Stories by Eve Conant

  • 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...
  • CIA LEAK PROBE: POWELL'S GRAND-JURY APPEARANCE

    Secretary of State Colin Powell recently testified before a federal grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of CIA covert officer Valerie Plame, NEWSWEEK has learned. Powell's appearance on July 16 is the latest sign the probe being conducted by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is highly active and broader than has been publicly known. Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame's identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak. A senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger--a claim Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, discounted after a trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA. The report stated that Wilson's wife had attended a meeting at the CIA where the decision was made to send Wilson to Niger, but it did not mention her last name or undercover...
  • Open For Business

    They call it the "Berlin Wall." It's a plain, six-foot-high concrete barrier that bisects an unnamed village outside the Iranian city of Bushehr. On one side, about 1,500 Iranians live under Sharia--they lead quiet, spartan lives of work and prayer at the local mosque, with men and women strictly segregated. A few feet away on the other side of the wall, a rollicking population of 800 or so Russians and Ukrainians swill homemade moonshine and carouse late into the night. Yet every morning, the two sides--Iranians and Russians--meet on a vast construction site, where for the past seven years they've been building what may soon be Iran's first nuclear power plant. "We're at the top of our field," says 44-year-old Andrei Malyshev, formerly deputy minister in Russia's Ministry for Atomic Energy and now head of Russia's nuclear inspectorate. "We have an excellent product and we're proud of it."To Russia, the Bushehr project is the symbol of its ambition as an exporter of nuclear...
  • In Search Of Noah's Ark

    Ten thousand years ago, the Black Sea was a freshwater lake in the middle of a vast, low-lying basin. Its fertile valleys and lush pastures would have given Neolithic hunter-gatherers a perfect opportunity to make the leap to a more settled, agricultural society. But then disaster struck. About 7,500 years ago the ice age ended, the world's climate warmed and the seas rose. The Aegean Sea breached a narrow strip of land, where the Strait of Bosporus is today, like a dam bursting. Seawater poured into the basin with the force of 200 Niagara Falls', raising the water level six inches each day and sending the human settlers scurrying to the hills. The story of the Great Flood was told and retold, eventually in Genesis: "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life... the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights."Did Noah's Flood really happen this way and in this place? Some...
  • Ghosts Of The Heartland

    The village of Nikolskoye isn't easy to find. Its nearest neighbors will tell you to turn right at the forest edge, follow the trees that ring a large field and hope for the best. If you do find the village, you'll see about two dozen houses, a pond and perhaps one of the three remaining villagers. One of them is Nadia Shipitsina, 63, who survives on a pension and guides visitors past abandoned houses of friends who have moved away. "That was Raya's house," she says, pointing to a boarded-up hut that she sees as an omen for her own. "The grass is starting to grow over my path. Once the path is gone, that's it. There aren't enough people here to start a new one."Nikolskoye is 300 kilometers south of Moscow in once-thriving farm country. Now, on the local highway, a group of 8-year-old hitchhikers explain that their school has closed ("not enough kids") and there is no money for a school bus. While cash pours into Moscow, the fabled Russian heartland is emptying out. According to...
  • Let The Jury Decide

    Nikolai Dulepov claims self-defense. "He was strangling me," whispers the 23-year-old, on trial for double murder. That's why he stabbed his friend Yevgenny four times in the back one drunken night last summer, he says. Skinny, with a buzz cut and wearing a dark blue tracksuit, Dulepov is defending himself from inside the "monkey's cage," a barred holding pen that is a typical feature of any Russian courtroom. Then he tells how he also killed Yevgenny's girlfriend when his knife "accidentally landed" in her stomach. "I'm guilty," he says. "But I didn't mean to kill them."Murder is hardly new to Russia. The novelty is Dulepov's audience: eight women and five men who are making history in one of modern Russia's first trials by jury. Since 1917, when the communist regime banned juries, justice has been meted out by state tribunals in proceedings closed to the public. Technically, Russians have had the right to a trial by jury in Moscow and a few other experimental zones since 1993. But...
  • Moscow In The Money

    He needs no further introduction in Moscow, but Europe's richest man under 40 still likes to advertise. Green-hued billboards marking the 10-year anniversary of Mikhail Khodorkovsky's oil giant, Yukos, crop up every few hundred meters on Moscow's busiest roads. The latest shows a sparkling gas pump pouring fuel into a symbol of Russian national pride: a space rocket in midlaunch, spitting fire. The message: riding an oil boom, Russia is regaining its lost status as a world player.Moscow has been abuzz since last week, when Khodorkovsky, a 39-year-old billionaire, announced plans to acquire a smaller rival, Sibneft. The $15 billion union creates a new Russian icon, a home-grown megacompany that will own the second largest oil reserves in the world after ExxonMobil and pump more oil than ChevronTexaco. It also thwarts the ambitions of the world majors trying to break into Russia's market. Both Royal Dutch Shell and France's TotalFinaElf were rumored to be angling for a deal with...
  • 'It's All Political'

    After more than two years of self-imposed exile in London, Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky was finally arrested by British police last week. Berezovsky faces extradition to Russia on charges that between 1994 and 1995 he and a colleague defrauded a Russian regional administration of 60 billion rubles, roughly $15 million dollars at the time.Berezovsky was an influential member of the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle, and one of the country's most powerful and controversial "oligarchs"--the handful of businessmen that amassed great wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union. But since coming into power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has targeted the likes of Berezovsky in his anti-corruption drive. Berezovsky-whose first extradition hearing is on Wednesday--has made no secret of his dislike for the president, claiming that this is Putin's way of clamping down on criticism.Released on bail last week, Berezovsky spoke to NEWSWEEK's Eve Conant by telephone....
  • Taxes: Don't Even Think Of It

    Thinking about cheating on your taxes? If you're a Russian citizen, you may get a house visit from the tax police. The new "Instruction No. 525" allows police to contact colleagues and family members of any individual they believe may be planning to commit a crime, and ask them to talk their loved ones out of it. And just how will they read the mind of the secretive plotter? See "Instruction No. 426," which allows the tax police to use lie detectors on suspected evaders. A suspect would have to agree to take the test, but it's hard to say no to police who are best known for forcing the muzzles of their Kalashnikov rifles onto the foreheads of tax offenders. Russians are shocked at the totalitarian new regulations, says private tax lawyer Maxim Maximovsky, "but they have a genetic fear of the government. People are too scared to complain." In fact, they better not even think of complaining about the new rules if they want to keep the tax police off their backs.
  • They're In The Army Now

    The boys asleep in their bunks could be any young teens at summer camp. But this is no vacation spot. At precisely 6:00 a.m., a Russian army officer storms in and barks out a wake-up call. Within minutes the boys have made their beds, pulled on their uniforms and prepared for morning exercises on the military base of the Kineshma Chemical and Radiation Defense Regiment.The Russian Army--like most militaries around the world--doesn't exactly have a reputation for altruism. Indeed, it's better known for its cannon-fodder mentality, brutal hazing, bloated officers' corps, corruption and lack of resources. But the army has also assumed an unlikely social role: adopting and raising boys whose parents can no longer care for them.It's a program introduced more from need than desire. In a country still struggling to overcome the profound consequences of the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia is struggling to provide adequate services for the estimated three million children either...
  • The Chess Goddess

    Inside the crumbling rooms of Moscow's Central House of Chess, dozens of top players and fans watch in rapt attention as a match unfolds at lightning speed. On one side of the board sits an elderly Russian man, sporting thick glasses and a concentrated grimace. On the other: Aleksandra Kosteniuk, a ravishing, dark-haired 18-year-old wearing a tight black blouse and sleek, flowing pants. Her ponytail swishes back and forth as she slams the timer every few seconds. Kosteniuk's typically aggressive opening gambit--in this case, the "Sicilian defense," where the black pawn tries to control the center of the board--pays off; after dozens of quick moves, she checkmates her opponent. Some of the old-timers in the audience are horrified by the rapid play. But Kosteniuk doesn't care. "A traditional chess match is just too long to watch. It's boring," she says. "I love speed."Kosteniuk is lending the sport a racy new image--in every respect. A grandmaster at 14, the Russian bombshell--dubbed...
  • Back To The Future

    A decade ago, after the Soviet collapse, Russia rushed to liberate itself from the namesakes of fallen idols. Leningrad became St. Petersburg, Gorky became Nizhny Novgorod. But today, in the river city of Volgograd, scene of one of the most momentous battles of World War II, the winds of change seem to be blowing the opposite way. "Volgograd? This is Stalingrad," says activist Zinaida Chistyakova. "We want our name back."Commentators have noted the signs of a symbolic Soviet renaissance across Russia. President Vladimir Putin has already reinstated the Soviet anthem, with new words. The Defense Ministry has suggest-ed restoring the Soviet red star on military flags. Muscovites have considered returning Felix Dzherzhinsky, the dread founder of the secret police, to his pedestal in the square opposite the former KGB headquarters. But Stalin, the dictator who slaughtered tens of millions of Russians?The controversial proposal to change the name of their city back to Stalingrad is spear...
  • Blood-Sucking Bandages

    Yuri Fedosov is in terrible pain. Doctors have removed the splinter from his iris, but the swelling hasn't subsided. Inside Moscow's Central Ophthalmology Hospital, nurse Lydia Karikh has the cure. Reaching with a pair of tongs into a glass jar, she removes two greenish-black leeches, puts them into a vial and presses it against Fedosov's right temple. Instantly the worms slither toward his skin, latch on and begin to suck greedily. "This is a bit weird," says Fedosov, as the leeches swell with blood.Leeching may have disappeared in most parts of the world, but in Russia "hirudotherapy" is seeing a revival. Each week clinics like Karikh's order thousands of leeches from local farms. By applying them at pressure points, doctors say they can cure anything from glaucoma to infertility. Leech saliva increases blood flow and thus oxygen level in tissues. "Americans use synthetic hirudins, a major component of leech secretions, for thrombosis or tissue repair," says Dr. Albert Krashenyuk,...
  • More Questions Than Answers

    Ask Alexander Shabalov for details about the pre-dawn raid to save hundreds of hostages in a besieged Moscow theater on Oct. 26, and his swarthy face becomes set in anger, he smokes a few more cigarettes and his hands begin to shake. "Almost every single hostage was still alive when we came into the theater," says Shabalov, head of Moscow's quasi-governmental Rescue Services. It was only after they were freed, he says, that the dying began.Shabalov, a 44-year-old former paratrooper and KGB man, is one of the officials who has found himself catapulted into the spotlight over questions about how Russian forces used disabling gas to rescue the more than 800 people held by Chechen separatists. As many as 128 died in a rescue operation that is still raising questions and suspicions among Russians trying to find out just why so many lives were lost.Unlike many involved in the rescue, though, Shabalov is one of the few trying to find the answers. Perhaps that is because the theater tragedy...
  • Moscow Gets Fashionable

    Inside Victoria Andreyanova's Moscow boutique, the decor as well as the best-selling clothes are spartan and understated. Amid soft lighting, a Sinead O'Connor disc spins on a chrome CD player. Andreyanova meets her clients in the boutique's sleek underground cafe, where she shows them her tailored blazers and skirts, made mainly of Scottish tweed. The 40-year-old designer wears only the lightest of makeup, her hair cut in a simple blond bob. In a scene that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, a group of Italian cloth salesmen is gathered outside her door, suitcases full of exquisite material in hand. She keeps them waiting as she ruminates on the current state of Russian fashion. "Moscow's rich are tired of being showoffs," she says. "Everyone gorged on whatever they could in the '90s, and now they don't want to look like they're trying so hard. But don't get me wrong: everyone still wants to be noticed."Not long ago the best way to get noticed in Russia was to wear a...
  • Soviet Chic: Loving The Commie Look

    What do you design for people who are obsessed with everything new? Denis Simachev says the answer is simple: give them something familiar. The appeal of Soviet kitsch first caught on in Moscow a few years ago; billboards used Soviet propaganda posters to advertise rock-music stations, and Soviet-themed restaurants began popping up. But designer Simachev, 28, is the first to bring the Soviet look back to personal fashion. "It's not that I want the Soviet Union back," says Simachev, who was 11 when Mikhail Gorbachev first introduced the concept of perestroika. "But old people have nostalgia for their childhood, and people my age grew up hearing about Soviet life from their grandparents."The designer is not looking to revive the gray suits and polyester dresses of Soviet days. He is far more interested in capturing the former empire's "sporty past." His T-shirts have ornate hammer-and-sickle designs, or contain the giant letters CCCP (the Russian initials for U.S.S.R.). "Everyone...
  • The Dead And The Silent

    The staff of the weekly Versiya had a scoop. They'd spent 10 days frantically reporting one of the biggest stories any of them could remember--the siege of a Moscow theater that ended in a dramatic assault by Russian Special Forces and the use of a knockout gas that killed more than 100 civilians. And what they were publishing amounted to a damning expose: eyewitness accounts of dead and half-dead hostages piled on top of one another, charges that none of the victims received timely medical help and a report that the gas used was not civilian but military. Finally and most explosively, Versiya planned to publish claims from unnamed government sources that the death toll in the crisis was much higher than officially reported--rather than 119, as many as 300.Moscow is swirling with such rumors, and Versiya will be printing them. But only just. Shortly after it went to press, eight plainclothes investigators burst into the newspaper's offices in the center of Moscow. They were officers...