A profile of Dan Choi, a gay Iraq combat veteran who became a media star after his public push to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Since the victory, Choi has found it difficult to figure out what to do next:
In late August, I was on my way to interview Dan at his apartment when he messaged me that a big protest was shaping up at the White House. President Barack Obama had just announced that he would ask Congress for authorization to use force in Syria. I raced to meet him at the north entrance, but all I found were tourists snapping photos and Dan circling around on his bike. He hung out for a while, texting a friend to ask for an update. She didn’t respond. After 20 minutes of scouring his contacts for people who might have more information, he looked up from his phone and gave me a sideways grin. He was being a good sport, but he looked crestfallen. I sensed—or maybe I just imagined it—he was asking himself the same question I had been: Who is Dan Choi without “don’t ask, don’t tell”?
PUBLISHED: Dec. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7175 words)
A group of misguided adventure seekers travel to a war-ravaged village in rebel territory north of Aleppo:
“Most people on their holiday go out partying, but we decided to do something a little different for once,” says Smith. They had “no contacts or anything like that” in southern Turkey or the northern part of Syria controlled by opposition forces. Nonetheless, they flew to Istanbul, hopped on a bus, and made their way to Kilis, a small, dusty town barely on the Turkish side of the Syrian border, the last safe stop on the road to Aleppo.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 9, 2013
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2643 words)
David Sedaris and his family gather at a beach house in North Carolina, for the first time since his sister’s suicide:
“Even if you weren’t getting along with Tiffany at the time, you couldn’t deny the show she put on—the dramatic entrances, the non-stop, professional-grade insults, the chaos she’d inevitably leave in her wake. One day she’d throw a dish at you and the next she’d create a stunning mosaic made of the shards. When allegiances with one brother or sister flamed out, she’d take up with someone else. At no time did she get along with everybody, but there was always someone she was in contact with. Toward the end, it was Lisa, but before that we’d all had our turn.”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4277 words)
An art dealer diagnosed with kidney cancer formulates a plan to bury some of his treasure and leave clues to its whereabouts in a self-published book:
"Dal Neitzel is just one of hundreds of people who have contacted Fenn to let him know they’ve been searching for his haul. Before he set out, after poring through historical books and scouring maps, Neitzel, a 65-year-old former TV cameraman, convinced himself the treasure was in the Rio Grande Gorge in New Mexico, close to the border with Colorado. Remarkably, he’d managed to locate a large house on the edge of a steep drop that overlooked a gushing river. Outside that house was a sign that read: "Brown." He read Fenn’s poem aloud again: 'Put in below the home of Brown.' That had to be it."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 19, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3214 words)
Behind the scenes of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the debate over what policies and programs are effective when it comes to preventing suicide and saving lives in the U.S.:
"Studies done by Columbia University's Dr. Madelyn Gould have found that about 12 percent of suicidal callers reported in a follow-up interview that talking to someone at the lifeline prevented them from harming or killing themselves. Almost half followed through with a counselor's referral to seek emergency services or contacted mental health services, and about 80 percent of suicidal callers say in follow-up interviews that the lifeline has had something to do with keeping them alive.
"'I don’t know if we'll ever have solid evidence for what saves lives other than people saying they saved my life,' says Draper. 'It may be that the suicide rate could be higher if crisis lines weren't in effect. I don’t know. All I can say is that what we’re hearing from callers is that this is having a real life-saving impact.'"
PUBLISHED: Sept. 13, 2013
LENGTH: 18 minutes (4686 words)
The life and death of Roy Sullivan, a park ranger for Shenandoah National Park who was struck by lightning seven times:
"A gentle rain fell on April 16, 1972. The Spark Ranger was in a small guardhouse atop Loft Mountain, registering carloads of visitors who were arriving at the campground. Not so much as a coo of thunder riffled the air. Then … KABOOM! Lightning annihilated a fuse box inside the guardhouse. 'The fire was bouncing around inside the station, and when my ears stopped ringing, I heard something sizzling,' Sullivan told a Washington Post reporter who contacted him a week later. 'It was my hair on fire.'"
PUBLISHED: Aug. 15, 2013
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5142 words)
A Medicare experiment is facing possible shutdown, despite its proven effectiveness. The secret? It's nurses making frequent house calls to those with chronic diseases:
"But Health Quality Partners, with its emphasis on continuous nurse-to-patient contact, did work. Of the 15 programs, four improved patient outcomes without increasing costs. Only HQP improved patient outcomes while cutting costs. So Medicare extended it again and again — now it’s the only program still running under the demo. But Medicare has notified Coburn that it intends to end HQP’s funding in June.
"Medicare’s official explanation is carefully bureaucratic. 'The authority that CMS had to conduct this specific demonstration, which predated the health care law, did not allow us to make the program permanent and limited our ability to expand it further,' says Emma Sandoe, a spokeswoman for the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services. 'As we design new models and demonstrations, we are integrating lessons from this experience into those designs.'"
PUBLISHED: April 28, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4336 words)
An investigation into the abysmal state of child care in the United States:
"All too often, it takes an incident to force a closure. Last November, for instance, DFPS closed a center after a caregiver left a nine-month-old infant alone on a changing table without a belt. The baby fell onto a concrete floor, sustaining a serious skull injury. In addition to the caregiver, DFPS cited the director for failing to 'contact the parents the next day when a "mushy" bump was observed on the infant’s head.' I asked McGinnis how many of the area’s providers she’d trust with her own child. She answered promptly: 'Twenty percent.'"
PUBLISHED: April 15, 2013
LENGTH: 23 minutes (5884 words)
A case of international parental kidnapping, and a mother's fight to get her daughter back:
"To make the plan work, Homaune had to take on a new persona in conversations with her ex-husband. She tried to be calm, helpful and understanding, and mailed him just enough cash, medicine and clothes to keep him interested in a more lucrative rendezvous. She stopped haranguing and screaming, even when her husband threatened to send her daughter home in a 'box' or to sell her on the black market, statements he would later admit he made.
"After the most intense calls, Homaune sobbed or threw up. But she refused to stop calling Iran; a key part of the plan involved being in constant contact, wearing him down, taking his demands seriously and convincing him that they were still friends, no matter what."
PUBLISHED: April 4, 2013
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3234 words)