Rod Nordland

Stories by Rod Nordland

  • Mostar: A Glimpse Of Hell Frozen Over

    THERE ARE TWO strategies for staying alive if you're a Muslim in Mostar. Hunker down in the basement all day and come out for food and water at night, when the Croatian shelling starts. Or stay in the basement all night and come out during the day, when the Croatian snipers go to work. In a community of 55,000 with an average daily toll of two dead and 10 wounded, that's not much of a choice. Besieging troops of the Croatian Defense Council (HVO), together with Serb forces, have had the Muslims surrounded since early May. More shells are hitting Muslim-held Mostar these days than Sarajevo, which is six times as populous. Bloody water flows in the gutter of the main street as bodies are washed for burial. Hardly a moment goes by without the sound of gunfire or explosions, and international aid workers visit only in armored cars. As a result, relief aid gets in only sporadically. Some people starve because they simply can't survive the dash to the food-distribution points, a pet...
  • 'Let's Kill The Muslims!'

    THE VILLAGERS OF STUPNI DO knew something was wrong when Anna Likic, the only Croatian resident and the wife of a Muslim, suddenly disappeared with all her children. Word travels fast in this tiny mountain hamlet in central Bosnia, a farming and sheep-grazing community of 250 people, most of whom are related and share a common surname. When the first mortar shell hit, 36 men of military age grabbed their hunting rifles and their few AK-47s and manned the bunkers they had dug along the edges of the village. But no one expected the ferocious artillery pounding that followed. Quickly overwhelmed, Stupni Do's defenders retreated to a couple of houses. There they spent the day trying to hold off 600 Croatian nationalists--and protecting the 100 women and children who huddled together in the basements of the two homes. ...
  • Next, A Tougher Stand On Birth Control

    As a Polish Archbishop, he criticized the libertine communist state for legalizing divorce, abortion and birth control. As a member of a Vatican review panel, he signed the minority report that became the basis for "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 papal encyclical that banned the pill and other "artificial" methods of regulating birth as contrary to "nature." And as Pope John Paul II, he is more convinced than ever that his long-held views on human sexuality should be enshrined as an unambiguous doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. ...
  • Waiting For Spring In Sarajevo

    A tardy spring has finally come to Sarajevo-and with it, the illusion of renewal. The trees that once blanketed the city are gone, cut down for firewood. But here and there are flashes of green, as Sarajevans begin planting tiny gardens on their terraces, "Every morning I wake up at 5 a.m. and rush out to see if there's any result," says Senada Kreso, a government press director. Sidewalk cafes have opened up all over town, usually on the shady side of streets to confound snipers, who themselves have decided to give civilians a break--claiming only five to 10 victims a day in a recent week. People look good, slim and often stylish; some blocks are reminiscent of tranquil European avenues. ...
  • Throwing The Bums Out

    The San Vittore prison in Milan may not be the most beautiful of Italy's landmarks, but these days it is certainly the most notorious. Television crews keep a round-the-clock vigil on its high red walls. Crowds gather quickly in the street outside whenever the police radio flashes the code message "Mike Papa." That stands for Operazione Mani Pulite--Operation Clean Hands-and it means that yet another of Milan's high and mighty is on the way to jail, caught by the city's prosecuting magistrates in an ever-widening anti-corruption dragnet. When police cars arrive, sirens blaring, onlookers jostle to see which well-heeled politician or businessman sits handcuffed in the back seat this time. Sometimes the crowds cheer. Sometimes they throw coins and shout "Thieves!" It has become the lifestyle of Milan's rich and famous. "The people you used to see at La Scala on opening night you now see at San Vittore," says Roberto Mongini, a Christian Democrat who admits taking kickbacks and has...
  • The Mullahs Vs. Modernization

    The news anchor on official Iranian TV broke the recent story of seven dead in a train crash outside Teheran. There was a bright side, though: a fatal train accident the same day in Gary, Ind. "Even in America," said the anchor, "trains collide." Observed a local viewer, "It's like they're keeping score: 'It's Iran 1, America 1'." ...
  • Brother Vs. Brother

    Foreign troops are once again attacking Kurds in northern Iraq, but this time there's no likelihood of Western intervention-unless it's to help the attackers. The roads built by U.S. military engineers to carry supplies to starving refugees are now carrying Turkish tanks into the same mountain redoubts between Cucurka and Zakho. The planes taking off from bases Americans once used are carrying bombs, not food packets-and dropping their loads over Kurdish-held border villages. ...
  • Slavery

    Suleika mint Barka, 10, missed her mother. She was removed to Nouakchott, the capital, in her master's custody, leaving the rest of her family at a Bedouin camp deep in the Mauritanian desert. From there the master drove the girl to a remote oasis and sold her to another Bedan (white) named Muhammad for the price of four camels. There was nothing anyone could do about it. ...
  • The 'Velcro Don': Wiseguys Finish Last

    The vainglory of John Gotti was so great that when anonymous Juror No. 1 stood up and responded to a reading of the first count of murder with the word "proved, " the Teflon Don's head snapped back like he'd been shot in the face. While Juror No. 1 went on and intoned "proved " and "guilty " on each of the other 43 federal charges of racketeering, multiple murders, loan sharking, gambling and even jury tampering, Gotti regained his composure - and his wiseguy smirk. Still, in that initial instant in federal court in Brooklyn, it was clear he really believed he would overcome this fourth try to jail him for the rest of his life. ...
  • Deadly Lessons

    Kids With Guns Are Setting Off An Arms Race Of Their Own Across The Country--As A Double Murder In A New York High School Showed. Are Schools Doomed To Become Free-Fire Zones?
  • Were The Deals Worth It?

    America got the last of its 17 hostages back from Lebanon in time for Christmas. Here are only some of the direct and indirect costs: two American officials murdered in Lebanon; at least one terrorist freed in France; eight Western hostages murdered; 91 Arab prisoners released by Israel; $278 million released to Iran, and now implicit recognition given to the kidnappers by their own United Nations intermediary. Then there was the Iran-contra scandal: one national-security adviser and seven other U.S. officials indicted; the sale of untold tons of prohibited arms and a humiliating gift of a cake. Rarely if ever has the freedom of so few hostages cost so much. When Fidel Castro gave up 1,179 Bay of Pigs hostages, he got $53 million in U.S. humanitarian aid and an enduring blockade. Saddam Hussein turned over more than 10,000 Western hostages last Christmas, and still found himself on the business end of a war. But the terrorists in Lebanon, NEWSWEEK sources say, can now walk away,...
  • Saddam's Secret War

    A journey through Kurdistan is like turning over a succession of stones in the rubble of Saddam Hussein's secret war against the Kurds. From 1988 to 1990, not satisfied with having defeated the Kurdish guerrillas, the Peshmerga, Saddam went on a mostly undocumented rampage to wipe Kurdish villages from the map. The Kurds have said he used chemical weapons on hundreds of villages, and systematically blew up and bulldozed thousands more. Then he rendered their fields unworkable with land mines and their orchards unproductive with chemical defoliants. "I was in Sweden telling people this," says Karim Sanjari of the Kurdish Democratic Party, "and nobody would believe it. It's something incredible, like from ancient history." Now, with nearly a third of Kurdistan in allied hands, and the rest split between Peshmerga guerrilla and Iraqi government control, outsiders can see for themselves. ...
  • 'Bushistan': At The Edge Of A Quagmire?

    In northern Iraq, Saddam Hussein is a figure of ridicule. The allies are busy building what will by this week become a major air base-on the dictator's former private airstrip. In the same valley, Saddam had razed all the Kurdish villages and built three major palace complexes for himself and his cronies; his summer palace outside the town of Sirseng has a five-mile-long wall around it. Now the palace is in the middle of the allied security zone, and Americans have surrounded the Iraqi Republican Guards who remain there. The Iraqis cook over campfires and supplement meager rations with fruit picked from the trees. They wave at passing Americans. "How do you like my palace?" jokes one. "It's mine now." ...
  • The End Of The Great Satan?

    One of the many streets in Teheran named after terrorists is Ahmad Ghasir Avenue, honoring the truck-bomb driver who destroyed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. An American who was walking there recently was stopped by an Iranian engineer, a man who had once supported the revolution. "I apologize for this," he said. "We're ashamed to see our best avenues named for killers." Friday prayers at the University of Teheran are introduced by a radical mullah, Haj Husseini, who has an apparently inexhaustible supply of anti-American rhetoric. "All Muslims must hate the U.S.A.," he said on a recent Friday. "The Black House is the source of all evil." An Iranian listening just shrugged: "We call him the minister in charge of slogans." Even parliamentarians in the radical-dominated Majlis (whose secretary is one of the student radicals who seized the American Embassy) voice an occasional complaint. Said one deputy: "We can't keep feeding our people on slogans." ...