• Tuberculosis: A Deadly Return

    If an evil scientist wanted to concoct a perfect environment for spreading disease, he would do well to study the New York City Criminal Courts Building in Brooklyn. The basement houses 10 "pre-arraignment holding pens," where, on a typical day, more than 200 suspects contend for standing room as they wait to be charged with offenses ranging from turnstyle-jumping to murder. Cramped and windowless, each 10-by-15-foot cage holds at least a dozen detainees, many of them homeless, drug-addicted and sick. Thousands pass through the pens each month, some staying two or three days before returning to the streets or moving on to prison or jail. Yet no one screens them for conditions that might pose a health hazard. One of the city's few concessions to disease control, a ventilation system installed in 1932, hasn't worked for at least six years. A huge fan pushes the same fetid air through the cages day and night. ...
  • Grande Dame, Grand Deeds

    When Brooke Astor visits even the neediest recipients of her philanthropy, she wears haute couture and jewels, she says, because "people expect to see Mrs. Astor, not some dowdy old lady. "And she didn't disappoint the 2,500 guests at her 90th-birthday fete in New York last week. Henry Kissinger, Barbara Walters and others paid up to $2,500 a plate to benefit the Citizens Committee for New York City. All praised the guest of honor: "She's what I want to be when I grow up," said Joan Rivers. Doesn't everybody?
  • Video Verite

    It may not win any awards, but a new video called "The Fine Art of Dumpster Dining" aims to save lives. Produced by Project Dignity, an Orange County, Calif., activist group, the video provides health and safety advice for the homeless who must forage for food. Among the tips: stay away from meat and milk, which may be contaminated by bacteria; look for fruit and vegetables with thick, unbroken skin; watch out for the broken glass and bleach many restaurants pour on discarded food to discourage scavengers. "It's an art to stay well and continue the activity," says project director Linda Dunlap.
  • Money Talks

    Bribery has always been a way of life in Russia. Now, with shortages more severe than ever, there's a new "how to" book with tips on whom to pay off and how much. Authors Ryurik Povileiko and Ivan Stepanov recommend bribes from 10 rubles (or a bottle of vodka) for a newsstand dealer selling porno magazines to 10 million rubles (only hard currency in numbered foreign bank accounts) for top state officials. For the fainthearted, the authors suggest the "bribe without bribery" technique: arranging sexual favors for government officials or presents on their birthdays.
  • Not Too Much Of A Headache

    Now Michelangelo is just another Ninja Turtle. After a fortnight of extraordinary hype, the much-feared computer virus that was supposed to strike the globe's hard drives last Friday simply fizzled. So many warnings were sounded that most computer owners either fed antivirus programs into their systems or refused to turn the power on during the dreaded M-day. They dodged one disease, but more strains are on the way. The eponymous Friday-the-13th virus is due to strike this week, and the Maltese Amoeba may detonate on March 15. ...
  • Overworked Americans?

    As I write, I am feeling severely overworked. The deadline for this column looms, and it looks as if I won't make it, although I know I will because I always have. But my writing isn't getting any faster, something I can't seem to change. I have fallen so far behind on so many things that my office-normally an organized clutter-is now so strewn with piles of papers and books that it's virtually inaccessible. ...
  • The Recession's Over (Shhh!)

    Relax, folks. You may not have realized it at the time, but the recession ended Rat 3 p.m. on Feb. 17. Or at least that's when Edward S. Hyman Jr. first announced that the economy had turned around. And despite some mixed signals, Hyman says flatly today that "we're off and at least trotting. We're into several years of steady if unspectacular growth." ...
  • Lead, Lies And Data Tape

    Scientific misconduct is exceedingly rare and extremely serious. Charges Shave been brought alleging plagiarism or faking data or falsifying results. The latest case, however, involves the manner in which a researcher strung together a set of equations in order to find a message hidden in a stack of raw data. To reach for a metaphor, this is like bringing a felony indictment for jaywalking. ...
  • When You Can't Get Into Spago

    In Los Angeles, popular restaurants come and go like so many Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Undaunted, PERISCOPE takes a look at some of Tinseltown's hottest eateries--the first in an occasional series of culinary guides to cities around the world. If you're near the Hollywood sign, sample the modest Beachwood Cafe, where screenwriters breakfast before pitching concepts to producers. Speaking of breakfast, eat it at night at Roscoe's Chicken 'n Waffles, the place to be for young actors and execs from nearby Motown Records. Granita in Malibu is the newest Wolfgang (Mr. Spago) Puck creation. Designed by his wife, it features mosaics, shells, crystals and a koi fishpond. Then there's Ivy At The Shore, a.k.a. the other Ivy (there's another in Beverly Hills). Julia, Jason, Demi: they're all there, doing the casual thing in Santa Monica. Chaya Brasserie has a Soho feel, with its artsy dishes and vaulted ceiling. For traditionalists, there's Morton's, where powerful people devour red meat.
  • A Gift For The Little Guys

    Kalman Stein wants your money. As head of Earth Share, a federation of environmental organizations, he solicits workplace donations for groups like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society. But Stein's job is no walk in the woods. He is frequently turned away at the door by companies that prefer having only the United Way canvassing their employees. And he is often cut off from funding by local United Way groups, which give largely to health-and-human-services agencies. While some United Way locals allow donors to substitute other charities for those on the United Way roster, few people are aware of the option, Stein contends: "It's like being a write-in candidate in a one-party election. If people don't know you're on the ballot, they rarely think of voting you in." ...
  • Having A Beef

    The same kind of campaign that brought smoke-free-restaurants and airplanes will soon take on beef Next month, a coalition of health, consumer, environmental, anti-hunger and animal-rights groups headed by environmental gadfly Jeremy Rifkin will launch a drive to cut world beef consumption in half. The group will push to substitute grains, fruits and vegetables for a diet high in beef. Mainly because of its high fat content, "beef ranks up there with cigarette smoking as a health threat," says Rifkin. The cattle industry is organizing its own "Food Facts Coalition" to fight back.
  • Keep Schools Open To All

    Ellsworth, a public elementary teacher for 18 years and a freelance writer, lives in Prescott, Ariz. ...
  • Slice Of Life

    If you live on St. Paul Island, Alaska--in the middle of the Bering Sea--you can now order in junkfood. Many fast-food joints in Alaska's bigger cities will deliver to the nether regions--assuming you can wait a couple of days. "Fries don't travel well," says Julie Shane, who lives on the aforementioned island, "but pizzas always do great." Domino's Pizza in Juneau delivers to fishermen at sea. The guys call franchise--and boat--owner Fred Tallmadge on a marine radio and off he sails.
  • A Voter's Guide To The Issues

    67 years old. Born: Milton, Mass. Greenwich Country Day School, Andover, Yale '48. Congressman. U.N. ambassador. Republican Party chief. China envoy. CIA director. Vice President 1981-1989. 41 st president of the United States. Son of Wall Street investment banker Prescott S. Bush. Married to Barbara Pierce. Four sons, one daughter. 12 grandchildren. One daughter, Robin, died of leukemia at age 4.As navy flier in World War II, forced to bail out of his plane under fire. Decorated for valor."Read my lips. No ... new... taxes."Poppy.Power of incumbency. Enjoys global respect on foreign policy, admired personally. Great wife. But: Weak handling of the economy; disappointing domestic record. Erratic campaigner; perception that he doesn't stand for anything.What They ThinkECONOMIC GROWTHFavors a less-is-more approach to the economy, believes it will grow out of the recession without government intervention. Recently concluded this economic vision wouldn't sell politically, so he cobbled...
  • Nickels And Dimes

    Maybe Italy's fiscal police are being a bit overzealous in their war on tax evasion. Too many stores, they say, aren't ringing up sales-and, in turn, aren't giving receipts to customers. So cops recently ticketed one Salvatore Pantone, 7, after he purchased a bag of cheese puffs. His crime: leaving his pennies on the coffee-shop counter without getting a receipt--a transgression that cost him $30 and the store $300. The Italian finance minister scolded the coppers for ticketing a post-toddler. But days later, a woman was fined for leaving a nickel on the counter after her tot clutched a piece of candy.
  • Dirty Trick?

    When Pat Buchanan attacked George Bush recently in a campaign ad for funding "obscene" art, he picked a bad example. The spot features a segment of "Tongues Untied," a documentary film about gay black men that was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The money was given to the filmmaker in 1988, when Ronald Reagan--not Bush--was president. A Buchanan spokesman acknowledged that the film was funded during the Reagan years, but said an NEA grant to broadcast and promote it was made under Bush. "Our case against Mr. Bush doesn't rest on 'Tongues Untied' alone," said the spokesman.
  • Make Room For Bently

    William Joyce thinks the business of writing and illustrating children's books is a loony way to earn a living. "You spend a lot of time feeling like you're still walking around in short pants," he says. "Other authors don't have these problems. Mario Puzo gets to say, 'I wrote "The Godfather ". 'I get 'Tammy & the Gigantic Fish'." ...
  • The 'Uncandidate': How Pure Is Paul?

    Paul Tsongas was in an acerbic mood as his campaign's new 727 charter jet streaked from San Antonio to Dallas last week. The subject was Bill Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination and advocate of a tax cut for middle-income Americans that he opposes. "I know why Bill is for it," he told NEWSWEEK. "I was in the same meetings he was, the ones in which the pollsters and the advisers told you it would sell ... I am operating from conviction. I won't say Clinton has no political convictions. Clinton is about average for the people I've seen in polities." ...
  • Aux Armes, Citoyens! A Wimp Attack

    Everyone knows the tune, but few people outside France realize that the "Marseillaise" is one of the world's goriest national anthems. Written just 200 years ago when the Prussians invaded France to crush its revolution, the song urges patriots to "drench our fields with their tainted blood." Now, in an era of European unification and political correctness, some French citizens want to soften the "Marseillaise." A committee has formed, including the wife of President Francois Mitterrand, and an alternate text has been proposed. Instead of calling citizens "to arms," it asks them to "march hand in hand." In place of bloodshed, it urges them to "silence all cannons" with song. Most of the French oppose any change. Relics of an age when chauvinism was nothing to be ashamed of, the anthems of many countries fairly drip with blood. In 1814, as the British bombarded Fort McHenry, Francis Scott Key wrote: "Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution. " For the benefit of...
  • A Breach Of Contract

    Thriller writers make a deal with their readers. In return for a willing suspension of disbelief, the author sets off on a merry, roller-coaster plot, dropping hints, feinting at shadows, setting off surprises, all with the promise of a reasonable explanation at the end. In his last book, "The Firm, "John Grisham upheld his end of the bargain, with a hugely successful tale of a young lawyer from Harvard who makes the mistake of joining a Memphis law firm secretly controlled by the Mafia. Comes now Grisham's new book, "The Pelican Brief," another of the catch-me-if-you-can genre. This time, it's a brilliant and attractive female law student who's staying one step ahead of the FBI, the CIA and a politically well-connected tycoon who has his own stable of killers. (And there are some fiendish lawyers to hiss at, too!) Grisham keeps the pages turning but, in the end, badly breaches the thrillermeister-reader contract.After a shadowy killer assassinates two Supreme Court justices, the...