The writer on his experience raising awareness about street children:
"I recall a bleeding boy of only three or four in a doorway in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He’d been beaten by a group of older children and was hunched over in the fetal position. His clenched fist clutched a hunk of bread that he had valiantly refused to surrender to his assailants: dry bread saturated with blood. Then a girl in Morocco, on the edge of Zagora and with the desert behind her, who put down the tray of food she was selling and showed me how she could write her name. A billowy sleeve concealed her hand as she traced into the dirt the letters of the only word she could spell. It was as if she’d conjured it from some hidden compartment. And in Bucharest, Romania, I watched a boy in a sagging, buttonless overcoat upturn the bins outside McDonald’s. With expert skill, he flicked through the rubbish, prising open boxes, rooting out unfinished food. He chucked the remains of burgers over a wall to some waiting friends. Then — like a champion smoker attempting to accommodate 50 cigarettes at once — he rammed as many chips as he could into his mouth and sucked on them."
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4287 words)
The Supreme Court is considering whether or not it is unconstitutional for police to gather DNA from from individuals who are arrested—even if the DNA evidence results in crime-solving:
"Once the government has someone’s DNA, Shanmugam argues in his briefs, Big Brother has possession of that person’s genetic blueprint. Allowing the government to collect and keep DNA raises privacy concerns, he writes, because it contains 'information that can be used to make predictions about a host of physical and behavioral characteristics, ranging from the subject’s age, ethnicity, and intelligence to the subject’s propensity for violence and addiction.'
"Shanmugam acknowledges that laws prohibit unauthorized disclosures of DNA, but he points out that Maryland’s law allows sharing DNA for 'research' purposes. And he notes that state attorney general Gansler 'embraced' the notion that the government would eventually have everyone’s DNA, because Gansler testified before the legislature that someday 'everybody’s DNA' would be in some sort of a database, 'like with our Social Security numbers.'
"Shanmugam wrote in his brief: 'Some Fourth Amendment incursions may come dressed in sheep’s clothing. This wolf comes as a wolf.'"
PUBLISHED: April 30, 2013
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4822 words)
For nearly a decade, a fugitive allegedly terrorized cabin owners in the Utah mountains. The story of what drove him into the mountains, and the months leading up to his capture:
"Knapp launched his first experiment in criminal solitude in September 2000: He stole a Toyota pickup, pointed it west, and didn't stop driving until he hit Big Pine, California, on the eastern edge of the Sierras. Toothy granite peaks rim the town, a gateway to some of America's most popular backpacking. Knapp ditched the truck on a dirt road, stripped it of its tools – and two pairs of binoculars – and walked into the backcountry.
"A few days later, a local hiker reported a suspicious man carrying a rifle near the Owens River. A warden from a nearby fish hatchery went to investigate, but while he was gone, his truck and a hatchery building were broken into. Missing were his boots, $3 in change, and maps of the Eastern Sierras and Death Valley National Park. Local cops were put on alert."
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4529 words)
A story adapted from The Fight to Save Juarez
, which presents a range of viewpoints in Mexico's drug war. Here, the viewpoint is from a drug trafficker's mistress:
"Hernán and Elena lived lives of combustible desperation within the middle rungs of the Juárez cartel. Elena’s restless instincts and combative nature played off of Hernán’s macho disposition in ways that created an unanticipated, and perhaps unacknowledged, balance between them. Life in the cartel was full of people like Hernán and Elena, people who had grown up with nothing in Juárez’ desolate neighborhoods. Every time that Elena had unpacked, washed, and re-packed Hernán’s shipments of cocaine she made more than assembly plant workers earn in a month. There was little that she wished for beyond what she had. Her life already exceeded what most people from her background could have hoped for."
PUBLISHED: April 3, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3626 words)
A look at the billionaire hedge fund managers battling over the future of a global nutrition supplement company:
"In a recent interview on CNBC, the blunt-talking and cagey Icahn hinted there would be a concerted effort to take Ackman down a peg or two in the Herbalife battle, which 'could be the mother of all the short squeezes,' he said, referring to a technique that can be used by a group of traders who band together to try to clobber a short-seller.
"Chapman agrees. 'This is like Wall Street’s version of the movie Kill Bill,' he says. 'Bill Ackman has been so arrogant and disrespectful to so many people, presumably on the theory that he would never be in a position where these subjects of his disrespect could actually act on their deserved hatred for him But now, with JCPenney [which is down 20 percent from Ackman’s 2010 investment] and Herbalife going against Ackman, his ‘stock’ has moved down, allowing once again, a decade later, for those holding their Kill Bill puts [i.e., options they have been waiting to cash in] to exercise them against him.'"
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2013
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7676 words)
Nora Ephron's son Jacob on his mother's last days, and the play she was working on that helped her understand her own sickness and impending death:
"In the play my mother wrote, there’s a scene toward the end, in which McAlary, sick with cancer, goes to the Poconos to visit his friend Jim Dwyer, then a columnist at The Daily News. It’s a glorious summer day, and McAlary’s 12-year-old son, Ryan, wants to do a flip off the diving board, but he gets scared and can’t do it. So McAlary takes off his shirt, walks to the edge of the diving board and says to him: 'When you do these things, you can’t be nervous. If you think about what can go wrong, if you think about the belly flop, that’s what’ll happen.'
"And then McAlary does the flip himself and makes a perfect landing.
"It’s a metaphor, obviously, for his view about life. And I’ve come to think it might as well have been about my mother. The point is that you don’t let fear invade your psyche. Because then you might as well be dead."
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2013
LENGTH: 22 minutes (5681 words)
A father considers his young son's life in the city of Boston, and wonders if his son would be better off with "a life in nature":
"If it's true that children raised in cities often grow into shrewd, incisive adults wise to the crooked ways of the world, that being exposed daily to a wealth of cultures, languages, libraries, bookstores, theaters, and museums can make impressive people, Wordsworth might argue that those individuals lack a 'sense sublime / Of something far more deeply interfused'—that is, a sense of the unity, harmony, freedom, and 'unwearied Joy' exemplified by nature. Who doesn't want 'unwearied Joy' for his child? Emerson might go a bit further and say that those divorced from nature have a thinking deficiency, because 'Nature is the vehicle of thought.' For Emerson, as for Wordsworth, Nature is synonymous with Life—our lives simply refuse to cohere outside the context of the natural world. Will Ethan the city boy forever lack something sacred in his mind and spirit? Will he lack a certain useful knowledge? When my paternal grandfather was in Korea during the war, his platoon mates from Manhattan 'thought the crickets were North Korean soldiers sending evil signals to one another in the nighttime. They never got a good night's sleep."
PUBLISHED: March 1, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4375 words)
A Navy intelligence analyst reports a rape and finds herself ostracized. She's not the only one, and the U.S. military still has not taken serious steps to address a culture that condones sex abuse:
"The scandal of rape in the U.S. Armed Forces, across all of its uniformed services, has become inescapable. Last year saw the military's biggest sex-abuse scandal in a decade, when an investigation at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio revealed that 32 basic-training instructors preyed on at least 59 recruits. In Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair is currently facing court-martial for sex-crimes charges, including forcible sodomy, for alleged misconduct against five women. In October, an Air Force technical sergeant filed an administrative complaint describing a work environment of comprehensive harassment – in which all women are 'bitches'; and claimed that during a routine meeting in a commander's office, she was instructed to take off her blouse and 'relax' – edged with menace and punctuated by violent assaults. In December, a Department of Defense report revealed that rape is rampant at the nation's military academies, where 12 percent of female cadets experienced 'unwanted sexual contact.' And an explosive series of federal lawsuits filed against top DOD brass on behalf of 59 service members (including Rebecca Blumer) allege that the leadership has done nothing to stop the cycle of rape and impunity – and that by failing to condemn sexual assault, the military has created a predators' playground."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7041 words)
"Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan is turning his life back around after a series of bad business deals and a messy divorce caused him to attempt to take his own life:
"I visited Millan at the ranch a few months after his suicide attempt. When I arrived he was lying on a bench in the shade, sweating through a purple polo shirt, with a bottle of Maalox resting on his chest. 'I'm still managing the depression, the anger, the insecurity,' he told me, 'but I am moving forward.' A pair of hyperactive huskies belonging to his close friend Jada Pinkett Smith ran through the hills pulling a sled Millan had modified for the rocky terrain. Junior, a sleek, gray three-year-old pit bull he was grooming to take Daddy's place, lay quietly under the bench, watching Millan's every move. 'I couldn't have done what I do without Daddy,' he said, 'and now I can't do it without Junior. There's always a pit bull there supporting me.'
"Millan is a short, stocky guy – 'like a burrito,' he says – but he carries himself with a straight back, chest jutted out, a natural alpha. When he arrived in the United States 22 years ago, he knew only a single English word - 'OK' - and he still talks in a loose, colloquial SoCal Spanglish, rolling through sentences with mixed-up tenses, calling his dog Blizzard a 'Jello Lab,' pronouncing buffet with a hard t and sushi as 'su-chi.' On 'Dog Whisperer,' Millan uses the language deficit to his advantage, putting clients at ease with his always polite, effortlessly funny broken-English banter as he (often painfully) dissects their troubled relationships with their dogs. In person he's just as charming – open, inquisitive, with a quick mind and a slightly rough edge that makes him even more likable. For all his alpha-male poise, Millan also possesses humility, which he says comes with the job. 'In my field, working with animals, they detest egotistical people,' he says. 'Dogs are wise. They don't buy BS. . . . When you are egotistical, you're not grounded. So it's not even an option for me to become disconnected or lose my grounding.'"
PUBLISHED: Feb. 18, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5817 words)