Malcolm Beith

Stories by Malcolm Beith

  • Severed Ties?

    Lampooned as a lightweight on foreign policy, George W. Bush often touts his ties with Mexico. His family's history with the Mexican political establishment should serve him well. But staffers of President-elect Vicente Fox say they felt snubbed by Bush this spring when he posed for a photo with the wife of the rival PRI candidate. Meanwhile, a photo op with one of Fox's daughters never materialized. A Bush foreign-policy adviser said: "Both Republicans and Democrats dealt with the PRI because it was the [party] in power." Fortunately for Bush, Mexico's reliance on the U.S. economy will ultimately matter more than any family-party squabbles.
  • 'It's In The Cards'

    Richard Blackwood has been called Britain's answer to Will Smith. The 28-year-old rapper--born and raised in south London--is also a comedian, MTV host and Hollywood hopeful. He just released his debut single across Europe. The title of the track is the same as his catchphrase: "Mama, Who da Man?" It's a question he hopes people won't be asking for long.Your song debuted at No. 3 on the British charts. Were you worried about how it would do? ...
  • Uninvited?

    More than 1,000 spiritual leaders have been invited to the United Nations for the Millennium World Peace Summit this month to discuss ways to foster religious tolerance and reduce ancient antipathies. But until last week, the Dalai Lama wasn't among them. Due to Chinese pressure, he has never been allowed inside the United Nations. After a flood of protest letters, the Dalai Lama was asked to give the keynote address on the last day of the conference. But there's a catch: he would still be barred from attending the summit. The speech would take place at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, not the General Assembly. A spokesman for the International Campaign for Tibet says it's unlikely His Holiness will accept the partial invitation.
  • A New Script?

    North Korean foreign Minister Paek Namsun received star treatment at last week's ASEAN meeting in Bangkok. And he came away from the party with an impressive list of favors. Most important, his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was the first such talk with a high-ranking U.S. offi-cial since the Korean War--and the most compelling evidence since the North/South Korean summit in June that Pyongyang was edging out of isolation. "It is important to get past the 50 years of hostility," said Albright.Predictably, progress at the meeting was limited, yielding no confirmation from North Korea about a purported offer by Kim Jong Il to drop its missile program in exchange for satellite launches in another country. North Korean officials like Paek are rarely empowered to be more than functionaries who stick to their tightly worded scripts. Said one South Korean diplomat, "Their basic emotion is still fear."
  • Putin's Peace With The Oligarchs

    Following a crackdown on Russia's freewheeling business tycoons--including the arrest of media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, whose holdings include the country's only independent TV network--President Vladimir Putin may now be making peace with them. But what are his terms?In June Gusinsky spent four days in jail, and early last week federal agents moved to seize his Moscow home. Then prosecutors suddenly dropped charges of embezzlement against him, declaring the case closed for "lack of evidence"-- raising fears that Gusinsky might tone down print and broadcast criticism of Putin in return. Gusinsky's aide says he "would never strike such a deal." But Gusinsky's NTV station is struggling to reschedule a $211 million debt to Russia's gas monopoly, Gazprom. The partly state-owned Gazprom has offered to swap the debt for shares in the station--a deal that one source close to the Kremlin says may now go ahead, giving Gazprom a "significant" stake in NTV and, perhaps, a say in its...
  • Pleading Guilty

    Staff Sgt. Frank Ronghi of the U.S. Army pleaded guilty last Friday to premeditated murder, sodomy and committing indecent acts with a minor in the Kosovo town of Vitina in January. Ronghi, 36, from Niles, Ohio, had originally claimed that he had found his victim, 11-year-old ethnic Albanian Merita Shabiu, already dead. He offered his guilty plea as part of a bargain under which he would escape the death penalty. Ronghi now faces a sentence of life in prison.
  • Chelsea's Turn

    It isn't just the New York Senate race that's luring Chelsea Clinton away from Stanford this fall--it's a front-row seat to the final months of her father's presidency. Despite her family's efforts to protect her, Chelsea, now 20, has begun to make her own decisions. "She woke up one day and realized, 'I'm missing all this'," says a White House aide. She immersed herself in the Mideast peace talks at Camp David and made a rare appearance while Clinton briefed reporters afterward. Aides say she'll accompany Clinton on foreign travel during the rest of his presidency, including a trip in August to Africa.
  • Sandy Seafood

    No more need for a trip to the seaside for a fresh shrimp cocktail. By next year shellfish aficionados will be enjoying tasty shrimp from the most unlikely of origins--Israel's Negev Desert. Scientists have discovered that the Negev's thermal underground waters, though far less salty than the sea, provide the ideal environment for growing shrimp. The shellfish won't be readily available in their homeland, however--many of Israel's top restaurants won't serve crustaceans, which are not kosher. Instead, most of the shrimp will head across the seas for export. But the crucial question remains: how do they taste? "Consistently good," says Yoram Nitzan, chef at Moul Yam, a stylish Tel Aviv seafood restaurant. "The only problem is--that sea aroma is missing." Try an extra pinch of salt?
  • Look Out, Tiger!

    The formula for the perfect putt is out. A team of Scottish and French psychologists has found that -- surprise! -- it's largely a matter of "internal timing." The recipe for a stroke of genius:
  • Poor Plumbing On Downing Street

    It's every government's nightmare: a leaky inner sanctum. Just as Tony Blair was revving up his Labour Party for Britain's next general election, which could come as early as the spring of 2001, he's been sideswiped by a seemingly coordinated campaign to leak damaging, high-level memos.What worries Blair insiders, who fear that the leaker has more documents to pass around, is that the memos fit a disconcerting pattern. They point to Blair's political vulnerabilities and expose a ruling clique seemingly obsessed with presentation over substance. (It didn't help that in Parliament recently Blair tripped over his tongue and declared that his government's watchword was "spin, not substance.") In an April memo, Blair urges his advisers to come up with "eye-catching initiatives" and ended on an unstatesmanlike note: "I should be personally associated with as much of this as possible." In another, Philip Gould, a former adman and political consultant who is close to Blair, warns: "The New...
  • Cracking Down On Corruption

    China's military brass has often seemed immune to charges of corruption. But the state-run Economic Information Daily reported earlier this month that Maj. Gen. Ji Shengde, the former head of military intelligence, is to be indicted for his alleged involvement in a multibillion-dollar smuggling scandal. Ji was investigated for allegedly amassing more than $10 million in bribes and embezzled cash. The official daily also reported that President Jiang Zemin had personally intervened in the case after the People's Liberation Army's anticorruption unit bungled it.The first public signal of Ji's troubles came last February, when he failed to appear at the funeral of his well-known father, communist old-guard official Ji Pengfei. At the time, he was already in detention. Now that his powerful father is dead, he may have few protectors to stick up for him.
  • Who's Working The Most Hours?

    A report by Esselte Worldwide shows that executives at small- and medium-sized businesses in the United States and Europe are working harder than ever. Despite the heavier workload, most of them aren't complaining. Business must be good.
  • Not-So-Public Opinion

    No leader likes abysmal popularity ratings. But not everyone acts to have them suppressed. Facing his lowest ratings since the 1997 handover to China, Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was accused last week of trying to stifle public-opinion polls conducted by Hong Kong's top university. At a tearful press conference, social scientist Robert Chung Ting-yiu said he had been served notice by his university's head, a Tung appointee, that if he continued wit the polls his resources "would gradually dry up." Tung flatly denied he was behind the move. "I have not asked anyone, nor have I authorized anyone to ask any institution, universities or poll takers, to stop taking polls," he said.The furor capped weeks of a public-relations nightmare for the 67-year-old. Mass protests over his policies, which often seem to cater to the whims of the business elite, have swept the streets this summer. Last month Tung's all-important Housing minister resigned. Now, Chung's accusation has...
  • Fighting Words

    Author Mary Benson, 80, wrote about racial injustice in her native South Africa. Benson penned Nelson Mandela's biography, sharing a close friendship with him. She died last week in London.Governments came and went, but banker Enrico Cuccia reigned for decades as one of the most powerful men in Italy. The chairman of Mediobanca engineered mergers, plotted privatizations, counseled Gianni Agnelli and never once gave an interview. He died last week in his sleep, at 92.
  • Battle In Belgium

    : Lager louts: As 16,000 British soccer fans swarmed Belgium for the European Championship, hooligans clashed with locals and German supporters in violence that resulted in hundreds of arrests. On Saturday England beat Germany 1-0.