News

  • With Friends Like These...

    At the NATO summit in Budapest, Hungary, last week, Secretary-General Lord Robertson condemned the "thugs" fighting in the hills of northern Macedonia. He meant the guerrillas of the National Liberation Army. But he could have been talking of Macedonian government forces, supported and advised by NATO and the European Union, which apparently have been beating and torturing Albanian civilians and looting and burning their homes.These are among the charges in a pair of reports last week by Human Rights Watch in New York. One documents alleged abuses by Macedonian police, charging them with "systematically separating out ethnic Albanian males" from among families fleeing the fighting, then taking them to police stations where they are severely beaten--typically with falanga, a form of torture involving hundreds of blows to the feet. A second report recounts the razing of Runica, an Albanian village of 50-odd houses, methodically burned to the ground--along with the mosque--by...
  • The Other Aids Crisis

    AIDS is not new to India. For many years the disease was confined mostly to drug users and prostitutes, which made it easier for the rest of the country to pretend it didn't exist. And with a raging tuberculosis epidemic and periodic outbreaks of the bubonic plague, there's been no shortage of health crises. But while nobody was looking, AIDS crept into the general population. Currently 0.7 percent of all adults are thought to carry the virus; health officials consider 1 percent an epidemic. Now India is at a crossroads. Even the most favorable prospect is downright chilling. Public-health officials are happy to contemplate a mere sixfold increase in infections by 2004--about 20 million adults. The alternative is even grimmer. If infections are allowed to climb beyond 5 percent of the adult population, scientists believe the chances of keeping the disease from greatly accelerating, at the cost of millions of lives, would be slim. India, in other words, is teetering on the brink of...
  • Back On The Trail Of John Doe No. 2

    In the frantic weeks following the Oklahoma City bombing, federal agents searching for "John Doe 2" fastened onto a reclusive biochemist named Steven Garrett Colbern. The Feds suspected that Colbern, known for his staunch antigovernment views, might have been recruited by Timothy McVeigh. Agents discovered a note written by McVeigh stuck to a utility pole in Kingman, Ariz. Addressed to "SC," the note read: "I'm not looking for talkers. I'm looking for fighters." But when agents found no further evidence linking the two, the FBI lost interest.Colbern, who denied ever knowing McVeigh, is just one of countless leads in the case pursued and abandoned by the FBI. Now McVeigh's lawyers want to sift them again in an effort to cast doubt on the government's case that McVeigh acted alone--and delay, or perhaps overturn, his June 11 execution. Mentions of Colbern in some of the documents the Feds turned over last month may aid the cause.Prosecutors dismiss the Colbern documents as "minutiae"-...
  • A Good Licking

    Can lollipops prevent pub brawls? Police in Leicester, England, hope so. The town last month embarked on a radical effort to keep wound-up, drunken partygoers from violently assaulting each other at closing time. As the 2 a.m. deadline nears, the clubs play children's songs from "Looney Tunes," "The Magic Roundabout" and other classics, and hand out lollipops "to occupy the hands and minds," says Police Inspector Daimon Tilley, who thought up the plan. The trial has gone well so far. "There was a lot of banter and good humor between the clubbers and the police," says Tilley. "Some people were even asking, 'Where's me lollipop?' "
  • Help In The E.R.

    Should families have easier access to patients during emergencies? A growing number of researchers say it's good medicine. "Family members can comfort patients in a way no health-care provider can, and when the patient is less scared, procedures run more smoothly," says Dezra Eichhorn, who studied the issue for the American Journal of Nursing. Although groups such as the American Heart Association and the Emergency Nurses Association now support the idea, few hospitals have formal rules on the issue. Decisions are generally left to the physician in charge. Laura Gore of the American College of Emergency Physicians says the concept is gaining ground, especially when the patients are children. "I think it needs to be done on a case-by-case basis," she says. "Some people become so distraught, we end up with two patients instead of one." Nurses' groups say problems can be minimized by having chaplains or social workers accompany families. Pat Wingert ...
  • Wanted: A Switch Of Pitch

    It was early in the game's second half when Mike Lang, hosting a Super Bowl party in football-crazed South Bend, Ind., experienced a problem on the sidelines. Lang's 2-year-old son, up after hours, was throwing a tantrum. This was a job for TiVo. With the push of a button, Lang froze the game and took the kid to bed. No one missed a play. "Until then, the Super Bowl was one of the few times all year I watched live," says Lang. He bought his TiVo in 1999, and now, he says, "I don't see how anyone lives without one."So far, almost everyone is living quite easily without one. When the first personal video recorders (PVRs) hit the market a couple of years ago, industry observers predicted that their ability to skip commercials, pause live television and record as many as 60 hours of programs on a hard drive would catch on faster than Pokemon at a preschool. It didn't happen. Consumers, it seemed, just didn't get what the machines could do. It didn't help that the recorders carried a...
  • Busted Again In Margaritaville

    About half of college freshmen admit to drinking beer, down from about 75 percent two decades ago, according to a study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. At the University of Texas, ranked No. 2 in the nation for "lots of beer" by the Princeton Review, a college guide, the party goes on. The underage drinkers who use fake IDs to patronize the many bars of Austin usually do not have to worry about being fingered by other patrons or turned in to the cops by the bartender. But the daughter of a president lives in a different world.So Jenna Bush was reminded last Tuesday at about 10:15 p.m., when the 19-year-old was caught using a borrowed ID card to buy a Margarita. She pleaded--or, according to some accounts, demanded--to be let off the hook, but the restaurant bartender reportedly replied, "You think I'm going to put my liquor license on the line for you?" The manager called 911 instead. The police arrived and two days later Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara, were...
  • My 60-Second Protest From The Hallway

    It's 8:32 a.m. school began two minutes ago. My bulging book bag is inside my first-period classroom saving my favorite seat. I am standing in the near-empty hallway, leaning against a locker right outside the classroom. I should be in class, yet my teacher has never objected to my minutelong absence, which has become a daily routine. I trace around the edges of the floor tiles with the toe of my running shoe, pausing several times to glance up at the second hand of the standard-issue clock mounted across the hall.Although I have casually checked this clock countless times during my high-school career, this year looking at it has made me think about how significant 60 seconds can be. Last spring, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a law that requires every public school in the state to set aside one minute at the beginning of each day during which students must remain seated while they "meditate, pray, or engage in any other silent activity." Every morning, at around 8:31, a...
  • Indonesia: The Next Threat To Peace

    Thousands of frenzied followers of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid massed outside Parliament in Jakarta last week. They vowed to attack the building and fight to the death to defend the embattled president. But the angry protesters made little impression on the 500 lawmakers gathered inside. For the third time, they voted overwhelmingly to censure the president--and more important, to push ahead with his impeachment on charges of incompetence. For Wahid, it may be a final blow. The legislators mandated that a special meeting of the People's Consultative Assembly (or MPR, the country's supreme political body) be held on Aug. 1. The MPR has the power to boot Wahid from office, and experts say it will almost certainly do so. "He's finished," says Jusuf Wanandi, head of the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. Adds a Western diplomat in Jakarta: "He's gone. It's hard to conceive of any survival scenario for him."Wahid dug his own grave. He never took the...
  • Dumb, Dumb, Dumb

    Why did the big deal between Alcatel and Lucent go bust? Maybe because both companies have been so messed up for so long they've forgotten how to do things right.It was billed as a romantic tale of corporate chivalry. As the French telcom giant saw things, it was riding to rescue a Lucent in distress--and could profit, too. The American telecommunications equipmentmaker was saddled in debt and burning through cash, fast. But lo, Alcatel turns out to have big problems of its own. Witness the fact that when talks broke off last week, it issued a warning that profits would fall short of expectations, sending its already battered stock down 10 percent. Then on Friday, Alcatel said it would fire 900 of its U.S. employees. Had Lucent accepted the French offer to sell out (for stock equal to Lucent's market price), its shareholders would have scored a 10 percent loss before the ink was dry. Instead of a "take-over" at a premium price, Lucent would have suffered the ignominy of a "take...
  • A 20-Year Toll

    We'd been seeing patients with fevers and weight loss, and by the spring they'd developed an unusual pneumonia. All were homosexual. A colleague and I wrote an article. Then other doctors started calling. They had cases, too.When it appeared in children and transfusion recipients, that was a turning point in public perception. Up until then it was entirely a gay epidemic. Now everyone could relate. Suddenly TV crews wanted interviews. I thought: "Where had these people been for the last year?"It seemed obvious this was a transmissable disease that spread through exchanges of bodily fluid. But condoms weren't popular--these were very liberated sexual times.One night a guy showed up at our house who said he had the cure for AIDS in an old Johnson's shampoo bottle. Ryan said: "I ain't taking that"... Was I tempted? I was more tempted by the things I was hearing in the media about new drugs... Ryan said, "Mom, they're working so hard, by the time I get really sick there will be a cure....
  • Maternity Chic

    You're nine months pregnant, en route to a black-tie affair, and the only thing that fits is a tent. What's a woman to do? Well, if you're actress Annette Bening, model Cindy Crawford or American television journalist Katie Couric, you simply call Lauren Sara, maternity-wear designer extraordinaire. Within days you'll have a smart tuxedo or beaded empire-waist gown that fits perfectly and looks fabulous. "Lauren's clothes are so elegant and comfortable," actress Natasha Richardson, mother of two, has said. "She is really the Armani of the maternity world."Not long ago finding "Armani" and "maternity" in the same sentence was about as likely as pain-free labor. Very pregnant women tended to keep low profiles, comfortably ensconced in their husbands' old work shirts. But maternity clothes are finally coming out of the closet, er, sweat-pants drawer. As more women work in high-profile jobs and keep up their demanding professional and social schedules right up to D-Day, there is a...
  • Japan: Tough-Talking Tanaka

    When she came into office in April, everyone knew that Makiko Tanaka would not be your average foreign minister. The 57-year-old politician from Niigata prefecture had gained a reputation as an obachan, a term for middle-aged Japanese women who tend not to mince words. Soon after assuming her post in the government of Junichiro Koizumi, Tanaka showed that she would disappoint neither critics nor admirers. She lashed out at her staff on everything from recent appointments to the state of her office. "Look, there is no decent world map in my room," she said. "No dictionaries. There are no clocks that show me time differences. How in the world could the former foreign ministers work here?"Nobody ever accused Tanaka of being diplomatic. During her first month in office she canceled a dinner with Argentina's foreign minister and rattled her U.S. ally. She reportedly expressed misgivings about America's missile defense scheme to Italy's prime minister. She's challenged Japan's elitist...
  • The Mystery Of The Weak Euro

    The euro is a mystery for economists. As soon as it was introduced on Jan. 1, 1999, the euro swung downward and it has remained stagnant ever since, raising concerns about its prospects for success. Perhaps we should not worry too much: after all, in the past the dollar, the mark and the yen have swung widely against each other, with only moderate impact on national inflation, employment and growth. Yet our sense of intellectual frustration is at a peak.What's going on with the euro? The available evidence does not support most conventional explanations for its stubborn weakness, including relative changes in interest rates or inflation. The thesis of a link between the strength of the dollar and the boom on Wall Street has been undercut by the drop in American stocks over the past year. And that leaves economists casting about for new explanations.One popular answer is that the euro is weak because it currently exists only as a virtual currency. Taken literally, this answer implies...
  • The Euro Panic

    Such is the specter of disaster now haunting a jittery continent. Not since the Millennium Bug came and went without biting so much as an ankle has any place seen such an outpouring of scary prognostication from smart people with serious authority. In one startling day of testimony before the European Union two weeks ago, continentwide associations of consumers, pensioners, workers and retailers used words like "scandal," "chaos" and "tragedy" to pillory the European elite for its failure to stave off what they described as an inevitable doomsday. Last week the European Federation of Accountants, not known as a bastion of apocalyptic soothsayers, complained that many businesses seem to have "no understanding of the commercial risks of not being ready," and warned of an epidemic of missed payrolls, bills, even credit-card payments. The same day the European Parliament debated a report citing the continent's "astonishing lack of preparedness" for the introduction of the euro, the...
  • Newsmakers

    Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are golfing legends, but they just got beaten by a guy who's ranked 115th on the Buy.com Tour. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, disabled golfer Casey Martin could use a golf cart when competing in PGA tournaments. Martin suffers from a debilitating circulatory disorder that has withered his right leg. The PGA, along with expert witnesses Nicklaus and Palmer, have been fighting the cart in court for three years. They've argued that walking--and the fatigue factor--is an essential part of the sport, and that they don't need the Supreme Court policing their greens. But Justice John Paul Stevens, himself a golfer, insisted that "the use of carts is not inconsistent with the fundamental character of golf. From early on, the essence of the game has been shot-making." So why not give the guy a shot?Aisle Be Damned! Ellen DeGeneres is set to play another lesbian named Ellen on TV this fall. Anne Heche,...
  • Aids At 20

    The Plague That's Killed 22 Million Isn't Done With Us Yet. While We Hunt For A Vaccine, People Continue To Die--From Aids Or The Drugs Intended To Treat It.
  • Remembering Jackie

    Jacqueline Kennedy was introduced to French couturier Hubert de Givenchy in the late 1950s by her sister, Lee Radziwill, a Givenchy client. Soon enough, Kennedy herself was a Givenchy devotee, and together the pair came up with her signature look: pastel shifts with matching coats, empire-waist dresses and boxy suits topped off with a pillbox hat. That look influenced a generation of women and is still the standard for American chic. Several of Givenchy's creations for Kennedy are now on display in the hit exhibit "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years," at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Givenchy, now 74 and retired, recently spoke in Paris with NEWSWEEK's Dana Thomas about Kennedy's style. Excerpts: ...
  • Execution Day: Letter From Oklahoma City

    A subdued group of family members, survivors and folks who "just wanted to be there" gathered at the Oklahoma City National Memorial at dawn to await the execution of Timothy McVeigh. Some sat quietly on the grassy steps overlooking the shallow reflecting pool. Others walked along the chain link "memorial fence," laden with toys, posters, pictures and other mementos of those who died. Uniformed officers escorted a few family members through a field of 168 symbolic bronze and glass chairs, each with the name of a victim etched on it. Many of the chairs are festooned with ribbons, flowers and photographs. Smaller chairs, representing the 19 child victims, are adorned with balloons and stuffed animals.There was no official ceremony or service at the memorial, which stands at the site of the decimated Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. For most of the morning, members of the media outnumbered the general public. One bombing survivor at the memorial was grateful for the media attention,...
  • How To Ace College

    There's so much focus on how to get into college these days, and not much advice about what to do once you get there. Back in the 1980s, the then Harvard president Derek Bok asked Richard J. Light, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, to study students on campus. The result of this 10-year survey is the new book "Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds" (242 pages. Harvard University Press. $24.95), which offers practical advice to school administrators, parents and, most importantly, to the students themselves. In an interview with NEWSWEEK's Alisha Davis, Light discusses how to translate good intentions into practice. ...
  • 'Our House Is On Fire'

    74,434The number, in 1999, of all black men in the U.S. who have sex with men and are infected with HIV. In 1989, that number was 11,501. By 1999, the number of Hispanic men who have sex with men and are infected was 45,867; it was 7,386 in 1989.His is a Sunday sermon the congregation does not want to hear. So when Phill Wilson steps up to the pulpit at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Los Angeles he knows he needs to shake people up. As he stares into the sea of wary black and Latino faces, Wilson tells a story about the time his brother accidentally set the house on fire, and how he and his siblings were afraid to call the Fire Department because they didn't want people to find out. Just as the congregation starts to feel comfortable with its guest speaker, Wilson--an openly gay black man and one of the country's most outspoken voices on AIDS--gets serious. "Our house is on fire!" he preaches. "The fire truck arrives, but we won't come out, because we're afraid the folks from next...
  • Lucinda Straight Up

    It bothers me that people think I'm so difficult," says Lucinda Williams, the singer-songwriter revered for her Marlboro-stained voice, vivid storytelling and stubborn unwillingness to just take things as they come. She refuses to fit in, instead carving out a niche somewhere between the converging worlds of rock, country and folk. She also refuses to settle for anything that seems less than perfect, releasing only five records in 22 years, going through band members and record labels like disposable razors and walking out of various photo and video shoots simply because "it didn't feel right."But anything less tumultuous would be disappointing. The 48-year-old's embattled persona and tough, weary demeanor is behind some of the most heart-wrenching, raw and beautiful songs in recent memory. Her last album, 1998's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," gave hope to those numbed by Nashville's modern, slick offerings and tired of rock's current creative sag. It was a breakthrough for a woman...
  • 'We've Been Kidnapped'

    It began in a concrete-block house in a sandy alley in Rafah, a hardscrabble Palestinian town at the southern edge of the Gaza Strip. Photographer Gary Knight and I had driven there last Tuesday morning to report on a worsening guerrilla war--a conflict pitting lightly armed Palestinian insurgents against Israeli troops backed by tanks and bulldozers. Squeezed into a tiny, airless room, sitting across from four masked men carrying Kalashnikov rifles, we had come to interview and photograph the self-described commander of a militant group called the Fatah Hawks. Outside, there was a sudden burst of tank fire, followed by the steady rat-a-tat of semiautomatic weapons. "Don't worry," said the commander, studying us from behind a checkered kaffiyeh that concealed everything but his dark eyes. "It's three or four houses away." As further reassurance, he had his men serve us a meal of hummus, salad and lamb kebab. The commander told us he had a message for "Bush and [British Prime...
  • Revisiting The Oklahoma City Bombing

    Some remember a deafening roar. Others recall hearing nothing at all. Years later, little Brandon Denny, who barely survived after the bomb blew a large hole in his skull, suddenly turned to his father and asked: "Dad? Do you know what that bomb sounded like?" After being told no, Brandon, now 9, supplied his recollection. "Boom! Shhhhhhhhh," he yelled, precisely imitating the blast and the powerful rush of air that followed it.Six years later, echoes of the Oklahoma City blast still reverberate for survivors, rescuers, investigators and family members of the 168 people killed in and around the Murrah Building on April 19, 1995. This past spring, NEWSWEEK decided to collect the oral histories from several of the people who witnessed the tragedy first hand. We wanted to find out how thoroughly people had healed and what sense the victims made of the effects of Timothy McVeigh's act of terrorism.We approached the task a little nervously. We'd both covered the bombing in 1995 and...
  • The Aftermath: An Oral History

    No one involved in the Oklahoma City bombing will ever forget that day or the weeks and months that followed. Both rescuers and survivors are still struggling to come to terms with the destruction and death they witnessed that day. Some have gone to therapy to deal with their trauma, others try to cope on their own.The mission statement we wrote dictated that the stories of the family members, the survivors and rescuers, would be told in the museum.... The survivors' names would be listed on the site where the Murrah Building stood in a manner separate from those who were killed. It was our task then to determine whose names should be on that wall. We wanted to make sure that we didn't leave anyone out, and we were sensitive to those who were not at work that day or those who were not injured necessarily ... and when those names first went up on the wall, there were some hard feelings. People were really upset because they thought they should be listed on the wall.... I think people...
  • The Investigation: An Oral History

    Only days after the bombing, investigators located McVeigh and arrested him as a suspect. He was convicted in 1997 and later sentenced to death.[McVeigh] was a real handsome, squared-away young man. He had a GI haircut and all these things that, being a retired Marine, I would appreciate in a person. He was very courteous and friendly.... He never got angry or vein-popping or, you know. We just talked to him casually about Waco and what happened there and how dissatisfied and discontented we were that they treated these people like they did. And then Ruby Ridge, of course. So that's probably the gist of it. A few days after we talked, then he appears here in my handgun class. He signed in that day as Tim Tuttle, so I had no idea who he was.One afternoon, a young man came in and checked in for four days. A couple of days [after that], the police came by, showed us [pictures of] two accomplices. And I have a good memory so I said, "This is Mr. McVeigh." I was told they were looking...
  • The Blast: An Oral History

    On April 19, 1995, at 9:02 a.m., an explosion ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, almost instantly reducing much of it to a pile of debris. Several hundred people were in the building at the time. In the ensuing mayhem, rescue workers frantically tried to rescue people from the rubble. The following are personal accounts of those hours after the bombing.As I was falling I was wondering what was going on. Was I dying? It sort of seemed as if we were in "The Twilight Zone".... I'm sure that it probably took three or four seconds to hit the ground, but it felt more like 30 minutes because so many things were going through my mind. I was thinking about my family, my mother and father, my wife, my son, brothers and sisters.... I remembered something that my mother always told us when we were growing up: "Always wear clean underwear, clean socks, and carry a handkerchief in your pocket." Of course, I was wearing clean underclothes. It just amazed me how...
  • Why Mcveigh Failed

    Is Timothy McVeigh a symptom of a sickness in the American soul? With the Oklahoma City bomber scheduled to be executed on June 11, many undoubtedly are wondering how our nation could have produced a man who would slaughter 168 innocent people and maim hundreds more to make a warped political point. But to those who see this man as a symbol of a national psyche gone terribly wrong, I would say the opposite. To me, McVeigh is the bizarre exception that proves a heartening truth-that America is much finer and much healthier than he, or the cynics, believe.In the wake of last year's tumultuous presidential election, we have seen a great deal of brow-furrowing about a "divided America." We are supposedly split by race, by class, by region, by politics, even along secular and religious lines. Some on different sides of those divides prefer to wallow in bitterness and suspicion. When the Census Bureau reported the results of the first national head count of the new millennium, the...
  • 'Conversations With Hugh Downs'

    ABC's herky-jerky scheduling of Barbara Walters's newsmagazine show "20/20" for the next television season ignited howls of protest among news-division associates at the Disney-owned network last month. But Hugh Downs, Walters's former "20/20" coanchor, wasn't surprised by the legendary newswoman's treatment, which includes moving her from Friday to Wednesday and even possibly booting "20/20" off the air for several weeks next fall to accommodate an entertainment series."It's a shame. I wouldn't have blamed Barbara if she had bailed out," Downs recalled over lunch this week at New York's Four Seasons hotel.After 21 years in the seat beside Walters and six decades as a broadcast personality, Downs left ABC in 1999, having become disenchanted with television news. At age 78 then, he didn't retire to his home in Arizona. He landed instead landed in a somewhat unlikely place-cyberspace. Downs joined iNEXTV, a New York-based Internet company specializing in streaming video. For the past...
  • Out With The Cosmo. In With The 'Ruby'

    During the first three seasons of HBO's "Sex and the City," the show's thirtysomething glam girls spent their time joyfully on the prowl, ducking behind hedges with gardeners, experimenting with battery-powered bedmates and exploring the possibilities of sex on firetrucks and swings. In the course of these antics, they scripted a new pop-culture image of the single woman as financially independent, successful and sexually self-assured, with more to do on a Saturday night than cry into a pint of Haagen-Dazs. Last month, Oprah Winfrey introduced the cast as the women who "brought a whole new status to being single."But in this season's first episode, "single" was suddenly rewritten as "lonely." "Society views single people our age as sad and pathetic," Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) lamented after attending an awkward engagement party where she and Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) were repeatedly confronted with the question, "Seeing anyone special?" A few lines could have been scripted by the...

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