Digging Deep

Even Remote Patches Of Oil Are Starting To Look More And More Attractive

Digging Deep

Its approach echoes across the desolate plains of northern Alberta like the Tyrannosaurus rex that ruled here 265 million years ago. But even a three-story carnivore would have been no match for the Caterpillar 797 dump trucks that dominate the area now. Each of these metal behemoths rides on four-meter tires and carries 363 metric tons of oil-soaked tar sands, scooped out by gigantic shovels nearby. Owned by Shell, the machines are transforming this barren landscape—and the way oil companies think about fossil fuels.For years, most such firms ignored the kind of oil that soaks these sandy steppes, dismissing it as too difficult and costly to get out of the ground. But the business is changing rapidly. Today, established fields in the Lower 48 United States yield less than half what they did at the peak in the 1970s. Some experts believe supplies from the oil-rich Middle East may begin to decline sometime in the next decade. Yet industrialized nations show no signs of slowing down...

Culture Clash

Driving through the streets of Jerusalem for the first time, Karen Armstrong felt as if she had stepped into a myth. "Jesus had probably walked up those steps leading to the Temple Mount. He had certainly walked right here beside the Sea of Galilee," she writes in "The Spiral Staircase" (306 pages. Alfred A. Knopf). During her seven years in a British convent, Armstrong had spent countless hours in meditation, attempting to conjure up those very sights. Now as a scholar and lapsed nun, "these holy places entered my mind and heart in a way they had never done. I could understand why so many people felt possessive about the Holy Land. I was beginning to feel that it was mine, too."Armstrong has spent much of the last 30 years examining religion with academic precision. But "Spiral Staircase" is a different kind of book. It's the story of her own struggle to readjust to the secular world of Oxford in the 1960s after being cloistered. It was not an easy transition. Along the way she...

TIP SHEET

HEALTHSUMMER SLIMIn the dead of winter, who can be blamed for settling into the couch with a six-pack of beer and a plate of those brownies from the holiday party? Now, though, it's time to confront our bloated waistlines, contemplate the skimpy bathing suits we'll wear this summer and... panic. Never fear, though. Each year gives rise to new diet products and fads--some effective, others simply strange. tip sheet surveys the latest trends around the world:Exercise London boasts some of the most bizarre ways to get fit. At the hip fitness club Gymbox (gymbox.co.uk), the "Shag Workout" is gaining converts. The class offers 30-minutes of pelvic squeezing, thrusting and rotating, pulling moves from yoga and erotic dancing. LA Fitness (lafitness. co.uk) is planning a "sexercise" class with hip-lifts, and inner-thigh-strengthening exercises. In February, health-club chain Holmes Place launched a "speed-dating yoga," where young singleites swap partners for each stretch (holmesplace.com)....

The Death Of Humanity

There is little subtlety in the desolate opening pages of Yasmina Khadra's new novel, "The Swallows of Kabul" (195 pages. Doubleday). In lyrical, heartbreaking prose Algerian-born Army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul, writing under a feminine pen name to evade censors, warns his readers that the apocalyptic world they are about to enter will not be a pretty one. "The Afghan countryside is nothing but battlefields, expanses of sand, and cemeteries," he writes. "The cratered roads, the scabrous hills, the white-hot horizon... all seem to say, Nothing will ever be the same again. The ruin of the city walls has spread into people's souls. The dust has stunted their orchards, blinded their eyes, sealed up their hearts."Khandra does not abandon his readers in this devastating landscape--and his narrative skill makes it impossible to turn away. He takes the reader on a relentless journey through the dank alleyways, squalid homes and blood-soaked public squares of Kabul under Taliban rule. By...

Is Europe Drinking Too Much?

Jemma Gunning's first drink seemed harmless enough. It was a Chocolate Mudpie, a delectable mix of Bailey's Irish and ice cream. A dozen cocktails followed, chased by "fish bowls" filled to the brim with vodka and fruit juice. That's when the 18-year-old Brit from Somerset signed up for the Bedrock Club's Monday-night Thong Contest. After all, she reasoned, she was on holiday in Faliraki, on the Greek island of Rhodes. "Nobody bats an eyelid out there," she explains, "because everybody knows it's a party town."Not one to go halfheartedly for the gold, Gunning replaced her bra with a couple of the club's 12-centimeter-long promotional stickers, then ripped those off, too. The audience went wild, voting her tops in the best-bottom contest. Her reward wasn't quite what she expected, however. Just as it seemed the night couldn't get better, an undercover Greek policemen emerged to charge her with indecent exposure and haul her off to jail. Locals had little sympathy. Since packs of...

The Dutch Go To Pot

Paul van Hoorn, 71, suffers from chronic glaucoma. His wife, Jo, 70, has painful arthritis. So every few days, the two septuagenarians shuffle to their local "coffee shop," ever watchful for robbers, to buy a little marijuana. Last week Dutch authorities decided that the van Hoorns, among many others, should change their ways--by going to their local pharmacy. Effective immediately, the government will begin dealing in Nederwiet, or Netherweed--cannabis, by another name, grown in state-sanctioned greenhouses and sold by prescription with official government approval.That may not be such a stretch in a country famous for its cutting-edge life-style, where cafes legally sell pot along with cappuccino. Still, not so long ago the Netherlands might have faced condemnation, not only from Washington but across Europe. This time, though, while American anti-drug crusaders shake their heads in angry consternation, many Europeans are thinking of following suit. Britain, Belgium and Luxembourg...

'I'm Expecting To Sweep'

Usually those nominated for Golden Raspberry Awards, the "anti-Oscars," stew in silence and hope nobody will notice. (Sylvester Stallone, winner of more Razzies than anyone, has never commented on his notoriety.) But this year's top nominee has a different reaction. Hollywood funny man Tom Green's outrageous film "Freddy Got Fingered" is up for a eight awards (including worst picture, worst actor, worst screen couple and worst screenplay). And he actually seems happy about it. Green even plans to attend the awards ceremony. When he wins-and how could he not?-he'll be only the third nominee to accept a Razzie in 19 years. Green spoke with NEWSWEEK's Adam Piore about his acheivement.NEWSWEEK: What was your reaction to the news that you'd been nominated for so many Razzies?Tom Green: It's an exciting time for me. I don't win a lot of awards. I'm expecting to sweep.And I understand you are going to attend the ceremony.Absolutely. When I watch award shows and the recipient does not show...

Behind The Razzies

John Wilson was halfway to a screening at Disney Studios when his colleagues discovered his secret identity. It was his license plate, which spelled out the word "R-A-Z-Z-I-E," which gave him away. To their horror, the two production company execs realized that Wilson--by day a mild-mannered film-promo producer they had hired to do work on 1991's "Oscar"--was also the mastermind behind Hollywood's anti-Oscar awards, the "Golden Raspberry." And he was piloting his car straight to a cast screening of the movie, which starred the actor with more Razzies than anyone else in Hollywood: Sylvester Stallone. "They thought Stallone would be there," Wilson recalls. "They told me to park as far from the stage as I could. Stallone wasn't there. But John Landis was. He has been nominated repeatedly."It's not always easy working a regular Hollywood career and running an awards show that bestows cinematic infamy on the nation's worst movies, actors and directors every year. Still, 47-year-old...

Nothing But Music

The sun had set more than seven hours earlier over the desolate main drag of Mosfellsbaer, Iceland. But inside the town's tiny one-room tavern at about 10 p.m., the entertainment was just beginning. Seated at six long candlelit tables, customers threw back shots of schnapps and picked over the remains of a traditional Viking feast: rotted shark, lamb brains and pieces of ram's testicles. Cheers rose up as a stout, bearded middle-aged man in a tightly buttoned vest strode solemnly to the microphone and began to recite poetry.It was a typically Icelandic scene. Ever since the 12th century, farmers and fishermen have been helping their neighbors through the dark, lonely winters by singing poetic verse known as rimur. But there was nothing typical about the local backup band that took their places behind the poet. As the raconteur described vast glaciers and rivers of lava, Sigur Ros added thumping bass notes and the haunting whalelike sounds of a bow rubbed across the face of a Gibson...

China's Statistics Are Fishier Than Its Oceans

The hundred or so boats anchored in a fishing port of Penglai in China's Shandong province have seen better days. Their blue paint is chipped, their equipment rusty. A handful of fishermen brave the stiff January breeze to get the boats in shape for the opening of the fishing season in March. This year they are steeling themselves for disappointment. In recent years it's been getting harder and harder to find enough fish. Many boats venture far out into international waters, bigger ones sometimes going as far as Indonesia and the South Pacific, fishermen say. "There are too many boats and too few resources," says a fisherman who goes by Chen. "It's difficult to make money." ...

Red, White And What A Deal!

Cindy Gallop didn't need market research to see the mood of the country had changed. The week of September 11, her advertising agency, Bartle, Bogle, Hegarty, was putting the finishing touches on a campaign for the bond firm Cantor Fitzgerald. But when a fireball tore through the World Trade Center, it took the lives of nearly 700 of Cantor's 1,000 employees. Instead of rolling out ads, Gallop's staff helped man Cantor phone lines, comforting survivors. "It made us particularly attuned to how everybody feels," Gallop said. "The context of advertising has changed. And we're still taking the temperature."Everyone on Madison Avenue is struggling to find a new voice. The edgy sense of humor, irony and glib materialism that played so well off the late boom era now seems hopelessly out of date. As marketers prepare for December, a month that usually produces 30 percent of yearly sales, they face a multitude of quandaries. Is the salesman's soft-shoe appropriate in a time of national...

From Seattle To Doha

He was, one witness recalls, like a football coach delivering a pep talk in the final minutes of a hopeless game. It was Dec. 3, 1999, the last day of the doomed global summit in Seattle. Michael Moore was trying to save the world-trade talks from collapse. Antitrade protesters were battling police in the streets outside, raising tension among the delegates to unbearable levels. Inside the Seattle Civic Center, their talks were breaking down in screaming matches and tears. Rich nations were at loggerheads with the poor, and with each other, over trade barriers against bananas, software, you name it. Moore, the British chairman of the World Trade Organization, was attempting to rally the embattled U.S. delegation, exhausted after three sleepless nights of negotiation. The Americans suggested that Moore sound out trade ministers of developing nations, including Egypt, South Africa and Brazil, for a last stab at compromise. "Every single one told him, 'No way, it's not going to happen'...

Letter From America: Burning Man, The Uptight Shed Their Inhibitions

I hadn't even gotten out of the car, but already I was having grave doubts. A pack of fat, naked, middle-aged men in body paint had just cruised by on bicycles. A bedraggled guy nearby shouted poetry. Men in animal costumes strolled casually along, trailed by a skinny, longhaired camper wearing nothing but tennis shoes. "Look at all these freaks!" muttered my new friend Matt, a fellow first-timer. "They ought to roll this place up and make it into a golf course!"We had finally arrived at Burning Man, a weeklong festival of fun and psychological meltdown that takes place every year on a desolate swath of dried lake bed deep in Nevada's Black Rock desert. We had driven hundreds of miles to get here and, it felt, traveled just as many hours. Matt had come from San Francisco, I from New York. But now it was hard to escape an existential question. Who were these weird people, and what were we doing here? Little did I suspect that by midnight I'd be resplendent in a sparkling polyester...

Where The Power Lies

In the era before Sept. 11, people could say with a straight face that businessmen like Bill Gates were more important than presidents. Not now. George W. Bush is the man. He leads an international war on terror, the reconstruction of New York City, the bailout of crippled U.S. industries, the revival of American defense spending and government efforts to stave off global recession. In a world turned on its head by the suicide hijackings, it's worth recalling that it was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who declared, "the era of big government is over," only five years ago. Now a Republican president, of the party formerly against big government, is bringing it back.Or so it would seem. It's tempting to forecast a global retreat by free marketers in this time of war, when governments traditionally muscle to the fore, and many pundits have. Not only the United States, but also Germany, France, Britain and Japan are considering new government interventions to avoid recession. The Swiss just...

Beautiful But Deadly

In ancient times, to eat an olive was to touch the gods. The Greeks believed it was Athena, goddess of wisdom and war, who gave mankind the divine fruit. They used it to anoint their bodies. The Romans, too, coveted the precious crop, and later the Venetians, who shipped it around the Mediterranean from Palestine to Morocco and Spain. Civilizations have changed but not our appetites. We moderns cherish the olive for our health, a staple of garden salads and organically correct cooking. But while the olive may be good for body and soul, it turns out it isn't so good for the land.Environmentalists warn that humanity's love for olives may be dangerously misplaced. Yes, few things are quite so pleasant as a drive along the coasts of Portugal or Greece, where the land is rich with olive groves, leaves shimmering in the wind. But truth be told, Homer's sylvan glades are becoming something of a pest. In recent decades a growing number of farmers (not to mention rapacious multinational agro...

An Urban Revival

It used to be that Nicolas Bielma could hardly give away a tortilla. When he opened his store in Hunts Point in the early 1990s, the South Bronx was a burned-out wasteland. What use could the locals--mainly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans--possibly have for a bodega where festive, 1950s Mexican music blared from speakers and the shelves were piled high with chili peppers? It turns out Bielma was on to something: today, his storefront anchors a bustling commercial strip that includes a Mexican music dealer and restaurant. The aisles of his store are mobbed with customers from neighboring Mott Haven and beyond. And the tortillas? "We are selling 70 to 80 cases a week," Bielma says. "Sunday I cannot talk to you, I am so busy."For years, it seemed the Bronx would never recover from the devastation of the 1960s and 1970s, when entire blocks burned to the ground and longtime residents fled in droves. The population in the local district that includes Bielma's shop fell 44 percent...

A Nuke Train Gets Ready To Roll

The "no nukes" buttons dated from the 1970s and the audience consisted of curious locals, including a 9-year-old boy and his puppy. But when Kevin Kamps brought the anti-nuke campaign to tiny Moberly, Mo., last week, he loudly sounded the alarm. Kamps, an organizer for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a Washington-based anti-nuke group, is on the road to whip up opposition to a controversial federal plan to transport a trainload of spent nuclear fuel from New York state to Idaho. "We're here to warn people that a shipment of highly radioactive waste will be moving through Moberly by train," Kamps told his listeners. "This could be the first of tens of thousands of shipments." The rally was small, but effective. Two TV crews and some reporters showed up and concern was duly spread. "If this spills in town, will they come clean it up?" asked one worried mother.With the Bush administration committed to reviving the nation's nuclear industry, people in Moberly and all...

Hip-Hop About Pol Pot

Prach Ly seems an unlikely voice for Cambodia's lost generation. The skinny 22-year-old spends his days hawking karaoke videos to middle-aged Cambodian women out of a closet-size shop on a gritty street in Long Beach, California. He wears low-slung bluejean shorts, sneakers and a backward baseball cap. And on a recent day he was more excited about meeting the town's mayor at a local protest than about events 10,000 miles away in Cambodia, his parents' homeland. So it was with some surprise that he received a call from a journalist in Phnom Penh a couple of months ago informing him that the CD he'd recorded in his parents' garage had somehow made its way to Cambodia, where it was causing a sensation. Prach Ly, it turned out, had become Cambodia's first rap star. And he'd never even really lived there.His parents did open his eyes to Cambodia's brutal history. On the CD, "the end'n is just the beginnin," Prach Ly, who fled with his parents as an infant, spins out tales of genocide....

Bottom Feeder

Hong Kong supertycoon Li Ka-Shing has made many daring moves in a fabled career. Last week he did it again, reaching into the rubble of a decimated dot-com landscape and plucking out a $110 million stake in Priceline, the online sales giant. The buy increases Li's stake to 30 percent, at a time when many investors still regard dot-coms as fool's gold.Li has a way of conjuring the real thing. His buy into Priceline sparked a run on shares that hiked the stock price 41 percent--only the latest sign of hope that the tech-market crash has hit bottom. "Before the bubble burst, it was buy everything at any price," says Steven Weinstein of Pacific Crest Securities. "Now you're seeing people picking through the rubble saying, 'OK, is there anything worth anything?' The answer is yes. Just because something has a dot-com doesn't mean it's bad."What's good? Priceline is one of several online travel agents on the rebound. Expedia is up 259 percent for the year, to $34. Travelocity has risen...

The Other Aids Crisis

AIDS is not new to India. For many years the disease was confined mostly to drug users and prostitutes, which made it easier for the rest of the country to pretend it didn't exist. And with a raging tuberculosis epidemic and periodic outbreaks of the bubonic plague, there's been no shortage of health crises. But while nobody was looking, AIDS crept into the general population. Currently 0.7 percent of all adults are thought to carry the virus; health officials consider 1 percent an epidemic. Now India is at a crossroads. Even the most favorable prospect is downright chilling. Public-health officials are happy to contemplate a mere sixfold increase in infections by 2004--about 20 million adults. The alternative is even grimmer. If infections are allowed to climb beyond 5 percent of the adult population, scientists believe the chances of keeping the disease from greatly accelerating, at the cost of millions of lives, would be slim. India, in other words, is teetering on the brink of...

Target: Quebec

The old city of Quebec is preparing for a siege. A 10-foot-high chain-link fence now encircles more than four kilometers of quaint cobblestone streets and stone ramparts that haven't seen action since redcoats stormed the city in the 18th century. Some 6,000 police are ready to suppress rioting protesters--with plastic bullets and tear gas, if necessary. As heads of state from 34 nations arrive this week to discuss a hemispheric free-trade zone, police expect thousands of anti-globalization protesters. And city officials have cleared out a local jail to house the offenders among them. To Canadians who are screaming that such heavy security is un-Canadian, Florent Gagne, director-general of the Surete du Quebec, recently responded: "There is a real threat at the Summit of the Americas. We know that some groups... want to prepare spectacular acts to get international attention from the press." ...

Foot-And-Mouth Wars

Peter Mason may have the strangest commute in America. Every morning, the balding scientist with the salt-and-pepper ponytail boards a ferry for a 45-minute ride across the Long Island Sound. Signs mounted on pilings warn the public to keep out. The boat pulls up on a gray, windswept island where sinister smokestacks dot the horizon and the air smells faintly of caged animals. Mason enters the lobby of a nondescript two-story building, walks through an airlock, sheds his clothes and strolls buck naked into the restricted area to his laboratory. (Garments worn into the lab are not allowed out.) Each time he leaves, he has to blow his nose, spit and take a shower. "In some studies, I've had to take six or seven showers a day," he says. ...

Raising A Lemon

It was out of embarrassment that Hyundai decided to launch "Operation Dave or Bust." The year was 1998 and the South Korean carmaker was in big trouble. Its U.S. sales had fallen 65 percent from their peak 10 years earlier, and Hyundais had become a favorite target of America's popular late-night TV comedians. Jay Leno equated the Hyundai with the Olympic luge, "a three-foot-long vehicle that has to be pushed to get started and only goes downhill." But when David Letterman compared Hyundai to Russia's breakdown-prone Mir space station, a young Hyundai salesman from Montana decided he'd taken enough. He headed for New York in a Hyundai Tiburon Coupe, planning to challenge Letterman to a test drive. Hyundai assigned a PR team to Operation Dave, and cheering staffers greeted the hero at dealerships across the United States. "It was time to fight back," says Hyundai spokesman Mike Anson. Unfortunately, Operation Dave crashed without impact. Letterman ignored it. ...

Who Gets The Gold?

The International Olympic Committee's 1990 vote was a Greek tragedy. That year, Athens was certain that it would win the right to host the 1996 Summer Games. After all, Greece invented the Olympics in 796 B.C., and 1996 would mark the Games' centennial. Which city could be more appropriate than Athens? Even before the vote was taken, it began constructing a new stadium and broke ground on a gymnastics hall and swimming center. Over five years Greece spent $25 million to win the bid, far surpassing the efforts of its competitors. But Greek street vendors didn't have much success peddling ATHENS'96 T shirts when the Olympic torch was lit... in Atlanta. "It is not Greece that was defeated," Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis declared bitterly, "but the Olympic idea."China might do well to heed that lesson. Beijing may be the odds-on favorite to host the 2008 Games, but the selection process can be unpredictable--and, often, controversial. Certainly, some cities have won the Games on...

Love Them, Hate Them

It was as if long-lost English cousins had come to town. Last week executives from the richest, most successful sports team in the United Kingdom arrived in Manhattan. They bore a striking resemblance to their swaggering Yankee hosts, who introduced them to the befuddled New York media as if American baseball and European football were two branches of one Anglo-Saxon sports family. Manchester United, the legendary English football club--and the only one with a star married to a Spice Girl--announced a joint-marketing deal with the parent company of the storied New York Yankees--the only team with a star dating a Miss Universe.For a moment, it all seemed to make sense. These teams are the perennial champs of their respective national sports--teams that fans either love, or love to hate. To hear the new partners tell it, the union was a no-brainer, the latest chapter in the on- going globalization of sport. ManU, which already has a worldwide following, will help the less well...

Hard Man In A Hot Seat

Robert Zoellick was never one to mince words. After wild protests broke up the World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, he accused President Clinton of pandering to the protesters. On trade, he wrote, Clinton has "straddled and stumbled, and others have gotten hurt." In a Washington debate last spring, he opined that "everybody in this room knows" Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has "been discounted in terms of power and in terms of trust and influence." But the longtime Beltway insider knew when to tone it down. During his confirmation hearings last week as U.S. trade representative, he spoke of protecting American workers and promised to "build a new consensus."The question is which Zoellick will take charge, after his expected confirmation this week. The "battle in Seattle" of December 1999 derailed decades of work toward lowering global-trade barriers, leaving the WTO in disarray. Europe, Asia and Latin America now look to the new U.S. trade rep to clean up the mess and...

Breakthroughs On War Crimes

The Record Is Not Perfect. There Is No Question That We Have Learned Many Lessons About The Need To React Far More Quickly. --David Scheffer

Breaking Down Barriers

If any other group of kids had won the Rockport-Fulton youth soccer championship in Texas, the parents of their opponents would surely have applauded. But most of the members of Dat Nguyen's team were the children of Vietnamese refugees. So when the proud victors rose to accept their trophies, the crowd showered them with boos. It was the 1980s, and back then tensions were so high in the small south Texas coastal community that white shrimpers and their Vietnamese competitors sometimes carried rifles into the bay and took potshots at one another from their boats. Dat Nguyen's domination on the soccer field (he scored as many as 10 goals a game) didn't make his team any more popular with the locals. "We weren't wanted in that community," Nguyen recalled. "They wanted to kick us out. There was so much hatred between the two cultures. My parents told me we couldn't trust anybody outside our family."Nobody in Rockport would dare boo Dat Nguyen now. The hard-headed kid who brawled on the...

Fighting For Justice?

To his neighbors in suburban Virginia, Sokum So is a mild-mannered jewelry-store owner and devoted member of the local church. But he has another passion: anti-communist political warfare. Twenty-five years ago So was a government intelligence agent in his native Cambodia. When Khmer Rouge rebels laid siege to Phnom Penh, So fled in a U.S. airlift. The Khmer Rouge were not kind to those left behind--including So's family. Soldiers beat his mother and four siblings with bamboo sticks, then buried them alive. "I never had any funeral [for my family] because I cannot go back," he says. "Cambodia has never had any laws. Cambodians have no justice."So intends to do something about it. Last month the naturalized U.S. citizen stood before journalists at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and vowed to overthrow the Cambodian government. It seemed an unlikely threat--but So belongs to a small Long Beach, California-based group of aging anti-communists called the Cambodian Freedom...

Victory For Whom?

Charline Lockard felt as if she were fighting for survival from the moment she stepped off the plane. Exiting Port-au-Prince's international airport in August 1999, she pushed past crowds of men demanding money. Her mother and sister waited nervously in a friend's car. A taxi was out of the question. In Haiti some cab drivers rob and murder their fares. Lockard, who immigrated to the United States in 1997, had returned to Haiti to marry the father of her child. But any thoughts of staying in her native land quickly evaporated amid the escalating violence on Haiti's litter-strewn streets. "I miss my husband and my country," said Lockard, 26, who returned to a job at a CD shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., a month after her wedding. "Haiti is too hard. Too many people die. I will go back to Haiti only if it changes."She's not the only one. Last week jubilant supporters of President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide danced in the streets to celebrate the former cleric's latest political resurrection....