Sunday, April 26, 2009


In the May 4 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, April 27): "To Boldly Go ... How 'Star Trek' Taught Us to Dream Big." A Trekkie writes about the new "Star Trek" movie and how the old favorite can speak directly to our place and time. And a former "Star Trek" writer reveals what it was like working with creator Gene Roddenberry. Plus: FBI Agent Ali Soufan speaks out about torture; Jonathan Alter on Obama's 100 days and summer movies. (PRNewsFoto/Newsweek) NEW YORK, NY UNITED STATES 04/26/2009.

26 Apr 2009 18:44 Africa/Lagos

NEWSWEEK Media Lead Sheet/May 4, 2009 Issue (on Newsstands Monday, April 27)

COVER: "TO BOLDLY GO ... HOW 'STAR TREK' TAUGHT US TO DREAM BIG." Contributor Steve Daly writes about the upcoming "Star Trek" movie, the 11th in the franchise, which opens next week. He writes that it's the Spock plot strands that give the new movie its best shot at once again commanding the zeitgeist. Mr. Spock's cool, analytical nature "feels more fascinating and topical than ever now that we've put a sort of Vulcan in the White House. All through the election campaign, columnists compared President Obama's unflappably logical demeanor and prominent ears with Mr. Spock's. But as Spock's complicated racial backstory is spun out in detail in the new 'Trek'--right back into childhood--the Obama parallels keep deepening. Like Obama, Spock is the product of a mixed marriage (actually, an interstellar mixed marriage), and he suffers blunt manifestations of prejudice as a result. As played by Zachary Quinto, the young Spock loves his human mother, but longs to assimilate completely into his Vulcan father Sarek's ways, eschewing messy emotions the way all Vulcans do." He writes that if Obama watches the movie, "I can imagine he might feel a special empathy for Spock's position, given the chattering class's insistence that he needs to show more emotion, too."

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"Vulcans Never, Ever Smile." Former "Star Trek" writer Leonard Mlodinow writes about creator Gene Roddenberry's role in the television sequels. "We saw Gene only occasionally. We were told that when we did see him, we had to take whatever advice he gave us, whatever we thought of it." He writes that sometimes Roddenberry "would remind us of simple things, like the fact that Vulcans don't smile. Other times he'd explain how human nature will have evolved, that personal acrimony will have been conquered, so there could be no conflict among the crew. Some writers tried to sneak in a little conflict anyway, so you didn't have to depend on heavily armed two-headed aliens."

TERROR: "'We Could Have Done This the Right Way'." Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff reports on FBI agent Ali Soufan, who was known as one of the bureau's top experts on Al Qaeda, and what he saw in 2002 during interrogations of terror suspects, especially Abu Zubaydah. Soufan had a reputation as a shrewd interrogator who could work fluently in both English and Arabic. Now a security consultant who spends most of his time in the Middle East, Soufan decided to tell the story of his involvement in the interrogations publicly for the first time. "I've kept my mouth shut about all this for seven years," he says. But now, with the declassification of Justice Department memos and the public assertions by Dick Cheney and others that "enhanced" techniques worked, Soufan decided to speak out. "I was in the middle of this, and it's not true that these [aggressive] techniques were effective," he says. "We were able to get the information about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a couple of days. We didn't have to do any of this [torture]. We could have done this the right way."

THE PRESIDENT: "Where Everybody Knows Your Name." White House Correspondent Holly Bailey reports on President Obama's difficult adjustment to his new life inside the White House bubble. He is hardly the first president to complain about the change. But he seems to have had a tougher time adjusting than Bill Clinton or even George W. Bush, in part because he can still remember what it was like to be a normal person. His temperament has also made the adjustment difficult. Though outgoing in public, Obama was an only child and spent a lot of time alone. That hasn't changed. "He likes solitude, where he can just take a moment and collect his thoughts and breathe," says a close Obama friend. "And in this job, there is none of that."

BETWEEN THE LINES: JONATHAN ALTER: "Scoring Obama's First 100 Days." Senior Editor and Columnist Jonathan Alter gauges how successful President Obama's first 100 days in office have been. "With the help of the economic crisis, Barack Obama has put more points on the board than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, and his public investment greatly exceeds Roosevelt's in constant dollars," Alter writes. He writes that even if you think Obama's wrong, he deserves high marks for articulating a new vision and getting Congress to act. Alter wrote a book about how FDR's debut transformed the country. A president's first few months in office do offer clues about whether he has the tools to handle the job. "More practically, it's very tough to regain your footing if you stumble out of the gate. You can recover politically, but the chance for great domestic leadership is gone." Join Jonathan Alter for a Live Talk at noon, ET, Wednesday, April 29, on

POLITICS: "Last of the True Believers?" Senior Writer Andrew Romano profiles South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who has boldly threatened to reject up to 25 percent (or $700 million) of South Carolina's stimulus funds unless a reluctant Republican-dominated legislature sets aside a matching sum of state money to pay down its debt. (He has accepted the rest.) Sanford insists that he "can live with" the cash not coming to South Carolina, which opponents say will cost thousands of teachers their jobs. For Sanford, 48, whose term-limited tenure as governor ends in 20 months, it's a chance to test the principles that have animated his 15 years in the arena--sustainable spending, smaller government--and perhaps seize a spot on the national stage as the most prominent of what he calls the "true conservatives."

NATION: "Rebranding Hate in the Age of Obama." Washington Correspondent Eve Conant reports on the growing concern about the rise and strength of racists and hate groups in the Age of Obama. This spring, the Southern Poverty Law Center released its annual "Year in Hate" report, which outlines that in 2008 the number of hate groups rose to 926, up 4 percent from 2007, and 54 percent since 2000. (The SPLC doesn't measure the number of members in the groups). The economic downturn and the election of Obama "present unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment," stated an April Homeland Security intelligence report. The groups are moving out from the fringe and toward the mainstream and are having some success.

RUSSIA: "Medvedev's Moscow Spring." Moscow Bureau Chief Owen Matthews and Special Correspondent Anna Nemtsova report that Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, a year after being sworn in, has finally begun to depart from the hardline policies of his predecessor, Vladimir Putin. He has begun publicly overturning some of Putin's key policies, rolling back repressive legislation and paying attention to the government's critics rather than trying to silence them. "We all want to believe that our ruler is generous, fair and kind," says journalist and human-rights activist Svetlana Sorokina. "Now we're seeing the first signs that he is." After a decade of being frozen out, activists say they're floored by the recent thaw.

INTERVIEW: New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini. Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Lally Weymouth talks to Roubini, who was nicknamed "Dr. Doom" after a 2006 speech in which he said the global bubble was going to burst. "Next year, I believe that the growth rate is going to be 0.5 percent for the U.S. Even if we are technically out of a recession, we are going to feel like we are in a recession. The bottom of the economy is not going to be in three months, but rather toward the beginning or middle of next year."

BUSINESS: "Banks' Bogus Recovery." Senior Editor Rana Foroohar writes that despite all the recent headlines about bank earnings being up in the first quarter, it would seem that the worst of the financial crisis had passed. "Smart investors know better," she writes. "At the core, this financial crisis has been driven by uncertainty--about who's holding what, how much it's worth and when it might blow up. A careful look at the banks' profit news quickly reveals that there's still plenty of uncertainty lurking on the balance sheets of top banks."

TECHNOLOGY: "The Tragedy That Won't Fade Away." Assistant Editor Jessica Bennett reports on the Catsouras family of Orange County who are spending thousands of dollars in legal fees in an attempt to stop strangers from displaying grisly photographs of 18-year-old Nikki Catsouras, who was killed in a car accident in 2006. The accident was so gruesome the coroner wouldn't allow her parents to identify their daughter's body. But the photos made it to the Internet and are circulating virally on the Web and are a daily torment for the family. Their effort to stop the photos has turned into a case about privacy, cyber-harassment and image control. The Catsouras' story is unique in that it touches on so many of the ways the Web has become perverted: as an outlet for morbid curiosities, a space where cruel behavior suffers little consequence and an uncontrollable forum in which things that were once private--like photos of the dead--can go public in an instant.
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