Other Writing

Daughters of France, Daughters of Allah

The Man Who Knew Too Much

In The Kingdom of Big Sugar

Thelma And Marie

France's Scarlet Letter




Daughters of France, Daughters of Allah

From news reports, it may have seemed that the greatest threat to France’s secular values was Islamic headscarves in public schools. But thousands of the French girls wearing the scarf are trapped in strict Muslim families, forced into marriage, and brutalized for seeking the freedoms all around them.

“I really want to thank you for listening to me. The silence is a summation. To speak is very, very difficult. I hope that other young girls find the courage to speak out and to get their freedom to live in another way.” The text message on my cell phone, literally translated from the French, had no sender’s name, but I knew it was from Yildiz, the young woman I had met the night before in a bleak area on the outskirts of Paris. (Her name has been changed.) Just a few miles from the outlet malls, the area is part of the hidden world of the City of Lights, a dim, desolate substratum of forlorn cités, or housing projects, situated off the Périphérique Extérieur, the highway marking the border of Paris. Forty years ago, faced with a postwar labor shortage, France built these fortresses to house the thousands of Muslim immigrants from Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, and Algeria allowed into the country to sweep streets and work in factories. The city planners calculated on keeping this uneducated labor force at a safe distance from Paris itself. Later, as France’s economy sagged, the jobs disappeared and crime rates soared. After the World Trade Center attack, Frenchmen began to speak of the “benladenisation” of the outskirts. The accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was a product of the cités, as were others arrested for attacks that had taken place on the Belgian border. The police call the worst areas in the projects, a nether region reached on Highway A4, “zones de non-droit,” lawless areas.

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The Man Who Knew Too Much

I - THE WITNESS

"I am a whistle-blower," he says. "I am notorious. It is a kind of infamy doing what I am doing, isn't that what they say?"

It was never Jeffrey Wigand's ambition to become a central figure in the great social chronicle of the tobacco wars. By his own description, Wigand is a linear thinker, a plodder. On January 30, when he and I arrange to meet at the sports bar at the Hyatt Regency in Louisville, he is in the first phase of understanding that he has entere a particular American nightmare where his life will no longer be his to control. His lawyer will later call this period "hell week." Wigand has recently learned of a vicious campaign orchestrated against him, and is trying to document all aspects of his past. "How would you feel if you had to reconstruct every moment of your life?" he asks me, tense with anxiety. He is deluged with requests for interviews. TV vans are often set up at DuPont Manual, the magnet high school where he now teaches. In two days Wigand, the former head of research and development (R&D) at the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., will be on the front page of The Wall Street Journal for the second time in a week. Five days from now, he will be on 60 Minutes.

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In The Kingdom of Big Sugar

The President told her he no longer felt right about their intimate relationship, and had to put a stop to it.... At one point during their conversation the President had a call from a sugar grower in Florida whose name, according to Ms. Lewinsky, was something like "Fanuli." In Ms. Lewinsky’s recollection, the President may have taken or returned the call just as she was leaving.
–The Starr Report

Soon after Edward Tuddenham graduated from Harvard Law School in 1978, he took off for West Texas with two classmates to open a legal-aid office in the town of Hereford, located in an onion-and-cotton-growing area between Lubbock and Amarillo. He called his father, a radiologist in Philadelphia’s Main Line, to tell him of his decision. "Hereford?" his father asked, then looked up the town in an atlas. "What a surprise, it’s even on the map." Tuddenham was an anomaly in the Panhandle; he wore frayed Brooks Brothers shirts and Birkenstocks, listened to the Rolling Stones and Neil Young, and had no interest in being hired by New York law firms, which were always eager to recruit the best of the best from every Harvard law class.

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Thelma And Marie

Thelma Brenner was bigger than life, a grande dame in the grand tradition. Marie Brenner recalls life with Mother in this excerpt from her book Great Dames.

"Well, darling, I have something to tell you… I think this is it for me. Curtains," my mother tells me on the telephone. Her voice is causal. She sounds like a deb, very Boston, as if she were coming home from a dance. Her frequent calls from San Antonio to New York were a fixed part of our routine. Over the years these conversations had tabled the unfinished business between us; we had the luxury of being cavalier. "So, the news isn't great," she says, "but doctors are often wrong. What is the matter with the medical establishment?" I begin to hear the terror underneath the party tone.

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France's Scarlet Letter

Street protests against American and British military action in Iraq have escalated into attacks by Muslim youths on Jewish demonstrators, sparking fears of a new wave of anti-Semitism across France.
–London Sunday Telegraph, April 6, 2003.

It would take many months for David de Rothschild to realize that what was happening to Jews in France was a powerful predictor of a war that was coming down history’s long stream. In May 2001, when he and a group of French business leaders arrived in Jerusalem for meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and members of his Cabinet, he reluctantly agreed to speak to a reporter from The Jerusalem Post. Then 58 and the head of the French branch of his family’s banking dynasty, he was just beginning to be aware of a wave of attacks on French Jews by French Muslims that would escalate into an unimaginable nightmare and affect France, the United States, and the Muslim and Jewish populations of both countries.

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