Eve Conant

Stories by Eve Conant

  • Nap Quest

    Print out this article and hand it to your boss. Tell them Harvard thinks you should take a nap. Honest.Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School have just released findings from a large study that shows how mid-day napping reduces one's chance of coronary mortality by more than a third. So go ahead and nap—a short daily snooze might ward off a heart attack later in life.Researchers studied 23,681 individuals living in Greece who had no history of coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer when they first volunteered. The researchers also controlled for risk factors such as diet and exercise, going beyond prior studies that have tried to explore the benefits of napping but ended up with conflicting results. More than six years later, the exemplary nappers, men and women who napped at least three times per week for an average of at least 30 minutes, had a 37 percent lower coronary mortality risk than those who took no siestas. The so...
  • A Call For ‘Radical Change’

    President Bush’s State of the Union address may not have done much to improve his popularity. But it did succeed in jump-starting debate over one of the leading—and most contentiously lobbied issues—on his domestic agenda: health-care reform. In his speech, the president proposed offering tax subsidies to encourage more people to buy their own health insurance. The goal: to provide equal treatment to those who buy insurance on their own, and those who get it through their employers. Under the Bush plan, the administration estimates that 80 percent of workers with employer-based health plans would pay lower taxes—while 20 percent of those with more costly workplace plans (branded “gold-plated” by Bush) would see a tax hike, unless they decreased their coverage.Democrats on Capitol Hill, along with labor unions and consumer groups, pilloried the Bush plan, arguing his proposal would do little to help America’s nearly 47 million uninsured—and could wind up hastening the demise of...
  • The Gender Gap in Cancer Death Rates

    A new report details a historic drop in cancer death rates. But in recent years, the decline for women has been half that for men. What's behind the gender gap?
  • To Your Health: Cancer: A Fresh Diagnosis

    On Wednesday, after decades of grim news, the American Cancer Society reported the steepest decline in United States cancer deaths in the 70 years since nationwide data has been compiled. In 2004, there were 3,014 fewer cancer-related deaths than in 2003—which was the first year the society had ever recorded a drop in cancer deaths. The back-to-back decreases have specialists hoping that they may at last be gaining the upper hand in their long battle against the disease."Our work over the years is finally paying off," says Ahmedin Jemal, Ph.D., a specialist in cancer occurrence and the lead author of the report. He pointed to medical advances, early detection and antitobacco campaigns as key factors in the progress made.But the report also underscores a stark disparity between men and women when it comes to surviving cancer. Death rates are falling about twice as fast for men as for women. Between 1990 and 2003, mortality rates for men fell by 16.3 percent; the comparable figure for...
  • ARCHITECTURE: BUILDING ON SUCCESS

    By now, many of us have heard some of feng shui's principles: no sharp edges in the bedroom; clutter is bad energy; don't build a home at the end of a dead-end road. Donald Trump, the United Nations and Virgin Airlines have all put the ancient Chinese philosophy to use. But feng shui might soon get competition from a practice that predates it, but has received scant attention until now: the ancient Indian art of Vedic architecture. (Angkor Vat in Cambodia is one example of Vedic beauty.) While feng shui tends to focus on decoration and placement of objects, Vedic focuses on the orientation of a building (entrances should face east or north), its proportions and measurements. The idea is that if you build it... success will come. "People may laugh, but there is a predictable, mathematical way to make that happen through architecture," says Vedic specialist Jonathan Lipman. He says President George W. Bush should start using the north entrance to the White House if he knows what's...
  • THE EDGE OF DIPLOMACY

    A currency battle. Accusations of commercial piracy. An emerging strategic rivalry. The United States and China were fairly cordial to each other in George W. Bush's first term as president. But now, with trade tensions rising and both sides examining their long-term interests more openly, the two countries may be entering a period characterized more by competition, if not confrontation, rather than cooperation.Certainly, the tenor of the relationship has gotten edgier. The White House is demanding that China allow its currency to appreciate against the dollar. The U.S. Trade Representative's Office is dunning Chinese officials about violations of intellectual property laws, and Congress is threatening to impose heavy duties on Chinese imports in response to Beijing's yawning, $162 billion trade surplus. Meantime, Chinese officials are getting prickly about perceived U.S. bullying, and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told a U.S. Chamber of Commerce delegation in late May that his country...
  • 'No Longer a Way of Life'

    Nigeria has the dubious honor of being one of the most corrupt countries on earth. From petty bureaucrats to top-level officials, graft has always been rampant in the largest nation in Africa with its 137 million people. But Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo is aiming to change all that. The 68-year-old has started an anti-corruption drive that has shocked officials in his oil-rich country. His initiative has forced the nation's education minister, housing minister, top police official and the Senate president to leave their jobs and, in several cases, to face criminal charges.In addition to fighting corruption, Obasanjo--as chairman of the African Union--is working to stabilize Sudan's troubled Darfur region. He's also trying to convince the international community to forgive his country's $35 billion in debt, answer criticism that he should turn over Liberian strongman Charles Taylor, who has been indicted by a U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone for war crimes, and...
  • TSUNAMI: ROUNDTABLE RESCUERS

    The tsunami's legacy now includes a good idea. A consortium of 160 leading U.S. corporations announced it is teaming up with the Red Cross, CARE and other relief organizations to provide help when disaster strikes again. The Business Roundtable--with 10 million skilled workers and $4 trillion in annual revenue--is starting with a small working group of IBM, Citigroup, FedEx, Pfizer and others to create a database of corporations ready to provide people and know-how. Since the tsunami, says Red Cross chief executive Marsha Evans, hundreds of companies have been in touch. "The worst thing for me is when a CEO calls to help and we don't have an immediate need. We don't want that offer to disappear." Roundtable chairman Hank McKinnell admits a tsunami is easier to address than something like AIDS or Darfur: corporations "don't have a clear road map" for more "amorphous" problems.
  • A Nuclear Blunder?

    George W. Bush has said it often enough. The No. 1 security challenge for America post-9/11 is to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes. In a landmark speech at the National Defense University in February 2004, the president called for a toughened Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other new initiatives. "There is a consensus among nations that proliferation cannot be tolerated," Bush said. "Yet this consensus means little unless it is translated into action."By action Bush meant the hard work of diplomacy, John Bolton, the president's point man on nuclear arms control, told Congress a month later. For one thing, America needed to lead an effort at "closing a loophole" in the 35-year-old NPT, Bolton testified back then. The treaty's provisions had to be updated to prevent countries like Iran from enriching uranium under cover of a peaceful civilian program--which is technically permitted under the NPT--when what Tehran really sought was...
  • ECSTASY: A POSSIBLE NEW ROLE FOR A BANNED CLUB DR

    Imagine a homey hospital suite: skylights flood the room with sunlight; violins play softly from a CD player. A terminally ill cancer patient rests in a soft bed, but she is having trouble confronting the fears that come with the end of life. Doctors could prescribe antidepressants, but they opt for a more powerful drug instead. In scientific lingo, the pill is called methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA. But you may recognize its other name: ecstasy.Two decades after the Drug Enforcement Administration outlawed the club drug, ecstasy is enjoying a controversial renaissance in mental-health circles. At McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., where the sunlit suite is ready for service, Harvard doctors plan to start testing MDMA in 12 terminally ill cancer patients with moderate or severe anxiety as soon as the DEA grants approval. And at a private clinic in South Carolina, researchers are already testing it in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder--the first FDA-approved MDMA...
  • HAVING FUN DOING GOOD

    TRAVEL 2005: TOURISMHAVING FUN DOING GOODFOR SOME ALTRUISTIC TRAVELERS, VACATIONS MEAN MORE THAN JUST A DAY AT THE BEACH.Jen and Ian Close were ready to try something new. The Canadian couple had traveled to Germany and England to visit family, but not much beyond. So last August they went on safari in Kenya, then capped off their African journey with two weeks of volunteering in Arusha, Tanzania, where they taught local teenagers how to prevent AIDS. "Kenya was great," says Jen. "But we didn't really meet people or get a chance to understand them. We couldn't get out of the trap of being treated like tourists."In Tanzania, on the other hand, the couple received training in how to promote HIV awareness from the San Francisco-based Global Service Corps, which aims to ease the social stigma of AIDS. They lived with a local family and even attended lively church services with them. But the overriding memories are hardly material for a cheery slide show back in Vancouver. "When you see...
  • A MAJOR LEAGUE MESS

    There's supposed to be no crying in baseball. But there was Mark McGwire in Washington last week, fighting back tears, his voice choked with emotion, telling a congressional committee investigating steroid use in baseball how he, well, couldn't really tell them much. "My lawyers have advised me that I cannot answer these questions without jeopardizing my friends, my family or myself," said the retired superstar, whose 70 home runs in 1998 shattered one of baseball's most hallowed records.Through a long, uncomfortable afternoon before the House Government Reform Committee, McGwire was never forced to literally invoke his rights under the Fifth Amendment. But he did refuse to answer any questions about illegal or even legal drugs and, in the end, about almost anything at all. His sullen, resentful and at times combative style won him few friends--inside or outside the hearing room--as he repeatedly insisted, "I'm not here to talk about the past." The only other player to indicate he...
  • TRAINING: HOW TO SURVIVE IN IRAQ

    Now this here's a Colt submachine gun, and this over here is an AK-47: that's probably what you'll see your enemy with more than anything else. Watch out--the barrel gets hot during long fire fights." This is advice for a group headed for Iraq, but it's not Marines--it's diplomats. The United States plans to open its largest embassy ever in Baghdad (more than 1,700 employees at latest estimate), and everyone from office managers to ambassadors must take the State Department's Diplomatic Security Antiterrorism Course for Iraq (DSAC-Iraq). "We're asking people to go into a nontraditional diplomatic environment," says training-center director Justine Sincavage. "I'm not sure our people have been in a tougher environment since the last days of Saigon."The weeklong session focuses on detection of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), emergency medical training for the most typical Iraq wounds (loss of limbs and gunshot), as well as chem-bio defense and hostage survival. Some tips: keep...
  • IRAQ'S HIDDEN WAR

    When the kidnappers came for Zeena al Qushtaini, she was dressed, as one friend put it, "in the latest fashion." She wore a $5,000 watch, her hands were manicured and her hair was highlighted to accent her blue eyes. Many of her friends were women's rights activists, but few were as conspicuously modern as Qushtaini. She was a divorced, single mother in her late 30s who supported two children with a full-time office job. She also ran a pharmacy with her business partner, Dr. Ziad Baho.It was evening at the pharmacy, and Qushtaini and Baho were behind the counter when six men in business suits burst in brandishing automatic weapons. The men wrapped duct tape across the mouths of Qushtaini and Baho, then took them away in a pair of SUVs. Relatives of the two captives waited for a ransom demand that never came. When the bodies were found 10 days later, beside a highway just south of Baghdad, Baho had been beheaded. Qushtaini was dressed in the long black gown favored by Islamic...
  • Targeting Damascus

    No one was expecting Syria to take center stage. But when 30 international delegations met this week in London to bolster support for Palestinian political and economic reform, the gathering was overshadowed by increasingly harsh rhetoric against Damascus.Unscheduled meetings and communiques between the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and her European counterparts, focused on coordinated calls for the immediate withdrawal of Syrian military and intelligence forces from Lebanon. The Syrian-backed government in Lebanon collapsed Monday, just as Rice's plane was flying to London for the Palestinian conference."These are momentous times in the Middle East," said Rice. She noted that within the past two months there have been elections in the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, moves by Egypt to hold open elections and what she described as "dramatic outpouring" in Lebanon after former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri died in a car bombing that many...
  • RATING TSUNAMI RELIEF

    Some $340 million has been raised privately for tsunami relief. But donors, beware: while some charities turn money into direct aid, others spend big bucks on overhead costs. (Some charities ask the donor to pray with them and then count the call as a "service"; this allows the charity to keep some of the money.) A look at which agencies made the grade.AMERICAN RED CROSS: A leading force in tsunami aid, the group's raised some $150 million already. ...
  • The Battle Over Tsunami Orphans

    The battle for the hearts, minds and bodies of the tsunami generation is underway. Most of the efforts are well-meaning. U.S.-based adoption agencies have been fielding hundreds of calls from generous Americans hoping to adopt a tsunami orphan into a loving home.But they'll have to wait. Tsunami-stricken countries that already had strict adoption rules are now on edge, for fear of illegal trafficking. There have been reports of grief-stricken locals adopting children off the street in order to recreate a family. And police this week arrested a man in Sri Lanka who tried to sell his two granddaughters to foreigners after their mother was killed and their home destroyed by the deadly waves on Dec. 26.Indonesia requires would-be parents to live in the country for two years, and requires orphans to be raised by people of their own religion, in part to prevent Muslim conversions to Christianity. Other tsunami-hit countries have similar rules: Sri Lanka allows only a handful of...
  • HOW TO HELP THE VICTIMS

    Even as the tsunami death toll rises, worries are growing about the spread of disease. Its easy to send help with a few clicks of the mouse. Here are some of the organizations rushing aid to survivors:UNICEF: U.N. agency dedicated to the health and protection of children around the world. 800-4UNICEF or unicef.orgDOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Relief group that provides medical aid. 888-392-0392 or doctorswithoutborders.orgOXFAM: Aid organization that responds to crises and combats global poverty; sending food and water to survivors in areas hit by the tsunami. 800-77-OXFAM or oxfamamerica.orgWORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Emergency food program of the United Nations. 212-963-4619 or www.wfp.orgRED CROSS: Leading emergency-response organization for victims of war and natural disasters. 800-HELP-NOW or redcross.org
  • A BILL TO PAY

    As the world came to grips with the devastation caused by last week's tsunami, tens of millions in relief aid was pledged. But initially the money put up by rich countries appeared to some small, and slow to come. United Nations Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland made headlines when he used the word "stingy" to describe the levels of development aid donated by rich countries. He explained his thinking to NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant last Wednesday. Excerpts:CONANT: What exactly did you mean by your "stingy" remarks?EGELAND: What I said was that aid levels worldwide are going down, just as the need is increasing. That got mixed up in the ongoing tsunami crisis, as if I was saying the donations were not good enough. The response to the tsunami disaster has been overwhelmingly generous. [Within 72 hours] we recorded $250 million in aid worldwide. That said, it's my job to be worried about aid. We at the United Nations believe 0.7 percent of GDP is a good contribution...
  • Outpouring

    The Christmas tsunami killed tens of thousands of people in twelve countries in the space of only a few minutes. Now, aid groups are harnessing the Internet to raise millions of dollars at an unprecedented pace of their own.Tens of millions of dollars has been raised online in just three days, aid groups say. "We're stunned by the level of compassion and response. This is an absolutely unprecedented outpouring online," says Tim Ledwith, director of interactive donor communications for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. That organization expected to receive $1.5 million in online donations on Wednesday alone, three times the amount it raised for relief during the entire U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. "We're not gleeful about the numbers," says Ledwith. "We're just so, so grateful."Molly Elliot, Webmaster for Doctors Without Borders, says her organization has brought in a record-breaking $4 million in online aid since the Sunday disaster. "People are really stepping up to the plate," says...
  • FAST CHAT: AMBER MCCLENNY

    McClenny, 21,made headlines in October when she and 22 other members of 343rd Quartermaster Company stationed in Iraq refused to carry out a mission with unarmored vehicles. The soldiers were threatened with charges of mutiny, and held under armed guard while investigated. McClenny spoke to Eve Conant by telephone from her base in Tallil, Iraq.How did your unit get to the point where you simply said 'no' to a direct order? ...
  • OUR MAN IN LIBYA?

    Saif Kaddafi insists he's not in line to run Libya. But no one is better positioned than the second son of Muammar Kaddafi. The London School of Economics student is fluent in English, speaks French and German, and is leading Libya's effort to charm the West. His highest official post is chief of the Kaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations. "They claim this is an NGO, but not by our standards," says a Western diplomat in Tripoli. "It may as well be a ministry." Saif, 32, is now the go-to guy for Westerners who want to do business with Libya.He was the public face of Libya's surprise offer in 2003 to give up weapons of mass destruction in return for normalizing diplomatic and trade ties to the West. One U.S. official says Saif Kaddafi brokers back-room deals on everything from Libya's decision to compensate victims of the Lockerbie bombing to hostage crises in Iraq. "He does what the Libyan government doesn't want to admit to doing officially," says one diplomat. He...
  • ARSON: SIFTING ASHES

    When 12 Maryland dream homes burned to the ground and dozens more smoldered in an eight-hour blaze, the first thought on most people's minds was ecoterrorism. The luxury homes, uninhabited but worth roughly half a million each, encroached on one of the nation's last undisturbed magnolia tree bogs. Then another possible motive surfaced. Many of the homes had been purchased by African-Americans, and there were sightings of racist graffiti. "But it's our investigators who spray paint the homes as markers," Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said. "I hope we've eliminated that rumor." At the weekend, investigators were questioning a security guard who had mysteriously left his post an hour before the blaze began.
  • 'We're On the Right Track'

    Major-General Ray Odierno was commander of the 4th Infantry Division, whose soldiers captured Saddam Hussein in a "spider hole" just outside of Tikrit a year ago. Major-General Odierno, now assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant about the Iraqi insurgency, the shortage of armor for U.S. vehicles and why Al Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi will be harder to catch than Saddam.NEWSWEEK: What did it feel like when you knew your guys had snagged Saddam?Major-General Ray Odierno: My first thought was: yes! We've got this guy off the streets. Iraqis no longer have to fear him. Finally they'll be able to get out from under his thumb. We had been waiting for that moment. It got a bit frustrating each time we thought we had him but didn't.About a month later you declared that the insurgency was "on its knees." What went wrong?To be honest, I'm not sure. Those few months after we captured Saddam we saw the number of attacks against U.S....
  • The World According to Rice

    Powell's loss is Rice's gain. The challenges she inherits--and how she'll handle them.
  • It's Not Just Iraq

    In 2004, foreign policy--not domestic economic issues--have been front and center in the presidential campaign, more so than at anytime since the Vietnam war. But both Bush and Kerry have devoted most of their energies to the Iraq debate, only sporadically mentioning other key global concerns. Sifting through the fragmentary evidence, here's a scorecard on how a second Bush administration and a Kerry administration would differ--or not--in dealing with a broad range of foreign policy questions:IRANBush: Hawks in the Bush administration are calling for United Nations sanctions on Iran unless it gives up its quest for nuclear weapons, but that won't be an easy sell. Bush would have to arm-twist the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer the Iran problem to the U.N., and security council members like China, which buys 17 per cent of its oil from Iran, would hardly be enthusiastic backers of sanctions. Bush is likely to face further strains with Iran if he makes good on promises to...
  • PERISCOPE

    Israel: Yea or Nay on Gaza?Why does Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fear a referendum on his controversial Gaza plan? With his move to evacuate thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip next year sparking talk of a civil war in Israel, some of Sharon's deputies are pushing for a nationwide vote that would give the withdrawal more legitimacy than the parliamentary vote scheduled for Oct. 26, which Sharon is expected to win. Proponents of the referendum--most vocally Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu--believe the political risk is minor, with polls showing two out of three Israelis supporting the move. And many settlers who would otherwise stay and fight promise to go quietly if a majority of Israelis approve the plan.Sharon refuses to gamble, observers say, because as their former political godfather, he knows just how unrelenting the settlers can be. According to details of their battle plan, Gaza settlers would mobilize thousands of activists to lobby hundreds of...
  • VACCINES: PETUNIA POWER

    Your mother (we hope) told you to eat your vegetables, but someday soon security moms may be nagging their little ones to eat their petunias. That's the hope, at least, of Philadelphia-based INB Biotechnologies, which has been experimenting with petunias to develop a nontoxic anthrax vaccine. In conjunction with the Navy and pending FDA approval, it will test the vaccine on 30 Navy volunteers next June. The rush to study plant-based vaccines, which are cheaper and could also be used in Third World countries to prevent plague and cholera, comes just as U.S. vaccine readiness is tested with the flu debacle, complaints that Homeland Security's Bioshield program is ineffective and reports of a dubious anthrax vaccine tested on the military during the gulf war. "We could potentially immunize large groups without injections," says INB's Orn Adalsteinsson. "Plants are very compatible with humans." Scientists inject a genetically modified virus into a plant, which causes the plant to make...
  • LIBYA: AN UNTAPPED OIL OASIS

    With oil prices hitting a record $50 a barrel last week--and with continued violence in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq--Libya is being hailed as an El Dorado for war-weary U.S. oil majors. "Libya is booming," says ChevronTexaco's Julian Singer in North Africa. "It's one of the safest countries in the region right now." President George W. Bush has lifted a raft of sanctions on the former pariah state, paving the way for U.S. companies to negotiate access to Libya's 36 billion barrels of proven reserves of low-sulfur "sweet oil." Now Tripoli's once empty hotels are filled with U.S. oil reps hoping to elbow back into the market. Some of them never really left, though: Halliburton, for one, used a loophole in U.S. sanctions by having a German subsidiary manage vast projects in the country. The question now is how long it will take Libya to get up to speed in terms of production. The country now pumps about 1.5 million barrels per day, but with more foreign investment, the Libyans could...
  • What Putin Should Do

    It was my seventh year of living in Moscow, the summer of 2002, and I was walking through a busy downtown street after having returned from a recent visit with some reporter friends in Jerusalem. In Israel I was careful to avoid cafes, and I remember feeling nervous when a bus pulled up too close to me. Suicide bombings there were at their peak, and a simple walk could turn into an exercise of paranoia.Moscow, in contrast, felt as safe as it ever was. Sure, there were murders and crime, as in any large city. But even after the 9/11 attacks on the United States the idea of terrorism in Russia seemed a distant problem, one that was suffered more in the Middle East than Europe. The war in Chechnya was a distant horror, one that bothered Russians primarily because their sons were being sent there, not because there was widespread discontent with the idea of the war, or the way it was being carried out. Those mothers who had money were able to get their sons off the draft list, or make...
  • THE BERG CASE: 'I HAVE A ROCK IN MY STOMACH'

    Questions surround the final weeks of Nicholas Berg, the 26-year-old American beheaded in Iraq last May. Now his father, Michael Berg, is banging on doors in D.C. to research the circumstances of his son's detention in an Iraqi jail prior to his abduction. U.S. military officials have said Berg was detained by Iraqi police for 13 days before being offered a safe trip out of Iraq, which he declined. But Rep. Jim Gerlach tells NEWSWEEK that even if Iraqi police had physical custody of Berg, the U.S. had "legal custody." There is no evidence Berg was allowed to consult a lawyer or contact his family for almost two weeks. Violence in Iraq escalated and Berg missed a scheduled flight home. Berg was never charged with any wrongdoing.Berg's father blames U.S. authorities. "They told my son they had contacted his family, when they hadn't, and they risked his safety by keeping him in Iraq when he had been preparing to leave," he told NEWSWEEK, citing an e-mail Nick sent the day he was...