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  • Lebanon: Bush's Democracy Campaign

    As Lebanon's Parliament battles over who it will choose as the nation's next president, U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman has made it clear which side America is not on. In op-eds, TV appearances and meetings with top officials, he described the current pro-Syrian president, Emile Lahoud, as an embodiment of the state's chronic weakness. He urged legislators to pick a leader who would disarm Hizbullah, the Iran- and Syria-backed Party of God. He did not explicitly endorse a candidate of the pro-Western majority, but his campaign still has raised eyebrows. The leftist Beirut newspaper As Safir voiced the opinion of many Lebanese, complaining that never in the history of diplomacy "has a foreign ambassador given himself such license to interfere."Not only in Lebanon is the aggressive Bush-administration campaign to promote democracy provoking a backlash. To be sure, the protests do not always come from democrats. But countries that used to blame internal dissent on CIA meddling now...
  • Beltway Bandits

    Thanks to the Bush administration, for-profit aid work is a booming—and controversial—business.
  • The Sermon On The Mall

    The pessimists err by continually viewing holiday shopping as a item, subject to short-term economic whims.
  • Diplomat on Lebanon’s Crisis

    Washington's ambassador to Lebanon explains why the country needs to elect a new president, and how America views Hizbullah leadership.
  • No Iraq Deployments Yet? Get Ready.

    According to a new article in the , the Army is targeting for deployment the 7.2 percent of active-duty soldiers who have yet to serve in war zones.  Since the war in Afghanistan began six years ago, 59.4 percent (515,000 soldiers) of the Army has deployed at least once to regions under the Central Command.  The remaining 33.4 percent of soldiers are either non-deployable or about to leave for war.Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody told the among the 7.2 percent still without war deployments are soldiers in the health and training fields:Of the 7.2 percent of soldiers (37,000 of them) without combat deployments:--27.2 percent work in health services.--7.1 percent work in career management fields and operations support (i.e. systems engineering, information systems management, and telecommunications).--4.1 percent work in logistics, transportation, and human resources.--3.5 percent serve in combat units.
  • Credit Crunch May Impact '08

    A slowing economy is already a burden that Republicans will carry into the election. A harsher credit 'crunch' could be fatal.
  • A Solution to Mortgage Crisis

    If banks would modify the loan terms, the majority of at-risk borrowers could pay their mortgages and stay in their homes.
  • U.S. Rep on Free-Trade Pacts

    Despite rising protectionist sentiment in Congress, U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says pending free-trade deals will pass--and benefit American workers.
  • Funeral Homes Face Hard Times

    It's a tough time to be in the death-care business—or what all us non-undertakers refer to as funeral homes. At Service Corp. International (SCI), the Houston-based giant with 2,000 homes, the number of services conducted fell 2,131, or 4 percent, from last year. And revenue per funeral barely kept pace with inflation, rising just 2.7 percent. At the Batesville Casket Co., a unit of publicly held Hillenbrand Industries and one of the largest U.S. coffin makers, sales in the first nine months of 2007 were flat compared with 2006.In theory, death care should be immune from short-term economic swings. Death is one of only two sure things in life, and the U.S. population is aging. "This is one industry that pretty much holds strong regardless of the economy," says Mike Nicodemus, funeral director at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Homes, a 10-operation chain in Virginia Beach, Va. But costs for raw materials (wood, flowers) are rising, while the flow of customers has slowed. "There's been a...
  • Personal Finance Tips: Banks

    Simplicity can sometimes be overrated. Folks may pay a price when they insist on keeping their finances pared down. Here's how to make money by complicating matters.• Use lots of banks: Your neighborhood branch might have the most local ATMs, but the online players like, and are offering better than 3 percent interest on checking, and sweet CD rates, too. Online transfers are easy. You can still keep a cash fund close to home.• Build a bigger wallet: Using one credit card for everything is easy, but wrong. You can earn hundreds of dollars a year maxing out rewards by using different cards for different types of purchases. That's because most reward cards cap the amount they'll give you in a year. Many offer higher rewards for specific purchases. Some of the more robust deals are the Chase PerfectCard (3 percent back on gas); the Citibank Driver's Edge card (6 percent back for one year at groceries, drugstores and gas stations, plus 1...
  • Adventure Travel: Wild Animals

    Need a break from the daily grind? Spend some time with exotic animals in their natural habitats. WhaleSwim Adventures offers an eight-night expedition to Tonga in the South Pacific, where travelers can frolic with humpback whales, as well as snorkel in reefs and underwater caves. Meals and accommodations are included (recommended only for strong swimmers, from $3,444, excluding airfare; more of an adrenaline kick, Absolute Adventures—Shark Diver offers trips from San Diego to the coast of Baja, where divers don scuba gear before being lowered in cages to observe great whites. The package includes a videographer, gourmet meals and accommodations on an expedition yacht ($100,000 a week; only a few hours? On the one-day "Blue Mountains Wilderness, Wildlife Park" tour in Australia, visitors can feed kangaroos and cuddle koalas at a wildlife park ($130; .au). In Dubai, you can bond with dromedaries on a camel trek into...
  • Home Decor Inspired by Cars

    For car buffs, names like Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benz conjure up images of speed and style. But these traits need no longer be confined to the garage. Some carmakers are applying them to home furnishings.The Tonino Lamborghini home collection, produced by Formitalia, reflects the power and elegance of the cars ( The six-seat Pista sofa ($29,774) is made of gray ostrich and deer leather, and looks dashing next to a black lacquered side table ($9,127). The Raceway chaise longue features white ostrich leather and nickel legs ($6,232). For the kitchen, pieces include a red ostrich-leather double-door fridge ($20,286) and a yellow ostrich-leather wall clock ($580).The Mercedes-Benz Lifestyle Collection includes a speedometer-inspired AMG desk clock ($100; Ferrari sells a Plexiglas umbrella stand lined with fabric bearing images of the steering wheel and dashboard of a vintage Ferrari ($296; And for some English elegance, Aston...
  • Can Garmin Maintain GPS Lead?

    Garmin is a leader in consumer GPS technology. But it now faces plummeting prices and competition from cell phones. Can the company find its way?
  • A Facebook for Boomers

    As she turned 50, the founder of Parenting magazine wanted more than an AARP card. Her new start-up aims to be a social network for the graying set.
  • Reviews: New Business Books

    New York Times columnist Krugman crunches data and cruises through history to locate the origins of rising income inequality. "The Shrill One," as he's been dubbed by friend and foe, gives issues like the decline of unions and free trade their due. But Krugman believes income inequality is largely a political issue. For more than a generation, he argues, Republicans have used race-based electoral strategies to pursue economic policies that helped the rich. Today, though, demographics and economic winds favor the Democrats. An oversimplification? Sure. But Krugman's command of economic data and eagerness to dispense with politesse make for a compelling read.Capitalism has enriched many, but is the world better off? Reich, Labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, explains how turbocharged global moneymaking is endangering democracy. He says low prices and consumer choice have also increased wage inequity and global warming. But he doesn't blame Wal-Mart. "We shouldn't expect...
  • Make Your Own Wedding Rings

    Isn't it romantic? And profitable, too. Couples who shop at New York Wedding Rings don't just buy their platinum bands—they design and make them themselves. Owner Sam Abbay started as a jewelry-making hobbyist who hoped somehow to build a business. "I realized I liked making gifts," he recalls. So he figured out he would sell the gift-making instead of the gift. Wedding and engagement rings were an obvious choice. That was in San Francisco at the end of 2005, and now there is a San Francisco branch, run by a friend, and the main New York shop, opened last year in the West Village, when Abbay moved there.He currently works with roughly 10 customers a month in New York—at an average of about $3,200 per ring. Couples can design anything from simple bands to intricate ones: carved, engraved or stamped, and molded of gold, platinum or palladium. It typically takes two days for a custom ring; simple bands are priced from $1,200 to $2,250 and take a day. Engagement rings typically take...
  • Firm Offers Ads on Handstamps

    Here's some new advertising space: the back of your hand. Nightclubs and other hand-stamping venues are getting paid to use logos, phone numbers and other advertising marks when they stamp customers who have paid cover charges or are old enough to buy drinks.An Australian firm, Passout Marketing, says it's already stamping about 5 million hands a year there for clients including Boost Juice and IKEA. In the United States, Orange County start-up Handvertising USA is building a network of venues that it sells to advertisers. including a real-estate company, a radio station and an alcohol brand. Handvertising charges advertisers about 50 cents a hand, and pays a dime of that to the venue.Secret shoppers spot-check the venues to make sure the stamps are being used. Owner Mike Brown is adding sales reps to promote the idea to marketers and others to sell to the clubs. He says he wants to build a nationwide big-city club network and sell the stamping rights to brand-name advertisers that...
  • When Will the Slump End?

    At the height of the boom, author and former Wall Streeter John Talbott warned of the crisis to come. Unfortunately, his latest predictions aren't promising.
  • Our Great Recession Obsession

    No one likes the side effects of a recession: higher unemployment, weaker profits. But slumps are inevitable, and they do have some benefits.
  • Split By Decision

    The rich are getting richer due to market forces—and to very human choices.
  • The Global Poverty Trap

    Without the proper cultural catalysts, those trying to escape from poverty face long odds.
  • Media Meccas

    Mideast nations eager to develop entertainment hubs are pouring money into Hollywood.
  • A Mission Of Her Own

    Gynecologist Hilda Hutcherson is fighting to help women combat the constant pressure to be perfect.
  • Foxy Business News

    Rupert Murdoch serves Wall Street to the masses with banter, beer and breasts. Watch out, CNBC.
  • Making Sense of Health Savings Accounts

    It's going to take Washington a while to figure out the future of health insurance. In the meantime, anyone with a high-deductible health-insurance plan, and a health-care savings account to go with it, can make some hay. They're ever more popular: some 4.5 million people were covered by these plans in 2007. That's more than doubled from the previous year. But folks flocking to these plans have yet to figure out the best way to capitalize on them. Their real worth is not in saving a fast buck on Band-Aids. They're really a back-door way to save for retirement. Here's how.
  • A Rail Car Of One’s Own

    Reminiscent of an era of cigar smoke and three-piece suits, vintage railroad cars are being restored with art deco interiors, private bathrooms and five-star chefs. For about $7,000 a day, these cars can be hitched to passenger or freight trains for private charter in the United States, Mexico and Canada ( The Hickory Creek, a restored 1948 Pullman car, once ferried movie stars and media from New York to Chicago along the 20th Century Limited line. Today the dining car uses silver and original waiter uniforms to give guests "some of that Cary Grant feeling," says charter agent Scott Clauss (startrakinc. com). Riders on the opulent Metis rail car, built in 1928 for Queen Elizabeth to tour Canada, can dine on lobster and truffles in the mahogany dining room (americanrail. com). They may hope the trip never ends.
  • Quick Read

    Conference Board president Spector and consultant Libert have plenty of their own wisdom to draw on, but that didn't stop them from getting help in writing their book. Using wikis, they collected expertise from more than 4,000 people representing top B-schools and organizations. There's plenty of advice about cutting costs, raising capital and understanding the potential of social networking, but the tale of how the collaborators turned all this advice into a book may be the most interesting thing they have to offer.Belfort's improbable rise from anonymity in New York's outer boroughs to infamy as the drug-gobbling chieftain of a fraudulent stock brokerage has already been fodder for a cult movie, Ben Younger's 2000 "Boiler Room." But now after time in jail and rehab, Belfort gets to tell this sordid tale himself. The title misleads (Belfort's crew of scammers operated from Long Island, not Manhattan), and you may hate yourself for giving him $25 of your hard-earned money (even if...