PERISCOPE

Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair told British TV that since British subways were first attacked by suicide bombers on July 7, police have recorded 250 potential suicide- bomb threats; in seven of those cases, he indicated, police came close to the point where a shoot-or-not decision had to be made. But when British authorities last week arrested suspects in the failed July 21 bombings, they managed to do so with minimum firepower.

A New York police official said the NYPD has not changed its procedures to deal specially with suicide bombers; he said police are allowed to use deadly force only when they or innocent bystanders are under imminent threat of death or serious injury. Cops are taught to shoot a suspect in the torso or chest because that's a larger target than the head.

Even some Israeli experts are puzzled by the bobbies' aggressive practices. Jonathan Fighel, a terrorism expert and former Israeli Army colonel, says the shoot-in-the-head policy used by Scotland Yard was "not connected with any tactic in Israel." He said Israeli guidelines for confronting suicide bombers are first, to order the suspected bomber to lie on the ground--so if he has explosives some will go off below him--or ask him to take off his shirt.

The Few Good Options Edition

Bright spots are dimming fast in Iran, Israel and Lebanon. And as Russians are learning, nothing ever gets fixed during the holidays.

Iran Tehran is serious about resuming nuke enrichment, and China still likely to block any U.N. sanctions. The military option may soon be back on the table.

Israel Post-Gaza, Sharon faces anger over pullout from West Bank settlements, pressure to resume talks and a budget battle. The tough work is just starting.

Russia Terror attacks are roiling Dagestan. With Moscow pols out for the summer, instability will increase--and could even spread through the region.

Lebanon Syrians drop "favored nation" status--and may nix gas subsidies. That would cripple reform efforts and fuel anger at government. Freedom is costly.

Gitmo: Tough Questions

An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that any U.S. official who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. The strongly worded memo, written by an FBI supervisor then assigned to Guantanamo, is the latest in a series of documents that have recently surfaced reflecting unease among some government lawyers and FBI agents over tactics being used in the war on terror. This memo appears to be the first that directly questions the legal premises of the Bush administration policy of "extraordinary rendition"--a secret program under which terror suspects are transferred to foreign countries that have been widely criticized for practicing torture.

In a memo to a senior FBI lawyer on Nov. 27, 2002, a supervisory special agent offered a legal analysis of various interrogation techniques approved by Pentagon officials against a high-value Qaeda detainee. The agent discussed a plan to send the detainee to Jordan, Egypt or an unspecified third country for interrogation. "In as much as the intent of this category is to utilize, outside the U.S., interrogation techniques which would violate [U.S. law] if committed in the U.S., it is a per se violation of the U.S. Torture Statute," the agent wrote. "Discussing any plan which includes this category could be seen as a conspiracy to violate [the Torture Statute]" and "would inculpate" everyone involved. A senior FBI official declined to comment on the memo but said it did not reflect an official bureau legal conclusion. The memo's author declined to comment to NEWSWEEK.

NASA: Going to Pieces

It is nasa's old reliable, the craft the agency depends on when it needs to prove something big. Discovery is the --shuttle that delivered the Hubble telescope and revived NASA as the first ship to launch (in 1988) after the Challenger explosion two years earlier. The orbiter had two missions last week: to dock with the International Space Station, and to demonstrate, again, that the loss of a shuttle need not mean the loss of the entire program. As soon as the ship roared into the sky, it seemed to have met the last goal. But jubilant spectators could not see what NASA's cameras did. In an eerie reflection of the Columbia disaster, chunks of insulating foam had broken off, despite a $1.5 billion attempt to prevent that kind of problem. Now, as Discovery sits docked in space, its brethren are grounded.

The shuttle's commander said Friday that she was "quite surprised" pieces had fallen off the ship, but not everyone was. After the Columbia flameout, an investigatory board told NASA to strengthen the shuttles. But the panel tracking the agency's progress reported publicly for the first time on June 28, a scant two weeks before Discovery's original launch date, and some in the space industry are wondering if NASA read its own findings carefully. The report criticized the agency on several counts--including the fact that "extensive work to develop debris models... was, until recently, hampered by a lack of rigor in both development and testing." The fuel tank, it noted, still shed too much debris.

NASA's massive redesign project also neglected the PAL ramp, the area that lost foam last week. "We haven't seen a problem in the PAL ramp area since 1983," an agency spokeswoman told NEWSWEEK. But James McGuffin-Cawley, a materials engineer at Case Western Reserve University, said the agency was "concerned about that part" enough to test it in a local wind tunnel. And in 1997 a NASA engineer reported that the new insulating foam could easily pop off the tank and damage the shuttle's heat-resistant tiles, as it did on the Columbia.

Discovery's tiles are a bit dinged up, but overall, the shuttle appears to have suffered little damage. As for the rest of the fleet, NASA head Michael Griffin said Friday he still hopes for another launch this year.

China: No Brakes

The Chinese economy is beginning to act like a force in a Stephen King novel--a phenomenon with a mind of its own. Despite efforts by the Chinese leadership to slow certain business sectors and limit investment in new industrial capacity, the economy continues to roar along. In the first half of this year, GDP grew by 9.5 percent, according to the government--the same pace as last year. More worrying for U.S. politicians, who are unhappy with America's $162 billion trade deficit with the Asian giant, China's exports continue to soar--up 33 percent in the first half of 2005, even as import growth slowed sharply. Fixed-asset investments have also been slow to respond to cooling measures because local governments don't share Beijing's concerns about overheating.

According to Oxford Analytica, a London-based research firm, exports are soaring mostly because Chinese consumers continue to save heavily. Producers are making up for sluggish demand by cutting prices on both domestic and export products. The second half of the year could be different. According to Oxford Analytica, the modest yuan revaluation and more prudent lending by banks should help slow both GDP and export growth--at long last.

Trade: Only a Small Victory

The doha round of global trade talks may have received a symbolic jolt last week when the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Central American Free Trade Agreement after a messy two-year political fight. The CAFTA deal seemed to prove that the Bush administration was willing to put its muscle behind a controversial free-trade policy, rather than roll over to protectionists.

But avoiding defeat is not the same as ensuring victory. A slim political majority--217 to 215--doesn't give America enough juice to break its deadlock with the European Union over agricultural policy, which has stalled progress on Doha. The EU has offered to lower its high tariffs and subsidies, but Washington, at a lower level of protection, hasn't budged. They can't even agree on what exactly constitutes a subsidy. Trade analyst Jean-Pierre Lehmann worries that to secure backing for CAFTA, President George W. Bush made too many "Faustian deals" on products like sugar, rice and textiles, which could derail the ministerial meeting in Hong Kong this December.

Clowns: The Best Medicine

You'd expect most aid workers to arrive in Africa with food and antibiotics. But when Jamie Lachman heads there this fall, he'll be packing a ukulele and a horn. In growing numbers, clowns are crossing borders just like doctors, taking big red noses instead of little black bags. They're not as famous as the Live 8 musicians, but they share a commitment to trying to change conditions in Africa. The clowns are seeking to patch up emotional wounds rather than physical ones--and on that point they are serious. "[We want] to bring laughter to communities," Lachman says. "Our real goal is for the capacity for celebration to continue long after we're gone."

This year the American branch of Clowns Without Borders, which has been making these kinds of trips since 1996, is taking its organization one oversize step forward. It is embarking on a new initiative, Project Njabulo ("joy" in Zulu), which is intended to have a more lasting effect than past trips. For three months each year for the next three years, the project will send a handful of volunteers to teach the art of clowning to underprivileged kids and children affected by AIDS. The workshops, which cover topics ranging from slapstick to stilt walking, are meant to encourage leadership, creativity and cooperation. No one's expecting the children to actually become clowns; the volunteers will be content if they can just teach them how to be kids. In a country ravaged by AIDS, the children "don't know what it's like to be a child," says Sue Hedden of the South African Woza Moya Project, a community-support program. Hedden disagrees with those who argue that the group should dispense medicine, not gags. "Things like this are absolutely vital," she says.

Movies: Saving One Last Dance for the Screen

At the age of 86, decades after he'd announced he was done making movies, Ingmar Bergman--the brilliant, angst-ridden Swede who virtually defined and ruled the art film in the 1950s and '60s--has given us one more. It's likely that "Saraband," which stars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson as Marianne and Johan, the long-divorced couple from 1973's "Scenes From a Marriage," is Bergman's swan song. But it is anything but mellow or nostalgic. It's as urgent, personal and emotionally savage as anything he's done: a fierce and moving examination of familial and conjugal love--its limits, frailty, destructiveness and necessity.

"Saraband," shot on digital video, unfolds in a series of 10 numbered scenes, each a confrontation between two characters. (A saraband is an erotic dance for two dancers, and the name of a movement in Bach's cello suites.) Each is a demonstration of Bergman's unflinching psychological insight and his ability to extract performances of scalding honesty from his actors. Ullmann and Josephson have proved their depths many times over, in many of Bergman's greatest films; the revelation here is the harrowing performance of Borje Ahlstedt as the stooped, soft-faced Henrik--Johan's 62-year-old son from his first marriage. With "Saraband," Bergman the great writer-director has stepped back into the ring for one last epic wrestle with his demons. There is, as always, no easy outcome. But no one ever fought for higher emotional and spiritual stakes.

Adult: A More Posh Vibe

Adult toys are no longer women's dirty little secret. In the post-"Sex and the City" era, these products have gone mainstream--and upscale. Today 46 percent of U.S. women own vibrators, and they no longer need to buy them in seedy sex shops. Instead, they can go to ritzy places like the Rykiel women's boutique in Manhattan. Products like her $688 silk whip are "very chic, very humoristic, very cool and never vulgar," says Nathalie Rykiel, Sonia Rykiel's daughter and the brand's artistic director. (One vibrator looks like a lipstick tube, another like a rubber duck.) High-end designers like Shiri Zinn and Mi-Su also offer adult creations that sell for thousands of dollars.

At Chicago's G boutique, products are kept in an antique cabinet, and shopping bags are filled with pink tissue and tied with a big pink bow. Customers are responding. When Myla, a London-based "sensuality boutique," opened a store in New York, it had a one-month waiting list for its $380 handcrafted, rechargeable vibrator. "It's a very beautiful piece of sculpture," says creative director Charlotte Semler. "Some of the pieces we sell definitely end up on people's mantelpieces."

Celeb T Shirts: Free This Trend!

If last summer's fad was the plain white T shirt, this year's is the instant-celebrity logo. Moments after watching Tom Cruise on "Oprah," West Hollywood artist Sheila Cameron designed one of the first FREE KATIE tees and sold more than 3,000 online. She followed up with I'M GLIB (a reference to the Matt Lauer-Tom Cruise spat) and TEAM PROZAC (for those who believe in drugs, not Scientology). Though the trend may have started with FREE WINONA and FREE MARTHA, it really took off when Eva Longoria wore I'LL HAVE YOUR BABY, BRAD in April. Now there's TEAM JOLIE, TEAM ANISTON (Aniston outsells Angelina 25-1 at shopkitson.com), FEED LINDSAY and--the newest ones--I WANNA BE YOUR NANNY and TEAM SIENNA. "It makes you feel like you're part of a club. You have to be 'on the in' to get it," says Stacey Pecor, owner of New York City boutique chain Olive and Bette's. Or maybe she's just being glib.

Music: Soldier On

Last December, Luke Stricklin, then 21, was a foot soldier in Iraq, far away from his new bride and his birthplace, Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He had every reason to sing the blues--but he wrote a country song instead. Using his friend's laptop and a $10 microphone, he recorded a song about life in Iraq and e-mailed it home. ("I really don't care why Bush went to Iraq/I know what I done there and I'm damn sure proud of that," he twanged.) His mom took the song to a local radio station, which played it on air. Soon it was picked up by another station... and then another, and then another.

Seven months later, he's back from Iraq--and a rising country star. He professionally recorded his Iraq song, "American by God's Amazing Grace," which is now playing in more than 40 markets. After it was released nationally last month, hits to his Web site jumped 1,000 percent. His album's not out until September, but he's presold the 5,000 copies his label has. It just ordered 50,000 more, giving Stricklin yet another thing to be damn sure proud of.

Technology: Broadening the Band

The word "intercontinental" usually evokes thoughts of planes, not music. But eJamming, a Boca Raton, Florida, start-up, plans to change that with new software that allows musicians to jam together, live, on the Internet. Musicians will be able to play in as many as eight locations. There will be a matchmaking service (trouble finding a double-bell euphonium player?) as well as a feature for bands that want to meet at a set time. Subscriptions are $19.95 a month, but the required hardware can be pricey.

Starving artists can Internet-jam, too. In his spare time, Justin Frankel of San Francisco wrote the code for Ninjam, a new free Internet download. It requires only a $40 sound card and a microphone. French bloggers, the first to discover it, spread the news and now thousands have downloaded it. Critics have dubbed the practice "fake-time music" and point out that there is a slight delay, but its fans don't mind. One is Jean-Baptiste Vallet, who recently used Ninjam to play bass, in Cannes, for an American in San Francisco who likes to sing in French. A guitarist joined them. Where was that guy located? "I forgot to ask," says Vallet.

PERISCOPE | News