Stories by Hilary Shenfeld

  • heroin-addication-chicago

    'Good Samaritan' Laws and Drug-Overdose Victims

    Experts say witnesses of drug overdoses, often users themselves, are afraid to call for help for fear of being prosecuted. Two states now offer immunity for persons who summon emergency assistance, and more are considering it.
  • An Airport Bathroom That Will Live in Infamy

    NEWSWEEK's Hilary Shenfeld went to the scene of Sen. Larry Craig's undoing with one mission: to get inside. How she did it—and what she saw:The hardest part was actually finding the bathroom. There are 86 public lavatories in the Lindbergh terminal of the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, and every employee I asked sent me to a different one. I finally found it: across from the food court, in the shadow of a giant statue of Snoopy and Woodstock. There was no sign on the door, nothing that read "Larry Craig was here." I waited until late to go inside, figuring that foot traffic would die down and I could minimize the awkward stares. Around 11 p.m. I stopped a friendly-looking guy and persuaded him to escort me (sorry—bad pun) inside. It's pretty big in there: a tiled cavern with nine stalls along the left wall. Craig's was the second from the back. I was only in the bathroom for a couple of minutes, but the entire time I was thinking, Eww. I scoped out the stalls, jotted down some notes,...
  • Exclusive: Drew Peterson Talks

    Under investigation for the disappearance of one wife and the death of another, former police sergeant Drew Peterson tells NEWSWEEK he's anxious for the case to wrap up.
  • Toddler served margarita in sippy cup

    Elisa Kelly thought she was doing the right thing when she bought $340 worth of beer and liquor for her 16-year-old son and more than 20 of his friends. In exchange for the booze, Kelly's son agreed that all his pals would sleep over at his birthday party. That, in the mind of the 42-year-old mother of two, was the best way to keep the underage revelers from drinking and driving. And, she says, none of the kids who came to her Earlysville, Va., home got hurt. But someone is indeed paying the price—Kelly herself went to jail this week to serve a 27-month sentence for providing alcohol to minors.Her conviction raises some uncomfortable questions for parents as another season of alcohol-fueled graduation parties gets under way. Many communities around the country are imposing new or tougher “social host” laws that make parents legally responsible if underage guests drink at their homes. In some cases, the adults can be charged even if they weren't aware of the illegal imbibing on their...
  • Mean Greeks: DePauw's Sorority Scandal

    With membership declining, and the sorority acquiring a campus rep for being more brainy than beautiful, the national officers of Delta Zeta embarked on a fall recruiting effort for their DePauw University chapter in Greencastle, Ind. But instead of adding members, they wound up effectively asking 23 of the existing 35 members to leave. Outraged sorority sisters at the liberal arts school said those dumped were the women considered overweight or unattractive. DZ officials say that isn’t so. Cindy Menges, national executive director of Delta Zeta, says that the only factor in determining who would stay was a commitment to recruit for the chapter. "Any allegations otherwise are false," she said in a statement.The incident has sparked an uproar both on and off the campus. Six sorority members who were not ousted quit anyway to show solidarity with the sisters who received the letters telling them to vacate their sorority house rooms by Jan. 29. The university administration also...
  • Halloween: Beware The Bugs

    Here's something new to be scared about on Halloween: pumpkin fungi. August's high temperatures and excessive rain have rotted some 20 percent of the crop from the Midwest to New England. Some tips to make sure you get a good gourd: Buy early. The crop is smaller this year, so head for the pumpkin patch now. Poke the skin. Look for a solid, smooth surface, with no soft spots or moldy areas. Check the stem. It should be green and thick, not brown and shriveled. Look for color. It should be bright orange. Yellow means it's not quite mature; brown or gray flecks show the pumpkin could be starting to decay.At home, keep it away from sun, moisture and frost. And don't carve too early, or your jack-o'-lantern could fall victim to the great pumpkin massacre of 2006.--Hilary Shenfeld
  • Travel: Score Me a Pizza?

    Ohmigod, like, who wants to visit some boring museum! To better serve the acne-and-braces set, some hotels are now offering "teen concierges" to advise their younger guests who are on family vacations. Mostly during summer months and holidays, the concierges are on duty at Four Seasons hotels in London and some cities in the United States and Canada; the Ritz Carlton in Chicago; the Tamrack in Idaho.At the Four Seasons in Chicago, concierge Cynthia Waldmeier, 21, relies on her younger sister and other teen peeps to keep up with the local hot spots. Her latest suggestions: skip Water Tower Place and head to happenin' jaunts like the Denim Lounge for jeans and Kamehachi for sushi. At the hotel's New York location, Ilana Yamin, 18, steers teens to Beacon's Closet in Williamsburg in Brooklyn for vintage clothes and the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan. At 18 Hyatt resorts, the concierge helps arrange Sweet 16 slumber parties and surfing lessons. Very kewl.
  • The Drug War: 'The Best High They've Ever Had'

    Street users call it drop dead, executioner, flat-liner, the exorcist, Al Capone, fefe, Teflon and diesel. Cops know it as a deadly mix of heroin and fentanyl, an anesthetic and painkiller far more potent than morphine. For cancer patients racked with pain, legally prescribed fentanyl can be a godsend. But for junkies, the fentanyl-heroin cocktail has become the hot new high, as lethal as it is alluring. It is being blamed for hundreds of deaths this year in big cities in the Midwest and Northeast. In Wayne County, Mich., home to Detroit, there have been 50 deaths in just the past two weeks, including 19 in one deadly day in May.The problem is that cops don't know who is spreading the killer junk on the streets. It might be just one big bad batch that's been widely distributed, or it could be coming from multiple sources, say law-enforcement officials, who first began noticing a spike in fentanyl-heroin overdoses in November. One promising new lead came from the arrest of five...
  • International Periscope

    Earlier this month a group of 23 suspected terrorists dug their way to freedom from a basement compound beneath the Political Security Office (PSO), Yemen's main intelligence service, in the capital of Sana. Leading them out was one Jamal Ahmed al-Badawi, the mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors. Not all the details of the escape are yet clear, but it appears unlikely it could have happened without help from members of the Yemeni government, which has been a U.S. ally in the war on terror. On Friday, a U.S. Embassy cable sent from Sana, described to NEWSWEEK by a U.S. official who did not want to be identified, noted "the lack of obvious security measures on the streets" after the escape and concluded: "One thing is certain: PSO insiders must have been involved."U.S. investigators and intel officials say the escape could have been orchestrated for a number of reasons, including shakedown money. Badawi escaped once before, in 2003. After he...
  • Relationships: You Had Me at... 'Wow!'

    All alone? if you need more homies, the solution may be as easy as Speed Friending. The service launched last March in New York and is expanding to other cities like Boston and San Francisco ( speedfriending.com ). It works much like Speed Dating, except without the pick-up lines. You and a bunch of your pals-to-be gather in a room, sit across from each other in pairs and chatter. Every five minutes, a bell rings--code for move on and meet someone new. Of course, not everyone is best-friends-forever material. "One guy was, like, 48," says Rebecca Taylor, a 24-year-old accountant and Speed Friender. "He was almost my dad's age." But she did make two new girlfriends. Thankfully, you can sort out the freaks at home, and message the people worth keeping around. Each event costs $20--a small price to pay for a drink and a lifelong comrade. Or maybe you could just buy a parakeet. Hilary Shenfeld
  • Middle Schoolers: Tragic Results From a Deadly Game

    A gifted student and a soccer star, Colin Russell, 13, finished his homework, played with his dog and delved into a novel one afternoon this September. After dinner that evening, the Tacoma, Wash., eighth grader, whose mother and father are physicians, stepped into his bedroom closet, put a rope around his neck, tightened it and strangled to death.This was no suicide. Colin was playing a "pass out" game that has become frighteningly common around the country. Children, usually of middle-school age, choke themselves with a rope or belt, or have someone else do it, and then loosen the grip as they begin to lose consciousness--triggering a head rush they regard as an innocent, drug-free buzz. Kids know it by many names: Space Monkey, Knockout, Black Hole, the Choking Game.Alarmed by the scores of children who have died or become brain-damaged by this practice, schools around the country are sounding alarms to parents and teachers to watch for signs of the game, such as red eyes or...
  • Outdoors: Getting In Gear

    Biking organizations are reporting a surge of two-wheeled commuters, crediting (or blaming) the jump in gas prices. But riding to the office for the first time can be a tricky. Some tips:Take a dry run to scope out the best and safest route. Find local biking-advocacy organizations at sites like thunderhead alliance.org and maps at active transportation.org/Maps.htm.Get carrying cases for such things as your laptop, lunch and clothes. Jandd's commuter garment-bag pannier can keep clothes folded neatly and has pockets for shoes and toiletries ($189.95 at jandd.com).Avoid water, dirt and mud stains on your clothes by buying fenders (about $25) at a local bike shop that fit over your front and rear wheels.To defeat thieves, use two different types of locks: a U-lock and one other. For more tips, check the League of American Bicyclists (bikeleague.org) and biketraffic.org/trickstips.
  • Swift Or Elegant?

    This businessman spends about $1 million a year on corporate-jet travel. He's a 47-year-old suburban Chicago executive who likes to be able to fly almost anywhere in the United States for a meeting and be home in time for dinner. He doesn't want his name used because, well, as he puts it, "I don't want people breaking into my house." His wife uses their fractionally owned planes for her work as well, and the two also jet off to the Caribbean, where they're building a house.Privacy plus freedom--it's a nice combination. Business travel couldn't get any better than this. Or could it? These days corporate-jet manufacturers are starting to cater to a new type of consumer: the superrich business traveler looking for something more than merely the ability to jet off on his own schedule. Some want speed, now that the Concorde is gone. Others want opulence not normally associated with jet travel of any kind.The luxury-first crowd now has the Global 5000, the latest plane from Bombardier, a...
  • SPEED OR ELEGANCE?

    He spends about $1 million a year on corporate-jet travel. The 47-year-old suburban Chicago executive likes to be able to fly almost anywhere in the United States for a business meeting and be home in time for dinner with his family. He doesn't want to be identified because "I don't want people breaking into my house," he says. His wife uses their planes for her work, and the two also jet off to the Caribbean, where they're building a house. It's nice to have privacy in a plane, they say, and to come and go whenever they please.Business travel couldn't get any better than this. Or could it? These days corporate-jet manufacturers are starting to cater to a new type of consumer: the superrich business traveler looking for something more than merely the ability to jet off on his own schedule. Some of them want speed, now that the Concorde has been mothballed, and others want the kind of opulence not normally associated with jet travel. "We're always looking for the better mousetrap,"...
  • RED, WHITE & PROUD

    What does it mean to be "the best"? In honor of Independence Day, NEWSWEEK launched a nationwide search for people and projects that exemplify American values. Not partisan or political values, but values as they were originally framed by the Founders. We were looking for visionaries who make the life, liberty and happiness of others their priority. We found them. Everywhere. In the private sector and the public sector, in the professions and suburban kitchens. In Seattle and Mississippi--and in Wheaton, Ill., where an entire town (right) got together to build a five-bedroom house for a local man who was injured in Iraq. Wheaton is just one reason to be proud of America.WHEATON, ILLINOISA town bands together to build a house for a local man, injured in war.The son of immigrant parents, Joel Gomez did not take the American Dream for granted. He fought for it. After high school at Wheaton-Warrenville South in Illinois, he joined the United States Army and later went off to serve in...
  • 'OUR FAMILY IS IN HELL'

    It was no secret that Jerry Hobbs could be mean, especially if he'd had a few belts. This was a man who once stabbed a motorist in the belly for squealing his tires. This was a guy who had chased his girlfriend and neighbors through a Texas trailer park with a revved-up chainsaw. In his 34 years, Hobbs has been arrested nearly 30 times. But even for all that, nobody could have imagined what happened on Mother's Day.Last Sunday, his daughter, Laura Hobbs, 8, and her friend, Krystal Tobias, 9, spent the afternoon soaring on a swing set and sailing off on a bike ride in Zion, Ill. Laura did the pedaling; Krystal stood on the rear pegs. Hobbs was angry that Laura's mom had suspended her grounding punishment--she had sneaked some money from her mother--and let her go out to play. So he went out to find the girls. "Come home now!" he demanded. When his daughter apparently defied his order, Hobbs, prosecutors say, became enraged. The next morning, the bodies of the two little girls were...
  • SWALLOWING A BITTER PILL IN ILLINOIS

    Some Illinois pharmacists say the doctor doesn't always know what's best--or moral. The druggists are refusing to fill prescriptions for emergency birth control, known as the "morning after" pill. They say the pill amounts to a form of abortion, which they oppose, since it can work after an egg is fertilized. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, declaring it's not a pharmacist's business what a patient has been prescribed, has issued an edict requiring pharmacies to comply with doctors' orders.Now the American Center for Law and Justice, which champions conservative religious causes, has filed suit against the order in state court. The center claims the order violates the state's "conscience clause," which allows health-care providers to withhold a treatment if they deem it against their beliefs. Blagojevich says pharmacists are not covered by the law. But Frank Manion, a lawyer for the firm challenging the governor, argues that forcing the pharmacists to prescribe the birth control "makes them...
  • The Brutal Price Of Justice

    Joan Lefkow could have taken the easy way out. In 2003, the Chicago federal judge was presiding over a case involving white supremacist Matthew Hale, leader of the World Church of the Creator. A religious group in Oregon with the same name was challenging Hale's right to use it. During the trial, a shocking twist: police charged Hale with trying to have Judge Lefkow killed. She could have stepped down from the case. Instead, she stood firm, citing her duty to the justice system. "A party should not be allowed to intimidate a judge off a case," she said.Police now are trying to determine if her bravery was repaid with monstrous cruelty. Judge Lefkow walked into her home last Monday to find her husband, Michael Lefkow, a 64-year-old lawyer, and her 89-year-old mother, Donna Humphrey, in a pool of blood. They had been shot dead at point-blank range. While law-enforcement authorities have not tied the killings to white supremacists, they are questioning racist sympathizers of Hale, 33,...
  • NEWSMAKERS

    Q&A: Jeremy PivenJeremy Piven earned rave reviews as a hard-charging Hollywood agent in HBO's "Entourage," and now he's to star in "Lucky 13," a movie about the cutthroat world of bar mitzvahs. He talked to NEWSWEEK's Hilary Shenfeld.NEWSWEEK: What kind of entourage do you have?Piven:I am an entourage of one.Don't your agent and publicist count?Sure, I have a team, but in terms of a driver, an assistant, all of those things that go along with it--a blazer consultant, a hair-tinting consultant--I don't have that. I'm not that guy.So you don't have an entourage. But you did have a bar mitzvah.The highlight was getting my Torah portion right and having Melissa Bruce touch me. She was, to me, the hottest girl in school, and maybe because I was the bar mitzvah boy or maybe I had a little something going on, but I'll always remember it.And yet, still no wedding bells for you.I think I might be a late bloomer in terms of being ready to step up. I feel I've shaken myself out of a long...
  • APPEALING A REJECTION LETTER

    When Kevin Hua, 18, got rejected by the University of California, Davis, a school he coveted--it felt like the end of the world. "I guess I cried a couple of times," he confesses. But it wasn't the end. Hua, a graduate of Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif., was unwilling to give up. Knowing he faced steep odds, Hua set to work on a little-known last hope for the bounced applicant: the letter of appeal.Though universities don't advertise it, many schools will reconsider if the rejected student can make a persuasive enough case. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for instance, the admissions office says an appeals letter might include additional letters of reference or explanations about changes in health or family circumstances that could have affected student performance. UC Berkeley requires "significant new information" in an appeal. The University of Michigan says letters of appeal must be buttressed with documentation from outside sources. It doesn't usually...
  • The Witmer Sisters: 'She Had A Job To Do'

    After Michelle Witmer was killed in combat in Iraq on April 9, her sisters, Charity, 20, and Rachel, 24--also members of the Wisconsin National Guard--agonized over whether to return to the war zone or ask for reassignment to noncombat positions (allowed by the military when a family member is killed). Charity Witmer spoke with NEWSWEEK's Hilary Shenfeld last week.Why even consider going back?That's my family back there. We'd been through everything with them: explosions, car bombs. You just get so close. How can you let those people down?Yet you decided not to return.We didn't want our units to be in danger. We're grieving for our sister. There are days when I just have a complete meltdown and I can't even function. The lives of other people are at stake. Especially as a medic, I have to be 100 percent there all the time. I had to think what was best for everybody. And of course I want to be with my family while they're grieving. It was the hardest decision I've ever made in my...
  • PREACHERS AND PORN

    Alone in his study at a church in suburban Dallas, Pastor Bernie Anderson toiled on his sermon. Searching for the proper message for his Seventh-Day Adventist flock, the preacher turned to the computer. He clicked on sites for theological essays, stories of Christian history, Hebrew translations. On the wall was a symbol of his mission: a portrait of Jesus bearing the cross. But temptation beckons all, even the man who stands behind the pulpit. Fingers trembling, he clicked on another site. The key word: sex. "It was very raunchy stuff, but I couldn't stop," says Anderson, an earnest and soft-spoken man. He was racked with guilt. "You feel like, 'I'm a pastor. I'm not supposed to have this problem'."As a pastor with a weakness for porn, he is scarcely an oddity. Some 40 percent of clergy have acknowledged visiting sexually explicit Web sites, according to a 2000 survey conducted by Christianity Today and Leadership magazines. The results surprised some pastors, says Eric Reed, the...
  • 'A Tragic Accident'

    Zachary Tran was at practice last Wednesday with his suburban Chicago soccer team when his mother, Michelle, saw him hanging on the crossbar of the large, metal goal. She told her six-year-old son to stop and then walked away. When she returned moments later, she found him sprawled on the grassy field surrounded by a group of people.The goal had toppled over on the Vernon Hills, Ill. first grader, striking the 48-pound child on the head. Zachary was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead an hour later, according to Lake County Coroner James Wipper.Vernon Hills police spokesman Kim Christenson calls the death "a tragic accident."But it's not an isolated one. At least 26 people have been killed and 49 others injured since 1979 by tipping goals, most of which were homemade versions and not professionally manufactured, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Though the number killed in such incidents represents a tiny fraction of the millions of kids...
  • Ads: Mmm, Junk Mail

    The stuff that clogs your trash can is getting an image makeover. A new postal rule that goes into effect this week allows mass mailers to send out solicitations in just about any shape or size. Until now, the U.S. Postal Service required mailers to use the square or rectangular envelopes or postcards that consumers are quick to discard. Advertisers typically get about a 1 percent response rate.Hoping for a better response, doughnut purveyor Krispy Kreme is sending out 10,000 advertisements shaped like one of its half-opened boxes to residents of Orange County, Calif. "It seems considerably less junk maily," says Amy Inabinet, a marketing manager. "We can't mail out a dozen doughnuts. This is the closest we could get." Still, the premium mailers aren't cheap. They can cost up to $3 per piece, so companies will have to target their audience better. If only e-mail spammers could be as thoughtful.
  • E-Mail: Before Clicking 'Send'...

    If you flame, you might get burned. Angry about his wife's affair, Profirios Liapis sent 17 menacing e-mails to the other man, Plato Tzouzalis. Tzouzalis, a 38-year-old biochemist, says he was afraid to look at his computer screen. "I was terrorized," he says. "I would think, 'What kind of e-mail will I get today?'" An Illinois court found Liapis guilty of e-mail harassment last month, the first conviction under the state's anti-cyberstalking law. Liapis, a 42-year-old waiter, faces up to three years behind bars. He plans to appeal the verdict. Some 45 states now have laws against cyberstalking. Several forbid direct threats, but the Arizona statute requires only that a victim be "seriously alarmed" or "annoyed." Last week, in a civil action aimed at Internet messages, a Florida judge ordered Tucker Max to stop posting details of his relationship with Katy Johnson, a former Miss Vermont. Johnson had sued, claiming Max was revealing "embarrassing private facts."There was plenty of...