Posts tagged News
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 declaration this week 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 bit of hubris perhaps, or maybe a public relations move by a savvy extremist group looking to raise its prominence on the international stage. It is anything but. “The challenge is direct to Al-Qaeda,” says Richard Barrett, who for nine years headed the United Nations Monitoring Team concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and who is now a senior vice president of the Soufan Group, a strategic intelligence firm. “[IS leaders] have thrown the glove down. They are saying Al-Qaeda should swear allegiance to them, and that they are obeying God.”
MORE: Iraq’s ISIS Is Eclipsing Al-Qaeda, Especially With Young Jihadists

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 declaration this week 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 bit of hubris perhaps, or maybe a public relations move by a savvy extremist group looking to raise its prominence on the international stage. It is anything but. “The challenge is direct to Al-Qaeda,” says Richard Barrett, who for nine years headed the United Nations Monitoring Team concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and who is now a senior vice president of the Soufan Group, a strategic intelligence firm. “[IS leaders] have thrown the glove down. They are saying Al-Qaeda should swear allegiance to them, and that they are obeying God.”

MORE: Iraq’s ISIS Is Eclipsing Al-Qaeda, Especially With Young Jihadists

In the great halls of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s central market, tourists, foodies and cooks gather every day to marvel at the fresh food, like pilgrims at the site of a miracle. The chief shrines are the fish counters, where thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species gleam pink and gray on mounds of ice. But to many ocean scientists this is not a display of the ocean’s bounty but a museum—by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man’s reckless abuse of the planet. As we keep dumping greenhouse gases into the air, the oceans keep sucking them up, making the waters deadly to their inhabitants.
On the Boqueria’s fish stands I count 10 types of bivalves—creatures like clams, oysters and mussels that use calcium carbonate to make their endlessly varied shells. In as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone. Then there are the ranks of huge Asian prawns and tiny shrimps, terra-cotta crabs from Scotland, and lobsters, magnificent admirals in blue fringed with gold. Lucky for them, these creatures make their shells differently (mostly out of a polymer called chitin), so the rapidly acidifying waters of our oceans won’t dissolve them as it will the exteriors of the bivalves. But the acidification—which some scientists believe is the fastest change in the ocean’s chemistry in 300 million years—appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.
On the crushed ice sit a dozen kinds of finned creatures that the Spanish love—monkfish, hake, sardines, tuna. The Spaniards eat more fish than anyone else in Europe. The effect of changing ocean chemistry on fish health, longevity and reproduction is not yet certain. But even now, many species on the Boqueria stalls are also on one or more European “at-risk” lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry.

The last is the least understood of these phenomena. Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge “dead zones” have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there’s little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae—organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution—have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe, is gone and may already be beyond hope of recovery.
MORE: The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable

In the great halls of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s central market, tourists, foodies and cooks gather every day to marvel at the fresh food, like pilgrims at the site of a miracle. The chief shrines are the fish counters, where thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species gleam pink and gray on mounds of ice. But to many ocean scientists this is not a display of the ocean’s bounty but a museum—by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man’s reckless abuse of the planet. As we keep dumping greenhouse gases into the air, the oceans keep sucking them up, making the waters deadly to their inhabitants.

On the Boqueria’s fish stands I count 10 types of bivalves—creatures like clams, oysters and mussels that use calcium carbonate to make their endlessly varied shells. In as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone. Then there are the ranks of huge Asian prawns and tiny shrimps, terra-cotta crabs from Scotland, and lobsters, magnificent admirals in blue fringed with gold. Lucky for them, these creatures make their shells differently (mostly out of a polymer called chitin), so the rapidly acidifying waters of our oceans won’t dissolve them as it will the exteriors of the bivalves. But the acidification—which some scientists believe is the fastest change in the ocean’s chemistry in 300 million years—appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

On the crushed ice sit a dozen kinds of finned creatures that the Spanish love—monkfish, hake, sardines, tuna. The Spaniards eat more fish than anyone else in Europe. The effect of changing ocean chemistry on fish health, longevity and reproduction is not yet certain. But even now, many species on the Boqueria stalls are also on one or more European “at-risk” lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry.

The last is the least understood of these phenomena. Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge “dead zones” have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there’s little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae—organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution—have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe, is gone and may already be beyond hope of recovery.

MORE: The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable

Lance Corporal Victor Lu’s friends in his Marine unit—the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force that fought in the brutal battle to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah from insurgents in late 2004—used to call him “Buddha.” The young Vietnamese-American man was 6 feet 3 inches tall, a black belt in Ju Si Tang Chinese kung fu and among the physically strongest men in his unit. But the imposing strength and physique belied a gentle, affable nature. Hence the nickname, which Lu liked so much he scribbled it onto the back of his Kevlar vest.
He had grown up in Los Angeles, not far from the University of Southern California, the eldest son of six children born to Nu and Xuong Lu, his mother and father. His parents had fled the country in the wake of the 1975 American withdrawal—and Communist takeover—of that country. Roughly 800,000 Vietnamese left the country from 1975 to 1995, with more than half of them settling in the United States.
Like many other young Americans, he had enlisted in the Marines after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and hoped, after the war, to join the Los Angeles Police Department. Before he went back for his second tour—before the assault on Fallujah—he told a friend he believed deeply in the mission. “We are bringing freedom,” he said, “to people who deserve it.”

He would not return from Iraq alive. In the early morning of November 13, 2004, the “3-5” was going house to house in Fallujah. When one front door jammed, Lu’s fellow Marines called on him to use his bulk and strength as a battering ram. He rammed his shoulder into the door, it popped open, and almost immediately Lu began taking fire from three insurgents inside. He absorbed eight or nine rounds before his unit mates could return fire. He slumped to the floor, mortally wounded. He was 22 years old.
Vietnam and Iraq Now Inextricably Linked as U.S. Geopolitical Disasters

Lance Corporal Victor Lu’s friends in his Marine unit—the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment, part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force that fought in the brutal battle to retake the Iraqi city of Fallujah from insurgents in late 2004—used to call him “Buddha.” The young Vietnamese-American man was 6 feet 3 inches tall, a black belt in Ju Si Tang Chinese kung fu and among the physically strongest men in his unit. But the imposing strength and physique belied a gentle, affable nature. Hence the nickname, which Lu liked so much he scribbled it onto the back of his Kevlar vest.

He had grown up in Los Angeles, not far from the University of Southern California, the eldest son of six children born to Nu and Xuong Lu, his mother and father. His parents had fled the country in the wake of the 1975 American withdrawal—and Communist takeover—of that country. Roughly 800,000 Vietnamese left the country from 1975 to 1995, with more than half of them settling in the United States.

Like many other young Americans, he had enlisted in the Marines after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and hoped, after the war, to join the Los Angeles Police Department. Before he went back for his second tour—before the assault on Fallujah—he told a friend he believed deeply in the mission. “We are bringing freedom,” he said, “to people who deserve it.”

He would not return from Iraq alive. In the early morning of November 13, 2004, the “3-5” was going house to house in Fallujah. When one front door jammed, Lu’s fellow Marines called on him to use his bulk and strength as a battering ram. He rammed his shoulder into the door, it popped open, and almost immediately Lu began taking fire from three insurgents inside. He absorbed eight or nine rounds before his unit mates could return fire. He slumped to the floor, mortally wounded. He was 22 years old.

Vietnam and Iraq Now Inextricably Linked as U.S. Geopolitical Disasters

Obama will use his executive authority to start the most ambitious anti-global warming initiative of any US president.
Step aside, Keystone XL pipeline. There’s a new, bigger climate battle about to take over Washington.
With Congress in gridlock and climate change deniers still dominating the Republican Party, President Obama will use his executive authority to move forward on the most ambitious anti-global warming initiative of any U.S. president.
On Monday, the administration will announce new carbon pollution standards for the nation’s more than 1,000 power plants which produce 40 percent of the country’s carbon pollution — making these plants the country’s number one producer of greenhouse gases causing climate change. A New York Times report Thursday said the new rules will call for a decrease of 20 percent of plants’ emissions by 2020, a significant amount.
But like everything in Washington these days, the new rules won’t become final without a major fight, and both sides are preparing for war — in Congress, in the courts, at the state-level, even at the ballot box.

Obama will use his executive authority to start the most ambitious anti-global warming initiative of any US president.

Step aside, Keystone XL pipeline. There’s a new, bigger climate battle about to take over Washington.

With Congress in gridlock and climate change deniers still dominating the Republican Party, President Obama will use his executive authority to move forward on the most ambitious anti-global warming initiative of any U.S. president.

On Monday, the administration will announce new carbon pollution standards for the nation’s more than 1,000 power plants which produce 40 percent of the country’s carbon pollution — making these plants the country’s number one producer of greenhouse gases causing climate change. A New York Times report Thursday said the new rules will call for a decrease of 20 percent of plants’ emissions by 2020, a significant amount.

But like everything in Washington these days, the new rules won’t become final without a major fight, and both sides are preparing for war — in Congress, in the courts, at the state-level, even at the ballot box.

Newsweek photo essays won top honors in American Photography, National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA), Best of Photojournalism and Pictures of the Year International! 
American Photography Awards —Published online and to be included in AP30 Photo Annual.
Giovanni Cocco: Toiling in Tunisia 
Arko Datto: Dreaming In Color On India’s Streets 
Kevin Frayer: Instagramming Typhoon Haiyan
Andrea Frazzetta: Gaming Alone In Tokyo 
Noriko Hayashi: Grab and Run: Kyrgyzstan’s Bride Kidnappings 
Vivana Peretti: Colombia’s Next Drag Superstar
NPPA Best of Photojournalism Award — 1st Place Contemporary Issues
Noriko Hayashi: Grab and Run: Kyrgyzstan’s Bride Kidnappings 
Pictures of the Year International Award of Excellence 
Arko Datto: Dreaming In Color On India’s Streets

Newsweek photo essays won top honors in American Photography, National Press Photographer’s Association (NPPA), Best of Photojournalism and Pictures of the Year International! 

American Photography Awards —Published online and to be included in AP30 Photo Annual.

Giovanni Cocco: Toiling in Tunisia

Arko Datto: Dreaming In Color On India’s Streets 

Kevin Frayer: Instagramming Typhoon Haiyan

Andrea Frazzetta: Gaming Alone In Tokyo 

Noriko Hayashi: Grab and Run: Kyrgyzstan’s Bride Kidnappings 

Vivana Peretti: Colombia’s Next Drag Superstar

NPPA Best of Photojournalism Award — 1st Place Contemporary Issues

Noriko Hayashi: Grab and Run: Kyrgyzstan’s Bride Kidnappings 

Pictures of the Year International Award of Excellence

Arko Datto: Dreaming In Color On India’s Streets

When Women Refuse is a Tumblr collecting stories of violence inflicted on women who reject sexual advances. The Tumblr came to be over the weekend following the UCSB shootings carried out by Elliot Rodger, and the #YesAllWomen conversation it triggered, first on social media. 
[visualization: Tweets with ‘#yesallwomen’ by Twitter’s Simon Rogers. When Women Refuse was created by Deanna Zandt, and is curated by many, including our own social media editor Lainna Fader]

When Women Refuse is a Tumblr collecting stories of violence inflicted on women who reject sexual advances. 

The Tumblr came to be over the weekend following the UCSB shootings carried out by Elliot Rodger, and the #YesAllWomen conversation it triggered, first on social media. 

[visualization: Tweets with ‘#yesallwomen’ by Twitter’s Simon Rogers. When Women Refuse was created by Deanna Zandt, and is curated by many, including our own social media editor Lainna Fader]

Obamacare won’t get close to offering universal coverage, even after 10 years.
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’ plans. RAND calculates that 9 million formerly uninsured Americans now have health insurance because of Obamacare.
Nine million more Americans with coverage is a real accomplishment. But that reduces the problem by only 20 percent. What’s more, things won’t be much better over time. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that after 10 years of Obamacare, 31 million people in the U.S. will still lack health insurance.
Out of those 31 million uninsured, the CBO posits that one-third may be in the country illegally. The rest might be ineligible for Medicaid because they live in a state that has chosen not to expand coverage or choose not to enroll in Medicaid. Some of the rest simply decide for whatever reason not to obtain health insurance.
But if around 10 percent of the population remains uninsured despite Obamacare, that means the U.S. still faces a substantial coverage gap. The Obama administration can take credit for progress toward the president’s goals, but every other wealthy nation in the world solved this problem a long time ago. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and all of Europe provide health insurance to all. Yet for now, the United States seems content to shrink the problem rather than solve it.

Obamacare won’t get close to offering universal coverage, even after 10 years.

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’ plans. RAND calculates that 9 million formerly uninsured Americans now have health insurance because of Obamacare.

Nine million more Americans with coverage is a real accomplishment. But that reduces the problem by only 20 percent. What’s more, things won’t be much better over time. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that after 10 years of Obamacare, 31 million people in the U.S. will still lack health insurance.

Out of those 31 million uninsured, the CBO posits that one-third may be in the country illegally. The rest might be ineligible for Medicaid because they live in a state that has chosen not to expand coverage or choose not to enroll in Medicaid. Some of the rest simply decide for whatever reason not to obtain health insurance.

But if around 10 percent of the population remains uninsured despite Obamacare, that means the U.S. still faces a substantial coverage gap. The Obama administration can take credit for progress toward the president’s goals, but every other wealthy nation in the world solved this problem a long time ago. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and all of Europe provide health insurance to all. Yet for now, the United States seems content to shrink the problem rather than solve it.

Antarctic Ice Melt Has ‘Passed the Point of No Return’
Vast glaciers in West Antarctica seem to be locked in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that may push up sea levels for centuries, scientists said on Monday.
Six glaciers, eaten away from below by a warming of sea waters around the frozen continent, were flowing fast into the Amundsen Sea, according to the report based partly on satellite radar measurements from 1992 to 2011.
Evidence shows “a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat”, said lead author Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Antarctic Ice Melt Has ‘Passed the Point of No Return’

Vast glaciers in West Antarctica seem to be locked in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that may push up sea levels for centuries, scientists said on Monday.

Six glaciers, eaten away from below by a warming of sea waters around the frozen continent, were flowing fast into the Amundsen Sea, according to the report based partly on satellite radar measurements from 1992 to 2011.

Evidence shows “a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat”, said lead author Eric Rignot of the University of California, Irvine, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Michael Isikoff reflects on Monica Lewinsky: Backstage at the Ultimate Washington Drama, Newsweek 2012
It isn’t often in this business that you’re sitting at your desk and you get a phone call from a source that causes you to nearly fall off your chair. But that’s exactly what happened in my office at Newsweek’s Washington bureau early on the afternoon of Jan. 13, 1998. “There’s a little event going on at the Ritz-­Carlton in Pentagon City right now you might want to know about,” my (very plugged-in) tipster told me. Linda Tripp was having lunch with her good friend Monica Lewinsky—and Ken Starr had the whole thing wired. Starr?! Yes, my source said: I know it sounds crazy, but Starr (the independent counsel appointed to look into Bill Clinton’s Whitewater business dealings) was now investigating the president’s relationship with Lewinsky. The lunch was a sting aimed at getting the then-23-year-old former White House intern to flip and cooperate.
I was dumbfounded. I had been talking to Tripp for months—ever since I tracked her down one day at her desk at the Pentagon the previous March. I had heard all about Monica Lewinsky and what she had been telling Tripp about her fling with the president: the late-night phone calls, the surreptitious visits to the Oval Office, the telltale evidence on the blue dress hanging in her closet. It was a surreal story that seemed improbable at first, but more and more credible (and newsworthy) as Tripp offered up more tantalizing details. Clinton was arranging to get Lewinsky a job. He had given her gifts. And, once she got subpoenaed in the Paula Jones lawsuit, he fully expected her to keep her mouth shut, according to Tripp.
But while I had briefed Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, the levelheaded Ann McDaniel, about all of this, neither she nor I were ever clear on how (or even whether) we were going to actually publish any of it. How would we ever prove that this affair actually happened? Or that the president had really told Lewinsky to lie? But the fact that Starr was on the case—that was unquestionably news. The story would turn Washington upside down—and, I immediately knew, would raise as many questions about prosecutorial overreach as it would about presidential recklessness and mendacity. And Newsweek was right in the middle of it. We alone knew what was going on.
What took place over the next few days—as I first recounted in a book some years ago—was a crazy journalistic dash that seems today like a blast from another very distant era. My job was to nail down Starr’s involvement, the underlying “crimes” he was investigating, and (there was no way to take this out of the equation) figure out exactly what we could say about the alleged sexual relationship at the center of it. Oh, and to get it all into publishable form in four days, Newsweek’s deadline for the next week’s issue.
My efforts led two days later to a tense confrontation with Starr’s deputies in a conference room in downtown Washington. “Let’s face it,” one of Starr’s lieutenants told me. “You’ve got us over the barrel.” If Newsweek went ahead with this story, or started making some calls to the White House for comment, we would tip off their targets and sabotage an ongoing law-enforcement operation. Could I be persuaded to hold off? I bargained. We could possibly hold off making phone calls for another day. (It was pretty much standard practice at Newsweek to hold off making phone calls to principals on major exclusives until late in the week anyway—to avoid tipping off the competition.) But I needed something in return: to know precisely what had led them to launch this probe in the first place. “Unless you show me what you’ve got and establish the predicate for this, you’re going to get roasted,” I told them. They squirmed and didn’t give me much of anything. But when I left, I knew we were absolutely on solid ground in preparing a story.
We knew that Tripp had been secretly taping Lewinsky for some time, even as she feigned sympathy for Monica’s “plight” (enmeshed in a love “affair” that had zero future, dragged into a lawsuit she wanted no part of). At one point, a few months earlier, Tripp and her “adviser” Lucianne Goldberg had even offered to play one of the tapes for me. Then, I had backed off, fearing I would get drawn into their plots. But now, Newsweek and I definitely wanted to hear those tapes: they were critical evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation targeting the president. After a barrage of backdoor negotiations over ground rules, the tapes arrived at Newsweek’s Washington bureau—delivered by Tripp’s lawyer—at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The bureau’s team—me, Justice Department reporter Danny Klaidman, and senior editor Evan Thomas—all gathered in McDaniel’s office to listen as we parsed every word.
The conversation we heard that morning was for the most part as had been described. Tripp and Lewinsky talked about Clinton, calling him “the big creep.” They talked about his gifts to Monica—and how Paula Jones’s lawyers would never be able to “prove” anything. “Nobody saw him give me any of those things, and nobody saw anything happen between us,” Lewinsky could be heard saying. The affair with Clinton was inferred, but never explicitly stated. More problematic: she never actually stated that Clinton (or his emissary to her, Washington superlawyer Vernon Jordan) had told her to lie in her deposition in the Jones case—the alleged “obstruction of justice” that was the basis for Starr’s involvement. “He know’s you’re going to lie. You’ve told him, haven’t you?” Tripp goads her. “No,” Lewinsky replies. A moment later: “Well, does he think you’re going to tell the truth?” “No … oh, Jesus.”
A few hours later, we all reassembled—this time with the senior Newsweek editors on speakerphone in New York. What did we have? The bosses were clearly nervous. “Could we really accuse Jordan of suborning perjury without something harder?” asked Rick Smith, the magazine’s editor in chief. “Could we really accuse Clinton of an impeachable offense?” Klaidman and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. “Impeachable?” I thought. What does this have to do with impeachment? It’s just one hell of a ­story—as much about Starr as it was about Clinton, we argued. A little later, Klaidman came back with fresh news. Starr had gone to the Justice Department, and Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, had approved a formal expansion of his mandate to conduct the Monica probe. Now Thomas—who had been on the fence—came around. “If we were The Washington Post or The New York Times, we would print,” he said. But we were coming up against a hard deadline, and the brass wanted more work. The decision was final: Newsweek would hold the story.
It didn’t take long, of course, for it to explode. Early Sunday morning, Internet scribe Matt Drudge popped his screaming “World Exclusive”: “NEWSWEEK KILLS STORY ON WHITE HOUSE INTERN … SEX RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT.” Oddly, no mention of Starr at all. Three days later, The Washington Post had its own banner headline reporting the special prosecutor’s investigation. As the truth began to unfold, and Newsweek’s insider knowledge became clear, The New York Times asked if I was suicidal when the story was spiked. I don’t know about suicidal, I replied. “But I won’t deny certain homicidal tendencies.” Still, I had a job—and we had a magazine to put out. We published our first account on Newsweek’s website Tuesday night. And that weekend, Thomas masterfully weaved our reporting into a riveting cover story that laid out more details than anybody imagined about how the whole strange story had come about, who the characters were, and what was and wasn’t on the crucial tapes. It was the ultimate Washington “must read”—and Newsweek went on to win the National Magazine Award (and many other honors) for it. I would have preferred we had it first, of course. But we settled for having it better than anybody else.

Michael Isikoff reflects on Monica Lewinsky: Backstage at the Ultimate Washington Drama, Newsweek 2012

It isn’t often in this business that you’re sitting at your desk and you get a phone call from a source that causes you to nearly fall off your chair. But that’s exactly what happened in my office at Newsweek’s Washington bureau early on the afternoon of Jan. 13, 1998. “There’s a little event going on at the Ritz-­Carlton in Pentagon City right now you might want to know about,” my (very plugged-in) tipster told me. Linda Tripp was having lunch with her good friend Monica Lewinsky—and Ken Starr had the whole thing wired. Starr?! Yes, my source said: I know it sounds crazy, but Starr (the independent counsel appointed to look into Bill Clinton’s Whitewater business dealings) was now investigating the president’s relationship with Lewinsky. The lunch was a sting aimed at getting the then-23-year-old former White House intern to flip and cooperate.

I was dumbfounded. I had been talking to Tripp for months—ever since I tracked her down one day at her desk at the Pentagon the previous March. I had heard all about Monica Lewinsky and what she had been telling Tripp about her fling with the president: the late-night phone calls, the surreptitious visits to the Oval Office, the telltale evidence on the blue dress hanging in her closet. It was a surreal story that seemed improbable at first, but more and more credible (and newsworthy) as Tripp offered up more tantalizing details. Clinton was arranging to get Lewinsky a job. He had given her gifts. And, once she got subpoenaed in the Paula Jones lawsuit, he fully expected her to keep her mouth shut, according to Tripp.

But while I had briefed Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, the levelheaded Ann McDaniel, about all of this, neither she nor I were ever clear on how (or even whether) we were going to actually publish any of it. How would we ever prove that this affair actually happened? Or that the president had really told Lewinsky to lie? But the fact that Starr was on the case—that was unquestionably news. The story would turn Washington upside down—and, I immediately knew, would raise as many questions about prosecutorial overreach as it would about presidential recklessness and mendacity. And Newsweek was right in the middle of it. We alone knew what was going on.

What took place over the next few days—as I first recounted in a book some years ago—was a crazy journalistic dash that seems today like a blast from another very distant era. My job was to nail down Starr’s involvement, the underlying “crimes” he was investigating, and (there was no way to take this out of the equation) figure out exactly what we could say about the alleged sexual relationship at the center of it. Oh, and to get it all into publishable form in four days, Newsweek’s deadline for the next week’s issue.

My efforts led two days later to a tense confrontation with Starr’s deputies in a conference room in downtown Washington. “Let’s face it,” one of Starr’s lieutenants told me. “You’ve got us over the barrel.” If Newsweek went ahead with this story, or started making some calls to the White House for comment, we would tip off their targets and sabotage an ongoing law-enforcement operation. Could I be persuaded to hold off? I bargained. We could possibly hold off making phone calls for another day. (It was pretty much standard practice at Newsweek to hold off making phone calls to principals on major exclusives until late in the week anyway—to avoid tipping off the competition.) But I needed something in return: to know precisely what had led them to launch this probe in the first place. “Unless you show me what you’ve got and establish the predicate for this, you’re going to get roasted,” I told them. They squirmed and didn’t give me much of anything. But when I left, I knew we were absolutely on solid ground in preparing a story.

We knew that Tripp had been secretly taping Lewinsky for some time, even as she feigned sympathy for Monica’s “plight” (enmeshed in a love “affair” that had zero future, dragged into a lawsuit she wanted no part of). At one point, a few months earlier, Tripp and her “adviser” Lucianne Goldberg had even offered to play one of the tapes for me. Then, I had backed off, fearing I would get drawn into their plots. But now, Newsweek and I definitely wanted to hear those tapes: they were critical evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation targeting the president. After a barrage of backdoor negotiations over ground rules, the tapes arrived at Newsweek’s Washington bureau—delivered by Tripp’s lawyer—at 12:30 a.m. Saturday. The bureau’s team—me, Justice Department reporter Danny Klaidman, and senior editor Evan Thomas—all gathered in McDaniel’s office to listen as we parsed every word.

The conversation we heard that morning was for the most part as had been described. Tripp and Lewinsky talked about Clinton, calling him “the big creep.” They talked about his gifts to Monica—and how Paula Jones’s lawyers would never be able to “prove” anything. “Nobody saw him give me any of those things, and nobody saw anything happen between us,” Lewinsky could be heard saying. The affair with Clinton was inferred, but never explicitly stated. More problematic: she never actually stated that Clinton (or his emissary to her, Washington superlawyer Vernon Jordan) had told her to lie in her deposition in the Jones case—the alleged “obstruction of justice” that was the basis for Starr’s involvement. “He know’s you’re going to lie. You’ve told him, haven’t you?” Tripp goads her. “No,” Lewinsky replies. A moment later: “Well, does he think you’re going to tell the truth?” “No … oh, Jesus.”

A few hours later, we all reassembled—this time with the senior Newsweek editors on speakerphone in New York. What did we have? The bosses were clearly nervous. “Could we really accuse Jordan of suborning perjury without something harder?” asked Rick Smith, the magazine’s editor in chief. “Could we really accuse Clinton of an impeachable offense?” Klaidman and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. “Impeachable?” I thought. What does this have to do with impeachment? It’s just one hell of a ­story—as much about Starr as it was about Clinton, we argued. A little later, Klaidman came back with fresh news. Starr had gone to the Justice Department, and Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, had approved a formal expansion of his mandate to conduct the Monica probe. Now Thomas—who had been on the fence—came around. “If we were The Washington Post or The New York Times, we would print,” he said. But we were coming up against a hard deadline, and the brass wanted more work. The decision was final: Newsweek would hold the story.

It didn’t take long, of course, for it to explode. Early Sunday morning, Internet scribe Matt Drudge popped his screaming “World Exclusive”: “NEWSWEEK KILLS STORY ON WHITE HOUSE INTERN … SEX RELATIONSHIP WITH PRESIDENT.” Oddly, no mention of Starr at all. Three days later, The Washington Post had its own banner headline reporting the special prosecutor’s investigation. As the truth began to unfold, and Newsweek’s insider knowledge became clear, The New York Times asked if I was suicidal when the story was spiked. I don’t know about suicidal, I replied. “But I won’t deny certain homicidal tendencies.” Still, I had a job—and we had a magazine to put out. We published our first account on Newsweek’s website Tuesday night. And that weekend, Thomas masterfully weaved our reporting into a riveting cover story that laid out more details than anybody imagined about how the whole strange story had come about, who the characters were, and what was and wasn’t on the crucial tapes. It was the ultimate Washington “must read”—and Newsweek went on to win the National Magazine Award (and many other honors) for it. I would have preferred we had it first, of course. But we settled for having it better than anybody else.

A new, fast-acting antidepressant that works like the infamous club drug ketamine could elevate mood in just 24 hours, researchers say.
Though the drug is still in the early stages of development (to this point it has only been tested on animals), it shows promise for the treatment of a mental health disorder experienced by least 10 percent of American adults. It also solves a significant problem with antidepressants currently on the market: all approved depression drugs can take up to a month to work, meaning patients must wait before feeling any significant relief. In addition, there is no one-size-fits all antidepressant; finding the right drug for the right patient can sometimes be an issue of trial and error, and this weeks-long lag time for pharmaceutical benefit further prolongs this process. So an antidepressant that does not take so long to work could help people more quickly and streamline drug selection.
While depression is often a long-term illness, there are also shorter-term cases for which a month-long wait just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes doctors prescribe these patients a medication from a class of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, but this is far from ideal as they only treat some symptoms—such as constant worrying—and are highly addictive.
Also, there hasn’t been a “fundamentally different antidepressant medication for decades, perhaps even 30 years,” Jefferey Talbot, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Roseman University of Health Sciences who is researching this new drug, tells Newsweek.  “They’re good drugs and they’re relatively safe and well tolerated, but they’re surprisingly ineffective in a large number of patients.”
A new medication, Talbot explains, might be able to help those resistant to current therapies.
Talbot, who is collaborating with researchers at Duquesne University and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says scientists worldwide have become increasingly interested in the idea of a fast-acting antidepressant. Some teams even tried treating some depression patients with ketamine—a veterinary anesthetic that became a prominent recreational drug during the 1990s rave scene (street name: “Special K”) because of its hallucinogenic properties.
“[Ketamine] provides anti-depressant relief in about 24 hours,” Talbot says, but “it has abuse potential and from a therapeutic standpoint, it doesn’t work well orally.” Talbot says this ketamine research ultimately tipped off researchers to the idea that drugs “that act like it from a mechanistic standpoint” could have a similar therapeutic effect.
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A new, fast-acting antidepressant that works like the infamous club drug ketamine could elevate mood in just 24 hours, researchers say.

Though the drug is still in the early stages of development (to this point it has only been tested on animals), it shows promise for the treatment of a mental health disorder experienced by least 10 percent of American adults. It also solves a significant problem with antidepressants currently on the market: all approved depression drugs can take up to a month to work, meaning patients must wait before feeling any significant relief. In addition, there is no one-size-fits all antidepressant; finding the right drug for the right patient can sometimes be an issue of trial and error, and this weeks-long lag time for pharmaceutical benefit further prolongs this process. So an antidepressant that does not take so long to work could help people more quickly and streamline drug selection.

While depression is often a long-term illness, there are also shorter-term cases for which a month-long wait just doesn’t make sense. Sometimes doctors prescribe these patients a medication from a class of anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, but this is far from ideal as they only treat some symptoms—such as constant worrying—and are highly addictive.

Also, there hasn’t been a “fundamentally different antidepressant medication for decades, perhaps even 30 years,” Jefferey Talbot, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at Roseman University of Health Sciences who is researching this new drug, tells Newsweek.  “They’re good drugs and they’re relatively safe and well tolerated, but they’re surprisingly ineffective in a large number of patients.”

A new medication, Talbot explains, might be able to help those resistant to current therapies.

Talbot, who is collaborating with researchers at Duquesne University and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, says scientists worldwide have become increasingly interested in the idea of a fast-acting antidepressant. Some teams even tried treating some depression patients with ketamine—a veterinary anesthetic that became a prominent recreational drug during the 1990s rave scene (street name: “Special K”) because of its hallucinogenic properties.

“[Ketamine] provides anti-depressant relief in about 24 hours,” Talbot says, but “it has abuse potential and from a therapeutic standpoint, it doesn’t work well orally.” Talbot says this ketamine research ultimately tipped off researchers to the idea that drugs “that act like it from a mechanistic standpoint” could have a similar therapeutic effect.

MORE

A pro-Russian armed man lends his weapon to a boy posing for a picture for his father in front of the seized town administration building in Kostyantynivka, April 28, 2014. http://bit.ly/1kdBSST
Photo: Marko Djurica/Reuters

A pro-Russian armed man lends his weapon to a boy posing for a picture for his father in front of the seized town administration building in Kostyantynivka, April 28, 2014. http://bit.ly/1kdBSST

Photo: Marko Djurica/Reuters