The Blame Game

It wasn't long after the World Trade Center had been toppled by a terrorist attack Tuesday morning that Osama Siblani received his first threatening phone call. "You had better pray to God that Arabs didn't have anything to do with this," hissed the unidentified caller, "or your ass will be next, Siblani." Siblani, editor of the Arab-American News in Dearborn, Mich., cursed at the caller and slammed down the phone.

The Growing Risks Of Fringe Lending

Flip on the TV at 3 a.m. and you'll see how much banking has changed in the last decade. Slick announcers shouting "Bad credit? No problem!" entice once ignored, debt-laden consumers with the offer of easy credit and quick cash.

The Split Personality Economy

Listen to Tim Helton and Jim Hackett talk about the economy, and you might think they live in different countries. Helton and his wife, Michelle, just sold their home in Schaumburg, Ill., in a single day, for $184,000 ($2,000 more than the asking price), and bought a larger house for $245,000.

'Big Dude' Gets Profiled

It was one of the coolest moments of his life. Abdullah Al-Arian was finally old enough to vote for president, and George W. Bush, on a campaign hop through Tampa, Fla., had singled him out in the crowd.

Car Phones: Dialing &Amp; Driving Don't Mix

Driving down Manhattan's Ninth Avenue last week, Ray Payano was hard at work. With a client talking to him on Payano's handheld mobile phone and his boss weighing in on the car's speakerphone, the 28-year-old computer consultant was in the middle of a three-way conference call when an e-mail popped up on his mobile-phone screen.

Big Blowout

When congressman Billy Tauzin opened hearings into unsafe Firestone tires on Ford Explorers last year, he boasted that he was a proud owner of an Explorer.

The Confused Economy: Is The Business Cycle Dying

Something strange happened as recession threatened the American heartland. From their perch high in the gleaming glass towers of the Renaissance Center overlooking the decay of downtown Detroit, Michigan, the top executives of General Motors saw trouble approaching.

Fixing Cadillac

A few years ago, Ron Zarrella, a rising star at Bausch & Lomb, decided to reward himself with an expensive new car. He took several models out for a test drive, including a Cadillac Seville.

Daimler Thinks Small

While she was vacationing in Italy last year, Judy Law stumbled on a curious thing: a tiny, Popsicle-blue, bubble-topped vehicle, wedged between two large cars in a medieval back alley. "Oh, it's adorable," thought Law, an Atherton, Calif., real- estate agent.

Try Lounging In Leather

It's the end of a busy workday, and the 4:45 p.m. flight from Rochester, N.Y., to New York City is crammed with weary business travelers. But this is no cattle car in the sky.

Fallout For The Bottom Line

It didn't take long for American business to suffer some collateral damage from the spy-plane standoff. It came last Tuesday when Prescott Bush, uncle of the president, arrived at the elegant Fangshan restaurant in Beijing for a banquet hosted by China's vice minister of civil affairs.

Who Let The Well-Dressed Dogs In?

Once the hot house for low-priced fashions, Old Navy is now trying to get out of the retailing doghouse by introducing a line of "canine couture." America's 62 million dogs now have a place to run to for collar-and-leash sets ($6.50) that match their owners' Capri pants.

A New King Of The Road

Good news for the bigger-is-better crowd: here comes the Unimog mega-SUV from DaimlerChrysler. Three feet taller than a Chevy Suburban and a foot longer than a Ford Excursion, the Unimog weighs in at more than six tons.

Billionaire Backlash

The rich may be different, but they certainly aren't indifferent. Banking heiress and art patron Agnes Gund irritated some of her wealthy friends last week by going public with her opposition to President Bush's plan to repeal the estate tax.

Life In The Breakdown Lane

The job isn't getting any easier for Dieter Zetsche. Ever since November, when Stuttgart-based DaimlerChrysler sent him to Detroit as the Chrysler Group's new CEO, the former Mercedes executive has had his hands full.

BUSH'S MONEY POSSE

The news took George W. Bush completely by surprise. Hunkered down in an Austin, Texas, hotel ballroom with a group of top CEOs last Wednesday, the president-elect received word that Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had just cut interest rates by half a point.

Secret Weapon

As Nissan's new chief designer, Shiro Nakamura, walked among vintage Japanese sports cars jammed bumper to bumper into the Las Vegas convention hall, it was obvious how he earned the nickname "Fingers": he inspected each one of the sleek machines with respect, intensity and more close physical contact than you'd ever expect to see from a Japanese auto executive.

A Mess Of A Merger

It was supposed to be a quiet Sunday dinner between the top executive of Chrysler, Jim Holden, and his German boss, DaimlerChrysler chief Jurgen Schrempp.

Motown Slowdown

Each January in Detroit auto executives in black ties and sequined gowns turn out for a gala to celebrate the opening of the Detroit auto show. Affectionately dubbed the "auto prom," the glittering event is a must-attend affair for the industry's big wheels and rising stars.

Growing A Green Plant

In its day, Henry Ford's River Rouge manufacturing complex was a showcase of the Industrial Revolution. Huge freighters bearing freshly mined iron ore docked at one end of the mile-long warren of foundries and factories, while on the other end, as if by some industrial magic, shiny black Model A automobiles rolled off the assembly line every 49 seconds.

Safety First

Nicole Heisman's car saved her life. Last June, on her way to a job interview in San Jose, Calif., Heisman, 20, swerved to avoid road debris, and her car flipped three times.

Spinning Out Of Control

When Lori Lazarus heard about the big Firestone tire recall last month, she was steamed, but not surprised. On Labor Day 1996, while driving home from Disney World, a Firestone tire on her Ford Explorer shredded.

Contrarian At The Gate

A few years ago, long after corporate raider Carl Icahn had amassed a fortune that reached into the billions, he was asked by a television reporter: "Why do you keep doing this?" His tart reply: "It's a way of keeping score."Now at 64, Icahn, the whip-smart kid from Queens, N.Y., who grew up to be one of the most feared predators of the go-go '80s, is shooting for his biggest score yet: General Motors.

Throwing The Brakes On Tires That Peel Out

In the early-morning hours of June 15, Nancy Dudley headed north out of Florida with her son Eric sleeping soundly in the back seat of her Ford Explorer. They were traveling to North Carolina, where 8-year-old Eric was to be ring bearer in a wedding.

Ford Goes For The Green

First Ford Motor Co. admits sport utility vehicles foul the planet and are a menace to society. Now it is promising to improve gas mileage by 25 percent on all its SUVs by 2005.

Bring On The Junk Food

When Philip Morris agreed to pay nearly $15 billion for Nabisco Holdings last week, Wall Street pros were staggered by the price tag. But snack-food king Nabisco can thank diners like Andy Baze for the hefty tab. "Snack foods rock," says Baze, 29, "because they require absolutely no effort." The busy software engineer's idea of a square meal: a Premium Saltine cracker (made by Nabisco) smeared with peanut butter, followed by Chips Ahoy chocolate-chip cookies (also Nabisco), all washed down with...

Why Bill Has Become Microsoft's Mr. Rogers

Bill Gates has a new sideline: company pitchman. During breaks from Shaq's domination of the NBA finals last week, the smiling, sweater-clad Microsoft chairman popped up frequently in television commercials for the software giant.

Living With Less Power

Jimmy Lee was at the top of his game. Running the booming investment-banking business at Chase Manhattan, Lee worked 17-hour days, keeping six cell phones humming, while pulling together billion-dollar deals for clients like AT&T and General Motors.

Sofas For The Masses

For Leslie Wilder, fashion is not just something you wear. It's where you live. In the past three years, she has spent $12,000 decorating her Seattle home with funky furnishings like a red art deco couch, a purple chaise longue and black cube end tables.

Vw Rides A Hot Streak

When Carlyn Challgren moved to Los Angeles, she quickly fell into the California lifestyle--rock climbing, mountain biking, Rollerblading. But the one thing she lacked was a cool car. "I used to park as far away as possible so people wouldn't see what I drove," says the 35-year-old paralegal, who cruised L.A.

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