THERE’S NOTHING MORE fun in politics than good, old-fashioned hate. How would LBJ screw Bobby next? To what depths would Ken Starr sink in his crazed pursuit of Bill Clinton? Sadly, however, the days of pure, unabashed malice have faded. Hillary Clinton now clamors to sponsor legislation with the people who voted to impeach her husband. Dishonest civility has replaced honest hatred as the ruling ethos in the capital. People who despise each other pretend to get along just fine.
The genocide in Darfur has been going on for three years now. And, for three years, the international community hasn't done much to stop it. It has threatened, but not enforced, sanctions. It has sent peacekeepers, but with insufficient numbers and a weak mandate. It has decried "crimes against humanity," but charged no perpetrators. And so the violence continues, with more than 200,000 people killed, two million left homeless, and the conflict now spilling over into neighboring Chad. The Sudanese government, meanwhile, has not even pretended to disarm its murderous Janjaweed militias.
Last year, when news broke about Merck's successful trials of Gardasil, a vaccine intended to prevent cervical cancer, pundits braced for an all-out culture war. The vaccine blocks the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer--which in turn kills several thousand Americans (and hundreds of thousands worldwide) every year. Merck's vaccine had been shown to be completely effective against most strains that cause cervical cancer, with few side effects. But the Christian right seemed to view the vaccine as a license for promiscuity.
For a return visitor, Baghdad International Airport offers a fitting portal into the new Iraq. Unlike the military side of the airport, where U.S. transport planes and helicopters operate in an industrious roar, the civilian side, which USAID renovated in 2003, now languishes in disrepair. Iraqi Airways flights, on which it was possible to light up a cigarette until recently, still come and go. But, in the terminal itself, the rest room floors are smeared with excrement, wires hang from the ceiling, and pay phones have been ripped from the walls. An emblem of war and poverty? Not really.
On November 29, top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., to sum up this year’s disastrous hurricane season. The first question from a reporter was one the press had been asking since Hurricane Katrina reached land three months before: “I was wondering if one of you can talk about what extent, if any, global warming may have played in the storms this year?” NOAA’s chief hurricane forecast scientist, Gerry Bell, stepped forward to answer.
I’ve had close calls working in the Middle East (rocket attacks, roadside bombs, food poisoning), but nothing beyond the usual occupational hazards of an American journalist—until Sunday, when I was mistaken for a Dane. I HAD RECENTLY RETURNED TO BEIRUT from an assignment in northern Iraq and was thinking of spending the morning in my pajamas, when my friend Katherine, a reporter for a U.S. newspaper, calls. There’s an angry demonstration forming a few blocks from your apartment, she says. They’re heading for the Danish Embassy to protest the cartoon defamation of the Prophet.
LAST SUMMER, AS other potential 2008 presidential candidates were making their first sojourns to Iowa, Hillary Clinton did something a little different. She brought Iowa to Washington. In June, the senator, who is up for reelection this year but who has yet to draw a Republican challenger worth fretting about, entertained several key caucus-state activists and donors at her five-bedroom brick home on Embassy Row. Known to Hillary aides simply as Whitehaven, the 4,700-square-foot mansion is the site of the senator’s regular Washington fund-raisers and strategy sessions.
ON JANUARY 29, the Sunday Times reported that British investigators had learned few details about the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London that left 56 people, including four suicide bombers, dead. Although the identities of the perpetrators were quickly uncovered last summer, a government document dated October 2005 and leaked to the newspaper last month said that MI5, Great Britain’s domestic intelligence service, knew virtually nothing about “how, when and with whom the attack planning originated....