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Atomic Energy: Yeas And Nays

Readers of our Oct. 18 story "Where Is the Next Chernobyl?" fueled another round of discussions on nuclear energy. "Everyone knows the disasters it may bring about for the human race," one reader warned. The majority, however, were in favor of nuclear power. "It's wrong to ignore the technical trends in history and the responsibilities for the future," wrote one. Echoed another: "An increased use of nuclear power may be the only way to keep the planet from burning up."The Nuclear Power...

Hmos Go Under The Knife

When he lost both of his top front teeth in a skiing accident nine years ago, Jason Wolff thought he was covered. And indeed, his dental plan paid an oral surgeon to reimplant the teeth. But five years later, Wolff learned that a lingering infection had caused severe root damage and bone loss. He endured five operations, and his bills amounted to more than $13,000. Before the first surgery, his HMO curtly warned him: dental care not covered.Wolff, 28, who is now a third-year law student, had...

An Inside Look At Sony

Ask most Americans to name the Japanese company they most admire and it's a safe bet they'll say "Sony." And if they want to impress you, they'll add: "Of course, Sony isn't really Japanese, you know. It's too flashy--almost American." Armed with John Nathan's new book, "Sony: The Private Life" (Houghton Mifflin. $26), you can now silence such blowhards. The electronics-to-films-to-music giant, Nathan makes plain, is very Japanese, right down to the barrels of sake that are tapped whenever the...

Remembering The Stars Of A Century

Our July 19 retrospective on arts and entertainment drew applause, fond memories... and a few yawns. "Your salute to American entertainment was a fascinating treasure," said one letter-writer; another called the issue "a director's delight." A few told us to stick to the news, but many readers were happy to look back and name their favorite artists. One unusual nominee: Boy George, for eliminating "the ability of a celebrity to shock an unsuspecting public."Star CrazyI thoroughly agreed with...

When Managed Care Means Mediocre Care

It's a cold January night in the upper Midwest as the airport van skitters over icy-slick roads to take us Californians to our various hotels. We met only an hour before in the airport but are already joking about going to Lourdes to take the waters. These might be considered sick jokes, since most of us have physical maladies that have brought us to this modern-day medical center.As strangers sometimes do when they're traveling, we share our personal stories. One elderly woman complains of an...

Celebrating The Latin Heritage

Readers were thrilled with our July 12 report recognizing--"finally"--the Latino influence in the United States. "You captured the positive side of being Latino in the U.S.A.," wrote one. Another pointed out how spotlighting the Latin heritage helps build self-esteem in Latinos: "Reports like this one make Hispanics proud of their origin." A woman praised our report's value for young Latinos struggling to define their ethnic identity, and ended her letter with a hearty "¡Gracias!"I really...

Generation N

El Conquistador, in the trendy Silverlake section of Los Angeles, is a hard place to find, set off from the street by a doorway of hanging straw. But once you're inside, the Mexican food is authentic and excellent. Over shrimp tacos and albondigas, a traditional meatball soup, Olivia Armas and her husband, Rod Hernandez, begin an affectionate round of teasing. Olivia, 29, is the daughter of Mexican immigrants; Rod's family came to Los Angeles from Mexico two generations ago. From the time they...

The Truth About High School

It was one careless moment in the cafeteria that she now believes will haunt her forever, or at least until graduation, whichever comes first. Blond, smart, athletic and well off, she must have thought she could get away with sitting down with a couple of gawky skaters from the fringe of high-school society, if only to interview them about hip-hop music for the school newspaper. She should have known that in high school, appearance outweighs motive by 100 to 1. There were giggles and stares,...

How To Choose An Hmo

There's a dirty little secret that nobody tells you when it comes time to pluck a health-care plan from your employer's benefits package. Most health-main- tenance organizations are really good at some things--and really lousy at others. Is an HMO with a super record in heart care the best one for a family of asthmatics? Should a childless couple join a plan that gets high marks for immunizing kids and having lots of pediatricians? Probably not. The ""best" HMO for you is the one that excels in...

Body Imaging

NOT LONG AGO A FRIEND of mine collapsed in the weight room at our gym. The next thing he recalls is awakening in an ambulance, where a sympathetic paramedic inquired about his medical insurance. In the emergency room, he proceeded to have an ultrasound for his heart (it was OK), a CT scan (computerized images using X-rays) and an MR (magnetic resonance) image. The last two revealed a brain tumor. In the next few weeks he had a special nuclear scan called a PET (positron emission tomograph) that...

Why Andy Couldn't Read

Millions of kids have been labeled learning disabled. Critics smell a scam here, but researchers say they've begun to unlock the puzzle of bright kids who can't learn.Andrew mertz was a very unhappy little boy in 1995. Third grade was a disaster, the culmination of a crisis that had been building since he entered kindergarten in suburban Maryland. He couldn't learn to read, and he hated school. ""He would throw temper tantrums in the morning because he didn't want to go,'' recalls his mother,...

Gender Limbo

HEIDI WAS A HEALTHY, full-term baby when she poked her head into the world on Oct. 20, 1961. But the world wasn't sure what to make of her. Instead of congratulating Heidi's 19-year-old mother, the delivery team kept her sedated for several days and wrestled with a baffling question: was this a boy or a girl? The baby had a penis, but it was extremely small, and the urethral opening was down near the base. There was also a scrotum, though the testes hadn't descended to fill it. Blood tests...

A Natural Mood Booster

KARIN TAYLOR'S black moods were often accompanied by inexplicable bouts of insomnia, crying and lethargy. By last summer she'd sunk so low she didn't care if she lived or died. But Taylor balked when her physician suggested a common antidepressant: she didn't feel comfortable taking drugs. Fortunately, she says, a friend visiting from California suggested a natural herb called Saint Johnswort. Within three weeks, Taylor's depression had lifted. "I feel restored," says the 58-year-old Toronto...

Take My Freedom, Please!

SURE, YOU'VE HEARD THE HMO HORROR stories. You've worried about how good your plan really is. But you're no dummy. You've figured out how to win the managed-care game: simply join the plan that has your doctor in it. None of them does? Then go for the HMO with the fattest directory of doctors.The comforting part of this strategy is that it makes new-era health care feel so much like old-era health care. You can keep seeing your regular doctor choose among an army of physicians, just like in...

Advise And Consent

The shelves of any homes groan under the weight of parenting books. Some are truly awful--ponderously written and clumsily organized. Others offer little more than what most parents would have figured out without much effort. But the best among them are more than mere owner's manuals. Their authors have wisdom and humor about the inner lives of children, and a near-telepathic ability to anticipate and clearly answer even the most arcane questions. Each gets there by a slightly different way,...

Does Dole Have A Prayer?

THEY KNEW THE choreography: considerate in a practiced way, two men of power with polite disagreements. Before and after last Sunday night's presidential debate, Bob Dole strode across the stage, his withered right arm at his side, his left hand extended in greeting. Smoothly, in a sign of respect for his adversary's old war wound, Bill Clinton offered his own left hand to shake. They'd done this before, only with far fewer people watching. For 90 minutes they begged to differ while professing...

When A 401(K) Is Not Ok

EVERYONE LOVES THE 401(K)-INCLUDING ME, MOST OF the time. Unseen hands pluck money out of your paycheck and invest it for your future, tax-deferred. If you leave the job early, you carry this portable pension with you. More than 22 million workers were covered by 228,000 plans in 1995, according to Access Research in Windsor, Conn. That's the only private retirement plan that a large percentage of them have.But something is rotten in 401(k)-land, and it's going to cost some trusting employees...

Does Your Hmo Stack Up?

AT FIRST WE COULD IGNORE THEM. THEN we noticed a neighbor joining one. Finally, a fat, forbidding package from the benefits department landed on our desk. Now we know the truth: HMOs rule. The revolution that has already shunted 53.3 million people from Marcus Welby style medicine into the Wal-Mart model of health care will convert an additional 50 million by the turn of the century. If you haven't already been asked to leave your cushy indemnity plan, you will be--soon.Good luck. Chances are...

Hope For Damaged Joints

HE HAD ALWAYS FEARED A BULLET, not a boot. But when police officer Dale Clukey approached a drunk driver on Halloween night in 1995, he was knocked to the ground, and out of his job, by a swift kick to the knee. Once an avid cyclist and water-skier, the $1-year-old cop has spent two years hobbling around his house in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, and relying on pain pills to get him through the day. Until recently, his best hope would have been total knee replacement; for roughly $25,000, surgeons...

Kids And Their Cash

There's a big payoff to raising financially savvy children. Kids who learn about money early are often pretty good at making it later. Consider John Bogle Jr., manager of Quantitative Numeric, a top-performing mutual fund. He didn't become a market wizard just because his father is Jack Bogle, founder of mutual-fund giant Vanguard. But it helped that his dad forced him to start buying stocks on his own at 13.It was easy for Bogle senior to teach his kids about money--it's his business. But...

Boulevard Of Broken Promises

As the president wandered the country last week, shaking down supporters for obscene sums of money ($5 million in all)--and coming very close, according to The Washington Post, to "guaranteeing" a veto on legislation of interest to high-rolling telecommunications contributors--I happened upon the opening paragraphs of "Demosclerosis," Jonathan Rauch's excellent book about American political entropy. It begins election night, Nov. 3, 1992. A victorious Bill Clinton greets 50,000 cheering...

The Game Of Survival

In Sarajevo, U.N. Warehouses are nearly empty, but people don't seem very hungry. There's no electricity, but residents unhook their car batteries at night to run their television sets. In between snatches of locally dubbed CNN and subtitled re-runs of Schwarzenegger and Van Damme movies, they might catch a commercial on TV Bill, such as the one for At-Mahir Pizza: "For the best pizza in town, delivered in 15 minutes, call 531-532." Call? No problem; the government has installed a satellite...

Waving Away The Pain

LIKE A STAB WOUND, A Psychic trauma can fester if it's not successfully treated. While stationed in Panama last year, 28-year-old air force Sgt. Dawn Baumgartner awoke in her own apartment one night to find a stranger pressing a kitchen knife to her threat. As her 5year-old daughter lay next to her on the bed, two men took turns raping her, then fled into the night. Baumgartner was promptly sent home to Colorado Springs for care and counseling, but months later she still couldn't handle a knife...

Crime & Punishment

GEORGE FAY SHOULD BE living the American Dream. Now 47, he and his parents immigrated to this country from Romania in the 1960s. Fay rose to become the CEO of a $55 million company in Dayton, Ohio, and lives in Kettering, a quintessential Midwestern suburb flecked with the vivid colors of pools and manicured lawns. But he is an angry and frustrated man. His son Michael, 18, is in Singapore, sentenced for crimes of vandalism to four months in prison, a $2,220 fine and six lashes with a cane on...

The Big Bear From Beantown?

EDWARD C. JOHNSON III TOOK the helm from his father at Fidelity Investments in 1972 when the Boston firm managed about $4.3 billion in assets. Today Fidelity is the nation's largest mutual-fund company, managing some $340 billion. It's so dominant that it accounts for almost 12 percent of the shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange every day. Last week Johnson met with NEWSWEEK Senior Writer Jolie Solomon and Business Editor Hank Gilman. The press-shy Johnson talked about the current...

The Boys Of Winter On Ice

IN BETWEEN NANCY'S AND TONYA'S practice sessions, the International Olympics Committee actually held a figure-skating championship for men. And for several hours over each of two evenings, nobody in Hamar noticed what the two American women were wearing, eating or even saying. The men's event deserved better than to be obscured by the Kerrigan-Harding carnival. Indeed in less tabloid-driven times, it would have supplanted the ladies' competition as the 1994 Olympics' showcase event. After all,...

Tempted By 'Clinton Lite'? Think Again.

IT'S UNANIMOUS! THE known world loves Rep. Jim Cooper, author of the leading alternative to the Clinton health plan. Last week the Tennessee Democrat was embraced by the country's opinion-making apparatus. Who could resist? Cooper, a Rhodes scholar from Shelbyville, Tenn., who was elected to the House at the age of 28, is smart, charming and conscientious. He has done excellent legislative work on such low-glory issues as energy conservation. He's male, which means his efforts to reform health...

Vitamin Revolution

Jerome Cohen, M.D., is no faddist. A professor of internal medicine at the St, Louis University School of Medicine, he used to dismiss the notion that healthy adults had anything to gain from vitamin pills. Not anymore. In an effort to keep his heart healthy, Cohen now starts the day with 400 international units of vitamin E-roughly the amount he would get in 25 cups of peanuts. Though he isn't sure the new regimen will do him any good, he's now happy to wager a couple of bucks a month on it....

Inside The World Of An Hmo

Here are two real-life stories about HMO-style medicine:Debbie Van Winkle, who was 28 years old and in excellent health, was driving to work one day in February 1991 when something went drastically wrong inside her brain--some kind of seizure, a terrifying neurological event. She passed out at the wheel and was taken to a hospital in Torrance, Calif. Over the next two weeks, and through months of follow-up care, specialists used state-of-the-art technology to test her for every conceivable...

Doctors Under The Knife

They converged on Washington 1,000 strong last week-pediatricians from Chicago, anesthesiologists from Los Angeles, internists from Utah. They came representing every state in the union and every branch of the medical profession, hoping for the chance to make their voices heard. There were no angry confrontations-the docs even gave Vice President Al Gore a standing ovation when he promised to get government off their backs in exchange for help in controlling costs. But beneath all the...

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