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The Extremist

Download the PDF The woman behind the most successful radical group in America.
by Michael Specter

Each year, Victoria's Secret puts on a show in which two dozen of the world's most alluring models stroll down the runway dressed in nothing but stilettos and lingerie. Last November, the spectacle was held at New York City's Lexington Avenue Armory, and scalpers were selling tickets for five hundred dollars. Celebrities like Donald Trump, Susan Lucci, and Woody Harrelson were there that night, and eleven million people watched on network television. Read more »

The Vaccine

Download the PDF Has the race to save Africa from aids put Western science at odds with Western ethics?
by Michael Specter

At forty-one, Hala has five children and eight grandchildren. Her first husband left when their second child was born. Her second husband died of aids nearly twenty years ago, in the earliest days of the epidemic. Hala often tells people that she sells charcoal, doughnuts, or cooking oil on the streets, but that isn't true. She is a prostitute, who has spent nearly half her life working out of a wattle hut in Pumwani, one of Nairobi's most crowded–and violent–slums. On an average day, she might see ten men, most of them truck drivers from Tanzania. Read more »

An Ex-con Logs On

The last time Kevin Mitnick surfed the Web . . . oops. Until last week, Mitnick, who is usually described as the world's most notorious hacker, and who was considered such a profound threat to American society when he was arrested, in 1995, that he wasn't even granted a bail hearing, had never actually surfed on the Internet. "You have to have some speed to surf,'' he said the other day. "When I went away, there was no such thing. I had rigged a special modem to keep me ahead of the feds during the years I was a fugitive. Most of the time I was connecting at 300 baud"-the average cable modem these days works five thousand times as fast. "Even then you couldn't surf on that.'' Read more »

Know Einstein

"My dear kitten, '' Albert Einstein wrote, in 1901, to his first wife, the physicist Mileva Maric. "I just read a wonderful paper by Lenard on the generation of cathode rays by ultraviolet light." The romance didn't last. By 1914, Einstein had presented a list of "conditions" under which he could consent to remain in his sour marriage. Among them was a demand to have three meals a day delivered to his room. Read more »

I am Fashion

Download the PDF Guess who Puff Daddy wants to be?
by Michael Specter

The Air France hostess was pleasant but unwilling to compromise. "This flight closes in three minutes, " she said. "We don't make exceptions." Chuck Bone, who was sitting in the Concorde's first-class waiting lounge at J.F.K., reached casually for his cell phone. It was 7:12 a.m. on a Monday in July. The Concorde was scheduled to depart for Paris at eight, and its passengers generally consider even the briefest delay intolerable. Bone, who was wearing a blue-and-white tracksuit and had a simple diamond stud in one ear, started talking. "Where are you guys? You need to get him here now. Read more »

The Long Ride

Download the PDF How did Lance Armstrong manage the greatest comeback in sports history?
by Michael Specter

A couple of weeks ago, on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, I found myself in the passenger seat of a small Volkswagen, careering so rapidly around the hairpin turns of the French Alps that I could smell the tires burning. Johan Bruyneel, the suave, unflappable director of the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, was behind the wheel. Read more »

Do Fingerprints Lie?

Download the PDF The gold standard of forensic evidence is now being challenged.
by Michael Specter

Late one afternoon in the spring of 1998, a police detective named Shirley McKie stood by the sea on the southern coast of Scotland and thought about ending her life. A promising young officer, the thirty-five-year-old McKie had become an outcast among her colleagues in the tiny hamlet of Strathclyde. A year earlier, she had been assigned to a murder case in which an old woman was stabbed through the right eye with a pair of sewing scissors. Read more »

India’s Plague

Download the PDF Cheaper drugs may help millions who have AIDS– but how many will they hurt?
by Michael Specter

Late on an autumn afternoon a little more than a year ago, a nattily dressed chemist named Yusuf K. Hamied strolled into a conference room at the headquarters of the European Commission, in Brussels. Read more »

The Phone Guy

Download the PDF How Nokia designed what may be the best-selling cellular products on earth.
by Michael Specter

Frank Nuovo seems somehow out of place on the frosty streets of Helsinki. Not lost, exactly, and certainly not unhappy, but different. Surrounded everywhere by tall blonds, Nuovo is a short, dark, carefully assembled man who looks as if he might be Jerry Seinfeld's younger, slightly more credulous brother. Read more »

Rethinking the Brain

Download the PDF How the songs of canaries upset a fundamental principle of science.
by Michael Specter

Fernando Nottebohm has lived transfixed by the melodies of songbirds. He is sixty now, and it has been decades since he left the plains of Argentina–first to study agriculture in Nebraska, then zoology at Berkeley, before coming to rest, in 1967, at Rockefeller University, in New York. But his interest in birds has sustained him since his earliest childhood. Read more »