Sales Of The Century

WITH TARA PEPPER IN LONDON, KAY ITOI IN TOKYO, DANA THOMAS IN PARIS, BARBIE NADEAU IN ROME AND JOANNA CHEN IN JERUSALEM Would-be vacationers face a dilemma: just when they really need a relaxing getaway, traveling has become more stressful than staying home.

Music: The Next Generation

Rossen Guergov, 20, is struggling with the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Baton in hand, he gestures stiffly to a piano quintet assembled inside a rustic rehearsal room at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's outdoor venue in western Massachusetts. "Tadada-DAAH!...

Joy, Then Tragedy

Sue Shaw was in her Providence, R.I., office early Tuesday morning when she heard the news of the attack on the World Trade Center. Her immediate concern was for her niece, 25-year-old Bethany LaBarre, who worked on the 29th floor of the south tower.

Rumble In The Himalayas

Images of the devastating earthquake that hit Gujarat, India, last January have yet to fade from memory: buildings reduced to rubble, weeping relatives, the occasional dust-and blood-covered survivor miraculously plucked from the wreckage.

Cyberscope

TRAVEL; Eat, Surf and Be Merry Planning to answer your e-mail while on holiday in New York? That may not be easy. The Internet may have been invented in the United States, but America is one of the least likely places where a traveler might find an Internet cafe. "Every major city in the world has more cybercafes than New York," says Joie Kelly, who runs CyberCafeGuide.com.

Momma, I Want To Swing

On a recent sweltering afternoon, about a dozen Japanese housewives, students and office workers gathered inside a tiny church on West 126th Street in Harlem.

Coming Home To Harlem

It was the type of event Bill Clinton relishes. At his welcome-to-Harlem rally last week, the former president grooved with a group of sax players, reminisced about his boyhood, expounded on the troubles of the downtrodden and indulged in his favorite type of food: fried.

Tea And Silk Slippers

Twenty years ago New York had only one Chinatown, in lower Manhattan. Now there are three others. One is in Flushing, Queens, and two are in Brooklyn, which has become a prime destination of Chinese immigrants: a fledgling one in Sheepshead Bay and a thriving one in Sunset Park.

The Revolt Against Right Angles

Crowded inside a white-washed showroom in Chicago, office-furniture professionals are gawking at the cubicle of the future, which is notable mainly for the complete absence of solid walls or right angles.

Letter From America: Apartment Living

New York's tabloids are agog over Gotham's latest grisly murder. Three thugs burst into a man's apartment, beat him brainless with a baseball bat, strangled him, dumped him into a bathtub, drained his blood by slitting his wrists, then sawed him into bits.

Fashion And Design Trends

Whoever knew computer hardware could look so good? With the advent of Palm's ultra-thin handheld organizers has come a bevy of fashionable covers, from Hermes's gold matte alligator skin ($1,525) to the classic Burberry check ($195).

Looking Back In Dismay

Kaleil Isaza Tuzman has President Bill Clinton in stitches. Halfway through the documentary film "Startup.com," the 28-year-old is seated next to the president at a White House conference on the New Economy, poking light fun at one of the other panelists, a Harvard graduate school dean.

Loving Pandas To Death

The first tour buses pull up to China's Wolong Nature Reserve just after lunch. Giddy from the drive past polluted towns and chemical factories, the passengers stagger out into the parking lot and make their way to the four white-tiled souvenir booths.

Ethnic Education

As America welcomes its largest influx of immigrants since 1910, it is seeing the rise of an alternative kind of educational institution--the culture school.

A Furor Over Abortion Aid

President George W. Bush still calls himself "a uniter, not a divider." But he used his first full workday in office last week to tilt toward his supporters on the religious right.

Europe On A Platter

Udy Law, a real-estate agent from California, didn't intend to travel extravagantly when she toured northern Italy last month with her husband. "We planned to low-budget it," she said, "but with the cheap exchange rate we got to go first class all the way." The couple stayed at four-star hotels in nearly every town they visited; in Verona, they splurged on an 18th-century table and matching bench that cost $2,500. "It's an amazing deal," said Law. "Everything was so cheap in Italy."The...

One Step Ahead

Lately, Scott Halford, a corporate lecturer from Denver who travels more than 100,000 miles a year, has been wowing his fellow fliers. "They just think I'm Mr.

Coffee, Tea Or Gluten-Free?

Four years ago Boston-based designer Judy Samelson was content--if not exactly happy--to eat regular airplane food. Then, one evening on a flight from Toronto to Winnipeg, Manitoba, she glimpsed something tempting on the tray of the woman sitting next to her. "The rest of us had the standard garbage fare--some hideous chicken in some hideous glop," Samelson recalls. "But this woman had poached salmon and a delicious, fresh-looking salad with a small carafe of balsamic vinaigrette." Samelson's...

Agca At Home

It's a dream!" declared Mehmet Ali Agca. With Pope John Paul II's urging, Italy's president had finally pardoned the prematurely aging Turk for the near-fatal shooting of the pontiff in 1981.

Hong Kong: Cashing In

In Hong Kong, the name Li Ka-shing has become synonymous with "goldmine." So last week when one of the billionaire businessman's subsidiary companies, tom.com, launched an IPO, thousands of eager investors raced each other to the bank to apply.

A Furor Over The Torture Tape

The video is about as grisly as it gets: Russian soldiers shoveling dirt into a ditch filled with dead bodies--all Chechen men. Last Thursday a German TV station aired the video and said some of the bodies bore marks that suggested they had been tortured.

Muji Madness Crosses The Atlantic

Susanna Sirefman, an architectural writer from New York, first discovered Muji when she was studying in London in the early 1990s. Since then, she claims, she can't do any work without the Tokyo-based chain store's products.

Was America Snooping On Europe?

In the bad old days of the cold war, America spied on its enemies in the interest of national security. Now, says a report debated last week by the European Parliament, it is snooping on its friends in the name of economic dominance.

Finance Fumble

Michio Ochi was brought in last year to overhaul Japan's crippled banking system. But during a recent speech, the head of the Financial Reconstruction Commission suggested that he was willing to help banks circumvent government inspections. "Please inform us of any complaints about the inspection," he told a gathering of bankers. "I will give it the utmost consideration." Last week members of Japan's largest opposition party played the taped remarks for reporters.

All For Show

Who says Serbia isn't prosecuting war criminals? The republic's 29 district courts have been busy investigating some of the republic's "most wanted": Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroder and nine other Western leaders.

A Scramble For Clues In Bombing

Though no one took immediate credit for last week's set of explosions in Islamabad, the timing may have been explanation enough. The six nearly simultaneous blasts--at two U.S. Embassy installations and a United Nations office building--went off two days before the initiation of U.N.

Poor Sports

Republicans got swift revenge against monarchist Prime Minister John Howard last week. Days after Australians rejected the chance to ditch the queen in a referendum, republicans spoiled Howard's plan to open the Olympics.

Full Expo-Sure

German officials are fuming over the U.S. decision to drop its plans to build a pavilion at Expo 2000, the world's fair that will be held next summer in Hanover.

Straussed Out

Sleaze has become so pervasive in French politics that a stint in the slammer has started to seem like a natural part of public service. So the shocker last week was not the news that the country's respected Finance minister, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was under investigation for alleged corruption.

Hungry Hippo

Love is never easy. Last week Jean Ducuing, a 62-year-old zoo director in Pessac, France, was killed by his favorite pet--a 26-year- old hippopotamus named Komir.

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