Malcolm Beith

Stories by Malcolm Beith

  • Terrifying Tally

    The world was horrified last year when British general practitioner Dr. Harold Shipman was found guilty of killing 15 patients, and sentenced to life in prison. Last week the terror took on new proportions, as Britain's Department of Health reported he may have been responsible for as many as 236 deaths. He's already regarded as one of Britain's most prolific murderers; the tally would make him the world's biggest serial killer. The estimates have sparked outrage from the victims' relatives, who are now pressing for an apology from Shipman. And Britain's High Court is now carrying out an investigation into all deaths of his patients who died under "suspicious circumstances." Shipman, known as "Dr. Death," won't necessarily be safe behind bars either--if evidence of these other murders is brought to light, he may well face another trial.

    Ballerina Tanaquil Le Clercq enthralled both audiences and George Balanchine in the '40s and '50s. She became his fourth wife and inspired him to create numerous ballets for her. Paralyzed by polio at the height of her career, she went on to teach and write books. She died last week at 71.William P. Rogers, 87, was attorney general under Dwight Eisenhower and secretary of State for Richard Nixon. He later headed an investigation of the Challenger explosion.Jose Greco, who brought flamenco dancing to America's attention, died last week at 82. Born in Italy, he moved at the age of 9 to Brooklyn, where he began to master the art that propelled him to star roles in "Carmen" and his best-known work, "El Cortijo."

    Remember the eurocrisis? Last autumn it looked like the single European currency, which had drifted steadily downward from its January 1999 launch, was set for a freefall. But now that America's go-go economy is starting to flag, making the dollar appear less invincible, the little currency that could is stealthily inching back up. Last week, after debuting in Greece, the euro reached 95 cents, the highest level since July.So the worst it over, right? "Actually, the best is over," argues Steven Englander, currency economist with Citibank in London. After all, the euro is still hostage to what goes on across the Atlantic. And with Fed Chairman Alan Green- span dropping his bombshell of a rate cut last week to fend off recession, Englander and other pundits think the United States may look bleak for only a couple of quarters. With the European economy poised for a slowdown of its own, it probably won't be long before market players start betting on the dollar again.
  • E-Griculture

    Two British farms have set up plots online. Somerset Farm Direct lets you pick the tastiest lamb from a photo gallery. Details of the chosen one are posted -- what it was fed, even its date of slaughter. Or try, where 495 [pound sterling] will buy a vegetable patch for a year -- with weekly photos of growth, and delivery of the greens. The choice is yours: pay from 91 [pound sterling] to silence your lamb, or stare at your monitor and watch the grass grow -- but with a much clearer conscience.
  • Let There Be Light

    A room with a view: Light burst into the recently restored Reading Room in the British Museum in London last week as the highly anticipated new glass dome was opened to the public
  • Majority Rules

    Joseph Estrada never pretended to be a saint. Last week, two years after the former movie star was elected president of the Philippines, his Senate impeachment trial began. The high-living Estrada, 63, was accused of taking nearly $11 million in payoffs and kickbacks, some of which he allegedly spent on a gaudy mansion for one of his mistresses. A check for $2.8 million, thought to have been deposited by Estrada under an alias, was brought in as trial evidence, but he maintains his innocence. And with a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate needed to convict him, the good times could roll again.
  • The End For An Odd Couple

    We should have known they'd be star-crossed lovers. For years Prime Minister Tony Blair and Tory dowager Margaret Thatcher were fiscally conservative soulmates. But last week, on the 10th anniversary of her fall from power, they broke up bitterly. Thatcher accused Blair of "monumental folly" for his decision to support the creation of a military rapid-reaction force by the 15 EU nations. The proposition has also been blasted by other Conservative Party critics, who claim that it will undermine the influence of NATO in Europe--an allegation dismissed by both Blair and U.S. officials. After so many years of agreement, Blair has apparently decided that Thatcher's intransigence on European issues has caused her to outlive her usefulness. "We are in a new era," he said last week, announcing that "the time of Margaret Thatcher" is over.
  • Breathe Freely

    Garlic lovers may have a better chance at getting dates in the future. Scientists in northern Italy have discovered a solution to the perennial problem of garlic breath: the herb could lose its allicina, the substance responsible for the offending odor, without losing its taste. If the new herb is successful, we might appreciate the ability to eat garlic-laden foods while trying to impress, but lamentably, baking garlic bread would never be the same.
  • Winning Ugly

    Last week Japanese politics got ozomashii--ugly. Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori staved off a parliamentiary no-confidence motion as Liberal Democratic Party rebels abandoned support for an opposition bid to oust him. But victory wasn't sweet. According to the Japanese media, LDP Secretary-General Hiromu Nonaka allegedly promised future posts and threatened disloyal colleagues with expulsion, and pro-Mori fixers were offering up to $1 million to secure key votes. Then, only days after the vote, Nonaka said the public still lacks confidence in the prime minister. Observers think Mori's days are numbered--he's only hanging on until the LDP finds a strong leader to replace him. Until then, Japanese politics, like those in Florida, could well remain ugly.
  • I Aid The Walrus...

    Walruses in the Moscow Zoo have infected tusks. If untreated, the condition could be lethal. In April Peter Kertesz will head to Russia to help. PERI checked in:I'm one of the few tusk dentists in the world, but I've worked with everything from aardvarks to elephants to gorillas to zebras. This will be my first time with walruses, though.Walruses fracture their tusks on the concrete floor of their cages. We'll be removing both tusks from 10 walruses. It's a complicated operation because they're so big. But walruses are very nice animals.
  • Bacon-Free

    Many of Britain's Muslims want Winnie the Pooh's partner Piglet removed from paraphernalia and clothing at baby-gear chain Mothercare, as Islam deems pigs unclean. "I do not want my children playing with him," said one shopper. But stores probably won't make the cut. "Piglet is an integral part of Winnie's friends. How could we possibly dump him?" said Mothercare. Not even religion can break up this friendship.
  • A Matter Of Execution

    Germany and the United States are battling over an issue of life and death. Early this year German brothers Karl and Walter LaGrand were executed in Arizona for a 1982 murder without being granted the right to foreign legal representation. Last week in The Hague, World Court hearings began on the fairness of their trial. German government lawyer Gerhard Westdickenberg told the court that foreigners run the risk of being executed without "proper" help, adding that at present 24 Germans are in U.S. jails without having been advised of their consular rights. As for the LaGrand brothers, Arizona Attorney General Janet Napolitano admits the state denied them their legal rights.While U.S. officials acknowledge the mistake, they claim Germany has a bigger agenda than justice. James Thessin, the lawyer leading the U.S. delegation, thinks the German government's lawsuit is a ruse to "litigate the law itself." It's a valid point. Most European nations find the death penalty barbaric--the...
  • Fire In The Mountain

    The underground cable-car catastrophe that shook the Austrian Alps on Oct. 11 and claimed 155 lives is still a mystery. Investigators have determined that the fire started at the rear end of the train, and there is speculation that it was triggered by hydraulic fluid ignited by a hot brake or a spark from a shorted wire. Critics have attacked cable-car operators as well as Austria's fire regulations, which are considerably weaker than neighboring Switzerland's. The cable car's doors could not open from inside, there weren't enough fire extinguishers on-board, and the tunnel had neither emergency lighting nor a sprinkler system. The Austrian cable-car industry has denied charges of neglecting safety standards to keep costs down, but authorities are already revising regulations. Operators at another Austrian resort added emergency hammers and breathing gear to driver compartments last week.
  • To Boldly Go Out Of Service

    After a 14-year endurance run, Russia's Mir space station has had its last days in the sun. Moscow decided last week that it would not "play Russian roulette," as one official put it, with the rickety, rusting orbiter. Stripped of its crew and salvageable equipment, the 140-ton station will be sent into a controlled dive in late February. It will break into thousands of fragments, and most of them will burn up on re-entry. Chunks weighing as much as 1,700 pounds are expected to splash down harmlessly in the South Pacific. But getting satellites back to earth is a risky business. When NASA brought down its Skylab station in 1979, it aimed for the South Atlantic--and hit western Australia.
  • Aping Motion

    In a lab in North Carolina, an owl monkey thinks about grabbing a piece of fruit. His brain cells send electric messages to his muscles. He lifts his furry arm--and a nearby robot arm simultaneously mimics the movement. With this small gesture, the monkey has proved that primate brainwaves can control complex robotic motion. It's not an isolated accomplishment; scientists hope that this work will one day help paralyzed people operate prosthetic limbs. And it could also deepen our understanding of how the brain works, says Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis, who reported the owl-monkey research in last week's issue of the journal Nature. Several labs are working on chips that may eventually allow patients' brains to control robots through radio transmitters. Nicolelis also says doctors may one day replace injured nerve cells with silicon chips. Those advances could be the first of many to help scientists piece together the symphony in the brain.
  • Surviving A Legend

    Oscar Wilde's wit and flamboyance lived on when he died on Nov. 30, 1900, penniless and disgraced. NEWSWEEK spoke to his grandson, 55-year-old Merlin Holland--who has just published "The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde"--about Wilde's legacy and his infamous aphorisms. ...
  • Speaking Easy

    Died: Thakamile Mankahlana, the popular presidential spokesman for both Nelson Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa. The outgoing speaker developed excellent relations with the media during his short but successful career, always willing to engage in off-the-record debates. He died last week at the age of 36.Appointed: Ruud Lubbers, former prime minister of The Netherlands, as the new United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
  • Human Equality

    Australian aboriginal human-rights activist Charles Perkins was seen as his country's counterpart to Martin Luther King, leading a campaign for reconciliation between the races over the last four decades. He led freedom marches and bus rides through racist regions of the country in his quest for equality. Perkins, 64, died last week.When Broadway was still the hottest entertainment around, dancer Gwen Verdon was the sexiest thing on two feet--particularly as the irresistibly devilish Lola in "Damn Yankees." Verdon died last week at the age of 75.From 1955 to 1981, James C. Jones lent a unique perspective to NEWSWEEK's auto-industry coverage. A former Detroit bureau chief, he was 77.
  • Freedom!

    Often referred to as "The Father of the Nation," 63-year-old Scottish politician Donald Dewar helped to shape the future of his country by committing to devolution long before the idea picked up steam in Britain. Elected to the House of Commons in 1966, Dewar remained in Parliament for most of his career, fighting for the Labour Party in its many years in opposition. During the 1980s he helped steer the factioned party back into the political mainstream, and was rewarded when his party finally regained power in 1997. The pinnacle of his career came in 1999, when he became first minister of the first Scottish Parliament in almost 300 years. Dewar died last Wednesday in Edinburgh.
  • A New Spin On An Old Chore

    A recently opened art exhibit is encouraging Berliners to air their dirty laundry. "Weiss 104" ("White 104") features 104 fully functioning washing machines set on a lawn outside Chancellor Gerhard Schroder's offices. The message? "This installation combines the attempt to whitewash history with the symbolism of washing clothes," said Filomeno Fusco, one of two artists who created the exhibit. Dozens of Berliners have stopped by for a free wash. But politicians have avoided it. Why? Says Fusco, "They're afraid of [the] political message."
  • Dog Patchers

    Ambulance drivers are used to dealing with hairy situations, but not like this. Madrid is experimenting with a new emergency service: vet-staffed ambulances to rescue injured animals in the city's streets. With more than 110,000 dogs in a city of 3 million people, animal accidents, most of which are traffic-related, finally became too much for Madrid's authorities to ignore. The new service offers everything a hound about town could ever need to get back on its paws--stretchers, oxygen tanks, cages and muzzles. Now that's universal health care.
  • How Old?

    This fall's kiddie fashions redefine getting picked up at school. Vinyl pants and leopard prints prowl adult runways, and stores like Gap Kids are peddling miniature versions of the mature styles. "What Britney Spears wears, that's what [our customer] buys," says a Limited Too spokesman. One school principal, Rochelle Friedman, thinks "the world is making kids grow up too fast." That may be what a girl wants, but parents may have other ideas.
  • Mind The Gap

    While Prince William is off in the jungles of Belize, hundreds of thousands of European students will be hitting the backpack trail, choosing the so-called gap year squashed between high school and university. Advice for fretting parents: avoid the first-aid kit and phone card. Way passe. Here's what today's kids need to do, know and have:1.Post adventures on a Web site. Friends and family can log on and keep up with your pace. 2.Print out pages from Saves you from lugging around a travel library. 3.Digital camera: e-mail pix home and save on postage (and film). 4.Keep a diary--on a handheld computer. Take a stash of batteries to keep everything juiced.
  • Daljit's New Star Power

    Daljit Dhaliwal, the 37-year-old anchor for British-based ITN's overseas World News program, has a huge cult following in America. Her beauty prompted David Letterman to begin chanting her name every night on his show back in June. There are even bumper stickers in Montana that celebrate her. But in Dhaliwal's home country of Britain, she is a relative unknown. That should change pretty soon though--she recently became one of the featured newscasters on ITN's British 24-hour news channel. ...
  • Dressed To Kilt

    Even highlanders follow fashion. Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers, based in Scotland, now produces "21st Century Kilts," with pockets for modern necessities like mobile phones. Designer Howie Nicholsby sees the evolution as a means of tapping into the youth market. "[The kilt] is free and fun." His pleated skirts come in various materials--from the traditional wool tartan to PVC. And for male buyers too shy to purchase in person, the kilts are also available online. Robert the Bruce never had it this easy.
  • That Dress

    When "Friends" actress Jennifer Aniston married Brad Pitt in Malibu, California, last month, she called on Lawrence Steele, a young, little-known American designer in Milan, to make her wedding dress. Steele, who had also dressed Aniston for the Oscars, whipped up a sexy pearl-encrusted chiffon halter gown that has catapulted him into the fashion and celebrity spotlight. ...
  • Seal Slaughter

    If seal cubs weren't so cute, there might not be such a fuss over their slaughter. Southern African wildlife groups are outraged over the Namibian government's recent doubling of the annual quota for seal culling along its Atlantic coast. The slaughtering, which began last week, will see 60,000 seal pups and 7,000 bulls killed before the season ends on Nov. 15. The government says the seal population has boomed to a million, and the cash-strapped desert nation must responsibly exploit all its renewable resources. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has charged that the hunt is "cruel and inhumane." The response? Namibia's Fisheries minister sent a local newspaper recipes for seal meat.
  • 21St-Century Royalty

    Grand old mum: On Friday, Britain's Queen Mother celebrated her 100th birthday in style. More than 40,000 well-wishers gathered to view her celebratory wave, seen here as she arrived at London's Buckingham Palace with her grandson Prince Charles.
  • Cyberguilt

    Fed up with a life of crime? Retire to the Web. Members of one of Argentina's most notorious crime gangs are using it to confess their guilt. Their Web site, be launched Sept. 1--will contain previously unpublished details of their criminal escapades, thought to include 30 armed raids. But why go public--to reduce their sentences or free their imprisoned members? No, says Dr. Ernesto Vissio, one of the heads of the legal office defending the gang. "The site contains a positive message for youngsters from all those who took a wrong turn, saying crime doesn't pay."