Julie Scelfo

Stories by Julie Scelfo

  • Q&A: 'I Said, &Quot;Please, God, Don't Kill Me&Quot;'

    David Williams calls it "withdrawals"--the yearning he feels after spending too much time with his feet planted firmly on the earth instead of a few thousand feet above the ground. For years, the Apache helicopter pilot was airborne at least an hour or two each week, but that was before the early morning of March 24, when his chopper was shot down in Iraq and he became a prisoner of war. ...
  • Dieting: The Next Atkins?

    Arthur Agatston is an unlikely diet guru, but that's exactly what he's become. A nerdy Miami cardiologist who cares way more about lipids than he does about flat abs, his new book, "The South Beach Diet" (Rodale. $24.95), debuted at No. 3 on The New York Times best-seller list last week, just behind "Atkins for Life" by Dr. Robert C. Atkins. Readers may be drawn to the name--who wouldn't want to look like a babe on South Beach?--but the real value of the book is its sound nutritional advice. It retains the best part of the Atkins regime--meat--while losing the tenet that all carbs should be avoided. Instead, Agatston encourages a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, plus nuts and healthy oils. Many of the recipes in the book come from Miami chefs. Agatston says the diet works because it's forgiving of minor infractions. "I'm a chocoholic, so I understand falling off the wagon," he says. But with hamburgers--and buns--allowed, who needs to...
  • Anxiety: 'We're All Targets'

    According to the Department of Homeland Security, the chance of a terror attack is high. Which is why attendance is soaring at American Red Cross disaster-preparation classes around the country. "I'm not freaked out," says Linda Velez, who recently attended "Preparing for the Unexpected" in New York. "I just want more information." Counterterrorism professionals are offering classes, too: at the Fort Sherman Institute for Human Protection at North Idaho College, a former Department of Defense expert is teaching businessmen how to fight back if they're on a plane overtaken by hijackers. GlobalOptions, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based firm, is preparing private clients to survive a biological or radiological attack, whether at home or in the workplace (hint: turn the bathroom into a safe room). A former SWAT instructor in Hollywood, Fla., Walter Philbrick, is offering the granddaddy of survival classes that includes a gas-attack drill, weapons instruction and a lecture on what you can...
  • Interview With An Astronaut

    The next space shuttle was scheduled to launch on March 1, and veteran astronaut Eileen Collins was slated to command that mission. But after last week's tragedy, all shuttle trips have been postponed indefinitely, jeopardizing the future plans of Collins, 46, and her crew.COLLINS, WHO HAS been to space three times, became the first woman shuttle pilot in 1995 and the first female commander in 1999 (aboard the Columbia). For the past year, she had been training for STS-114, the March mission aboard the shuttle Atlantis. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo about what the loss of Columbia and her colleagues means for her future. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Where were you when you heard the news?Eileen Collins: I was home with my 2-year-old son. My husband and my daughter were camping. I woke my son up at 7:45 because I wanted him to watch the shuttle land with me so he would know what to expect when I made my landing next month.We were watching NASA TV and when I heard the radar--it's...
  • Family: Facing Bullies

    The threat many American teenagers fear most is not Saddam Hussein, but a schoolyard bully. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, six out of 10 American teenagers witness bullying in school at least once a day. "The biggest mistake parents make is telling their kids to just ignore the bullies," says Jodee Blanco, a former victim turned activist. Parents should listen closely when their children say they are being harassed and help them devise assertive--not aggressive--responses. Make sure your child knows he or she is not alone, but "don't rush in to solve the problem for them," advises Barbara Coloroso, author of "The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander." Most bullying is verbal, so teach children how to use words to defend themselves. (One response for insults like "dork" or "retard" is "That's beneath both of us.") It's harder to pick on a group, so make sure your kid has a buddy (or two). Notify school officials if you think there's a threat to your child's...
  • Power In The Pews

    Mary Ann Keyes is a retired preschool teacher and grandmother of four. Steve Krueger is a financial consultant. Maura O'Brien is a lawyer. But when the priest abuse scandal broke in January, they joined fellow Roman Catholics to launch Voice of the Faithful and became nothing less than revolutionaries. "I love this church," says Keyes, 62, who once worked as a missionary in Alaska. "It has always been a central part of my life. But I decided that I'm not going to my grave with the church in the shape that it's in for my children and grandchildren."As a grass-roots movement, VOTF has proved that power in the church can come from the pews as well as the pope. The most dramatic development was the resignation earlier this month of Boston's embattled cardinal, Bernard Law, after VOTF and 58 Boston-area priests publicly demanded he step down. The revolt is far from over. What began in Wellesley, Mass., as a discussion group in a church basement quickly grew to 25,000 members and 100...
  • Health: Healthy Peanuts

    It's yummy and sticks to the roof of your mouth. Now there's another reason to love peanut butter: eating nuts may lower your risk of developing type II diabetes.In a new study in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard researchers examined the medical histories and eating habits of 83,818 women and found that women who ate an ounce of nuts (any kind) five or more times a week were 27 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who rarely ate nuts. Researchers say there is no reason to believe the results don't apply to men. The "good" fats in nuts improve the body's use of insulin. That doesn't mean you can load up on high-calorie PB&J sandwiches. Instead, sub nuts for less healthful items in your diet. As long as kids aren't allergic, peanut butter is great for them. Adds Dr. Frank Hu, the author of the study: "For my kids I pack a peanut-butter sandwich almost every day."
  • Couples: Love--And Marriage?

    Living with your boyfriend is fun. It also can be practical, meaningful and a sign of deep commitment. But as if to confirm the fears of nervous parents around the country, a new study in the Journal of Family Issues says that couples who live together are much less likely to wed than they used to be. That's right, Mom: according to the study, entitled "First Comes Cohabitation and Then Comes Marriage?" two thirds of cohabiting couples in the 1970s married within three years. Now only half as many women walk down the aisle with their live-in mate that quickly. Among all cohabiting women, one out of four says she doesn't ever expect to marry the man she lives with. (The expectation of marriage turns out to be an excellent predictor of actually marrying.) Pamela Smock, a University of Michigan sociologist and coauthor of the study, says that what motivates women of all ethnic groups to tie the knot is finding a well-educated man with a stable income. "If we want to promote marriage,...
  • A Fed For The Church

    When Roman Catholic activist Peter Isely found out last week that his church's proposed plan for dealing with sex abuse by priests could give bishops complete oversight of investigations, and will involve secret tribunals, he was very angry. Last June, after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops proposed a zero-tolerance policy and vowed to be accountable to the faithful, Isely--who was raped by a priest when he was 13--had hope. But the Vatican, concerned about false accusations, demanded revisions. Now, as the American bishops gather this week in Washington, D.C., to officially adopt their compromise plan, Isely and other victims' advocates say the church is taking a big step in the wrong direction. "In June, the bishops seemed to have finally understood that the culture of secrecy was the ultimate problem," says Isely, a founding member of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "Now they're going right back to it."In a clear effort to mute such criticism, last week...
  • America's Pasta Pusher

    Mario Batali is the latest celebrity chef to capture Americans' hearts and stomachs. The Seattle native owns and operates three successful Italian restaurants in New York, hosts two television cooking shows and is the author of three cookbooks about Italian culture and cuisine. Recently, he graced the cover of Gourmet magazine--having launched a new line of pasta sauces--and is planning a new Manhattan pizzeria that is scheduled to open in December. NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo spoke to Batali about why Americans have become so infatuated with Italian culture and cuisine. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Why are Americans so interested in Italian culture? Why not Belgian or Czech?Batali: Not to insult those countries, but aside from a couple of things from Belgium or Czechoslovakia, their culture is not exported here. We don't even know what they do. Italians have made it their business to export Italian culture, from spaghetti, to design, to poster art, to wine and soft drinks. If you open a bar in...
  • Say Feta

    Feta helps put the "big" and "fat" in Greek weddings. Now the European Commission has ruled that only Greek cheese can be called "feta." (Other countries have five years to comply or win an appeal.) In the meantime, here's a guide: Greek feta, typically made from sheep's milk, is the "standard everything else is measured by," says Steven Jenkins, author of "Cheese Primer." French sheep's-milk feta is "sweeter and more buttery," says Daphne Zepos, fromagere at New York's Artisanal. Denmark uses cow's milk, which has "less genuine flavor," Zepos warns. For American feta, stick to small brands made from goat's milk.
  • On Campus: The Doctors Are 'In'

    Rhonda Venable's first appointment last Monday was with a severely depressed sophomore who's worried he's too promiscuous. After the session, Venable, associate director of Vanderbilt University's counseling center, met with a bipolar teenager, assessed an anxious student for signs of schizophrenia and arranged emergency hospitalization for an upperclassman threatening suicide. "It was very much an ordinary day," says Venable.Long gone are the sleepy college counseling centers of decades past where therapists administered career-aptitude tests and offered tip sheets for handling roommate conflicts. Today, acknowledging their role on the front lines of the teen-depression crisis, counselors and psychologists at the nation's colleges and universities are doing more to try to help the rising numbers of students they see with clinical depression and other acute mental illnesses. According to a national survey conducted last year, 85 percent of college counseling centers are reporting an...
  • Tv: Lobbying For A Little Restraint

    As the first anniversary of the 9-11 attacks draws nearer, victims' families are quietly waging a letter-writing campaign asking TV networks to provide warnings before airing graphic footage of the attacks. Carie Lemack, a 27-year-old from Boston whose mother was on American Airlines Flight 11, says that when she sees the plane going into the North Tower, "it's like watching my mother being murdered over and over again." Other families say the same. "There'll be a news show on... and suddenly it'll go to a shot of the buildings falling," says Kathy Ashton, whose 21-year-old son started work in the WTC on Sept. 10. "Before I can look away, I've seen Tommy die again." Knowing that the coverage will only increase in the weeks to come, Lemack posted a form letter on the Families of September 11 Web site; so far, hundreds of letters have been sent to national cable networks and local news stations. While none of the major networks have agreed to cue viewers, most say they are trying to...
  • N.Y. Closure

    The site is two boroughs and more than a dozen miles away from what used to be the World Trade Center. But for hundreds of workers who spent the last 10 months at the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, the horrors have been the same. More than 1.8 million tons of debris was brought from Ground Zero. Wearing hazmat suits and respirators, law-enforcement officers and volunteers searched the wreckage for human remains, personal artifacts and, without avail, black boxes from the hijacked airplanes. By last week, 175 acres of debris had been reduced to three 25-foot heaps. But the piles continue to give up grisly artifacts: recently, a police officer's jacket and the wallet of a female passenger on American Airlines Flight 11 were found. More than 4,400 human remains have been recovered at the landfill, from which 191 people have been identified. Now, most of the people who worked "The Hill" will head home. "What's tough is knowing that there're families out there who are still...
  • Bored With Sleeping?

    It's a health problem of sorts, but you probably don't want to talk about it. Still, you--and millions of other people like you--can't help but wonder: how come I don't have more sex? Researchers agree the likely answer is not "because I'm sleeping too much instead." Like other fields of human endeavor, lovemaking is best with a well-rested mind and body. By the same token, the things that interfere with sleep can also stifle the libido. "The common wisdom among therapists is that our sex drive dips along with the Dow," says author and psychologist Dr. Judy Kuriansky. (That is not, however, the origin of the phrase "bull market.") "The libido is very sensitive to one's emotional state." Stress and anxiety, over the stock market or anything else, are nature's antiaphrodisiac; a recent survey by the Kinsey Institute found that 80 percent of men between 30 and 40 are sometimes too anxious to copulate, or even to think about it much. Unfortunately, the antidepressants that treat the...
  • Don't Ask, Do Tell

    Does anyone really get naked with strangers as fast as Samantha Jones on "Sex in the City?" Are other shoe-obsessed women as terrified of marriage as Carrie Bradshaw? A new reality series on the WE: Women's Entertainment network tries to answer these and other important questions about love and life by peering into the twisted hearts and minds of real single women in New York.The documentary-style show called "Single in the City" (which has been airing on New York City's Metro Channel under the name "To Live and Date in New York") chronicles the exploits of 11 single women who eagerly share the details of their male conquests and dating disasters with videocameras that follow them nearly everywhere. The cast includes a number of aspiring actors, and "the Barracudas," a man-eating foursome who fancy themselves a real-life version of the glamorous women on HBO. Kathy, Donna, Sandra, and Kathleen share friendship, financial success and a love of the single life. NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo...
  • The Rise Of The Jumbo Babies

    When President George W. Bush declared last week that better health is an important goal for Americans, he made a point of targeting children and adolescents. But pediatricians say it's the diaper-clad set we really need to watch. There's no exact measure of how much bigger babies have gotten over time, but doctors nationwide say they're seeing more and more infants and toddlers who are off the charts. "It's a tidal wave," says Naomi Neufeld, a pediatric endocrinologist in Los Angeles. (Average birth weights, an indicator of infant size, jumped to 7 pounds 7 ounces in 1997, from 7 pounds 4 ounces in 1970.) This growth spurt is related in part to the rising obesity epidemic among adults and children, but doctors say even healthy babies are bigger than they used to be: Amber Valletta's son, Auden--pictured on the cover of July's Vogue--is 18 months old, but "my doctor says he's the size of an average 3-year-old," the supermodel said recently. Julie Bruno, a lawyer in New York City,...
  • Witness To Shame

    As Roman Catholic bishops issued a meaculpa last week, Jehovah's Witnesses, a cloistered group of 980,000, moved closer to facing a sex-abuse scandal of their own. In January a woman from Sacramento, Calif., filed a lawsuit charging that church leaders knowingly failed to notify civil authorities that she was raped by a member of her congregation. A former church leader in Maryland was indicted in February for sexually assaulting three women who say they were told by elders not to report the abuse, and were excommunicated when they did. After additional stories aired recently on TV, a victims' support group run by William H. Bowen was deluged with e-mails and phone calls. "Catholics only protect the priests. Jehovah's Witnesses do it for any member of the church," says Bowen, a former elder from Kentucky. Sara Poisson says that prior to her husband's conviction for sexually abusing her daughters, church elders told her to "pray more and be a better wife." Church spokesman J. R....
  • 'It Was Just Another Way To Meet Somebody'

    Amy Anzel is a 28-year-old actress and production coordinator from New York with an Ivy League degree and a fulfilling career. She's also one of 15 semifinalists on TV's latest and perhaps most cringe-inducing reality show: ABC's "The Bachelor." A watered-down version of Fox's much-maligned "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire," the show features Alex, a bona fide Harvard grad (with no known criminal history) as he shops for a potential bride over the course of six episodes. Not surprisingly, ABC calls him one of America's most desirable bachelors.Last week, 8.6 million viewers watched as Anzel was chosen from the original group of 25 to go through to the next stage of competition to capture Alex's heart. This Monday, she'll face the next round. Anzel spoke to NEWSWEEK's Julie Scelfo about what made her become a contestant.Newsweek: Why on earth did you decide to go on this show?Anzel: It was just another way to meet somebody. I'm sick of the scene. I've done bars, I've done clubs, I...
  • What To Do With An Auto Graveyard

    Six months after they were crushed, burned or covered with debris, New York City is ready to dispose of more than 1,000 vehicles recovered from the World Trade Center attacks. The city had planned to hand the cars and trucks over to insurance companies or owners as early as Monday. But at the last moment, the federal government stepped in and called a halt to the transfer.For weeks, local, state and federal officials have squabbled over whether the vehicles—most of which are coated with fine powder of World Trade Center debris—are safe. “We know the dust contains lead, zinc, mercury, asbestos, not to mention organic materials,” says New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler. “To release cars to owners is highly irresponsible.” On Thursday, Nadler wrote a letter to the Enivronmental Protection Agency’s Christie Todd Whitman urging her to file an emergency injunction against the city to prevent their release. On Friday, the EPA asked the city to meet with its officials before releasing the...
  • Letter From America

    The first thing I notice is the smell. It isn't just the caustic scent of burnt steel and jet fuel, familiar from the World Trade Center. It's something human, the odor of death. The next things I notice are the mountains of gray dirt, stretching as far as I can see. A crane scoops from a pile and spreads it out; FBI agents swarm over it with shovels. These aren't mere piles of dirt at all. They are the pulverized remains of the Twin Towers and all that was inside. ...
  • Thirty Years, Nine Lives

    Like the feminist movement itself, Ms. magazine has spent the past 30 years struggling to survive in an often hostile environment. Next week, the magazine will face yet another test of its endurance. On Monday, its owner, Liberty Media for Women, is expected to announce that the non-profit Feminist Majority Foundation will take ownership of the magazine. ...
  • Good Dogs, Bad Medicine?

    Marc Bluestone was devastated when his sandy-brown mutt, Shane, died on April 2, 1999. In January he'd taken her to a vet hospital in Fountain Valley, Calif., for treatment of chronic seizures. By the time Shane went home--more than two months and $21,000 later--she had suffered liver disease, internal bleeding and a failed immune system. The doctors at All-Care Animal Referral Center treated her with everything from a blood transfusion to radiation, says Bluestone. Four days after she was discharged, Shane took a turn for the worse and died in the car as he was rushing her back to the hospital. Bluestone consulted a lawyer and was stunned to learn that in the eyes of California law, Shane was worth $100, what he had paid for her at the local shelter. "The way I feel, she is part of me and I am a part of her," says Bluestone, who hopes the vet will have to pay millions if Bluestone wins a malpractice suit scheduled for September. ...
  • A Car, A Call And A Terrible Crash

    In the wee hours of Sunday, April 29, Chad Renegar was driving supermodel Niki Taylor and another friend home from a night on the town when his cell phone rang. Reflexively, Renegar lunged for the phone, taking his eyes off the road, he says, for just a few seconds. That's all it took for his 1993 Nissan Maxima to jump the curb and plow straight into a utility pole. Shaken, the three got out of the car and Renegar dialed for help. "Are you injured?" asked the 911 operator. "Yeah, all three of us are injured," answered Renegar, but he was playing it safe. They'd been wearing seat belts and, aside from a few minor cuts, it seemed as if they had escaped serious injury. Taylor's world-famous visage, once on the cover of six magazines in a single month, didn't have a scratch. By the time police arrived, though, the blond swimsuit model was in terrible pain. Emergency-room doctors quickly determined that Taylor was suffering from massive internal injuries. A few days later, a penitent...
  • The Inside Story

    Inside.com was supposed to be Web content at its best-smart, behind-the-scenes information about newspapers, magazines, the record industry, Hollywood and book and digital publishing. It was supposed to feature the kind of stories that could enliven a TriBeCa cocktail party or give a Hollywood executive a leg up. ...
  • Golden Opportunities

    Robert Downey Jr. is due back in court on drug charges at the end of the month. At stake: his professional future, his personal freedom. But such concerns aren't going to prevent the actor from appearing at the Golden Globes on Sunday night. Downey, who recently pled not guilty to felony drug possession after being arrested on Nov. 25, was nominated for his work on "Ally McBeal." He's also scheduled to appear as a presenter. Besides, anyone who's anyone in movies and television shows up at the Beverly Hilton for the Globes. No matter what.How did this second-tier awards show turn into one of the most important nights in Hollywood? It's certainly not because of the program's sponsor: The Globes are run by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, a rag-tag group of outsiders. "They're old and they smell like wool that's been in the closet too long," says an influencial publicist.Smelly judging or not, winning a Globe is viewed as a powerful portent. Eighteen of the last 25 films that...
  • The Contender

    A vibrant television host, dressed in red, is giving advice to Nancy, a member of the studio audience who says she's so involved with her children she doesn't have a life of her own. One time, Nancy tells the host, she did her daughter's entire paper route on a bike just so the girl wouldn't have to miss a school event. "[You] need to figure out what you want. Tell your daughter, 'It's your paper route'," the host instructs. The adoring audience applauds.The host isn't who you might think. It's Iyanla Vanzant, a motivational guru who's being groomed as the next Oprah Winfrey. For years the now 48-year-old best-selling author, with playful eyes and a 150-watt smile, was a regular guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," helping audience members solve problems with girlfriend humor and inspirational advice. Then Barbara Walters spotted her and persuaded her to go solo. Disney's Buena Vista Productions signed her up and made a pilot. The syndicated show, "Iyanla," will launch this fall, with...