Newsweek May-23-14

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


the plots to destroy america

In Baldwin County, Alabama, an award-winning plan to provide guidance for private-sector developers was spiked—it was, constituents complained, part of a United Nations plot to end property rights, impose communism and force locals onto rail cars heading to secret camps. When the blueprint was voted down, residents cheered and sang “God Bless America.” Every member of the zoning commission resigned in disgust. A federal proposal that would have paid physicians for time spent discussing elderly patients’ medical and personal priorities in their final days of life was shelved. Some conservatives, led by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, slammed the idea as creating “death panels” of bureaucrats to decide who would live and who would die. With the rejection of the plan, which had been supported by geriatricians, oncologists and advocates for…

swarm and fuzzy

When the first human colonists land on Mars several decades from now, their habitat will already be waiting. They may not even have to don a space suit, instead simply walking down the gangplank in their civvies into a warm, well-lit Martian home. That’s because if we ever do colonize Mars, chances are that our first emissaries will be hardy robots, sent to the Red Planet with construction materials and an organizing principle called “swarming,” borrowed from insects like termites and ants. With nothing but a few rules and a blueprint in their tiny robot brains, hundreds of relatively primitive machines will have built a complex, airtight structure suitable for human habitation in a fiercely lethal environment. This robot phalanx will have completed their handiwork more or less without supervision, while other…

ambassador tefft would upset russia, and that’s the point

When the man most likely to be America’s next ambassador to Russia, John Tefft, moves into the stately Spaso House embassy in Moscow, he will dwell there amid the iciest relations between the Kremlin and Washington since the dark days of the Iron Curtain. But Washington’s new representative in Moscow, a career diplomat who is a former top envoy to Georgia, Lithuania and Ukraine, will also live in a Russia whose place in the post-Soviet order screams less Cold War and more hot mess. Tefft, 64, “is one of the finest experts on Russia and the post-Soviet states in the past three decades,” says Nicholas Burns, a U.S. ambassador to NATO in the last decade and under secretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008. “But Putin has made up…

spanish soccer: world champions (of fraud)

Spain goes to next month’s World Cup in Brazil as reigning champion, with a good chance of taking the trophy again. Yet the top Spanish soccer league is on its knees—crippled by billions of euros of debt and a string of scandals topped by the arrest last month of a former team owner charged with plotting a kidnapping. The success of the Spanish team, which also won the last European championship, is the validation of a national obsession with the game that has meant ignoring decades of reckless management, spiraling debt and, in some cases, criminal behavior at league clubs. “Because it’s the national game, everyone tolerated a list of things that would never have been tolerated if they were normal companies,” says Miguel Guillén, an olive oil trader who was asked…

a bitter but futile exchange

Few government policies today are as controversial as Obamacare, but love it or hate it, the overall impact may not be as big as you think. Take a main goal of Obamacare: to decrease the number of uninsured Americans—or as the Obama administration puts it, to provide affordable insurance to all Americans. According to early estimates, 8 million Americans have signed up on the exchanges. That sounds like a lot, but it’s unclear just how many of them were previously uninsured. Rand Corp., a nonprofit global policy think tank, estimates that up to three-fourths of the exchange customers, as many as 6 million, previously had insurance. Yet it is thought that millions more Americans have health insurance now, thanks to the expansion of Medicaid and coverage of more 20-somethings through their parents’…

the tab for that last meal

Marc Hyden was a little nervous as he took the stage in February at a local Republican political conference in Buford, Georgia, where some 300 conservatives looked up at him skeptically. He was about to pitch them on why they should oppose the death penalty. “Many of them looked at me a little weirdly,” Hyden recalls. “Who is this guy? Is he a liberal acting as a conservative?” He is not a liberal. A conservative Christian who most recently worked at the National Rifle Association, Hyden is one of two people leading a group called Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. His mission is to convince Republicans that the death penalty fails a “conservative litmus test.” Ultimately, the goal is to see it repealed in every state. For decades, America has been a…