Category Archives: Newsweek

Creative Writing—or Criminal Act?

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare: Masked teenage commandos raid the campus office and kill the principal. A second group of students sets bombs around the building, synchronizing them to explode at lunchtime. And on the roof, snipers fire at cops and bystanders below.

After he finished his assignments in a computer class one day last year, Brian Robertson—then a senior at Moore High School, in Moore, Okla.—penned that chilling scenario and saved it on the school computer’s hard drive.

Robertson insists the two pages of writing were fiction—a work of dark “literary art,” he told NEWSWEEK. But local prosecutors saw it differently. In April 2002, after a teacher discovered the file on the computer, the district attorney charged Robertson with the felony offense of “planning a violent act.” Robertson, who is now 19, became the first person in the Oklahoma City area charged under that law, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Continue reading

Texas Showdown

Back when George W. Bush lived in the Texas governor’s mansion, his allies painted Austin as a paragon of bipartisanship. No longer. This summer, a Republican plan to redraw the state’s congressional lines has set off a  showdown with Democrats that has played out like a black-and-white Western flick.

There’s the sheriff and his deputy–Rep. Tom DeLay and Gov. Rick Perry, who are pushing strongly for redistricting. Then there are the bandits–11 Democratic state senators who have been holed up in New Mexico since late July, effectively blocking a vote on the matter. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Bush–who is vacationing in Crawford, Texas, this month–is resisting pleas from both sides to get involved.

Continue reading

Affirmative Access: Making the Grade

Natalie Fogiel, an 18-year-old high-school senior in Dallas, has SAT scores higher than the Ivy League’s collective average–she scored 1490 out of 1600. She’s a National Merit Scholar semifinalist and is active in Student Congress. Fogiel doesn’t want to go to Harvard or Yale. She wants to go to the business school at her state university’s flagship campus, the University of Texas at Austin. But under Texas’s five-year-old “affirmative access” policy–which guarantees admission to any state university for all seniors graduating in the top 10 percent of their classes–Fogiel isn’t sure she’ll get in. At Highland Park High School in Dallas, one of the top-ranked public schools in the country, she’s only in the top 15 percent.

As the Supreme Court prepares to review the constitutionality of affirmative-action programs, President Bush has been championing programs such as Texas’s, which passed when he was governor. But at some of the state’s best schools, the policy has been attacked with the same words–”unfair” and “divisive”–that Bush uses to describe affirmative action. “If I had gone anywhere else, I probably would be in the top 10 percent,” Fogiel says. While Texas’s program prohibits using race as a factor, Texas’s many segregated high schools mean the result is much the same. Since the 10 percent plan was implemented, minority enrollment at UT Austin has returned to roughly the same levels as when affirmative action was in effect.

Continue reading