Julie Scelfo

Stories by Julie Scelfo

  • Organic Chemistry

    The boom in restaurants serving local organic produce has come with an unexpected downside: more bugs in your food. Without pesticides to deter them, aphids, ladybugs, caterpillars and beetles are tagging along on the journey from farm to kitchen to dinner table with greater frequency. But the reactions among diners are as diverse as the critters they're finding on their plates. Some are furious, of course, especially considering they're already paying more for organic food—but a surprising number, restaurateurs say, are cheered. To those customers, such uninvited guests are proof that the produce really is fresh and pesticide-free. "I, for one, would much prefer a bug on my plate to pesticide in my bloodstream," says Ben Long, a communications consultant and foodie from Kalispell, Mont. Sometimes it's more than just a bug. When Richard Samaniego, chef at California's Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, opened a box of organic lettuce last year, a frog jumped out. "It was a good...
  • Vindicated Katrina Doc Tells Her Story

    Dr. Anna Pou was accused of murdering nine patients in a New Orleans hospital wracked by Katrina, but a grand jury declined to indict her. Now she gives her side of the story.
  • A Law Professor on Living with Schizophrenia

    In a powerful new book, an accomplished law professor writes about her struggle to overcome the debilitating psychotic episodes she suffers as a schizophrenic.
  • Dating Sites Match Lovers Who Share Disease

    Dating is awkward for Sandra Liz Aquino, 41. She's divorced and beautiful, but she's also HIV-positive. So last month, she signed up with Prescription4Love.com, a dating Web site for people with sexually transmitted diseases and other health conditions. The site, which launched last year, is becoming a go-to spot online where singletons who also happen to have diseases from hepatitis to herpes to irritable bowel syndrome can find love and companionship without having to worry about the big reveal.P4L, which has 1,200 members, is one of a rapidly growing set of niche dating Web sites for people with disabilities and disease. The explosive success of online dating was followed by a proliferation of sites catering to people with HIV and STDs. Those were followed by sites like IrritatedBeingSingle.com, for people with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease, and C Is for Cupid, catering to romance seekers affected by cancer. P4L is one of the few sites that cater to people with a...
  • Mitchell Gold on the Bible and Gay Rights

    For years, Mitchell Gold, a founder of the popular furniture company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, has been irritated by what he sees as fundamentalist Christians’ use of the Bible to justify withholding civil rights from gays. Scripture, Gold argues, was used in the past to defend slavery, prohibit interracial marriage and prevent women from voting. Frustrated that few politicians dare to confront anyone brandishing a Bible, in 2005 Gold formed the group Faith In America (FIA), which says its goals are to educate people about the past “misuse” of religion and scripture. FIA's latest campaign is centered on next week’s 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decision that overturned Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage, which had been supported by a Virginia judge who ruled the intention of “Almighty God” was to keep the races separate. This week, FIA ran a series of full-page ads in Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, featuring a photo of former Florida...
  • Moms and Nannies: A Complicated Relationship

    Ever since mothers were admitted to the professional classes, as a long line of books tell us, their lot has not been an easy one: they're overworked, stressed and exhausted. What many find to be most difficult is leaving their children—and, unavoidably, asking strangers to care for them. This dilemma has spawned a new crop of books that examine the emotionally fraught relationship working mothers have with nannies, including "The Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers And Nannies" (Bloomsbury, $23.95) by Lucy Kaylin, a mother of two (and yes, executive editor of Marie Claire). In revealing her most intimate feelings about performing the daily tango of child rearing with someone she has to pay, Kaylin describes the absurdities of judging candidates through an interview (and feeling it necessary to reject someone because she habitually touches her face while speaking), her guilt about being a white woman who employs a racial minority (and how pleased she was that her husband...
  • Kids & All-Terrain Vehicles: Dangerous Mix

    It was supposed to be fun. hanging out with his cousin on a sunny Texas afternoon in 2005, B. J. Smith, then 15, decided to go for a spin on his uncle's new all-terrain vehicle. Even though the boys had been told not to go near the 386-pound machine unsupervised, B.J., a handsome kid with a football player's build, wanted to see what the 350cc ATV could do. With nothing but open road in front of him, B.J., who had been riding motorcycles since he was 5, reached nearly 60mph. Then a dog ran out unexpectedly and clipped the front wheel. B.J.'s life was forever altered. "He lost control of the ATV, and basically he flew 25 feet and hit the street with his head," says his mom, Kim. Blood poured from his eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Doctors said B.J. had only a 10 percent chance of survival. "His brain was so swollen they had to cut out a piece of his skull," recalls Kim. "He's my only child. It was absolutely horrible."With summer on its way, ATV enthusiasts are gearing up for a chance...
  • Jessica Lynch Sets the Record Straight

    Jessica Lynch became a national hero in 2003 after she was dramatically rescued by a team of Special Ops soldiers from an Iraqi hospital where she was believed to be a prisoner of war. Her story was compelling not only because she was a 19-year-old supply-unit clerk who had stumbled into an attack during convoy travel with her unit, but because she was portrayed by military authorities as having valiantly fought back against her attackers even as her unit was surrounded and her comrades were killed and injured. The legend quickly unraveled, however, after Lynch returned to the States, recuperated from her substantial injuries (broken arm and leg bones, damage to her back and kidneys, and a six-inch laceration to her head) and began to speak out about what had really happened. Today, Lynch testified before a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing probing the source of misleading information about Lynch and about the death of Army Ranger Specialist Patrick Tillman...
  • Va. Tech: Counselors Discuss Trauma Management

    The short-term effects are invariably similar. Anyone connected-directly or indirectly--to the ghastly killings at Virginia Tech on Monday inevitably will be grieving in the days and weeks ahead. But what about the long-term impact of exposure to the massacre? In the past, trauma counselors believed everyone exposed to events like these were at high-risk for debilitating emotional problems. New research, however, suggests that most adults recover quite well and that only 10 to 20 percent of the population is at risk for severe or lasting problems like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Whether it’s a school shooting, natural disaster, war or accident, most people respond to a horrible event with a combination of grief, surprise, anger or shock. “These emotions are completely normal,” says Lawrence H. Bergmann, a certified trauma specialist and founder of Post Trauma Resources in South Carolina. “They are appropriate responses, but they will go away in time. In the past we...
  • Is Imus the Product of a Ghetto Mindset?

    Cora Daniels has problems with the cultural legacy of the hood. In her new book, "GhettoNation: A Journey Into The Land of Bling and The Home of The Shameless," the journalist and writer examines how the hip-hop lifestyle and behaviors attributed to inner-city neighborhoods—celebrating gangsters and violence, revering fancy cars and bling, flaunting women's bodies—has permeated American culture and created a widespread “ghetto” mentality. From soda-filled baby bottles to black men calling each other the “n” word to MTV’s “Pimp My Ride,” Daniels chronicles the pervasiveness of “ghetto” thinking and shows how people from all walks of life engage in and celebrate ideas, language and behavior they should find repulsive. In a cable-news climate dominated by fallout from Don Imus’s comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team, NEWSWEEK’s Julie Scelfo spoke with Daniels about why she thinks it’s wrong to celebrate the bad behavior of the underclass. Excerpts: ...
  • Study: A Downside to Day Care?

    A new study finds that children who regularly attend day-care centers develop more behavioral problems in kindergarten than those that don't. What's a parent to do?
  • Former U.S. Atty. Says Independence Threatened 

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resisted new calls for his resignation Wednesday over the growing scandal about the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. To understand why these firings have become such a politically charged issue, NEWSWEEK’s Julie Scelfo spoke with Mary Jo White, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was appointed by President Clinton and served for nearly nine years, even staying on for 10 months after President Bush took office and ordered three other New York federal prosecutors to step down. White, who earned national prominence for the successful prosecutions of numerous terrorism and white-collar cases, is now a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. [Editor’s note: Scelfo’s spouse worked for White from 1998-2002.] Excerpts: ...
  • Men and Depression: New Treatments

    For nearly a decade, while serving as an elected official and working as an attorney, Massachusetts state Sen. Bob Antonioni struggled with depression, although he didn't know it. Most days, he attended Senate meetings and appeared on behalf of clients at the courthouse. But privately, he was irritable and short-tempered, ruminating endlessly over his cases and becoming easily frustrated by small things, like deciding which TV show to watch with his girlfriend. After a morning at the state house, he'd be so exhausted by noon that he'd drive home and collapse on the couch, unable to move for the rest of the day.When his younger brother, who was similarly moody, killed himself in 1999, Antonioni, then 40, decided to seek help. For three years, he clandestinely saw a therapist, paying in cash so there would be no record. He took antidepressants, but had his prescriptions filled at a pharmacy 20 miles away. His depression was his burden, and his secret. He couldn't bear for his image to...
  • CDC Raises Autism Estimate

    As the debate over autism's cause continues, the CDC raises its estimate of how many children are affected.
  • Bake It Like a Man

    What do you call a goatee-wearing, bass guitar-playing, power saw-wielding, tattooed guy who spends his days mixing flour and sugar? A baker. But Duff Goldman, head of Baltimore's Charm City Cakes and host of the Food Network's hugely popular “Ace of Cakes” TV show is not your ordinary pastry chef. Instead of flat sheet cakes painted with frosting flowers and cutesy messages, Goldman, 32, uses drills and blowtorches to sculpt fantastical multidimensional creations like a smoking volcano, a three-foot-tall Elvis as well as replicas of Chicago's Wrigley Field and a 1930s Harlem speakeasy. The show's second season, premiering Thursday night, reveals the inner workings of his bakery, where a group of fellow artists and aspiring rock stars raise dessert to precarious new heights. NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo spoke with Duff about the show and his passion for pastry. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: How did you get into cakes?Duff Goldman: My sophomore year in college I went into the nicest restaurant in...
  • Fast Chat: Changing Your Heart

    Dr. Arthur Agatston's first book, "The South Beach Diet," was a best seller that turned into a national phenomenon. Now the cardiologist is back with "The South Beach Heart Program," which aims to reduce heart attacks and strokes. He spoke with Julie Scelfo.It turns out that view is completely wrong. Instead, plaque develops like a little pimple in the vessel wall, but instead of filling with pus, it fills with cholesterol. Blood flow remains normal until the plaque "pimple" ruptures. The healing process includes a blood clot, and if the clot is big enough, that's what blocks the artery.The cosmetic-surgery approach to coronary arteries--making them look nice with balloons and stents--doesn't really work. That's going after the wrong plaque, the kind that has already ruptured and is no longer a threat. Instead, it's the soft plaque pimples that are little ticking time bombs, because they blow up and cause a sudden blockage. We're spending billions of dollars going after the wrong...
  • 'South Beach Diet' Doc Focuses on the Heart

    The author of the 'South Beach Diet' books is urging the public and doctors to rethink treatment for heart disease—focusing more on prevention than stents.
  • Paul Martin

    On September 11, 2001, Karen Ann Martin, the head flight attendant of American Airlines Flight 11, perished when her plane collided with the World Trade Center's North Tower. But it wasn't until this year that the New York City medical examiner identified some of her remains. Karen's younger brother, Paul, spoke with Julie Scelfo.In October. They contacted my older brother. He was kind of shocked. We, all of us [Karen had three siblings], never thought we'd have any remains for her. We had a memorial when it first happened. Then we had a funeral in October 2001, when we buried an urn with rubble from Ground Zero.It was always like something was missing. Some people in my family never got to mourn her death.The remains are a lower leg and a foot. At first that was kind of hard to hear. But it was also a relief, because we knew we could finally bring her home. What are your plans?We had her remains cremated, and she actually arrived today [Dec. 13, 2006]. We plan to bury her where we...
  • Science and the Gender Gap

    To get a sense of how women have progressed in science, take a quick tour of the physics department at the University of California, Berkeley. This is a storied place, the site of some of the most important discoveries in modern science--starting with Ernest Lawrence's invention of the cyclotron in 1931. A generation ago female faces were rare, and even today visitors walking through the first floor of LeConte Hall will see a full corridor of exhibits honoring the many distinguished physicists who made history here, virtually all of them white males.But climb up to the third floor and you'll see a different display. There, among the photos of current faculty members and students, are portraits of the current chair of the department, Marjorie Shapiro, and four other women whose research covers everything from the mechanics of the universe to the smallest particles of matter. A sixth woman was hired just two weeks ago. Although they're still only about 10 percent of the physics...
  • Families Cheer as Autism Bill Passes

    In a move that could have far-reaching implications for children with autism and their beleaguered families, the Combating Autism Act passed unanimously tonight in the Senate after months of behind-the-scenes wrangling between autism advocates and Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton. The bill, which authorizes almost $1 billion for autism research and programs, cleared the House yesterday. Autism is a spectrum of disorders that affects at least one in 500 American children and has no known cause and no known cure.Autism advocates are overjoyed. "It's a huge day," says Alison Singer, senior vice president of Autism Speaks, whose 9-year-old daughter has autism. "I think this is the most important thing we could do short of finding a cure."Researchers, too, are excited by the possibility of new funding. "The prospect of having an infusion of funds, particularly right now when the NIH [National Institutes of Health] is having to cut back so dramatically, is incredibly encouraging," says...
  • Heartbreaking Results

    The announcement over the weekend that Pfizer had halted development of a potential blockbuster drug intended to treat heart disease dealt a major blow not only to the company, but to heart patients everywhere. Researchers had hoped the drug, torcetrapib, would reduce the risk of heart attack by raising the level of HDL, the "good cholesterol," in the blood. But a clinical trial involving 15,000 patients was stopped when the drug was linked to 82 deaths. That number was significantly higher than the 51 deaths among people in the trial who had not taken torcetrapib. NEWSWEEK’s Julie Scelfo spoke with Dr. Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, about torcetrapib and the aborted study. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Just last week Pfizer's chief executive, Jeffrey B. Kindler, said torcetrapib could be among the most important new developments for heart disease in decades. What changed?Steven E. Nissen: The Data Safety and Monitoring Board for major ongoing...
  • Heartbreak's Revenge

    When George Berg's wife, Sandra, began spending three nights a week studying for an MBA, he didn't mind. But when the manager of the family's Myrtle Beach time share called two years ago to say someone left behind a Blockbuster video card--during a weekend when Sandra was supposed to be away at a company event with their son--George got suspicious. Asking his 5-year-old about the trip, he made a heartbreaking discovery. "I asked him. 'You went with Mommy's [female] boss?' He said 'No, I went with Mommy's gay friend from work'."Using an arcane North Carolina law on "alienation of affection," Berg filed suit not against his ex-wife (they divorced earlier this year) but against the other adulterer. In August, they settled for more than $150,000, and in January Berg will begin receiving monthly checks.While most states have for years been making it easier to get divorced by removing "fault" requirements like adultery, a few states have held on to "heart balm" statutes that allow people...
  • Cosmetic Surgery: A Lush Mane of Lashes?

    Growing up, Alevé Loh, a 30-year-old marketing manager in L.A., longed for thicker eyelashes. "My best friend always had amazing huge, big eyelashes. I was like, 'I want those!' " Loh's dream became a reality after she underwent the latest form of cosmetic surgery: eyelash transplants. The procedure has been around for more than a decade, pioneered by hair-restoration surgeons as a way of helping burn and accident victims, or people who suffer from compulsive hair pulling. But as word spread about the procedure, doctors saw more and more healthy patients seek implants. "There's been a virtual explosion of these surgeries for cosmetic purposes," says Dr. Alan Bauman, a Florida surgeon. "In the past four or five months I've had about 100 inquiries. A couple years ago we were doing just maybe one a month."Surgeons harvest a fingertip-size patch of hair from the back of the scalp. Then they isolate individual follicles and implant anywhere from 10 to 50 lashes on the top lid using a...
  • Extreme Makeovers

    Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., looks like the Hollywood version of an idyllic Southern campus. Pale yellow buildings with white columns surround a rolling, green lawn. But inside the Umoja House, senior Tiffany Jackson, 21, head of the Black Student Alliance, shows another side of the 164-year-old women's college. Walking through a hall decorated with tribal masks, she excitedly points out the spot reserved for a new piece of African art students plan to pick out with money from the trustees. "Everybody has a place here," Jackson says.Not long ago, women's colleges like Mary Baldwin seemed destined for extinction. There are fewer than 60 all-female schools today, compared with more than 200 in the 1960s, a period when institutions like Yale (then all male) and Vassar (all female) went coed. In September, another Virginia school, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, announced it will admit men starting next fall. But don't count out single-sex schools just yet. Even now, a hugely...
  • Your Dad Had More Testosterone Than You

    Over the last two decades, American men have made a number of major lifestyle changes—taking on a greater share of the housework, consuming an ever-widening array of skin-care products and even leaving jobs to stay home and raise the kids while their well-paid wives earn the dough. Now, a new study published online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that today's men are also changing on the inside: sporting significantly lower testosterone levels than their counterparts 10 or 20 years ago.Using blood samples collected from more than 1,500 healthy men age 45 to 79 in the Boston area over a period of 17 years (originally gathered as part of the Massachusetts Male Aging Study), scientists at the New England Research Institutes (NERI) measured both total testosterone and “bio-available” testosterone, the portion of the hormone readily available to cells. Then they compared men of the same age in different decades. “We see about a 1 percent decrease per...
  • Case Study: Helping Kids In Trouble

    The cheerful space in Rhode Island's Bradley Hospital could easily be mistaken for a classroom. Red sweatshirts and SpongeBob backpacks fill a row of cubbies marked with construction-paper name tags. A giant schedule of the day's activities, including "lunch" and "story time," hangs on a center wall, lined with yellow smiley-face cutouts to mark good behavior. But the 14 youngsters who arrive each morning for Bradley's "Pediatric Partial" program aren't ordinary students. They're patients between the ages of nine months and six years with serious emotional and behavior problems. Some hurt themselves; others are violent and many have anxiety, depression and feeding disorders.According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as 12 million children suffer from mental, behavioral or developmental disorders that interfere with their ability to function. They're increasingly being diagnosed at an early age but treatment options typically are limited to...

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