Alexandra Gekas

Stories by Alexandra Gekas

  • Talk Transcript: Islam in America

    Karima Berkani knows better than most the difficulties of trying to straddle two cultures. The 24-year-old daughter of an Algerian-born Muslim father and an American-born Roman Catholic mother, Berkani was raised in a bireligious household. Her parents taught her to believe in God, but left the faith of choice up to her. When she was 17, she chose Islam, and ever since she has been dealing with the question of how to live her life as a good Muslim in one of the nation’s most liberal, all-American towns. NEWSWEEK's Alexandra Gekas spoke with Berkani about her life in Madison, Wis., and her work as a political activist in Palestinian and anti-Iraq War movements. Excerpts: ...
  • Lohan's Alcohol-Detection Bracelet: A Dud?

    It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When Lindsay Lohan left a voluntary 45-day stint in rehab earlier this month, she voluntarily donned an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet (sure to become de rigueur among Hollywood’s bad-girl set). At the time, her publicist declared, “She is wearing the bracelet so there are no questions about her sobriety if she chooses to go dancing or dining in a place where alcohol is served."Alas, there are a lot of new questions about the troubled actress’s sobriety. Lohan was arrested this week in Santa Monica, Calif., for suspicion of driving under the influence (again), driving with a suspended license and felony cocaine possession. All this comes less than two weeks after Lohan left Promises, an exclusive rehabilitation center in Malibu.So what happened to Lohan’s Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM)? NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas spoke with Don White, vice president of field operations at the anklet’s manufacturer, Alcohol Monitoring Systems of...
  • Summer Pet Threats: Tips for Owners

    Most of us look forward to summer activities—rollerblading, biking, swimming, walking or just sitting in the shade. And for pet owners, it’s especially refreshing to get outdoors for some playtime with Fido. But there are some major health concerns to watch out for.Heat stroke is a common summer affliction for humans and can also hit pets, who, unlike humans, can’t cool down through perspiring. First and foremost, never leave your pet alone in a vehicle—even for a short period of time. Whether the windows are up or down or your car is in the shade or not, a car can reach 120 degrees in a matter of minutes, according to the Humane Society, and in such high temperatures your pet will likely overheat, resulting in possible injury or death.Owners of outdoor cats should make sure they have access to clean, fresh water and plenty of shade. But veterinarian Greg Hammer, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says that while cats can certainly overheat, hyperthermia tends...
  • Bird Cinema: YouTube, with Feathers

    The most-viewed video of all time on YouTube is "Evolution of Dance," six minutes of shake-your-tailfeather action recapping the American way of getting down. The most-viewed video of all time on  birdcinema.com? "Great Horned Owl Fledgling," 59 seconds of, well, just what you might think. Except with a lot less tailfeather shaking.For the millions of birdwatchers in the United States, though, that kind of footage is pure gold. The brainchild of Doug Myers, CEO of ACR International, an electronic database company, Birdcinema.com launched in June with the ambition of becoming YouTube for the bird set, hosting videos uploaded by some of the 46 million Americans for whom bird watching is a cherished pursuit. The site currently offers video file sharing for bird enthusiasts, but Myers and his colleagues want to expand it to become the primary source for bird video. "Our goal is to obtain footage of every species in the world and offer information on these birds, how to find them and...
  • Q&A: Do We Still Need Title IX

    On June 23, 1972 Congress enacted Title IX, a sweeping educational reform that ordered equal educational opportunity for men and women and fundamentally altered the landscape of America’s schools. Now formally known, after its principal author, as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, Title IX, promised equal opportunities to men and women in all areas of the public education system: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." While the law was a breakthrough for women's rights, a new debate today asks whether, 35 years later, we still need Title IX. NEWSWEEK's Alexandra Gekas spoke with Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center about why she thinks Title IX is still necessary. Excerpts: ...
  • Media Ethics: Should Paris Get Paid to Talk?

    Should news organizations pay celebs for their interviews? The issue hit the headlines this week amid reports that NBC had outbid its rivals at ABC by offering Paris Hilton $1 million to dish on her 45 days behind bars for violating her parole on a drunk-driving conviction. ABC confirmed that it had made a $100,000 offer for video rights to accompany the interview, which was rejected in favor of an NBC offer. NBC said only that "we don't pay for interviews." On Friday, in the face of intense criticism, both news organizations said they had no plans to air a Hilton interview.That doesn't end the debate about media outlets paying for access. Fierce competition to secure exclusive material have led to creative deals in which companies pay for related expenses, like production materials, while shying away from paying the subjects themselves. NEWSWEEK's Alexandra Gekas spoke with Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a Washington-based nonpartisan research...
  • Poor Dad: The Inequity of Father's Day

    Poor dad. He just can’t get any respect. Many of us throw money around on Mother’s Day like a starlet on a shopping spree at Barney’s. But Father’s Day? Fuggetaboutit. He’s lucky to get a piece of paper with “Hallmark” stamped on the back.In a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), Americans spent $16 billion on Mother’s Day this year, but only plan on spending $9.9 billion on Father’s Day, which falls on June 17. Fathers and Families Executive Director Don Hogan says the discrepancy is just more proof that dads are overworked and underappreciated. “It seems that society places a greater value on mothers than fathers,” he says. “I think it's because there really is a value placed on the role of nurturing and bringing up children and that role has been assigned to mothers. Although you're seeing dads playing a greater and greater role, I don't think it has been reflected in how society views fathers.”So what exactly does dad get? Americans are expected to spend, on...
  • Q&A: Elder-Care Technology

    Elder Care expert Marion Somers talks about easy ways to use technology to help take care of aging relatives.
  • John Lewis Remembers a Civil-Rights Nemesis

    On the morning of March 7, 1965, some 600 men and women, black and white, headed east out of Selma, Ala., walking U.S. Highway 80 toward Montgomery in search of justice. Their efforts to register black voters three weeks earlier had been thwarted by Selma police. The civil-rights champions knew they were in for further conflict, but they did not yet know how much. Six blocks into their march, as they walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, they found out. State troopers and members of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, some mounted on horseback with billy clubs and tear gas, had massed to shut the march down. In front of the news media, Selma Sheriff James Clark ordered his men to attack the peaceful demonstrators, who were beaten, tear-gassed and trampled. The melee, known as “Bloody Sunday,” proved a turning point in the civil-rights struggle, as Americans recoiled from the brutality demonstrated by Sheriff Clark and his men.Rep. John Lewis of Georgia was one of the many...
  • Jonathan Falwell on What's Next for Dad's Church

    When the Rev. Jerry Falwell died May 15, he left behind a powerful conservative movement, Liberty University and an influential church. Now Falwell’s vast enterprises are selecting new leadership. Jerry Falwell Jr. has been named chancellor of the school, while brother Jonathan is expected to head Thomas Road Baptist Church, which draws 12,000 worshipers in Lynchburg, Va. NEWSWEEK's Alexandra Gekas spoke with Jonathan Falwell about his father’s death and what’s next for the Falwell family. Excerpts: ...
  • Interview: When Mothers Kill Their Kids

    What drives a mother to kill her own children? Gabriel Estrada did not leave any real clues about why she hanged her four young daughters before taking her own life in their Texas trailer home on Tuesday. (Three of the girls, aged 5, 3 and 21 months died; her 8-month-old baby survived.) Estrada, 25, brought to eight the number of Texas women who have murdered their children since the 2001 tragedy in which Andrea Yates drowned her five children in the bathtub.  But while gruesome multiple murders like these make the headlines, government statistics show that hundreds of children around the nation die from abuse or neglect every year—often at the hands of a caregiver like a parent, foster parent or nanny.  NEWSWEEK's Alexandra Gekas spoke with Dr. Margaret G. Spinelli, an infanticide specialist at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, about whether any lessons can be learned from the Estrada case. Excerpts: ...
  • Is Title IX Sidelining the Boys?

    In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments was made law. It requires that "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance,” giving equal opportunity to women in school activities for the first time. But while Title IX opened doors for women in all arenas of the educational system, it was taken most literally when applied to athletics programs. Requiring that schools have an equal number of male and female players, whatever the proportion of interest, forced some schools to cut back on male athletics programs, like at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., which is being added to a suit against the U.S. Department of Education by Equity in Athletics Inc., after the university announced it will permanently cut 10 men's teams to comply with anti-sex-discrimination laws. NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra...
  • Vitamin Overuse Could Lead to Cancer

    A new study from the National Cancer Institute suggests a link between heavy use of multivitamins and increased risk for prostate cancer.
  • Résumé Lies a Major Concern for Employers

    As dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Marilee Jones was responsible for ensuring that applicants represented their academic backgrounds honestly. So it was more than a shock when the 55-year-old resigned Thursday, admitting that she had misled school officials over a 28-year period into believing that she held three degrees from New York institutions. In fact, she had never received even an undergraduate degree from any school.While Jones's case is extreme, it points to a major concern for any corporation or institution that hires employees: embellishments and outright lies on résumés. Sue Murphy, association manager of the Human Resources Association, says that in her 20 years in HR she has seen the application process change dramatically. "We used to try to have the applicant provide two or three business references. But now … employers are being much more aggressive about checking applicants' backgrounds, and if they can afford it they are even...
  • After Duke, Rape Counselors Fear the Future

    For the three Duke lacrosse players, the ordeal is over. Not only did North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper announce last week that he was dropping all charges against them, but he went a step further and declared them innocent of the charges that they had sexually assaulted a stripper at a team party last year. FBI statistics suggest such false accusations are not the norm. Nonetheless, advocates for sexual-assault victims fear that one effect of the Duke case may be that future accusers may find their charges greeted with greater skepticism. NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas spoke with Scott Berkowitz, founder of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network—an organization that assists sexual-assault victims and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline--about possible fallout from the Duke case. Excerpts:  ...
  • Is Pet Food Good For Fido?

    Is pet food good for your animals? After the deaths of 15 cats and one dog from commercial products that had been contaminated by rat poison, some pet owners wondered whether any store-bought food is really safe. NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas spoke with Dr. Tony Buffington, Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Ohio State University and spokesman for the American Veterinary Medical Association about whether animal lovers should give up on kibble for good. Excerpts: ...
  • Men, Chlamydia and the Cycle of Infection

    Chlamydia is on the rise, and according to a recent study, more young women are suffering from recurring bouts of this common STD than previously thought. Is it time to start testing men who may be unwitting carriers?
  • A Bid to Legalize Betting on NCAA Basketball

    Admit it, you put money down in the office NCAA basketball pool. Too bad that's illegal in much of the country. Inside one man's drive to let you bet lawfully.
  • How Wine Cops Detect Counterfeits

    For the average wine drinker there is little risk of buying a counterfeit bottle of Yellow Tail merlot, and even if there were, most people wouldn’t know the difference. But for those privileged few who can afford $1,000 or more per bottle, counterfeiting has become a serious concern. Although the problem is not rampant, Wine Spectator magazine recently estimated that 5 percent of rare vintages sold privately or at auction are counterfeit, and the U.S. government has taken notice. Investigating whether wine houses, collectors or importers are knowingly selling counterfeits, federal prosecutors have subpoenaed several top auction houses, including Christie’s in London and Zachys in New York.Fine-wine experts say most problems can be avoided by working with credible, established retailers. According to Dreyfus, Ashby & Co. Vice President Patrick Séré, which deals exclusively with high-profile Chateau Petrus, people do try to pass fake labels of Petrus, but "if you buy a Petrus...
  • How Healthy Is the Avocado?

    A weekly look at the nutritional value, or lack thereof, of some of our favorite foods.
  • Vomit Comet: What Hawking Can Expect

    British cosmologist and gravity guru Stephen Hawking will be living every space geek’s dream when he gets his first taste of zero gravity. The wheelchair-bound author of best sellers like “A Brief History of Time” is planning to fly weightless aboard the Zero Gravity Corp.’s specially modified G-Force One airplane, better known as the Vomit Comet, in April. It’s an experience that’s open to anyone who can afford the $3,500 ticket price and isn’t put off by the somewhat unappealing name. What will Hawking’s flight be like?  According to Zero Gravity Corp.’s chairman and CEO, Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, it’s a “Zen-like” experience that leaves everybody laughing—and very few puking. Diamandis spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Alexandra Gekas. Excerpts: ...
  • What's The Deal With The Diapers?

    The sad story of astronaut turned accused stalker Lisa Nowak raises so many questions. Why didn't NASA testing screen out what appears to be a case of obsessive attraction? What is it about William Oefelein that evidently makes him catnip to the female shuttle folk? And, perhaps most indelicately, what's up with the diaper?To avoid time-wasting rest stops, Nowak drove the 900 miles from Houston to Orlando wearing a diaper, according to authorities. The detail caught the eye of many curious readers, but in the aerospace community it's not a new concept.In Neil Armstrong's day, astronauts wore urine and fecal containment systems under spandex trunks. The reason, says camp director Teresa Sindelar of the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, was purely practical: "You can't just drop your space pants and go." But by the early 1980s, flight crews were routinely spacewalking for seven or more hours at a stretch--without bathroom breaks. To suit their needs, NASA invented space diapers ...
  • No Child Left Untested?

    The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced last week that it will be holding four regional summits promoting random student drug testing in public middle and high schools. The controversial program, which has already been implemented in nearly 1,000 middle and high schools across the country, requires that kids submit to random drug testing if they want to participate in competitive extracurricular activities like athletics. The Department of Education offers grants to schools that want to develop or expand a drug-testing programs for children in grades 6-12, but decisions about whether to test and which drugs to test for are made on an individual school level. The testing is usually done by a school nurse with a urine sample taken on school premises. If there's a positive result, the sample is sent out for verification by a lab. Tests can also be done with blood or saliva. Samples are generally tested for cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, opium-based substances,...
  • Simon, the Supportive?

    During this week’s premiere of “American Idol,” viewers cringed as Simon, Randy and Paula doled out harsh criticisms to many of the less-than-worthy contestants. And as contestants cried, screamed and argued with the judges over their cruel remarks, viewers may have asked themselves if the insults had gone too far. Dr. Jennifer Crocker, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan who focuses on self-esteem issues, says it may have seemed cruel, but at least it was honest. In an interview with NEWSWEEK, she says that in reality, Simon’s harsh advice may actually have been more compassionate than unconditionally positive reinforcement. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Many people are saying that this season’s premiere was crueler than previous seasons. What did you think about the first episode of Season 6?Dr. Jennifer Crocker: If I were in the contestants’ shoes I would have felt the criticisms were harsh. They didn’t feel very compassionate, but another interpretation you could make...