On Baghdad's Frontlines

I'm on the tarmac at Saddam International Airport right now, just outside the Baghdad city limits. The unit I'm with--a Third Infantry Division company of riflemen, Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks--rolled into the airfield in the middle of the night to find some of the strongest resistance that it's seen so far.The soldiers came under some small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars as they rolled up to the airport. The battalion took some of its first casualties on the way; I...

The View From The Front: Flak Vests And Lucky Charms

Helicopters went down, Iraqi soldiers surrendered to journalists, Kurds fled into the mountains--and NEWSWEEK was there. Five correspondents, embedded or on their own, tell their stories: Waiting for WarColin Soloway, with the 101st attack aviation brigadeIt was 4 a.m. on Thursday, Gulf time, and Bush's deadline had passed. Marines emerged from their tents to watch the skies, listening for the sounds of jet and missile engines. But all was quiet. The soldiers went back to sleep. They awoke...

'A Harrowing Experience'

It's Monday, 10 a.m. Iraq time (2 a.m. E.T.) The convoy that I'm with is continuing to move north, as it has been almost non-stop since the war started three days ago. We're now located in the desert in central Iraq--that's about all I can say about where we are.I'm with a company from the Third Infantry Division, a company that includes infantry and Bradley fighting vehicles and tanks. They were able to advance fairly far into Iraq without encountering any significant resistance. But yesterday...

Low-Key Leader

The enemy soldiers were getting away. On the final morning of the 1991 gulf war, a group of American officers stood amid the sand and scrub, debating how to outflank retreating Iraqi troops. Among the group: David McKiernan, a promising lieutenant colonel with a temperament as quiet and even as the desert wasteland.The attack never took place. The next day, the officers' political bosses in Washington brokered a ceasefire that ended the pursuit of the elite Iraqi soldiers. Twelve years later,...

Waiting For War

He hasn't yet fired a round, but already Capt. Will Arnett is about to face defeat. Arnett is equipped with an M-16 rifle, a .50 caliber machine gun on his Humvee jeep, and shoulder-fired Javelin missiles that can kill at 600 feet. But for now, Arnett's weapon of choice is a plastic spoon.The captain has challenged his platoon to eat a one-gallon drum of chocolate pudding in six minutes or less--a daunting task, even for grunts who have conditioned their stomachs for days with runny scoops of...

Letter From Kuwait: It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Houston

Never mind Iraq. The British invasion began this morning, well south of the border, when Sir Richard Branson, president and CEO of The Virgin Group, breezed into Kuwait City. He is here to open the Middle East's largest Virgin Megastore--a marble-and-glass behemoth in the swanky Marina Mall overlooking the Persian Gulf."I don't think I've ever seen a more beautiful shopping center in the world!" he says, as flashbulbs flicker and tuxedoed waiters serve tea and canapes. Branson says he realizes...

Humvees: Driving A Hard Bargain

The seeds of capitalism have already sprouted in the Middle East. With the Pentagon hinting that journalists could have wider access to the battlefield than before, some reporters arriving in Kuwait are shopping for rough-and-tumble vehicles that could keep up with the Army in the desert. That's good news for "Mr. Sharif"--a.k.a. "King Hummer"--a local used-car salesman and Iraqi immigrant who has the only lot in town with a selection of grungy but functional Humvees."Ha!" he mocks the other...

Augusta: Taking A Big Swing At Ceos

You could almost hear the defiant huzzahs in certain circles last week when William (Hootie) Johnson, chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club, declared that his arch-enemy's "threats mean nothing to me." It was the most recent volley in his battle with Martha Burk, a rights gadfly who has been prodding the host of the Masters golf tournament to accept women into the club's all-male fraternity. Johnson's statements were red meat to most of Augusta's 300 members--both conservative Georgians...

Crime: A Lot Of Lost Causes

About 1:30 one afternoon in 1987, a killer burst into Betty Nichols's home in a quiet Kansas City, Mo., neighborhood. A 61-year-old store clerk who liked swimming and bingo, Nichols apparently surprised the intruder, who shot her twice in the chest and then again below the chin. The price of her life? The killer took a boombox and a jar of pennies. He also probably left something behind: physical evidence including a seven-foot wooden door splattered with what was likely his own blood. But the...

Are We There Yet?

Deep below the bright and polished concourse at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, there exists a place that few travelers ever choose to visit. Conveyor belts thunder overhead as workers in coveralls heave suitcases into creaky, clinking crates. Drivers guide tugs through the crowded boomerang-shaped "bag well," past squeaking pulleys and through the stench of exhaust and grease. Roughly three times as many workers labor in the basement at Sea-Tac than upstairs at the ticket counters. Built...

Recipe For An Arrest

The U.S. Attorney General isn't the only one who wants citizens to keep a closer eye on their neighbors. In John Ashcroft's home state of Missouri, a local drug task force announced plans to get store clerks to turn in customers they suspect of buying the raw ingredients to make the stimulant methamphetamine--everyday substances like nail-polish remover, cold medicine, coffee filters and matches. The drug--which users snort, inject and sometimes add to coffee--is a huge problem in rural...

Travel: The New Rules Of Flying

Pity the poor baggage handlers at Alaska Airlines. Luggage at the nation's ninth largest carrier has been known to include smelly boxes of halibut, bulky kayaks and gory moose-head hunting trophies. But not everyone is grossed out. Last year the company quietly collected $20 million in extra baggage charges and other low-profile levies. The practice is so lucrative that this summer the airline told ticket agents it would dole out free DVD players and high-definition TVs to whoever could collect...

A Solution To Flight Risk

Few players in the war on terror have had a higher profile than the military's mechanical drones--unmanned aircraft like the Predator that scoured the Afghan landscape doing surveillance and launched Hellfire missiles at suspected Qaeda targets on the ground. The key role buoyed Dennis Gvillo, a software engineer at Boeing Phantom Works, the company's St. Louis research and development arm. Gvillo leads the technical team on Boeing's next generation of unmanned aerial vehicle, the X-45A. In...

Travel: If You're Flying That Day

Eric Butler didn't have to think twice about flying on the year's most infamous date. Next month the 31-year-old salesman will jet to San Jose, Calif., for his robotic-equipment company's national sales meeting--which starts early on Sept. 12. That means he'll have to make the two-hour flight from his home in Tempe, Ariz., on 9-11. He got a good price, and his schedule didn't leave him much of a choice. But is flying on the anniversary of the attacks really such a good idea? "I'm not worried,"...

A Better Play?

For Americans dismayed by their plummeting 401(k)s, there's a small solace: in many cities housing prices have exploded, with annual gains of between 8 and 10 percent. But should you really bet your retirement on real estate? Here are some tips for maximizing what many now see as their best investment.Is real estate a good alternative to stocks?In this market, anything that won't evaporate can look attractive. "People want something that they can have and touch and feel," says financial planner...

Beware The Back-Alley 'Botox' Scam

;He came for his pinprick like everyone else, lured by the promise of wrinkle-free skin. But for 47-year-old Freddy Borges, the price of vanity was higher than the $300 per injection he paid to a New York City couple, Iris and Eliezer Fernandez. The Fernandezes weren't doctors, according to law-enforcement officials who charged them with assault and reckless endangerment. (They pleaded innocent.) And the treatments weren't Botox, the antiwrinkle wonder drug. Whatever they were, they left...

The Plot Thickens

The two neighborhoods couldn't be more different. Almost four weeks after 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her home in the wealthy foothills of Salt Lake City, the spotlight had shifted across town to a modest trailer park in the southwest suburbs. The focal point: the home of Richard Albert Ricci, a 48-year-old ex-con and handyman who had worked at the Smarts' million-dollar mansion more than a year ago. Police Chief Rick Dinse announced that Ricci had moved to "the top of the...

Holding On To Hope

The gumshoes in Salt Lake City were growing impatient. Almost three weeks after Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bedroom at gunpoint, police had sifted thousands of leads but still didn't have a suspect. The state crime lab had been unable to determine how the kidnapper entered the Smarts' million-dollar home. Investigators probing family members hadn't unearthed any bombshells. "We need a break in this case," one law-enforcement official told NEWSWEEK.Last Friday they may have gotten one,...

Scrutinizing The Handyman

Since 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bed at gunpoint exactly three weeks ago, investigators have struggled to understand how--and why--the kidnapper entered the Smarts' million-dollar home in the dead of night.Because it would be difficult to avoid detection in the Smarts' quiet neighborhood, the kidnapper would have needed tremendous audacity. He or she would also have required the agility to squeeze through the tall, thin kitchen window that the Smarts suspect the kidnapper...

A New Breed Of War Widow

Shannon Spann bounces her baby on a knee, coaxing a smile from the otherwise stolid 10-month-old. "I'm a pretty special boy," she coos, as Jake gnaws on a plastic Elmo doll. A portrait of Jake's dad, CIA agent Johnny (Mike) Spann, the first American combat casualty in Afghanistan, hangs behind them on the wall of their suburban Virginia townhouse. "I'm going to be curious to see what he gets from Mike [genetically]," Shannon sighs. "That he's missing his dad now is just a heartbreaker."It has...

You Win! Pay Bank $140,000

As long as her parents can remember, 13-year-old Katie Hart has been talking about going to college. Her mother, Tally, a financial-aid officer at an Ohio university, knows all too well the daunting calculus of paying for a college education. Last year the average yearly tuition at a private, four-year school climbed 5.5 percent to more than $17,000. The Harts have started saving, and figure they can afford a public university without a problem. But what if Katie applies to Princeton (she's...

Odyssey Into Jihad

April Ray's Husband Became Bin Laden's Secretary. Now He's Behind Bars. Her Brush With The Shadowy World Of Al Qaeda.

Will They Think My Pen Is A Sword?

We started standing at our first glimpse of New York City's lights. On Sunday, five days after Tuesday's attacks, I was flying home from Chicago, where I had been working for several months. As our flight approached La Guardia airport, we flew north up the West Side of Manhattan, along the Hudson River. As soon as the city came into view, passengers slowly began getting out of their seats, crowding to the right side of the plane and pressing up against the windows. Risking the wrath of the...

Chicago: Helpless In The Heartland

Inside the Tribune Tower, a gothic structure on Michigan Ave., newspaper editors scrambled to put out a special edition. Outside, a klatch of about 50 people craned their necks to watch the national news on a pair of television sets facing out toward the streets.One moment of anxiety came when Peter Jennings announced to the crowd that a plane was still missing en route from Boston to Los Angeles. The crowd, instinctively, looked up at the sky.The entire city seemed to shut down: all the major...

The Truth About Nontraditional Treatments

In agony and desperate for relief, arthritis sufferers have been known to try just about anything. "Juanita," who posted the message, "A Crazy Arthritis 'Cure' " on a recipe-swapping Web site recently, says her friends swear by one bizarre remedy: slip a bar of soap in a sock, she advises, then put it in your bed.At least the soap "cure" is inexpensive and free of side effects (other than a lumpy mattress). Many alternative arthritis treatments are useless at best, and dangerous at worst. But...

A Seven-Year Sentence For A Diary

Brian Dalton's personal diary may be revolting, but should it be illegal? Dalton had been on probation for a 1998 child-pornography conviction when a probation officer's routine search of his Columbus, Ohio, home turned up a 14-page, handwritten journal containing fictional descriptions of children being molested and tortured in a basement cage. When the case was presented to a grand jury, some jurors found the passages so sickening that they asked a detective to stop reading. One grand juror...

Playboy Goes Xxx

Two days after playboy Enterprises announced it was buying three X-rated cable movie channels--a dramatic departure from the company's soft-core image--Hugh Hefner hosted an Independence Day gathering at his mansion in Los Angeles. Fireworks burst overhead as Playmates sashayed on roller skates across the tennis court, which the magazine's 75-year-old founder had turned into a rink for the occasion. Hef was in his element, and the market's reaction to the week's news gave him one more reason to...

Execution Day: Letter From Terre Haute

It was the one lottery nobody really wanted to win. At a white, ranch-style complex on the outskirts of the U.S. penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., about 40 of us in the national print media pool were gathered at the request of the prison staff. It was 4 a.m. and still dark outside. Inside, a prison spokeswoman held up a white plastic bucket and a roll of carnival-style tickets. She handed everyone in the room one half of a numbered stub and dropped the duplicate in the bucket. The winner's...

Hey, Buddy, Can I Bum A Cigalett?

Candy lovers, beware. They may taste like your average breath mint, but Ariva "cigaletts"--Tic Tac-size pellets packed with powdered tobacco--deliver as much nicotine as a traditional cigarette. Virginia-based Star Scientific plans to test-market the product, which will cost about $3 for a pack of 20, in Dallas and Richmond, Va., starting this fall. Unlike Nicorette gum and other products designed to help you quit, Ariva makes no health claims. The only goal: to keep the country's 47 million...

A Plane Of One's Own

Memo to the major airlines: you won't have David Brule to kick around anymore. Over the past 15 years, the president and CEO of Northern Star Industries, a snowplow maker based in Iron Mountain, Mich., had flown thousands of hours on the big carriers to meet with distributors around the country. But he also fumed as the airlines lost his bags in Albany, left him stranded on a runway for eight hours in the Midwest and forced him to miss dozens of meetings. Fed up, in February Brule did what any...

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