Sub: The Investigators' Theory
Weeks after the USS Greeneville slammed into the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru, investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board are frustrated by the Navy's foot-dragging in providing critical information for their probe. After denying the existence of any recordings of the sub's systems, the Navy finally handed over the raw electronic data. Based on a preliminary analysis of the technical material and interviews with 23 crew members (three officers declined to talk), NEWSWEEK has learned, the NTSB has developed a working theory: several factors combined to cause the deadly accident.
About an hour before the crash, a sailor monitoring various sensors reported contact with a surface ship. But, he told investigators, he didn't update a paper chart in the control room because visiting civilians were in the way. Further, a backup sonar display, which relays information to the captain, was out of order. Compounding the problem: the presence of a Navy VIP chaperoning the civilians, who, NTSB investigators speculate, may have made the crew extra nervous. Investigators are also skeptical of Navy assertions that the sub was on a legitimate training mission. The sub trip has the hallmark of a "joy ride," said one official.
Meanwhile, senior Pentagon officials worry that Japanese outrage over the disaster may cost the United States its base in Okinawa. After a spate of crimes by Marines stationed there, local leaders called for a sharply reduced U.S. presence. Now, for the first time, the governor has joined in.
Our Favorite Martian Returns
Good news for mars fans: scientists are resurrecting the claim that a Martian meteorite harbors signs of life. Five years ago, when a NASA-Stanford team announced that a 3.6 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars that landed in Antarctica contained four kinds of molecules that resembled those made by living things, critics argued that the "signs of life" could have nonbiological origins. But this week two teams will report that rustlike crystals in the meteorite are "chemically and physically identical" to those produced by bacteria on earth. No known nonlife process can produce them, they say. Many scientists remain skeptical: just because researchers don't know of any chemical processes that produce such crystals doesn't mean they don't exist. If the crystals were produced by microbes, they would be the oldest fossils ever found--on any planet.
Professor Gore Has a Guest
The title of this Wednesday's lecture: "The Role of Corporate Ownership and Market Structure in Shaping the Content and Distribution of News." The guest speaker: global media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The audience: Al Gore's class at Columbia University's School of Journalism. Maybe it's not such a strange mix. After all, many analysts contend Murdoch uses the pages of his media properties, including the New York Post, to advance his business and political interests. On the other hand, Murdoch's cable network, Fox News Channel, was first to prematurely declare Bush the winner in Florida. Maybe the toughest questions for the guest will come not from the students but from Professor Gore himself.
No, Allen, I'm Over Heeeeeere!
The last time the 76ers won a title, afros were popular--for the first time. The team got Dikembe Mutombo last week to give its homegrown, cornrowed star support. Is it enough to score a trophy? What people are saying in print, on air and online:
Swish! The best just got better. To win a title, the West's centers will now have to scale 7'2" Mt. Mutombo.
Buzzer Beater 'You have a chance at the ring, you pull the trigger.' (ESPN.com) Management gave prez Pat Croce five years to tweak the team to perfection; in his fifth year, he made the winning trade. Time Out Why give star Allen Iverson more to rap about? This trade may have 'disrupted what has been a marvelous team chemistry.' (Phila. Daily News) Shot in the Dark 'The Sixers have mortgaged their future.' (Phila. Inquirer) They traded rising star Theo Ratliff, 27, for a 34-year-old free agent. Foul!
Long before Sundance, producer-director Stanley Kramer, 87, was making independent movies like "The Defiant Ones." Raising social issues the country had been happy ignoring, his 35 films collected 15 Oscars and 85 Academy Award nominations.
Balthus, 92, called himself "a painter about whom nothing is known." Actually, the self-proclaimed Polish count who lived reclusively in Switzerland was very well known: for his slyly pedophilic pictures of pubescent girls and for being perhaps the best realist painter on the planet.
The Buzzards Are Buzzing
Hitchcock would love Austin, Texas. Hundreds of vultures crowd the power lines, and their dung may short the city's circuits. Unless Bird Be Gone or noise booms scare them off soon, the federally protected raptors will face the shotgun. PETA's protest is probably in the mail.
Experts Agree: It's a Bear Market
Sex sells, but so, apparently, do hairy backs and grubby paws. A spate of ads pit Man against Bear in a Faulknerian struggle for supremacy--and the beer-guzzling SUV drivers triumph every time. "Bears are everywhere, it's a really weird phenomenon," says Peter Beckman, founder of adcritic.com. And with spring on the way, the National Park Service hopes campers don't get overconfident. "We're worried about the cartoonish aspect of these ads," said Scott Gediman, a park ranger in Yosemite, where inappropriately stored food is a surefire bear magnet. "They need to know that if a person gets into a fight with a bear, the bear is going to win."
Bear Meets 'Matrix'
Southpaw tries to protect his catch from sneaky John West Salmon employee.
Bears Eating Salad?
Yup. While 'tough' men drive Toyota Tacomas. Don't try this one at home.
The New Face of Wendy's
What about the redhead?She didn't share her nuggets.
Wish You Were Here
Da, da, da--with fangs. VW reps confirm yet another bear sighting.
Cruising for A Boozing
Ursine muncher and rugged outdoorsmen battle over Smirnoff Ice. In the end, one human is sacrificed so the other can drink in peace (with two hot women).
Their Eunuch Experience
Eunuchs in India are showing that they've got, er, guts. A group of eunuchs in southern India is threatening not to participate in the national census, which concludes in March, if they are forced to check "male." Instead of having to choose a sex, these castrated folks are demanding to be classified as "physically disabled." Census commissioner Jayant Banthia is not intimidated: "Can they bear a child? No. So they're treated as men."
Pie in the Sky
Something can be so bad that it's fascinating. Perhaps that's why Britain's Surrey University School of Management has appointed the world's first professor of airline food, who will teach and conduct research.
Right Now, It's 'Supper' Time
We haven't seen the last of "Last Suppers." There's a flap at the Brooklyn Museum of Art over Renee Cox's photo graphing herself nude as Christ. Dick Detzner has Mrs. Butterworth standing in for Jesus at the Chicago Athenaeum. Attendance is way up in both venues. And in Milan you need a reservation to see Leonardo da Vinci's original mural.
Who's in the White House Edition
While perusing the agate type, the CW noticed that Bush gave his first press conference. Pardon-scandal rehashes left little room for coverage of Dubya's China-radar gaffe.
C.W. Bush + Handles press conference adequately, bonds with Blair. Promises his family will behave. Clinton - Still playing the victim. What's next? Did Bud- dy seek pardon for Socks's catnip smuggling? 1st Brothers - Pardon payoffs, DUI, hazelnuts. They're up there with Donald Nixon and Billy Carter. Hanssen - Kim Philby wanna-be yanked in from cold. Forget reality TV; he's the real mole. NASCAR = Breakout American sport loses its Michael Jordan. Checkered flags at half-mast. Nat. Enquirer + Tom and Nicole, Jesse's baby, Hugh's $400K. Paging the Pulitzers!