Tony Dokoupil

Stories by Tony Dokoupil

  • Lisa Nowak’s Strange Spacewalk

    Lisa Nowak is still in orbit. The space shuttle astronaut was transformed from local hero to intergalactic spectacle last February, following a madcap, diaper-clad, 900-mile drive she made to confront—and, police say, assault—a romantic rival with pepper spray. Now, Nowak is back in the news, after the Florida State Attorney’s Office released a transcript of her interview with authorities the day she was apprehended. According to the 72-page document (Part 1, Part 2), she tells police that she only pursued Navy Captain Colleen Shipman to ask if she was aware of Nowak’s relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. Both women were involved with Oefelein over the last year: Nowak as a shuttle mate/maybe girlfriend, Shipman as a friend/maybe lover. The transcript doesn’t resolve the nature of the relationships in this mysterious triangle. It does, however, offer a few new elements of intrigue and titillation to the story line, interspersed with enough fast and fractured dialogue to...
  • Lisa Nowak's Strange Spacewalk

    Lisa Nowak's fate is still in orbit. The space shuttle astronaut was transformed from local hero to intergalactic spectacle last February, following a madcap, 900-mile drive she made to confront—and, police say, assault—a romantic rival with pepper spray. Now, Nowak is back in the news, after the Florida State Attorney’s Office released a transcript of her interview with authorities the day she was apprehended. According to the 72-page document (Part 1, Part 2), she tells police that she only pursued Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman to ask if she was aware of Nowak’s relationship with shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. Both women were involved with Oefelein over the last year: Nowak as a shuttle mate/maybe girlfriend, Shipman as a friend/maybe lover. The transcript doesn’t resolve the nature of the relationships in this mysterious triangle. It does, however, offer a few new elements of intrigue and titillation to the storyline, interspersed with enough fast and fractured dialogue to rival...
  • Exclusive: Michael Moore's Legal Troubles

    Controversy trails Michael Moore like a shadow—or is that the other way around? The lefty filmmaker, whose “Roger & Me,” and “Bowling For Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” all put pins in the proverbial cushion of power, is needling people again—this time with “Sicko,” his sardonic attack on the American health-care system. Moore has been playing both offense and defense in the run-up to the film’s partial release this Friday in New York and Los Angeles, promoting his film on the talk circuit, speaking out on health-care issues, and deflecting charges that his documentary violated standards of objectivity and professional conduct.The film’s final section has Moore in the hottest water: he leads about eight rescue workers who became sick after 9/11 on a pilgrimage through old Havana, where they buy prescription drugs cheaply and receive free health care, courtesy of Cuba’s socialized medicine. Moore’s not-subtle message: why can’t these folks afford this kind of treatment back...
  • Why Michael Moore Helped Save Enemy Site

    Jim Kenefick, 36, is the founder of Moorewatch.com, one of the Web's most visited anti-Michael Moore sites. So imagine Kenefick's surprise when he received a friendly voice mail last month—from Moore himself, calling from the Cannes Film Festival premiere of his agitprop documentary “Sicko.” The lefty filmmaker had two things to tell his cybercritic. First, he wanted Kenefick to know that he and his Web site appear prominently (albeit anonymously) in “Sicko,” his soon-to-be-released attack on the American health-care industry. In the film, Moore shows several of Kenefick’s blog posts where he pleads for money to keep MooreWatch.com alive because his wife's medical bills (Kenefick says she has a neurological disorder) have almost bankrupted him. He is saved at the last minute when a mysterious donor sends a $12,000 check, enough to keep the site going and pay insurance premiums for a year—which brought Moore to his second point. Before the world found out from his film, the filmmaker...
  • Plant Fuel

    In an age of anxiety over oil and climate change, hydrogen has been touted as a potential alternative energy source. The problem has been where to get the hydrogen. Extracting it from fossil fuels is easy but nonrenewable. Taking it from plants is elaborate, time-consuming and expensive. In today’s issue of the journal Science, Lanny Schmidt, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and his team of graduate student announced a new process of extracting hydrogen from soy-bean oil that is as easy as getting it from fossil fuels. The research might one day lead to a car that runs on grass clippings or wood chips. NEWSWEEK’s Tony Dokoupil interviewed Schmidt by telephone. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Why was it important to discover a faster process for producing hydrogen from plant matter?Lanny Schmidt: More than just important, faster processes underpin the goal of turning biomass [plant matter] into a renewable fuel source. That’s like the holy grail of renewable...
  • Bringing the Green Revolution to Africa

    The Green Revolution happened in most parts of the world back in the middle of the 20th century, but it has not yet reached the continent of Africa. Last week the Rockefeller Foundation, one of America's largest private philanthropies, committed $50 million to a five-year program to increase the productivity of Africa's small farmers, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also put up $100 million. This "Alliance for a Green Revolution" aims to replicate the success of Rockefeller-led programs in Asia and Latin America during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, which helped many nations of the region kick-start a productive agricultural sector. Those earlier programs, critics say, made the mistake of relying too heavily on a rapid modernization of local agriculture, which lead to overuse of pesticides, over reliance on single crops and other problems. This time around, the foundation plans to take a more varied approach in nurturing small farms. NEWSWEEK'S Tony Dokoupil spoke with Judith...
  • A Grim Calculation

    Sociologist John Hagan completed his book “Justice in the Balkans,” a critical look at the Hague Tribunal and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, just as violence erupted in Sudan’s western province of Darfur in 2003. Now more than three years later, the Northwestern University professor has turned to correcting historical errors in real time. His study, coauthored with University of Wisconsin professor Alberto Palloni and to be published tomorrow in the journal Science, provides the first rigorous estimate of the death toll in Darfur. The two scientists found that 200,000 to 400,000 people have died since violence began, rather than the tens of thousands widely reported in the media.The war-torn environment of Darfur has made accurate estimates difficult to come up with. To arrive at their tally, Hagan and Palloni drew on a wide range of previous studies and surveys performed in West Darfur. These include the World Health Organization’s survey of people in displacement camps,...