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  • Torture Based On Sex Alone

    Rodi Alvarado Pena cleans houses for a living, thinks about her two children in Guatemala and waits. For six years she has been in the United States seeking asylum, watching her case go back and forth in a flurry of dizzying inconsistency. One judge granted her the right to stay in this country; a panel of other judges reversed that decision. The U.S. attorney general herself vacated that ruling and said the case should be decided in light of soon-to-be-released regulations. But administrations changed, the new regulations have not appeared, and Rodi cleans and worries and waits some more.The question of immigration in America is like one of those ill-fated science experiments in school that blow up with a boom. It combines a passive element, the great unyielding bureaucracy of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, with an active one, the hot-button issue of allowing foreigners residency in a land that in theory is welcoming but in practice is hostile. The question of asylum...
  • Sports: Should Football Drop-Kick Parity?

    It would be hard to conceive of a stranger NFL odyssey than that of the 1999 St. Louis Rams, a squad that went from last place in their division to Super Bowl champs--despite being led by a quarterback who had more experience bagging groceries at the Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls, Iowa, than tossing passes. Of course, that was before last season, when a linebacker for the also-ran Baltimore Ravens went, in the course of seven months, from defendant in a murder trial to Super Bowl MVP. All of which leads to the conclusion that about the only certainty in the NFL, as it opens the 2001 campaign on Sunday, is that there remain no certainties at all. And that perhaps you shouldn't bet the ranch on the Ravens to repeat.Welcome to the NFL: a world of one-shot wonders. Dynasties, as it were, are history. Gone are the juggernauts with their legendary coaches (Lombardi, Landry, Walsh), Hall of Fame quarterbacks (Staubach, Bradshaw, Montana) and inspired defenses ("The Steel Curtain," "The Doomsday...
  • In Search Of Stem Cells

    Tv crews camped out, reporters swarmed, phones rang off the hook--and employees at the year-old biotech firm CyThera, Inc., felt so besieged that they took its name off the door. The sudden attention followed the announcement by the National Institutes of Health last week that CyThera has more stem-cell colonies--nine--than anyone else in the United States. Fear that it would be targeted by anti-stem-cell activists (Operation Rescue vows to picket) was just the beginning of CyThera's woes. The obscure La Jolla, Calif., company, with only 12 employees, isn't even ready to analyze its stem-cell lines to see whether they're what researchers need, let alone supply biologists itching to get their hands on them. Warns chief scientist Lutz Giebel, "The cells are not ready to be released"--and won't be for at least a year.When President George W. Bush announced last month that there were scores of stem-cell colonies around the world that federally funded scientists would be allowed to study...
  • Venezuela: The Forces Of Disorder

    Lately, the gang known as Los Pegadores (the Hitters) had been hijacking as many as three trucks a week on the freeway that winds from Caracas down through the coastal mountain range to the port of La Guaira. But Thursday, Aug. 23, was a bad day for the highwaymen. Around noon their leader, "El Bemba" (the Mouth), and a dozen of his men staged a fake accident inside one of the freeway tunnels, forcing the driver of a Mack truck to pull over. But as they set about unloading their booty, a special undercover squad of detectives from Venezuela's judicial police arrived on the scene. Soon four hijackers lay dead, their bodies riddled with bullets; five more would meet a similar fate hours later after they fled the scene. In what the police insisted was a "shoot-out," not a single cop received as much as a scratch. The news made the front pages the following day. But, except in scale, it was business as usual for the Venezuelan police.With crime spiraling out of control in Caracas and...
  • Fear Of Flying

    The controversy surrounding Aaliyah Haughton's death in a plane crash is far from over. It turns out the 22-year-old American R&B superstar was hesitant to board the tiny Cessna from the Bahamas to Miami, Florida. One friend who was with her at the airport says Aaliyah was scared of small planes--and had been expecting a larger aircraft. The company producing her video (being shot in the Bahamas) offered to charter a private jet instead, but Aaliyah was anxious to get home to her boyfriend and enjoy her last free weekend before beginning a rigorous fall schedule.While the pilot, Luis Morales III, was unauthorized to fly the Cessna, U.S. investigators said that the plane was 700 pounds overloaded. Most of the equipment flown down to the island on two cargo planes days earlier was loaded onto this one Cessna. Investigators say the extra weight eclipsed the plane's limit, which, combined with a possibly faulty left engine, may have made the plane impossible to control.Allegations...
  • Best Feet Forward

    Joni Pelta wasn't looking forward to her trip to New York. The 42-year-old Atlantan had nothing against the city. She loved it, in fact. But she dreaded hobbling around town on a pair of aching feet. For several weeks she'd been in excruciating pain every time she walked or used the treadmill at her gym. She resisted going to a doctor; it's only my feet, she thought. Finally she paid a visit to Dr. Perry Julien, a well-known Atlanta podiatrist. His diagnosis: plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the soft tissue on the bottom of the foot. He prescribed shoe inserts and stretching exercises. After a few weeks Pelta was ready for New York. "I didn't try crossing Central Park on foot," she says, "but otherwise we did a lot of walking."By the time we're 50, estimates are we've trekked 75,000 miles--roughly three times around the globe. No wonder our feet hurt. According to a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, more than four in 10 Americans think occasional foot...
  • Books: A New Day For Ms. Millay

    Still tacked above Nancy Milford's desk in Greenwich Village is a photo of two women taken 20 years ago. One is Milford; the other's a sharp-eyed old lady with cascading white hair. It's Norma Millay, who, after years of denying other scholars, allowed Milford to plow into the thousands of letters and notebooks of her sister Edna St. Vincent Millay that form the basis of the new biography of the poet, "Savage Beauty." To call this book "long awaited" is a gross understatement: Milford first approached Norma in 1972. The author was fresh from the huge success of "Zelda," a groundbreaking biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife that brought to sympathetic light a woman who'd been buried by conventional literary history. Since then, Milford, now 63, has gone through two publishers and several editors--and is utterly unapologetic about the three decades she spent on this project. "I needed the sustaining juice of a real life," she says--a life that included three children, a divorce,...
  • Patient Power: Your Family Tree Of Life

    At 51, Irene Shephard was plagued by mood swings and sleepless nights. "Every single stereotypical thing that goes along with menopause, I had," says the Scranton, Pa., office manager. She considered hormone-replacement therapy. But would the benefits--a decreased risk of osteoporosis and possibly heart disease--outweigh the treatment's well-known breast-cancer risk? At the urging of her daughter, a genetic counselor, she traced her family's genetic tree. She confirmed her close relatives' causes of death, including sudden heart attacks in the case of both her maternal grandparents. She also had a bone scan and a lipid profile--and met with a cardiologist, a gynecologist, a nutritionist and a genetic counselor, who helped her interpret both her family tree and her test results. "The genetic counselor felt very strongly that breast cancer was not nearly as much of a risk factor as heart disease," she says. She started taking Premarin, Wyeth-Ayerst's once-a-day estrogen capsule, and a...
  • Exalted One

    She was beautiful and talented and when she died at 22, American pop music lost one of its brightest young stars. Aaliyah Dani Haughton, a hip-hop/soul singer known to her fans simply as Aaliyah ("Exalted One," in Swahili), died in a plane crash in the Bahamas on Aug. 25. Her funeral in New York last week attracted celebrities ranging from Sean Combs to Gladys Knight, while in Los Angeles, mourners paid tribute at a huge poster on Sunset Boulevard. Among Aaliyah's hits was "At Your Best (You Are Love)" - which could be her epitaph.
  • Fighting The Good Fight

    The price of war is always high, but in Hollywood it's getting downright exorbitant. The bill for "Pearl Harbor" weighed in at $135 million, and it would have been higher if Disney had paid more than $4.99 for the script. So maybe it's not surprising that HBO forked over $120 million to make its own World War II project, "Band of Brothers," which debuts Sept. 9 in the signature "Sopranos"/"Sex and the City" time slot. "Band" is a 10-hour miniseries that follows one company of Army paratroopers from D-Day to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. The cast is huge, the sets are impressive, the meteorological detail is so precise that there's even a guy on the crew whose title was "head snow man." And the executive producers are Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. How do you argue with Hanks and Spielberg about a million dollars here or there? "There really wasn't any haggling over the price," says Hanks. "There was gulping. There were red faces and fists on the table. But there's a difference between ...
  • Movies: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter

    A striking, unnerving coming-of-age film, "L.I.E." is the rare American movie that isn't afraid of ambiguity or confronting an audience's preconceptions. First-time director Michael Cuesta (who wrote the screenplay with Stephen M. Ryder and Gerald Cuesta) presents us with characters who elude our snap judgments. The 15-year-old hero, Howie (Paul Franklin Dano), is a disaffected suburban kid who's lost all the moorings in his life. His mother died in a crash on the Long Island Expressway (the L.I.E. of the title). His negligent father, a crooked contractor, is about to be hauled off to jail. His best friend, the amoral pretty boy Gary (Billy Kay), is planning to skip town for California. The only person to offer sympathy and a helping hand is a hearty ex-Marine named Big John (Brian Cox). Everyone refers to him as "a pillar of the community," but the boys know better: he's a sexual predator obsessed with underage teenage boys.The relationship between this fiftysomething man and this...
  • The Never-Ending Story

    My family and I arrived in Berlin on a memorable day: July 4, 1989, four months and five days before the fall of the Berlin wall. For me, the very name Berlin evoked deeply ambiguous emotions. I had come to be formally recognized as the winner of an international design competition to build what was then to be called the Jewish Department of the Berlin Museum. The story of the Jews of Berlin, compartmentalized into a "department"? Throughout the city's history, Jews were inseparably both German and Berliners. They were one culture. I proposed to create a Jewish museum that would manifest that fact, clear across the abyss created by the Holocaust.It was to be a very personal journey, for the spirit in which I designed the museum is very much me as a person, as a Jew, born to survivors of the Holocaust. My family was decimated by the Nazis--85 of them murdered. From my birth in postwar Poland, in Lodz, I immigrated to Tel Aviv, then to New York, where I became an American. And now,...
  • A Mormon Moment

    America's Biggest Homegrown Religion Is Looking More Christian. But It's Still A Different World
  • Perspectives

    It should have more oomph in it than this." John Williamson, partner at the Wolff-Olins brand consultancy in London, on a planned slogan for euro notes and coins which was unveiled, along with the currency, in Frankfurt, Germany, last week: "The euro: Our money""He continued to inspire all of us inside and outside prison." Former South African president Nelson Mandela, on the death of Govan Mbeki, antiapartheid activist and father of current South African President Thabo Mbeki"These people are subsistence farmers in a world that is not a subsistence world." Francisco Roque Castro, Latin America director for the United Nations World Food Program, on a drought that has wiped out crops across Central America"I'm discriminated against all the time." Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, now facing genocide charges, on the monitoring of his jailhouse conversations with family and lawyers"I am not a banana." Christine Hamilton, suspect in a sexual-assault case in London,...
  • An American Dream

    To reach New York City, Ana crawled into the United States through a moonlit drainpipe, trudged across the Arizona desert, scrunched onto the floor of a car to Los Angeles and landed at La Guardia Airport with almost nothing. She had not planned to stay long--only enough to pay back her sister the $1,000 smuggler's fee, work off some debts in Mexico and give her some space from a soon-to-be ex-husband. She couldn't imagine separating for long from her two children, left in the care of her mother.That was six years ago, and Ana (not her real name) has yet to return to Mexico. Now 35, she has climbed through the ranks of the service economy from laundrywoman to maid to a successful broker for illegal cleaning women. Last year Ana made $50,000, and because her business is off the books, the money is tax-free. Such success has not come without a price. Ana cannot go home. To her children, she is now just the things she sends home: the latest videogame, the piles of clothing and the...
  • The Secret Life Of Pop Stars

    Bjork's new album "Vespertine" takes its name from the botanical term for night-blooming flowers. It's fitting for an artist who seems to change her roles nightly--from actor to dancer to singer. The Icelandic pop star's phenomenal voice can swing with big-band orchestras or bounce with street-smart DJs. The one common thread among all her flights of fancy: a sense of wonder. She thrives on fairy-tale imagery, foraging the depths of crushed hope for one remaining shred of naive optimism.On "Vespertine," she combines delicate choral arrangements, harp, music box and strings with computer-generated static and metallic clinks and clanks. On one song she even uses the sampled crunch of footsteps in snow for rhythm. It's also her most intimate album to date. She professes her love for a boy with "magical sensitivity" in skyscraping croons and private, under-the-covers whispers. Later, she decides she must keep her deep feelings in a "hidden place," but eventually busts out with the...
  • Books: The Great Provocateur

    The go-go bars and whorehouses of Patong Beach are filled with a swarm of hulking, white-skinned Westerners. Moving through the crowds, Americans, Swedes and Australians grope the throngs--and thongs--of Thai prostitutes. Strolling along the makeshift boardwalk, Michel, a lonely and frustrated French bureaucrat on a package tour, takes in the scene. It is at that moment, writes Michel Houellebecq in his new novel, "Plateforme," surrounded by these lust-seekers, "irreproachable and full of life," that his protagonist's dark vision hits: sexual tourism is "the future of the world."Scenes like these have turned Houellebecq, 43, into the most talked-about literary sensation France has seen in 30 years. By turns furiously cynical, bitterly hopeless and, at times, surprisingly idealistic, Houellebecq's provocateur style has seized millions of readers. After the publication of his second novel, "The Elementary Particles," in 1998, Houellebecq was labeled a fascist and a misogynist--or...
  • Why The Caged Bird Sings

    Ana crawled from Nogales, Mexico, into Nogales, Arizona, through a moonlit drainpipe, trudged across the Arizona desert, then scrunched herself onto the floor of a car bound for Los Angeles. She finally landed at New York's La Guardia Airport with nothing more than the book of short stories she was reading and an ice-cream scoop. If she couldn't find work, she thought, she could always sell flavored ices on the streets of Manhattan. She hadn't planned to stay long--just long enough to repay her sister the $1,000 smuggler's fee, work off some debts in Mexico and get some distance from a soon-to-be-ex-husband. She couldn't imagine a long separation from the two children she'd left in her mother's care.That was six years ago, and Ana has yet to return to Mexico. Now 35, she has outearned most illegal immigrants by climbing the ranks of America's service economy: from laundry folder to maid to boss of a fleet of illegal cleaning ladies. Last year Ana made $50,000. But her success has...
  • Democracy In Fiji

    In May 2000, ultranationalist rebels stormed Fiji's parliament and took the country's first Indian leader hostage. For eight weeks Mahendra Chaudhry, a descendant of immigrant sugar-cane farmers, endured beatings and death threats during his country's second coup since its independence from Great Britain in 1970. To end the crisis, the military scrapped Fiji's multiethnic constitution and installed an indigenous prime minister. But Chaudhry never gave up. On Wednesday his Labor Party-the political voice of Fiji's 44 percent ethnic Indian minority-claimed victory in court-ordered elections aimed at restoring democracy in the tiny South Pacific nation of 820,000 people. Among the other winners: jailed coup leader George Speight, the swaggering businessman who toppled Chaudhry's government 18 months ago. Following his victory, Chaudhry spoke by telephone with NEWSWEEK's George Wehrfritz in Tokyo. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Politics have proven very dangerous for you. What drove you to run...
  • Questions And Answers: Cuban Vacation

    In recent years, American travel magazines have been flooded with images of vintage Chevys, hand-rolled cigars, mojitos and virgin beaches beckoning American tourists to catch a "last chance" glimpse of Cuba in the sunset days of Fidel Castro's regime. But Americans might want to think twice before booking a flight.The Bush Administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on Americans who violate the Cuba travel ban, a provision of the 40-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. This spring, the U.S. Treasury Department stepped up enforcement of the travel restrictions, sending customs agents to airports in Canada and the Bahamas to catch Americans disembarking from planes arriving from Cuba. Between May and July, the department sent letters to more than 443 people, informing them of fines averaging $7,500 for illegal visits. The Treasury Department says the surge in fines is due to a backlog in paperwork, but it marks a departure from the approach during the Clinton...
  • Can Aids Be Stopped?

    This week, AIDS Vaccine 2001, the first international conference devoted to AIDS vaccine research, kicked off in Philadelphia. In the works: a vaccine created from a livestock virus that was given to monkeys via nasal spray, a vaccine which kept the HIV virus at lowered levels after HIV patients stopped taking their antiretroviral drugs, and one which heightened immune responses in 22 of 26 patients in a study in Kenya. Funding for AIDS-vaccine research by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased by more than 600 percent in the past decade, with some $356 million allotted for 2002.NEWSWEEK's Laura Fording asked Dr. Peggy Johnston, assistant director for AIDS vaccines at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a speaker at the conference, about recent developments.NEWSWEEK: What's the current status of AIDS vaccine research?Dr. Peggy Johnston: Several dozen vaccines have advanced to the earliest-or safety-stages of clinical testing, in...
  • Between The Lines Online: Which Prominent Politician ...?

    Spare us, Oh Lord. These good men-these mensches-are threatening the very foundations of our culture, not to mention our journalism. Orthodox rabbis Irwin Katsof and Chaim Felder have enlisted an impressive roster of first-tier celebrities and concerned parents to wage war on Public Enemy No. 1: gossip. Forget global warming, AIDS in Africa or a White House that apparently thinks it would be a good thing if China develops a much larger nuclear arsenal (the better to sell missile defense in Washington). No, the real trouble is right here in River City. See, like, Ashley told Kristin that Hannah kissed Justin behind the climbing wall! And the National Enquirer prints rumors about which Hollywood marriages are on the rocks!This is not some piddling campaign. It's an elaborate Madison Avenue effort (complete with expensive subway, bus and TV ads) to change the zeitgeist and reclaim our lost virtue. A catalyst for what some theologians believe is a new "Great Awakening" of morality. A...
  • Starr Gazing: Glancing Goodbye

    When I tell folks, especially young kids and middle-age men, what I do for a living there are often squeals of delight and envious comments about what they view as my fantasy life. And amid my grumbles about too much travel, surly athletes and unreasonable editors, I confess there is some truth in that perspective.I never met a sportswriter who didn't start out as a sports fan. And even the most cynical of us recognizes that, at times, we are privileged to witness certain sports moments. For me those have included Mark McGwire's 61st and 62nd home runs, Carl Lewis's final Olympic leap, Brandi's goal and, by all means, her celebration, Kerri's gimpy vault, Paris in the thrall of World Cup victory and Michael Jordan from an incomparable courtside vantage point. But for sheer chills-up-the-spine thrills, jaw-dropping wonderment and gaping-open-mouth speechlessness, I'm not sure I ever experienced anything to rival Michael Johnson's 1996 Olympic gold medal at 200 meters in Atlanta.Even...
  • Capitol Letter: Sacrificing Gary Condit

    The Gary Condit story is no longer about one obscure congressman and the disappearance of a young woman. With the return of Congress, the media glare has shifted to the Democratic leadership in the House and whether Democrats will move to punish Condit for his role in the media maelstrom. Yet, what exactly has Condit done? He's guilty of serial adultery, which is not uncommon in Washington. And he failed to be explicit about the nature of his relationship with Chandra Levy, a woman half his age, when she was reported missing. Whether that impeded the police investigation, we don't know.If Condit is guilty of something untoward, he's handled the situation brilliantly by making sure there isn't a shred of evidence to tie him to Levy's disappearance. Yet House Democrats appear poised to take some action against him, or at least mount enough credible threats of action in the hope that Condit will wave the white flag by announcing that he will not seek another term.The leadership's...
  • Books: 'Searching For John Ford'

    While reading Joseph McBride's exhaustive new biography, "Searching for John Ford" (St. Martin's Press, $40), I decided there are two kinds of Ford fans: those who think "The Searchers" is not just one of the best Westerns ever made, not just a great John Wayne movie and not merely one of the director Ford's best movies. They think it is one of the greatest movies ever. Period. And then there are those who don't.McBride is a solid fan of this Ford film about an embittered man's hunt for his niece who's been kidnapped by Comanches in 1868. He unhesitatingly calls the movie "a masterpiece," and to bolster his case, he invokes the testimony of critics like Andrew Sarris and filmmakers like John Milius and Martin Scorsese.On the other side of the argument stand dissidents like Scott Eyman, another Ford biographer, and the critic, filmmaker and Ford buff Lindsey Anderson, perhaps the most eloquent naysayer, who called the movie "an impressive work, the work of a great director; but it is...
  • Living Politics: Embracing Fox

    It's the hottest ticket in town since the impeachment trial: an invitation to the White House state dinner for Mexican President Vicente Fox. The frenzy isn't merely about the usual scramble for social cachet, but something far more profound: the Latinization of American politics.Whatever else George W. Bush does, or doesn't do, he has earned a place in history as the first American president to place Hispanic voters at the center of politics, and the first to view the land between Canada and Guatemala as one.It makes sense, if you think about it: Texas, long ago and far away, was part of Mexico. Now a Texan is trying to reassemble the Old Country, and then some.Since World War II, presidents (and would-be presidents) have been expected to have a global perspective and to show appreciation for ethnic diversity. One way to do that was to visit the Old Countries of immigrant America. The well-worn itineraries got a name: the "Three I" trips to Ireland, Italy and Israel. Politicians...