Walter Shapiro is a special correspondent for The New Republic.
Twenty-six years ago — as part of the price for raising the federal debt ceiling to a shocking $2 trillion — Congress, in a wave of fiscal self-flagellation, approved the Gramm-Rudman bill. If a spendthrift Congress failed to meet prescribed deficit targets, then Gramm-Rudman would slice the budget with the across-the-board subtlety of Sweeney Todd.
A mannequin maker in Colorado is helping retailers boost clothing sales by creating more life-like models. These are custom-made mannequins that look like the real people who shop in stores — or the way shoppers imagine themselves.
In a Disney Store in Southern California, an employee helps a young customer wave a purple wand at a talking mirror. It's part of the store's redesign, which includes playful child-size mannequins that encourage shoppers to interact with the merchandise. The mannequins appear to curtsy and jump after balloons.
Domestic protests have dominated the headlines in Israel in recent weeks, as strikes over the high cost of living have spread across the country. But while the local media have termed it Israel's own Arab Spring, the protesters say they are far from calling for revolution.