among these engineering marvels, and the place seemed to activate his inner gearhead. After co-piloting a Wright brothers” flight simulator and exhausting the museum’s exhibits, we moved upstairs for lunch. Leaning back in his chair, Hatfill pulled out a tin of Copenhagen tobacco and packed his lip. We got to talking. “Let’s make sure this is a nice article,” he said, calmly. Caught off guard, I stammered. “I—I—I can promise I’ll be fair.” “I’ve been generous with you,” he said. “And I’ve had enough shit.” Hatfill had been generous, blocking…

does this mean osama bin laden has won?

In the end, Osama bin Laden may achieve the goal that inspired the 9/11 attacks. And, strangely, one of the best ways to thwart that dream is for the United States to anger some of its friends and cooperate with its enemies—in particular, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The successful march toward Baghdad by a Sunni fundamentalist group in Iraq—Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)—has been inevitable, as is its threat to any prospects of peace in the Middle East. Now, the centuries-old tribal warfare between the two most prominent sects of Islam—Sunni and Shiite—has been inflamed once again, with the fundamentalist group exposing the weakness and incompetence of what its followers see as just another impure government established by the West. What so many Americans,…

how credit suisse got off easy

Last fall, James Cole, the No. 2 man at the Justice Department, sent an intriguing email about the criminal investigation of Credit Suisse’s offshore tax-evasion schemes for wealthy American clients. He asked Kathy Keneally, the agency’s top official directing the protracted investigation of Switzerland’s second biggest bank, “Can you give me an update on where we are with them?” In that September 4 email, whose contents were obtained by Newsweek, Cole added this eyebrow-raising detail: “I got a call from Broderick Johnson who says the CEO wants to get this resolved.” Feature Stories is a part of a partnership between Newsweek and 92Y, New York’s world-class cultural and community center dedicated to spreading new ideas and inspiring conversations about today’s biggest issues. More 92Y American Conversation videos can be found here. Broderick Johnson…

big fight in little odessa

“I have no nationality,” says Anna Fayngersh, sitting on her usual bench on the Brighton Beach boardwalk. “I’m from Odessa. Yiddish at home, Ukrainian in the street, Russian in school and French to read in. But the man wearing a German uniform who beat me when I was 8...he used to deliver eggs to the neighborhood. He spoke Ukrainian, just like I did.” It’s hard to argue with a woman who survived an SS concentration camp in which she never heard anyone speaking German, as it was entirely staffed by her former neighbors. She told me her tale on the sunny day in Brooklyn, New York, but still shivered when she recalled the camp guards from 1944. Her countrymen. Only they went to church and her family attended a synagogue. The…

my big fat myanmar wedding

Outside a makeshift church high in the mountains of Kachin state, northern Myanmar, 30 brides fuss with their dresses, fix each other’s makeup and wait for the opening bars of Richard Wagner’s “Wedding March.” Their grooms stand apart in the bright sunlight, sweating in the dark green uniforms of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), one of the country’s largest ethnic rebel groups. They smoke and toe the dirt with their polished boots, trying to seem oblivious to the scores of well-wishers waiting for them inside. Today’s event, a mass wedding organized by the KIA and paid for by local businesses, may be these couples” only chance to get married. And they are the lucky ones. “When I heard about the wedding, I knew we had to do it,” says one of the…