News

Condi In The Hot Seat

First to take the fall was CIA Director George Tenet. He apologized for not stopping President Bush from declaring, in the State of the Union, that the Iraqis were trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Africa, a claim based on thin or fraudulent intelligence. Then last week it was deputy national- security adviser Steve Hadley's turn to fall on his sword. A shaken Hadley confessed to reporters that the CIA had, in fact, warned the White House in October to be wary of British intelligence reports about the Iraqis and African uranium--but that he had forgotten all about it when it came time to draft the president's State of the Union Message in January.Amid the high-level mea culpas, one voice was significantly missing. National-security adviser Condoleezza Rice has been defiant, and more than a little defensive, in her insistence that the flap about hyped-up intelligence was "overblown." She may have a point: proof could still turn up that Saddam Hussein harbored a secret WMD program....

REFORM? DON'T CELEBRATE YET.

They're having a ceremony in Washington Wednesday to mark a year since the Sarbanes-Oxley Corporate Reform Act became the law of the land. The event, at Securities and Exchange Commission headquarters, will have speeches, but no cake or singing of "Happy Birthday." (What do you expect from people who wear suits in steamy Washington in July?) But even cakeless birthdays have their uses. What better time to reflect on the past year? Remember when capitalism was supposedly in crisis, and pundits predicted Wall Street would never be the same? What has the year wrought?There are promising signs that things are getting better for investors, recent scandals like HealthSouth and Freddie Mac notwithstanding. The SEC is adding lots of staff and the new accounting regulatory board seems headed in the right direction. Analysts are even issuing "sell" recommendations on the stocks they cover: some 10.5 percent of recommendations are sells, up from less than 1 percent a year ago, according to...

American Beat: Fish of a Feather

I went to the fish store to buy something healthy for dinner and suddenly found myself in the middle of the Vietnam War.Like most Americans, when I shop, my main consideration is price. Sure, I enjoy salmon and Dover sole as much as the next man--but the next man is usually some guy who just sold his screenplay for six figures and can afford to blow a wad on some fancy fish.So naturally, my eyes headed for the cheaper selections. To my confusion, there were two varieties of catfish, but at markedly different prices. For $2.99, I could get a pound of Vietnamese catfish, while $3.99 bought me a pound of "southern-raised" American catfish. At those prices, I chose the Vietnamese catfish. It seemed like the capitalist thing to do.Unfortunately, not all capitalists agree. In fact, the capitalists who run the U.S. government believe the opposite. So our leaders--the same leaders who are constantly singing the praises of "free trade"--are trying again to defeat the Vietnamese, this time in...

Spirits: Cocktail, Anyone?

If you still haven't had that backyard bash you've been promising your friends, don't worry, it's not too late. But you'll want to do it up right--plain old gin and tonic just won't cut it. Tip Sheet's Tara Weingarten asked a few of our favorite mixologists for more festive summer cocktails.Titanic Martini4 oz. Ciroc grape vodka4 grapes1 tsp. brown sugar1/2 oz. white grape juice1 scoop lemon sorbetSplash of champagneCombine vodka, grapes, brown sugar, grape juice and ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a martini glass and top with the sorbet and champagne. Makes two drinks. For a bigger impact, adjust ingredients and serve in punch bowl with several floating sorbet "icebergs."From Citarella, New YorkTabu1/2 cup fresh raspberries2 oz. Tanqueray No. TenDip rim of martini glass in powdered sugar. Puree raspberries in blender and strain out seeds. Fill glass a quarter full with puree. Top with Tanqueray No. Ten.From Tabu at MGM Grand Hotel, Las VegasThe Continental1 oz. cognac11/2 oz....

The Purloined Painting

It's every millionaire's worst nightmare: waking up to find a home stripped of priceless artwork overnight. If that fails to arouse your sympathy, consider that it happens regularly in museums, too; treasures worth billions of dollars are swiped every year in audacious heists from public galleries around the world.Thanks to Charles Hill, there's hope of getting them back. The former head of Scotland Yard's art-and-antiques squad is one of a handful of specialists feared in the insular criminal underworld of stolen art. Bookish and genial, Hill (who won't permit his picture to be published so he can remain anonymous to the thieves) made a name for himself when he recovered Edvard Munch's well-known painting "The Scream" after it was stolen from the National Gallery in Oslo nearly a decade ago. Since then he has returned works by Vermeer, Goya and Turner to their rightful owners. So when a $50 million 16th-century sculpted saltcellar went missing from Vienna's art-history museum last...

Conventional Wisdom

With American troops about to land in another faraway hot zone, Liberia will become more than disturbing pictures. And what's our mission? ...

Ask Tip Sheet

Why do American flag patches on U.S. soldiers' arms appear to be backward? I've also noticed this on the sides of airplanes.--Philip G. Romeo, Wollaston, Mass.It's not a mistake or a political statement. Imagine a flag bearer rushing into battle with Old Glory streaming behind him: the stars would always come first. At least since the gulf war, only the patches worn on soldiers' right arms are reversed, as is stipulated in Army regulations. Symbolically, it's meant to portray soldiers as always charging forward, not retreating from the challenge. It's meant to show our soldiers are always ready for battle.

Tabloids: Start The Presses

Arnold Schwarzenegger could be the most formidable gubernatorial candidate California Dems will face. He's got name recognition, he's independently wealthy and, come on, he's the Terminator. So are they working overtime to dig up the sleaze? Actually, no. "We haven't spent 10 seconds on Arnold," says one campaign operative. They don't have to--the tabloids are more than up to the task. Many juicy tales of Schwarzenegger's alleged "zipper problem" are filed and ready, says the operative, but have been held for legal reasons. That could all change if Arnold enters the race--once he's a potential "public official," it will get harder for the famously litigious star to sue for libel. Dems are also banking on the fact that since Arnold is a global celebrity, anything written about him anywhere immediately becomes front-page news in California. Arnold's advisers hope his rumored friskiness won't matter to voters. "Could this derail a candidacy in post-Clinton America?" asks one. "I don't...

PERISCOPE

Terrorism: Al Qaeda's Men in IranAs U.S. troops try to fend off "guerrilla" attacks in Iraq, American spies and diplomats are increasingly preoccupied with a scary group of Qaeda operatives in neighboring Iran. Last week Ali Younesi, Tehran's intelligence minister, confirmed that a "large number" of Qaeda personnel are presently in his country. Younesi claimed the terror suspects were "in custody." U.S. officials believe that the suspects include some of America's Most Wanted: Saad bin Laden, Osama's son and possible successor; Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti who surfaced as one of Al Qaeda's top media "spokesmen" after 9/11; Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian alleged by Colin Powell to be a key link between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and possibly Saif Al-Adel, once Al Qaeda's military and security chief. Also believed to be in Iran are deputy leaders of two key Egyptian Qaeda affiliates, Islamic Jihad (headed by bin Laden sidekick Ayman Al- Zawahiri, still thought to be in hiding...

OPEN THE WINDOWS AND LET SUMMER IN

Each year, as spring rolls into summer, I close every open window and crank up the air conditioner. Even if it's not yet hot outside, I want that AC humming. This year my tussle with the miniblinds was interrupted by a thought: exactly when did we become a nation of shut-ins?When I moved into my partner's 1950s-era house four years ago, I discovered that all but a couple of the windows had been painted shut, thus rendering them useless for letting in anything but light. Many of our friends live in a similar setting, and several commute to a work environment that is just as sealed off from the natural world. Each morning, they hop into their air-conditioned cars and drive to their air-conditioned offices without breathing so much as a breath of fresh air. If they work in a building that was put up in the last 30 years or so, they can forget about opening a window.Is this hermetic existence a bad thing? Not necessarily. There's no denying that air conditioning has enabled millions of...

Corporate Destruction

A thunderstorm is brewing, and Antonio Arellano, clutching a scrap of paper bearing the number 41, is still far from the head of the line outside the government grocery store. But the 49-year-old printer repairman is not complaining. "Anywhere else," he says, "things are at least 20 to 30 percent more expensive. A chicken here costs 2,400 bolivares [about $1.50 at the official exchange rate]. On the street it's 5,000." The modest, red-white-and-blue-painted store is part of the Mercal chain, an expanding, government-run operation selling cheap staples to the poor. It was launched by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this year after a crippling two-month national work stoppage against his government. According to the chain's national coordinator, Army Gen. Wilfredo Silva, Mercal already distributes 1,500 tons of food a day, projected to rise to 2,000 tons shortly.Chavez describes himself as a "revolutionary," but until recently he'd pursued a fairly orthodox economic policy....

Pirates Of The Internet

Last month I attended a hearing of the senate judiciary Committee with an intriguing title: "The dark side of a bright idea: Could personal and national-security risks compromise the potential of peer-to-peer file-sharing networks?" I certainly was aware that some members of Congress wanted to snuff out the grass-roots phenomena of people's swapping copyrighted songs on the Net. But I assumed that the crime of file-sharing, joyfully committed by an estimated 60 million pirates, was mainly a problem of lost revenues for the music industry. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, giving the opening testimony, argued otherwise, calling file-sharing networks a grave security risk to this nation. In reality, the hearing was nothing but one of several signs of a new hardball offensive against file-sharing for the same old reasons: protecting the business model of the record labels.What was the alleged national-security issue? Strictly yellowcake. Researchers testified that because of a confusing interface...

TRANSITION

At a ceremony last year paying tribute to the career of British movie director John Schlesinger--an event he was too ill to attend--Dustin Hoffman said of the man who made the Oscar-winning "Midnight Cowboy," "He loved actors more than anyone I ever worked with." Actors gave back their best to Schlesinger: Hoffman and Jon Voight in the sexually pioneering 1969 "Cowboy"; Alan Bates in "A Kind of Loving"; Julie Christie, who played her first leading role for Schlesinger in "Billy Liar" and won an Oscar as a hollow, ambitious model in "Darling"; Dirk Bogarde, at his very best in that same film; Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson, superbly subtle in "Sunday Bloody Sunday," one of the first films to treat homosexuality with matter-of-fact maturity; Sean Penn, spectacular as a dope-addled spy in "The Falcon and the Snowman." He reached the height of his commercial success with the 1976 thriller "Marathon Man," famous for the sadistic dentistry performed by Laurence Olivier on Hoffman....

GETAWAYS: PIED-A-TERRIFIC

Picture yourself poolside at an 18th- century farmhouse in Provence--next week. Anti-French sentiment and a weak dollar have left many postcard-perfect summer rentals, or gites, vacant. The ones in Provence may be the coolest--but with 100-degree temps recently, they're also the hottest. Look for deals in Brittany, Normandy and Alsace. Gites sleep up to 10, and often come with a pool. You could land a 600-year-old stone house near vineyards. It won't have AC or the Internet, but even kings didn't live like kings. Rentals are normally $1,800 to $5,000 a week, but you can get up to 50 percent off through September. Go to provencewest.com and gite.com. But don't dawdle. The French vacation in August--and they act like they own the place.

Perspectives

"It's not a pretty situation." Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the ongoing violence in Liberia"In a few days they will show us another fat body with a beard and say it's Saddam." Zohair Maty, a 30-year-old Iraqi, reacting to photos showing the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, killed in a raid by U.S. forces"By what logic would we support a cult that is trying to kill us?" Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi ambassador to the United States, attacking a congressional report on the September 11 attacks that claimed the Saudis may have supplied money to one of the hijackers"We've seen surfboards, pieces of Styrofoam, bathtubs, refrigerators. But never an automobile." Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Doss, on 12 Cubans who tried to sail a 1951 Chevy truck from the communist-ruled island to the United States"I'm not going to praise the court or thank the judges for this sentence." Russian Army Col. Yuri D. Budanov, on a military court's...

THE KEYS TO THE PRISON

After 14 months of pleading, Fadwa Barghouti dared to hope she had won. First the media reported that Israel might free her husband, Marwan Barghouti, in a top-level prisoner swap. Then Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat telephoned her at 1 a.m. to say the release would come within 48 hours. She spent the next two days waiting and trying to calm their children, who hadn't seen their father since his arrest in April 2002. At one point the anticipation got so overwhelming, she had to unplug the phone. The 48th hour came--and went.Two months later Fadwa Barghouti is still hoping. For now, though, her husband is on trial in Tel Aviv, charged as the alleged leader of Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, with responsibility for the killings of 26 Israelis during the ongoing Palestinian uprising. He has refused to make a formal defense. "No Palestinian can get justice from Israeli judges," he has told the court. But the verdict could be almost beside the point. A growing campaign both in Israel and...

Fitness: A Healthy Dance

Forget yoga. Ballet is pirouetting its way to popularity as the hippest way to work out. In July the New York City Ballet released the second of its popular workout videos. Its first, released in 2001, sold more than 250,000 copies worldwide. Ever since, gyms, dance studios and community centers have been adding beginner's ballet to their schedules.The benefits are many: improved posture, body awareness, strength and flexibility. "Ballet gives you the look that society wants--long legs--and it helps reduce hips," says London-based Danceworks instructor Raymond Chai. "It gives you poise and confidence [and] you learn how to dance."For more information check out the following Web sites:ballet-tanz.de: Run by the popular dance magazine, it lists classes in Germany, Britain, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the United States. Just click on "schools."blue-diamond-dance.com: Advice on classes worldwide (United States, Canada, South America,...

A CAMPUS HEAD START

With his Rocawear jersey and tattoos, 18-year-old Vonzelle Johnson stands out on Colgate University's bucolic upstate New York campus. But that doesn't bother the incoming freshman from Daytona Beach, Fla. He's toiling away in the classroom this summer because he knows his inner-city school didn't prepare him for what he'll face this fall. "I gotta do what I gotta do to get a decent education," he says.Despite the heated debate over affirmative action in admissions, many educators worry more about minority students after they get in. Minorities are twice as likely to drop out as whites, often due to a mix of academic and social issues. To head off problems, many schools host precollege prep sessions. Colgate's five-week program has become a model because the school, which is 4 percent black, boasts the country's highest black graduation rate (93 percent, compared with 89 percent for whites).Colgate officials credit the program's success to intense academics and the chance to jump...

CAUTION: WIZARD AT WORK

Between takes at the shrieking shack--a ghoulish, precariously quaking house on the fringes of the wizard village Hogsmeade--actor Daniel Radcliffe fiddles with his magic wand. Today's scene is a doozy: Harry Potter finally confronts the sinister (for now) Sirius Black. Over the screeching din of the shack, Radcliffe repeatedly shouts, "You betrayed my parents! You're the reason they're dead!" During a break in the action, though, he twirls his wand genially like a baton. Wait, sorry, it's not a baton--that'd be so 12 years old. Radcliffe, who turned 14 last week, is bashing the air feverishly. He's doing a drum solo.To prepare for the older, bolder "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Radcliffe has been listening to the Sex Pistols--which broke up 11 years before he was born--as well as edgy new acts like the Strokes and the Dandy Warhols. He's also watching Francois Truffaut ("The 400 Blows") and Vittorio De Sica ("The Bicycle Thief") to get a handle on Harry's "feelings of...

HARRY POTTER: MUM SHALL STAY MUM

Notice how British "Harry Potter" has seemed lately? If you're reading the Scholastic-published edition of the most recent installment, it's not just in your head. The series, which is "translated" from British English to U.S. English by Scholastic editors (all changes are OK'd by author J. K. Rowling), is now leaving in more of the original Brit language than ever. The reason? "Readers have become more accustomed to the world," says Arthur Levine, one of Rowling's Scholastic editors.That, and a backlash by "Potter" purists who prefer the charm of British words such as nutter ("maniac" in book two) or crumpets ("English muffins" in book one). "I get into very heated debates about this," says Ngaio Palmer, an Oxford grad student who ships the British versions to her 16-year-old brother in Chicago. "The lack of faith in the intelligence of U.S. readers has been insulting." There have been so many requests by Americans for the British edition, in fact, that all e-mails sent to U.K....

School: The Web Ate My Homework

Schoolkids, beware: the "I don't have any homework" line might not fly anymore. Increasingly, parents are turning to school Web portals to monitor their kids' assignments, attendance and grades. Edline, a leading provider of the portal technology, has seen its client list grow from a few dozen schools in 2000 to thousands across the country for this coming school year. During the year, Mimi Rojo, whose son Daniel is about to enter the ninth grade at Ransom Everglades School in Coconut Grove, Fla., logs onto the Edline.com site regularly. After punching in her son's name and a password, she gets continually updated information: homework coming due, recent test scores, progress reports. If she's concerned about something, she can e-mail a teacher and get a quick reply--or request to be e-mailed when a particular grade has been posted. With "a better feedback loop," says Jonathan Abrams, CEO of Edline, parental involvement increases and student performance problems come to light...

Snap Judgement

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of LifeDirected by Jan de BontNobody would claim that the first "Tomb Raider" was a tough act to follow, and this action-crammed sequel is a definite step up. The tale has the silly/ solemn flamboyance of an old Saturday-matinee serial, as Lady Croft (Angelina Jolie, looking swell) tries to find Pandora's box before an evil scientist (Ciaran Hinds) gets there first. It's not half bad, with cool locations and a great stunt leap from the top of a Hong Kong high-rise. Unlike the wink-winking "Charlie's Angels," "Croft 2" mostly, and wisely, keeps a straight face.CampDirected by Todd GraffA hilarious, rousing musical comedy set at a summer camp where nobody plays sports and everybody worships Stephen Sondheim. Writer-director Graff went to a theater camp when he was a kid; it shows in the dead-on details and the deep sympathy he has for these misfit showbiz kids. The boys, natch, are all gay, except for heartthrob Vlad (Daniel Letterle), the narcissistic love...

ROAD TEST: CIVIC EX

It's got zero snob appeal. But who cares? The new Civic EX has all the character you need to scoot around town. It's small--but not scary small--so parking in tight spaces and making quick lane changes in rush-hour traffic are equally fun. The 127-horsepower VTEC engine was sluggish, but I applaud its "very low" emissions status. It made me feel superior. My five-speed manual test model had a smooth gearbox, decent handling and good brakes. Interior features are few, and the overuse of black plastic knobs and buttons is downright down-market. I like the ample trunk space and roomy back seat. Head clearance is another matter. My 6-foot-1 husband repeatedly slammed the side of his noggin getting in and out of the car. (After the second time, I had to wonder about him.) And after all, it's a Honda, so it should run for a good long time.Tip: Save on maintenance; it only needs an annual oil and filter change.

Fashion: Virtual Vintage Style

Vintage couture has never been hotter. Actresses like Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger and Julia Roberts regularly sport vintage evening dresses on the red carpet, and modern designers are reaching back in time for inspiration. For the rest of the us, secondhand shops all over the world have been enjoying a renaissance as fashionistas pour through racks of high-end castoffs in search of the perfect Ossie Clark blouse or Pucci jumper. More and more Web sites are hawking vintage over the Internet, too. Megasites like eBay, which has long done a brisk business in apparel, have launched special sections for vintage couture. Companies like Yoox (yoox.com) have special sections devoted to themed vintage sales. At Enokiworld (enokiworld.com), browsers can find everything from 1970s tapestry coats to retro Mexican jewelry to black lace corsets from the '50s. Auction houses are even allowing buyers to bid for top pieces online. (For example, Doyle, the famed New York auction house, posts its...

Families Ask Why

Relatives of GIS in Iraq are speaking out about mounting casualties and long deployments

State Schools Lure Alumni Bucks

This spring, officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst decided their mascot could use a makeover. The Minuteman seemed so 1775, and that whole white-man-with-a-gun thing was perhaps not quite politically correct in 2003. UMass officials hired a consulting firm that suggested the gray wolf --once indigenous to Massachusetts and conveniently not gender-specific. But UMass alumni howled. So last week, when the school unveiled its new sports logo, the Minuteman was front and center. "We can't afford not to listen," says Ian McCaw, UMass director of athletics.At UMass and other cash-strapped public universities, pleasing alumni is more vital than ever. With many state budgets on red alert, schools like UMass are taking a page from private universities, which have long relied on generous alumni to boost their bottom lines. Last year, according to a survey by the Council for Aid to Education, eight public universities were on the list of the top 20 schools with the most...

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