NBierma.com File

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

July 29, 2002, Monday, Late Edition - Final
Correction Appended

SECTION: Section E;Page 1;Column 2;The Arts/Cultural Desk

LENGTH: 1368 words

HEADLINE: George Washington: Mr. Excitement?;
Mount Vernon, Alarmed by Fading Knowledge, Seeks to Pep Up His Image



Say goodbye to the stern and remote George Washington, the boring one who wore a powdered wig, had wooden teeth and always told the truth. Embrace instead the action hero of the 18th century, a swashbuckling warrior who survived wild adventures, led brilliant military campaigns, directed spy rings and fell in love with his best friend's wife.

That is the new message from the people who run Mount Vernon, the estate where Washington spent much of his life and where more than one million people now go each year to learn about him. Stirred to action by what they say is an appalling decline in what visitors know about Washington, they have embarked on a radical course. Their goal is to reposition the father of the country for a new era. Among the tools they plan to use are holograms, computer imagery, surround-sound audio programs and a live-action film made by Steven Spielberg's production company. The film may be shown in a theater equipped with seats that rumble and pipes that shoot battlefield smoke into the audience.

"We used to be so discreet that we didn't want to display Washington's dentures," said James C. Rees, executive director of Mount Vernon. "When we finally broke down and showed them, they turned out to be a sensation. That taught us something."

The new plans have stirred some critics to warn that Washington is being transformed into a "G.I. George" and Mount Vernon into "MTV Vernon." But perhaps more tellingly, they have won support from many scholars who are in a state of near panic after watching Washington all but disappear from the national consciousness in the space of a single generation.

"When teachers and curriculum planners and textbook authors look at the founding fathers today, they see too many white males," said David W. Saxe, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University who studies American history textbooks. "George Washington is dissipating from the textbooks. He's still mentioned, but you don't spend a week in February talking about him, doing plays and reciting the farewell address. In the interest of being inclusive, material about women and minorities is taking the place of material about the founders of our country."

Professor Saxe called Mount Vernon's solution drastic but said he had put aside his concerns.

"What they're doing is sorely needed," he said. "They aren't overdoing it because you can't overdo it."

George Washington's stately, columned mansion sits on a rolling 500-acre tract overlooking the Potomac River.

The estate and its immediate grounds have been owned since 1858 by the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association of the Union, which has earned a reputation much like Washington's own: conservative, staid and remote.

For more than a century, directors of Mount Vernon concentrated on the limited mission of preserving Washington's home and explaining his interest in farming. The rest of his life, they could safely assume, was being fully taught in classrooms.

Over the last few years, however, several studies at Mount Vernon and elsewhere have made clear that this assumption is no longer valid. Fewer people than ever seem to know that Washington was a frontier surveyor who fought Indians and by his mid-20's was already one of the most famous people in North America. Nor do they realize that he shaped a ragtag band of farmers into an army that won American independence, presided over the Constitutional Convention and, as first president of the new United States, whipped 13 reluctant colonies into a union destined to become one of the world's most influential nations.

"He did something about an apple tree," said Jackie Whaley, an 18-year-old high school student from Texas who visited Mount Vernon on a recent morning.

Her friend Jenny DeStefano offered an answer. "He cut it down," she said.

Not so long ago Washington's portrait hung in countless classrooms, his birthday was a separate national holiday, and his exploits and achievements were taught in almost every elementary and secondary school. Today the portraits are gone and the birthday (along with Lincoln's) has morphed into Presidents' Day.

By comparing textbooks used in the 1960's with those of today, researchers at Mount Vernon have concluded that Washington is now accorded just 10 percent of the space he had then.

A recent study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that while 99 percent of students at 55 top universities could identify the cartoon characters Beavis and Butt-Head and 98 percent knew the rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, just 42 percent could name Washington as the man who was called "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen." More than three-quarters of those universities do not require a single course in American history.

And although several best-selling books have awakened new interest in the Revolutionary generation, Washington has not been among the beneficiaries.

"Our idea now is to find ways to show that he was the most robust man of action you can imagine," Mr. Rees said. "We're going to use film, sound, lights and every other technique we can think of."

Asked about the criticism that this approach cheapens Washington's memory, Mr. Rees replied: "We tend to hear that from traditionalists, who I don't think grasp the true difficulty of the challenge. If they'd spent 18 years here like I have, trying to reach not just the minds but also the hearts of eighth graders, they would realize that this is an uphill battle."

A new complex planned for Mount Vernon, now in the design stage, will have three buildings, two of them below ground. The third will be behind a grove of trees and not visible from the mansion. Visitors will enter the complex through an orientation center, where they will see Mr. Spielberg's 15-minute film. Mr. Rees said he hoped it would portray Washington as a figure with all the brilliance and bravery of Indiana Jones.

There is also to be an education center with galleries devoted to Washington's military and presidential careers and a museum with a display of artifacts.

Mount Vernon has raised about two-thirds of the $85 million it is seeking for the new $50 million complex and the educational programs associated with it, as well as to supplement Mount Vernon's endowment. The largest single gift has been $15 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation in Las Vegas. There will also be a building named for either Henry Ford or the Ford Motor Company, another large contributor.

Mr. Rees is inviting teachers to Mount Vernon and showing them new ways to deal with Washington. He says he hopes to develop a computer-aided learning package that will ultimately be used by every fifth grader in the United States.

The turn toward show business at Mount Vernon could not be expected to go unchallenged, but protests have been surprisingly muted. Many scholars seem ready to try anything to rescue Washington from creeping obscurity.

"The attempt to put him in a celebrity package is probably the last thing he'd ever approve," said the historian Joseph J. Ellis, who is writing a biography of Washington. "But I recognize that there's an audience out there that needs to know about him and can only be reached by devices that are a little off-putting."

Academic trends have so strongly encouraged the teaching of history from social and cultural perspectives, some scholars say, that little attention is now given to leaders who headed governments, won wars or established nations.

"There's a tendency to downplay the importance of the individual, and it has hurt Washington," said Peter R. Henriques, a history professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and member of a board of scholars advising Mount Vernon administrators on the new project. "I don't think it's hero worship to recognize that he was supreme among the group of founders who helped bring about this country."

"But let's face it," Professor Henriques added, "he was an 18th-century elitist slaveholder, and that doesn't fit in well with the modern age. We're in an age when white male heroes on horseback are not so popular."


CORRECTION-DATE: August 10, 2002, Saturday

A credit was omitted in The Arts on July 29 for a mural shown with an article about efforts to enliven the displays about George Washington at Mount Vernon, his estate in Virginia. The painting, showing Washington as a surveyor, is by Byron Peck.

GRAPHIC: Photos: Marcella Bickle, visiting from California, samples the traditional at Mount Vernon. The estate hopes to attract young people with a higher-tech approach. (Susana Raab for The New York Times)(pg. E1); Katie Pohlmann, an interpreter at Mount Vernon, at a spot on the estate where an addition is planned. (Susana Raab for The New York Times); George Washington at Kips Bay, where he tried to rally his troops, putting himself in peril. (Culver Pictures)(pg. E3)

Friday, August 23, 2002

Chicago Tribune
Copyright 2002 Chicago Tribune

Date: Friday, August 2, 2002
Edition: North Sports Final
Section: Metro Page: 6 Zone: N
Source: By Darlene Gavron Stevens, Tribune staff reporter.
Illustration: PHOTO

Catholics build a `parish' without walls on Net
Spurred by the abuse scandal, an informal network of Web essayists has sprung up, offering a safe place to debate and celebrate their faith

They call it St. Blog's Parish, but there are no weekly masses, no altar or pews.

The only requirements to join are a computer, Internet access and a desire to vent about the Roman Catholic Church.

Each of the estimated 85 members in this unofficial cyberspace network has a "blog," or Web log, an online diary complete with links and reader feedback that is updated daily--commonly through a free Internet program.

Launched earlier this year amid the growing sex abuse controversy in the church, the "parish" has provided a safe place to heal, debate and celebrate the Catholic faith through daily essays and news links, according to bloggers from Toronto to Tinley Park.

"When it got to the dozen point, and we had a priest, choir director and a cathechist blogging, I started calling it St. Blog's Parish," said Kathy Shaidle of Toronto, one of the first Catholic bloggers.

The blogosphere, as the blog world is called, has been around for about eight years, and topics are as varied as people's interests. The trend began to blossom when Internet blog sites made starting one nearly as simple as opening an e-mail account.

The look and feel of the Catholic blogs vary according to the blogger's personality and computer savvy, but many rely heavily on typed musings, with links to interesting Web sites and news articles sprinkled throughout.

Amy Welborn, the Ft. Wayne, Ind.-based author of the "In Between Naps" blog, is known for posting baby pictures and photos from family trips--but also for news bulletins. She recently used her site to point out discrepancies in headlines about the pope's health.

Shaidle's boisterous "Relapsed Catholic" blog is peppered with personality. "I share a lot of conservative views, but I'm not married and I live in Canada's biggest gay neighborhood even though I'm not gay," she said. "I'm not Sister Mary Holy Card."

Peter Nixon, a California health-care consultant, named his blog "Sursum Corda" after a part of the mass when the priest urges worshipers to lift up their hearts.

"I wanted the site to be a place where people could lift up their hearts when their hearts were kind of heavy," he said. "I try to be reflective about spiritual struggles I have had."

Current events fuel activity

The community was even more active in recent weeks, with the Voice of the Faithful laity conference in Boston and the pope's North American trip dominating discussion. The bloggers say they intend to keep tabs on the abuse scandal and the controversial issues it has stirred.

St. Blog's fills a niche by creating a community that isn't available in traditional parishes, said Douglas E. Cowan, assistant professor of religious studies and sociology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

"It's a platform for people who feel that they have something important to say, but until now could only say it to the people around them," said Cowan, who co-edited the book "Religion on the Internet." Blogging is "different from chats because these are carefully thought-out messages. These people are investing quite a bit of time."

The trend has its detractors, including Christopher Shannon, associate director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame.

"A virtual parish is not a parish," said Shannon, adding that he is skeptical about any impact the Catholic bloggers might have on future scandal debate.

"If parish life is going to mean anything, it has to be people meeting, face to face," Shannon said. "The idea of creating a virtual parish will only increase the fragmentation of community in the church. There's something unnatural about it."

Two worlds come together

Cowan acknowledged that Catholic blogs might be threatening to some religious leaders, or dismissed by those who think that religion and the Internet don't mix.

"Those voices are getting fewer and fewer," Cowan said. "With the exception of pornography, religion is about the most popular thing on the Web.... More people are using the Net as a venue in religious practice."

Nixon said he agrees in part with Shannon, noting that he posts ideas he would not necessarily share at his parish. But he considers that a positive.

"Some parishes have offered forums, but not everyone is comfortable with that," he said. "On a blog, you can talk about a whole range of things."

Shaidle, 38, a self-professed "Vatican II baby," started her blog in 2000, when she was a religion columnist for the Toronto Star. She is now a contributing editor to the Toronto diocesan newspaper.

If St. Blog's perishes, she says, it will be because of boredom, not controversy. At the peak of the scandal, when her blog was a magnet for debate, Shaidle estimated that it went from 200 hits a month to 12,000. Now it has dropped to about 9,000.

Some blogs lose readers if they don't post every day--or if they are too long-winded or overly negative, she said.

"We tell each other if we sense someone is going off the deep end," Shaidle said. "If you rant, you lose an audience."

Offering a special perspective in St. Blog's is Steve Mattson, whose "In Formation" blog delivers daily reflections on his life as a second-year student at Mundelein Seminary.

"The reason I added my voice into the mix was partly because of the criticism of seminaries," said Mattson, 40, who is studying to become a priest for Michigan's Lansing diocese. "These are difficult times. Maybe what I have to say can help others.... Maybe we can get the church to a better place."

One of St. Blog's resident philosophers is Karl Schudt of Tinley Park, whose "Summa Contra Mundum" blog was named in tribute to St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Athanasius.

Schudt, a doctor of philosophy who has taught at Mundelein and Marquette University, describes himself as a "church nerd," someone with Vatican II documents on his bookshelf. Schudt once took on the topic of female priests by writing an essay titled, "Is God Sexist?"

"I try to be the opposite of a Cafeteria Catholic," Schudt said. "I'm a philosopher, so I make arguments."

St. Blog's has seen its share of battles, but for the most part the debate stays civil and can even be therapeutic, said Welborn, a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Service.

On one particularly bad day, she got a letter from a blogger who said, "Let me tell you about a very good priest."

It helped her and other bloggers see that "it's not all that bad," Welborn said. "The church is prevailing."


Captions: PHOTO: Karl Schudt of Tinley Park, a member of "St. Blog's Parish," fills a Web log, or "blog," with daily thoughts on church-related issues. Tribune photo by Scott Strazzante.

Tag: 0208020074



A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse for the promiscuously curious
Friday-Sunday, August 23-25
Previous Reader

ALAN BERNSTEIN, Houston Chronicle
Some Houston charities and nonprofits are facing a new ethical issue -- what to do about at least $63,000 they received from Andrew Fastow's family charitable foundation. The federal government says the former Enron chief financial officer filled the tax-free foundation with fraudlently obtained funds. But the money that the foundation contributed to charities has already been spent, on good causes. So what's a charity to do, now that the government considers the source to be tainted? Disregard the controversy? Refund a matching amount to defrauded Enron stockholders, employees or the government? Wait for a court order? "We have never been in this situation before, and it is something our board will have to look at," John Havard, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston, said Thursday.

Kyung M. Song, The Seattle Times
The two sheets of paper that unexpectedly cut short Tom Krolik's 22-year Boeing career were handed to him together. One said his performance ranked in the bottom 30 percent of his work group. The other said he was going to be laid off. Krolik, 54, worked in Everett as a liaison to companies that install seats and other components on Boeing jetliners. When he found out all the others in his work group who got layoff notices were in their 50s, he became suspicious. Now, 10 months after Boeing began eliminating 30,000 jobs, a group of former nonunion workers is preparing to file a class-action age-discrimination lawsuit. They allege Boeing's controversial retention-rating system was used to weed out older, better-paid employees.

Brigid Schulte, Washington Post
This is the girlhood dream of Maria Reyes, the daughter of Salvadoran immigrants who work long hours at Floors Inc.: to win a scholarship. To become a pediatrician. This is the hard reality: She failed two English and two math classes in middle school, got grades of "mostly C's and E's" and landed in the summer Jump Start program at Wheaton High School in Montgomery County because her record flags her as "at risk." As in, a 14-year-old at risk of giving up and dropping out of school altogether. That's why, when classes start next week, Wheaton, Montgomery Blair, Einstein and Kennedy high schools -- struggling urban schools with high numbers of students who may have no idea what it takes to make a dream become real -- will open ninth-grade academies.

The Miami Herald
Stanley Goldenberg crouched in the hallway at 16922 SW 119th Ct. in South Miami-Dade. He was one of the nation's leading hurricane researchers, and also a father, and he felt responsible for his three sons, his sister-in-law, his brother-in-law, three nephews and a kitten.It was 4:45 a.m. Monday, Aug. 24, 1992. Hurricane Andrew was inside his house. In the spirit of scientific inquiry and to leave behind a record, Goldenberg turned on his video camera. The scene was ghostly, illuminated only by flashlight, orchestrated by the percussive cacophony of a house deconstructing around a family.

TERRY WEBER, Canada Globe and Mail
After being hammered with one of the worst droughts in recent memory, farmers in Western Canada will face one of the region's poorest growing seasons on record, with wheat production hitting its lowest level in 28 years, Statistics Canada said Friday. Data culled from interviews with farmers in from July 26 to Aug. 2 suggests total wheat production this year will drop 25 per cent to 15.4 million tonnes. That's the lowest level since 1974 and compares to 20.6 million tonnes produced lasts year. ... The situation — described by Canada Wheat Board officials as "a real tragedy" — has prompted farmers in other regions of the country to send help to their western counterparts to feed their animals. According to Friday's report, total barley production is expected to fall to its lowest point in 34 years, while the canola crop will reach only about one-half of its annual average over the past decade.

Steve Wieberg, USA Today
Early in every game, the public address announcer reminds fans that the Little League World Series is "the world's greatest youth sporting event." The ballparks are intimate and immaculate. Admission is free. Hot dogs go for $1.25. And most appealingly, 11- and 12-year-olds are playing their hearts out on the field — as they did most notably in Louisville's 11-inning, 2-1 thriller against Fort Worth, on Wednesday. It's a reasonable claim ... if you can shut out the memory of cheating and forfeits from a year ago; the protests lodged against Harlem, N.Y., all-stars this year; the encroachment of corporate sponsors and the sight of TV satellite dishes and production trucks screaming BIG EVENT. As the 56th World Series enters Saturday's U.S. and international finals and Sunday night's championship game — brought to you by ABC — there are some who wonder: What hath Little League wrought?

Mark Oliver, London Guardian
The discovery of Titian's £5m stolen masterpiece, Rest on the Flight into Egypt, has been a cause for celebration in the art world after it was revealed yesterday that it had been found safe in a plastic bag. But there are many more important works that have been lost or stolen that are still missing. This list of notable missing works has been compiled by the Art Loss Register, which is based in London.

Dave Ford, San Fransisco Chronicle
Flowers and fire: the perfect combination? Absolutely, according to Paul Cesewski and Jenne Giles, San Francisco fabricators -- that is, tradespeople who work with metal -- and their tech- whiz cohort, Rudy Rucker. The three have created nine 16- to 20-foot galvanized steel flowers that, arranged pentagonally in a 6,000-square-foot area, can sporadically shoot flames 15 feet into the night sky. So where would such an ambitious art piece find the space it needs and an audience sure to dig its psychedelic essence? Why, at that brilliant commingling of art zaniness and fealty to fire: the Burning Man festival.

Virginia Hefferman, Slate
So far, this has been a marvelous, melancholy season of Sex and the City, in which the women have stayed close to home, excepting one field trip to Atlantic City, and I've been with them for every plucky minute. The show's themes now seem less consumerist (less hay is made of shoes), and its jokes are less strident. The actresses now exhibit the self-aware playfulness of Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable in How To Marry a Millionaire (1953). The effect of Sex and the City, like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, is dizzying, with its heroine always improvising, harmlessly stumbling, and then suddenly getting very lucky—which is true to anyone's youth in a city. You work way too hard for many things and then every now and then you get something—like maybe a glass of wine—free! Carrie has a way with serendipity, and she has good eyes for communicating: "How'm I doing?"

Back to Notebook

By Nathan Bierma
August 21, 2002

Is there life after death? Philosophers have mused for centuries, but their puzzle lacked one piece: Elvis.

Elvis' posthumous vitality--25 years after (spoiler alert) he actually died at his home in Graceland--is evident in the flesh of impersonators, in endless memorabilia emblazeoned with his visage, and, Tuesday night, on Navy Pier's Skyline Stage in the 25th Anniversary Elvis Spectacular.

Ironically, Elvis lives today as he never would have had his life cycle proceeded normally, reincarnated in the sequined jumpsuits of countless impersonators--or, as the five who starred in Tuesday's show prefer to be called, "Elvis perfomers."

"I like the imitators better than the original. They're younger, in better shape, and still have his voice.," says Tim Dalton, 66, who attended the show with his wife Grace. The couple catches Elvis shows in Las Vegas twice a year, and Tim preserves the soul of the King in oil portraits he paints at his Chicago home. "If he were alive today," he says, "we wouldn't be here."

Other celebrities leave legacies, but only Elvis is said to still walk among us mortals. Which is what he did, so it seemed, at Janet Treuhaft's wedding ten years ago, where a man framed in the unmistakable chin-length sideburns and pompadour hairdo prompted whispers as he quietly mingled among the guests, then took to the stage as the evening's surprise entertainment. It was the first wedding gig for Chicago Elvis performer Joe Tirrito, and Treuhaft and her husband John Conlisk were at the Skyline Stage show Tuesday to see Tirrito perform and commemorate their 10th anniversary.

"The funny thing is, it gives you goosebumps when he says hello. You can't believe he knows your name," said Treuhaft, as though ratpured by an encounter with a ghost.

Torrito was the most passionate persona Tuesday night, and Travis Morris, with his broad, youthful facial features and flying knees, the most convincing facsimile. But no one embodies Elvis like Rick Saucedo, who at 46 is four years older than Elvis was when he died and seems to be a living continuance--he often performs with Elvis' old band. The Vegas veteran commanded the stage and shook the crowd with standard classics such as "Blue Suade Shoes."

After Saucedo, the event's organizer, Chicago's Mark Hussman, was almost anti-climactic. Hussman, a full-time Elvis performer who moved his show to Navy Pier after a five-year run at the House of Blues, is still digging out from a barrage of e-mails he received after being featured on AOL's welcome screen on the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death last week. His Midwestern brand of warmth and grit, albeit with an un-Presleyan stiffness, adds another layer to Elvis' strange merger of Vegas glitz and bluegrass simplicity.

And if Saucedo is the king of Kings, it is Hussman who speaks most eerily of Elvis' spirituality. Dedicating "Love Me Tender," he pointed upward, saying solemnly, "We're going to do this one for Elvis," and held his gaze heavenward.

"He was very spiritual," Hussman said afterward. "I think he was blessed by God."

The divine imagery was consistent throughout the night, as each of the resurrected Kings knelt down to grant stageside fans a touch on the hand or kiss on the cheek, the clamoring crowd oddly desperate to be touched by an angel.

"Elvis has left the building," announced Al Dvorin Tuesday at the end of Tuesday's show, just as he always did as Elvis' announcer and tour manager. How wrong he is.

This mere mortal, whose last No. 1 hit in the United Kingdom came just two months ago, has passed before our eyes into eternal life. Let the philosophers commence their ruminating on the fate of the soul. Let Dalton, the local painter, begin.

"He's going to live forever," he said. "We'll be long gone, and he'll still be here."

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse for the promiscuously curious
Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Yesterday's Reader

SHELIA M. POOLE, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
One man is African-American. The other, a Korean-American. They sat side by side recently in the Friendship Room at the Providence Missionary Baptist Church on Benjamin E. Mays Drive to hammer out details of a project that would have seemed far-fetched a decade ago. But the Rev. Gerald Durley, a senior pastor at the church, and Sunny K. Park, a prominent Atlanta businessman, have high hopes that their planned venture -- getting Korean business owners to mentor black, would-be entrepreneurs -- can help their two communities overcome years of animosity and mistrust.

The Charlotte Observer
When Moody's Investor Services downgraded North Carolina's Wall Street bond rating one notch Monday, no one was surprised. Moody's, one of three major national rating firms, had advised the state a year ago that its financial condition risked a drop in the state's long-cherished AAA rating, the highest level for bonds issued by the state.
The AAA rating meant two things for decades: North Carolina's fiscal house was in good order, and because of the best credit rating, the state's taxpayers paid lower interest rates when the state borrowed money. The new rating of Aa1 means taxpayers will pay added costs of from $7 million to $15 million a year -- not a huge difference, but still significant.

The Economist
SIR MARTIN SORRELL, chief executive of WPP, one of the world’s largest advertising groups, is known and respected for his caution. So it was on Tuesday August 20th, when he predicted little or no improvement this year in the amount spent on advertising. The industry may have to wait until 2004—the year of blockbuster events such as the Athens Olympics and American presidential elections—for any real recovery. The sharp decline in share prices in recent months had not only wiped billions off investors’ savings, he said; it had also reduced the chances that advertising expenditure would grow again. Sobering as Sir Martin’s remarks were, they should come as no surprise.

Leef Smith, Washington Post
A record-tying string of heat-charged days of 95 degrees or higher, which ended Monday, has earned August 2002 a place in the record books. The last time the thermometer soared to these brutal highs and lingered for eight days in a row was July 1993. Before that, it was July 1987. Already this summer, temperatures in the Washington area have hit the 90-degree mark 49 times. The average for 90-degree days in a single year is 37. If estimates hold true, National Weather Service forecasters say this could become the third-hottest August on record.

Deutsche World
For generations, France's perfumers have created new scents by measuring raw essences, blending them, taking a whiff, and readjusting the ingredients until finally, all the substances merged into the perfect scent. What magical contents precisely go into the small bottle is the largest trade secret of any perfume creator - just as heavily guarded as the detailed make-up of Coca Cola. The European Union, however, wants to shed some light on this secret. And the perfume industry is up in arms. According to a new EU directive, consumers should not only be able to smell what scents are in perfumes and cosmetics, they should have definite knowledge of the contents before they purchase a product. The move is aimed to prevent the spread of allergies through the expensive fragrances, the EU says.

Katherine Monk, Vancouver Sun
Rachel Roberts is the talk of Hollywood -- but there's a catch: She's not supposed to talk about it. Sworn to secrecy two years ago when she signed on to take the role of a computer-generated character whose virtual talents salvage the career of a down-and-out director (played by Academy Award winner Al Pacino) when his lead starlet walks off the set, Roberts has been living under wigs and shaded behind sunglasses, unable to take on high-profile modelling gigs until the release of the film.
Back to Notebook

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
July 21, 2002, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 4; Page 13; Column 1; Editorial Desk

LENGTH: 964 words
HEADLINE: Stocks Are Only Part of the Story
BYLINE: By Alan S. Blinder; Alan S. Blinder, former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, is a professor of economics at Princeton.

King Canute could not command the tides, and apparently neither George W. Bush nor Alan Greenspan can command the stock market. In recent days, both the M.B.A. president and the oracular Federal Reserve chairman have tried to calm the markets with reassuring words about the economy. But the stock market has kept on falling: on Friday it had one of its worst days ever, losing 390 points. Since President Bush addressed Wall Street July 9, the Dow Jones industrial average has declined more than 10 percent, to its lowest level in almost four years.

Those who get their economic news from television may come away with the impression that the economy and the stock market are two sides of the same coin. If the market is heading south, then the economy must be, too. But it's not true. The United States economy is most emphatically not falling right now. The stock market may be the TV star. But it is the economy that generates the jobs and puts the food on our tables. And fortunately, the economy is doing much better than the market. If you want to bolster your confidence, turn off your TV and drive to the mall.

Normally, the economy and the market move consistently, though certainly not in lock step. The reasons are clear. A strong economy generates high and rising corporate profits, which is the traditional basis for high stock values. A rising stock market also gives the economy a boost by creating wealth for consumers and by making it easier for firms to raise capital, both of which were major factors in the boom of the 1990's. When things turn downward, all these mechanisms get reversed: a sagging economy drags profits and stock prices down, and a sagging stock market slows the economy.

Finally, because investors are supposed to look forward, the stock market should be a leading indicator of where the economy is going. And it is -- to a limited extent.

But while it is normal for the economy and the markets to move together, the two sometimes go their separate ways. For example, the Dow fell almost as much, in percentage terms, on a single day in October 1987 than it has in the entire recent bear market. But the economy kept growing strongly. It was such behavior that led to the economist Paul Samuelson's famous quip that the stock market has forecast nine of the last five recessions.

So it would be a mistake to interpret the stock market's current woes as a forecast of a double-dip recession -- a mistake that Alan Greenspan is certainly not making.

Consumers are spending, the housing market remains buoyant, and even business investment is coming back. The economic indicators are simply not signaling a sick economy. The gross domestic product grew at a 6.1 percent annual rate in the first quarter of this year, and something like 2.5 percent is expected for the second quarter. (The Commerce Department will announce the final figures at the end of the month.) That would clock the average growth for the first half at 4.3 percent -- not bad. The Federal Reserve expects growth of about 3 percent in the second half of this year, and the consensus among private forecasters is a bit higher.

It is true that economic forecasting is an imprecise science, to say the least. But it is far more accurate than market forecasting, which is basically impossible. And economic forecasts like this, coming from a wide variety of sources inside and outside government, should give us some comfort that the economy is heading uphill.

So why, then, is the stock market in shambles? While the market never tells you why it does what it does, it's unlikely that worries about the economy are weighing it down. Instead, the best guess is that the stream of scandalous corporate revelations is taking a heavy toll on stock prices, and investors fear there is more to come. Confidence in the earnings reports of American companies, not to mention the ratings of the analysts who follow them, has been damaged if not destroyed.

The key question is whether this illness will be confined to the stock market or spread to the larger economy. If the stock market destroys enough wealth, or if the depressive psychology infects the credit markets, the financial turmoil could become severe enough to damage the economy. The tail could drag down the dog. That is why we must stop the market's downward spiral.

But how? Words, if chosen artfully, may help a bit. But talk is cheap -- which may be why the markets shrugged off even the reassuring words of Mr. Greenspan, their most trusted guru. This just may be one of those moments when both the markets and the body politic are calling for action, some of which must be government action.

Can it be true that financial markets want the government to regulate them more? Paradoxically, the answer is yes. The markets have long had an ambivalent attitude toward government intervention. When things go well, they want to be left alone. But when things start to fall apart, they want Washington's help.

The reaction to President Bush's recent speeches was instructive. If Wall Street were truly opposed to government help, one might have thought that market participants would have breathed a sigh of relief: the president spoke loudly but carried a small stick. Instead, stock prices tanked.

There is a message here. Congress hears it, and even Mr. Greenspan -- who is not normally a proponent of government regulation -- hears it. But does President Bush hear it? The message is this: While changes in private-sector behavior will eventually fix many of today's accounting and corporate governance problems, the markets are clamoring for decisive government actions now.

Speeches have not worked. It is time to see if actions will speak louder than words.

GRAPHIC: Drawing (Milan Trenc)

A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Previous Reader

Steven Thomma, Philadelphia Inquirer
Women are poised to take over a record number of governors' offices this year. With strong candidates from Hawaii to Rhode Island, women are good bets to emerge from November elections holding as many as 10 of the 50 governorships, twice the five they now control. Long-shot victories in any of an additional six states could push that number even higher.As governors, women would become the dominant political power brokers in their states. Gaining statehouses would give them a breakthrough in an area of U.S. politics where they have lagged. They have made greater inroads in Congress, where women hold 13 of 100 Senate seats and 60 of 435 seats in the House of Representatives. A growing roster of women governors would increase the chance that the country might get its first female president. Americans tend to look to the executive experience of governors when choosing new presidents, not to the legislative experience of members of Congress. President Bush and three other of the last five presidents – Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton – proved themselves as governors first.

Donna Cansfield, Toronto Star
No matter who they are or where they come from, we give students the programs and services they need to learn and succeed in school. This is our job and we do it well, better than any other large, diverse urban school board in the world. We are the largest school board in Canada and the fourth largest in North America. We serve almost 300,000 students in 560 schools. ... One can argue that other cities have similar challenges to Toronto; no one can argue we have more. More causes Toronto to be extremely expensive in comparison with any other jurisdiction in Ontario. One real estate study this year puts the average price of a standard two-storey home in Ottawa at $212,240 but, in Toronto, this type of home averages $327,624. Hidden costs like insurance, vehicle repair, school repair, renovation or building all escalate in Toronto. ... Toronto has always been different from its neighbours. Not better but decidedly different. The funding model must reflect this reality and serve the needs of Toronto's students so they can achieve and succeed in school.

David Mendell and Darnell Little, Chicago Tribune
The economic boom of the 1990s bypassed poor minority communities in the city, as many predominantly black neighborhoods on the South and West Sides remained mired in poverty as deeply entrenched as a decade earlier, according to 2000 census data released Tuesday. ... The income stagnation that plagued many Chicago neighborhoods is all the more worrisome to demographers and economists because they had hoped the unprecedented economic expansion of the 1990s would lift many people out of poverty. If people remained incredibly poor after the robust 1990s, they asked, what will become of them through the present bleak economy? ... Experts said various social and economic factors played into regional and race disparities. Geographic isolation from suburban jobs, a beleaguered school system and economic disinvestment have left many impoverished Chicago neighborhoods struggling decade after decade, with little hope for the future.
The Economist
THE optimists were wrong. Those misled by the American economy's spectacular rebound in the early months of this year were sure that the worst was over. At one point it looked as if America's economy had grown at a blistering 6% annualised rate in the first quarter, and that last year's recession was the mildest on record. Betting types decided that the next move in interest rates—in America and other industrial economies—would be up. John Maynard Keynes once remarked that "when the facts change, I change my mind": and both have been changing rapidly of late. ... What's happening to the American economy is, of course, the key to prospective policy changes not just in Washington but around the globe. The world's largest economy is still the only potential engine of world economic growth: Japan is struggling to recover from its fourth recession in a decade, and Europe's sluggish performance even during the boom years of the 1990s has constantly fallen short of expectations. Now America, too, faces an uncertain economic outlook.

Discount pioneer Southwest is readying its first transcontinental flights, from Baltimore, Md., to Los Angeles, starting this fall, while New York City-based upstart JetBlue is adding more flights on the West Coast and in Florida. These and other discount carriers today account for 20% of domestic air travel, up from 10% in 1992.
So why haven't American, United, US Airways and the three other full-service carriers, which lost $11 billion last year and stand to lose an additional $5 billion this year, followed the lead of the profitable discounters by cutting costs and fares? Because that's not the way their business works. They have made, and lost, their money by providing the frequent departures, quick connections, spacious seats and other amenities that have been demanded by business flyers and charging them dearly for that service — more than five times the cost of a discount fare.

ALAN RIDING, New York Times
FLORENCE — With the statue of David never without a crowd of worshipers at the Galleria dell'Accademia, it could be said that every year is a Michelangelo year in Florence. But thanks to three exhibitions here this summer, il Divino, as Michelangelo is known to Italian devotees, seems more present than ever. In spirit at least. In reality, taken together, the three shows display fewer than a score of drawings and only a handful of sculptures that are confidently attributed to him.

Back to Notebook

Friday, August 16, 2002

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

May 5, 2002, Sunday, Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 3; Page 14; Column 1; Money and Business/Financial Desk

LENGTH: 916 words

Full-Time Fathers Are Still Finding Their Way

BYLINE: By ELLYN SPRAGINS; Ellyn Spragins is a freelance writer in Maplewood, N.J. Her column about money's influence on relationships appears the first Sunday of each month. E-mail: loveandmoney@nytimes.com.

"DAD, when I grow up I want to be just like you," said the 7-year-old boy. "I want to stay at home to raise my kids."

This may sound like the beginning of one of those stories that self-congratulatory stay-at-home dads tell to prove how progressive they are. But in this case, David Smith, 44, a full-time father from Virginia Beach, reports the comment from his son Alton as evidence that the effects of his decision to stop earning money seven years ago can still surprise him. Alton and his brother, Cameron, 10, have announced their ambition to follow in their father's footsteps. "It's great if that's the way it works out for them, but I never expected to hear them say that," he said. Mariana, his 13-year-old daughter, wants to be a teacher.

Like Mr. Smith, many veteran stay-at-home fathers are finding that the consequences of their choice are still unfolding.

When he stopped working as a banker, Mr. Smith was earning about twice as much as his wife's current income. The loss of income didn't bother him initially. But over time, being financially dependent on his wife, Dr. Marta Satin-Smith, a pediatric endocrinologist, has given him a slight feeling of vulnerability. It began to feel strange, he said, to use "her" money when he wanted to buy Christmas, anniversary or birthday gifts for her. So when his wife recently lost her medical transcriptionist, he took over the job to earn a little spending money.

Jeff Falk, 41, a former research chemist, has noticed that his 12-year stint as an at-home parent has produced significant changes in his relationships with his parents and his community in Danbury, Conn.

When he left his job, his parents and in-laws were shocked. His parents questioned him closely about his choice, pointing out that he had wanted to be a research chemist all his life. Now, he says, his mother believes he is thriving. Having long ago grown comfortable being the only man at many school-related volunteer activities, he has also developed many friendships with the women in town.

It makes all the difference if a man chooses to be a full-time parent or it chooses him. For men who become stay-at-home parents because they can't find a job after their wife is transferred, or because they lose a job, the long haul of child rearing is often colored by the feeling of not counting for anything in the real world of work and money.

A stay-at-home dad since 1987, when his wife, Bonnie, 51, who specializes in business development, was transferred to Atlanta, Peter Humphrey, 56, believes he has a greater degree of intimacy with his four children than many fathers with traditional careers. He has also enjoyed having the time to restore a home in Glen Ridge, N.J., before moving to Jersey City last fall.

But Mr. Humphrey, who last worked as a research analyst for a money-management firm, misses the strong identity offered by a career in the workplace and feels bruised by the reception he has received during periodic job searches. "One recruiter told me he's never placed anybody who's been self-employed," he said. "Compound that with being Mr. Mom, which is the bottom of the barrel as far as employers are concerned."

At first, being out of the mainstream is a simple adjustment. But being out of circulation for more than a decade can incur a cumulative loss -- the sensation of slowly turning invisible.

Mr. Humphrey recalled being asked to speak about being a stay-at-home dad at a Rotary Club meeting in Glen Ridge -- and how great it felt to put on a good suit and a tie.

"I still have suits from 20 years ago that are hardly worn; it's as if they're in a time capsule," he said. He choked up with emotion at the end of his speech when he read an excerpt from a novel in which the main character, a stay-at-home dad, describes the feeling of being present in the world, but transparent and barely visible.

Kevin O'Shea, 39, formerly a practicing attorney who lives in Birmingham, Mich., began full-time parenting after his daughter, Mairen, was born five years ago and has gradually felt the effects of it in some of his most important relationships. "Being out of the work force I don't have much in common with my old friends, even some of my best friends," he said. As time has passed, he sees more clearly that his friends in the legal profession have chosen a different kind of relationship with their kids -- he calls it being an "assistant parent" -- and that they don't know their children very well.

The division of marital duties hasn't changed during his five-year stint, but each partner's feelings about them has. In the beginning, Mr. O'Shea's wife, Molly, was just finishing her medical training as a pediatrician and was eager to work full time.

"Now, it sometimes pains her when she doesn't know who some of our daughter's friends are," he said. "If we were making this decision all over again, we'd probably have an argument about who gets to stay home."

The idea of fathers raising a generation of sons who choose to be stay-at-home dads themselves is a lovely bookend to the long established trend of women entering the work force. But, as we've learned from that, few people can make such an important decision and find it's right for all occasions and all life stages. There's going to be more to this fathering story. So let's not push these men into a new category and call them Mr. Moms. Let's just say they're parents-in-progress, like so many of us.

GRAPHIC: Drawing (Robert Van Nutt)

May 19, 2002, Sunday, Late Edition - Final
SECTION: Section 3; Page 12; Column 3; Money and Business/Financial Desk
To the Editor:
In "Full-Time Fathers Are Still Finding Their Way" (Love & Money, May 5), one such dad said prospective employers regarded Mr. Moms as "the bottom of the barrel." Could it be because corporate America considers full-time parenting a bottom-of-the-barrel choice? Do these prospective employers consider their own parents as bottom-of-the-barrel people, full-time parents or not? It's a shame that parents, like teachers, don't get the same recognition that the Jack Welches or other corporate celebrities receive.

Another stay-at-home dad quoted in the article noted how his two sons, 7 and 10, want to grow up to be just like him. These boys are young and not yet swayed by society's expectations of what they should or shouldn't be when they grow up. But I'm glad they appreciate their dad's role at home.

Baldwin, N.Y., May 5

Monday, August 12, 2002

From: "Rick Shenkman"

Americans are susceptible to myths, always. The myths help define us in ways that other cultures are defined by a common ancestry. Because Americans have such a short history we are united not by history but by common ideals. Naturally, we find living up to these ideals difficult. Nonetheless, we hold them dear, so dear we frequently fall for self-flattering stories that reinforce our most precious beliefs about ourselves, namely that we are a freedom-loving people.

The great post 9-11 myth, it seems to me, was expressed by President Bush at a news conference last fall at which he commented on his inability to understand why so many in the rest of the world hate us. That he is mystified by this is a sign that he is beholden to the myth of American freedom: Because we stand for freedom and are free at home our actions abroad must perforce have helped the forces of freedom. We know that this has not always been the case. President Bush himself surely understands this as well. In numerous places around the world in the post-WW2 period, eager to defeat the communists and contain the Soviet Union, we allied
ourselves with oppressive, inhumane, often cruel regimes. In the name of freedom we found ourselves in league with dictators. In the Arab world we have befriended governments which gas their own people (Iraq), limit civil liberties (Egypt) and ejected Palestinian refugees (Jordan).

Another myth the president has fallen for is American unilateralism. Even now, after 9-11, which demonstrated the necessity of allies and coalitions, the president resists multilateralism. This is a remnant of an older myth from the other side of World War II. In that day it was known as isolationism. The isolationists of yesteryear are today's
unilateralists. The persistence of unlaterialism in the American tradition stems from the deep-seated American conviction that the New World needs to remain aloof
from the battles of the old. Engage and you risk moral contamination. This may be the oldest of all our myths. Evidence of it can be found in the days of the Puritans like John Winthrop, who famously argued that America is a shining city on a hill for pilgrims chosen by god to create a new kind of world order.

Interestingly, as susceptible as Americans are to myths, it has been Europeans and Muslims by the millions who have demonstrated a willingness to
entertain the most bizarre fantasies ever dreamed up by the mind of man. Millions of Muslims of course continue to believe that (1) Osama bin Laden
had nothing to do with the attack on the Pentagon and the WTC, and (2) Jewish capitalists were behind the attack. Meanwhile, the French have turned an outrageous book that claims the military was behind the attack on the Pentagon into a bestseller.

There is no sweepstakes winner in mythmaking. But if there were, surely the people who believe this laundry list of inane beliefs would deserve the
top prize. Americans come in a distant third among mythmakers.

[As for] the greatest American myth of the 20th century: I am unsure. There are so many. Surely one would have to be that the United States single-handedly defeated the Nazis. The Soviet contribution to the defeat of Hitler was more decisive. But this is too big a question for me to
address in an email.

Associate professor of history, George Mason University and editor of HistoryNewsNetwork.org

Rick Shenkman

History News Network at George Mason University

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Morning news from B.Globe

Buffeted by the economic slowdown and the fallout from Sept. 11, US Airways last evening filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. Following the terrorist attacks, the airline industry is facing its most dramatic period of upheaval since deregulation 24 years ago. ... Arlington, Va.-based US Airways, which carried 56 million passengers last year, is the first major carrier to declare bankruptcy since the attacks.

For years, medical researchers were largely immune from lawsuits. While other doctors faced a wave of malpractice suits, researchers seeking cures for diseases such as cancer found patients eager to participate in experiments and unlikely to hire a lawyer if something went wrong. But the death of Jesse Gelsinger in 1999 changed all that. ...

Calling himself ''the currently designated fall guy,'' the Maryland scientist at the center of the anthrax investigation denied yesterday that he is responsible for the mailings that killed five people and infected 13 others last fall. Steven J. Hatfill, a former Army research scientist described by federal investigators as a ''person of interest'' in the anthrax probe, said he had nothing to do with the mailings and decried the intense scrutiny he has been under.

Wrestling with Cape Cod's swelling housing costs and local salaries that haven't kept pace, Falmouth public schools this fall will propose reserving a slice of Falmouth High grounds for 12 subsidized apartments for new school employees. It is believed to be one of the first Massachusetts school districts - and one of a handful nationwide - to launch such a bold tactic to lure and keep educators, some of whom can barely afford to pay high rents to live alongside the children they teach.

Conventional men may not be the glamorous male icons of today's society but, according to a recent study, they have one thing going for them: They make good fathers. And if these men have sons, they may make even better ones. A study released last week shows that men who have strong community and religious ties, have a college diploma, and live within a nuclear family are the most likely to show up at dinner and put their kids to sleep reading ''Goodnight Moon.'' And when it comes to spending time in youth activities, such as sports and school events, fathers with sons pitched in most.

Corruption is routinely cited by China's leaders, the public, and foreign investors as the country's most serious problem, an even more pressing concern than the layoffs that have hit tens of millions of workers at state enterprises, many of them in Shenyang, the heart of China's northern rust belt. How to fight what seems to be an ever-rising tide of dishonesty is expected to be a major topic at the 16th Communist Party Congress this fall.

Friday, August 09, 2002

Hildy Johnson NewCity Chicago, 8/7/02
My kind of town, Tribune is

The acquisition of Chicago magazine by Chicago Tribune Company announced last week barely moved the Zeitgeist meter. In part, this reflects the tranquility of the magazine's audience (Who reads it? Your parents.), as well as the insignificance of the deal in the normal scheme of Tribune dealings. (Its $35 million price tag puts it closer to the deal size in its venture capital arm--where ten-million-dollar bills were routinely placed on the Internet roulette wheel--than to the ten-figure game of media monopoly they've become accustomed to lately.) In a rather odd press release, Trib Co. was quick to report that no, it still doesn't like magazines, and that in spite of its core corporate strategy of synergy among its related media entities, it doesn't expect much of that with the magazine. Of course, conquerors always say what their conquests want to hear. But if the deal is so out of sync with Trib strategy--it certainly doesn't address their core problem with reaching younger readers--why'd they buy it? Here are a few ideas. First, it reinforces their unstated yet unambiguous intention to own 99 percent of Chicago's media. Second, the established, high-quality-but-editorially-"safe" magazine reaches an affluent suburban audience very much in line with the Tribune's suburb-oriented strategy. Third, it tweaks the Sun-Times, whose corporate holdings include the less-prominent North Shore magazine. Fourth, the magazine's advertising base of department stores and high-end fashion shops stays in line with the daily newspaper's traditional reliance on Marshall Field's and its ilk for a retail advertising base. Five, um, potential synergies exist. The Tribune Sunday magazine has never lived up to its potential, serving mostly as a depository for the glossy ads that can't run elsewhere, and you've got to believe the wheels are churning a bit on both sides of the deal about this. Also, Chicago magazine's franchise editorial product, its dining guide, is well suited for an Internet product like Tribune's Metromix. Of course, not everything is synergistic. Ironically, the only thing that made Chicago magazine's web site a must-visit, and one of the best things coming out of that shop period for the last year or so, is Steve Rhodes' sharp and lively media column, Press Box. Although Rhodes remains optimistic about his independence in his latest column, he understands that cashing checks from the subject of eight out of ten media stories in this town (and the competitor of the others) will crush his credibility. (2002-08-07)

A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Friday-Sunday, August 9-11, 2002
Yesterday's Reader


A former Seattle man's alleged attempt to profit from a plan to build terrorist training camps in the United States apparently landed members of his family and his mosque in the middle of a global terrorism investigation. After the effort failed, James Ujaama reportedly had to fend off death threats from one of two al-Qaida operatives who arrived expecting to conduct training exercises at a ranch in the Oregon desert, only to discover there were no recruits waiting to join the jihad, or holy war. Now, three years later, the aborted scheme to help advance the cause of Islamic radicals -- while also making a buck -- is a key element in an FBI investigation aimed at proving that London cleric Abu Hamza al Masri recruited al-Qaida members and supported international terrorism.

Tom Pelton, Balitmore Sun
Standing on the dry, rocky shore of a shrinking reservoir, Baltimore's public works director announced mandatory water restrictions yesterday to prevent shortages during the summer drought. George L. Winfield warned that beginning Saturday, police in the city and Baltimore County might begin fining people up to $100 if authorities catch them watering their lawns or washing their cars. ... The Baltimore Police Department, fighting a surge in juvenile homicides this summer, will not organize a "sprinkler task force" to hunt down errant gardeners, said Deputy Police Commissioner John McEntee.

Craig Timberg and Yolanda Woodlee, Washington Post
Mayor Anthony A. Williams took his case for reelection to Washington's airwaves yesterday, while aides focused on the massive logistical challenge of a write-in campaign made necessary by Wednesday's court ruling keeping him off the Democratic primary ballot. Campaign officials are busy crafting mailings, television ads and radio spots to get voters to "Do the Write Thing." Ward organizations are beefing up with new volunteers. And the downtown reelection headquarters is showing increasing -- if uneven -- signs of competence.

MATT SCHWARTZ, Houston Chronicle
Houston's Olympic aspirations could get a $5 million boost if City Council approves funding for a marketing campaign to win the 2012 Summer Games. The $5 million being sought by the Houston 2012 group would be contingent on the city's becoming the U.S. selection to host the Olympics. If approved by council next week, the city would contribute $250,000 toward a marketing program targeting the U.S. Olympic Committee, but only if Houston makes it to the next cut. The USOC is scheduled to reduce this country's four remaining bid cities to two on Aug. 27 and announce its final choice in November. The three other cities are San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C. Should Houston be the USOC's final choice, the city would kick in another $4.75 million to be used to market Houston to the International Olympic Committee, scheduled to select the host city in 2005.

Patrick McMahon, USA TODAY
SEATTLE- A $430 million pro football stadium opens here this weekend, a monument to the go-go days of Seattle that went bye-bye. Gone is the dot-com craze, along with many of its geeks and gizmos. Gone are nearly 60,000 jobs in the Puget Sound region, including 18,720 at Boeing. The aerospace giant still builds planes here but moved its headquarters to Chicago. Gone are the days when Californians moved here by the thousands, lured by splashy media talk of microbrews, grunge music, flannel shirts and mountain hikes. Less is heard about the latest exploits of Microsoft millionaires retiring at 33, and unemployment is no longer 2.8%. But recession-weary Seattle hides its downturn well. Construction cranes tower over the downtown skyline. Work is underway or just completed on more than $1 billion worth of federal, state and city buildings. Microsoft is hiring 5,000 workers. The Seattle area's unemployment rate of 6.5% in June was down from 7.1% in February, although it continues to surpass the national rate of 5.9%. This metropolitan area of 2.5 million, surrounded by lush forests, vast waterways and mountain peaks, may be down — but not out.

Adam Smith, St. Petersburg Times
They munched on paella, drove past Nieman Marcus and admired the gulf view from the Don CeSar. And in the end it might all have been a meaningless exercise in Tampa's bid to land the 2004 Republican National Convention. The decision really comes down to one guy named Bush. Sure, it's essential that the Republican site assessors who surveyed the Tampa Bay area this week left convinced there are enough hotel rooms, buses, cops and money to handle the mega event. But that's the minimum requirement for the Big Guava to stay in the running with the Big Apple and the Big Easy. And those visiting Republicans aren't making the final call. This is not an Amway convention Tampa is trying to land. This is a political show. And despite all the talk from Republican officials Thursday that this will be a business decision, the real decisions will be made in the White House. If President Bush and his chief political adviser, Karl Rove, want the convention in Manhattan -- a unifying reminder of the president's finest hour -- all the hotel rooms, pirate beads and white sand Tampa could muster won't mean a thing.

China has taken delivery of the first section of a futuristic high-speed train which levitates above the track. The German-built "maglev" train uses powerful magnets to hold the vehicle a fraction of a centimetre (inch) above the lines as it travels at speeds of up to 400 km/h (249 mph). The driverless train will initially run on a 66 kilometre (41 mile) route between Shanghai's Pudong international airport and the city centre. If trials are successful, China is planning to build a 1,250km (777 mile) maglev rail link from the capital, Beijing, to Shanghai and other Chinese cities. ... The transport is likely to open to the general public in late 2003, at 50 yuan ($6) a round trip.

The Madison Capital Times
Earlier this week Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba blasted the United States - and President George Bush, in particular - for trying to "unilaterally determine the fate of the world." He suggested that the administration's post-Sept. 11 policies were misguided and called for a worldwide ban on weapons of mass destruction in remarks delivered on the 57th anniversary of the atomic bomb being unleashed on the city he governs. Today, on the anniversary of the atomic bombing of another Japanese city, Nagasaki, Akiba's sentiments deserve our serious consideration. Japan, as the only nation to have been attacked with nuclear weapons in war, knows the full extent of what nuclear war means. That experience has been at the heart of their national policy, known as the three non-nuclear principles - no ownership, no production, and no presence of nuclear weapons on Japanese territory. Though the top aide to Japan's prime minister suggested a few months ago it might be time to end the sacrosanct policy, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi stressed Japan's "unwavering commitment to its war-renouncing constitution" at this week's ceremonies. And there is no doubt of Akiba's commitment. ... Akiba and the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki hosted the World Conference of Mayors for Peace. ... Surprisingly Madison is not one of the more than 500 cities from 103 countries around the world affiliated with Akiba's Mayors for Peace initiative. We are, however, already a "nuclear free zone" and have been since the City Council passed such an ordinance in 1983. The fact that Madison declared itself a nuclear free zone was seen as a joke then and perhaps some folks still think it is amusing. But Akiba is serious about communities working together for peace. Madison has a long history of doing just that and should follow the lead of Miller and Akiba in actively working toward the intertwined goals of peace and an end to nuclear weapons.

David Brooks, The Weekly Standard
I DON'T KNOW if you've ever noticed the expression of a man who is about to buy a first-class barbecue grill. He walks into a Home Depot or Lowe's or one of the other mega hardware complexes and his eyes are glistening with a faraway visionary zeal, like one of those old prophets gazing into the promised land. His lips are parted and twitching slightly. Inside the megastore, the grills are just past the racks of affordable- house plan books, in the yard-machinery section. They are arrayed magnificently next to the vehicles that used to be known as rider mowers but are now known as lawn tractors, because to call them rider mowers doesn't really convey the steroid-enhanced M-1 tank power of the things. The man approaches the barbecue grills and his face bears a trance-like expression, suggesting that he has cast aside all the pains and imperfections of this world and is approaching the gateway to a higher dimension. In front of him are a number of massive steel-coated reactors with names like Broilmaster P3, The Thermidor, and the Weber Genesis, because in America it seems perfectly normal to name a backyard barbecue grill after a book of the Bible.

Mark Starr, Newsweek
FOR 20 YEARS, I lived all over this country, in New York, in Chicago, in the Bay Area, without once wavering in my support for the old home teams. Admittedly, it wasn’t hard to sustain fervor for Larry Bird’s Celtics, the Big Bad Bruins led by Bobby Orr, the slugging Red Sox of Freddy Lynn and Jim Rice, or the ’70s Pats juggernaut that set an NFL record by rushing for more than 3,000 yards. But there were some real dogs, too, like the pre-Bird Celts and the Patriots most every season. Yet I never thought to embrace a local team—the 49ers or the Bulls (the notion of rooting for a New York team was beyond the pale) as a substitute or supplement. In truth, I was far more likely to root against any local teams. For a true believer of my generation, schadenfreude has always gone hand-in-hand with root, root, root for the home team. My attitude was: why should these folks be happy? Such fierce loyalties, in me and so many of my friends from Boston and elsewhere, were engendered and nurtured by the great radio and TV sports announcers of that era, including three that have died recently: Jack Buck, the longtime voice of the St. Louis Cardinals; Ned Martin, an announcer for more than three decades with the Red Sox; and just this week at age 85, Chick Hearn, the original and forever voice of the Los Angeles Lakers. Hearn was impeccable as an announcer, a brilliant wordsmith with a machine-gun delivery who, despite his close identification with the Lakers, could never be tabbed a homer. He was the ultimate professional, who didn’t miss a game for 36 years, more than 3,000 consecutive Lakers broadcasts.

Back to Notebook

Thursday, August 08, 2002

The ongoing Nigerian e-mail hoaxes:

From: MR. AUSTEN OBIGWE [austen_obigwe2@lycos.com]
To: Bierma, Nathan [nbierma@tribune.com]
Subject: Please Kindly Assist and be Next of Kin
Sat 6/29/02 11:31 AM


I write to request for your assistance to transfer the sum of US$22 Million from our bank, BroadBank of Nigeria Limited. I am Mr. Austen I. N. Obigwe, the District Bank Manager of Broadbank of Nigeria limited. There is an account opened in this bank in 1990 and since 1995 nobody has operated on this account again. After going through some old files in the records I discovered that if I do not remit this money out urgently it would be forfeited to the bank. The owner of this account is Mr. George Williams, a foreigner, an engineer by profession (contractor) died since 1994. No other person knows about this account or any thing concerning it, the account has no other beneficiary and my investigation proved to me as well that his company does not exist anymore here having closed down due to his death and the amount involved is Twenty Two Million US Dollars (US$22,000,000.00). I want to transfer this money into a safe foreigners account abroad but I don't know any for
eigner, I am only contacting you as a foreigner because this money can not be approved to a local bank here, but can only be approved to any foreign account because the money is in us dollars and the former owner of the account, Mr. George Williams is a foreigner too. You will be presented as the NEXT OF KIN to Mr. George Williams Account. I know that this message will come to you as a surprise and in disbelief as we don't know our selves before, but be sure that it is REAL and a GENUINE transfer. I only got your contact address from the computer (internet); with believe that you will not disappoint me in this transfer. Please reply urgently so that we can proceed urgently. I will talk to a lawyer who shall procure the necessary documents for you to collect the money.

Note: that in the course of transferring these funds you will likely be required by the bank to affect certain transfer fees. This is important to take note of, as this is part of what informs my giving you 30% of the money after transfer due to your time and money that will be spent in assisting me transfer these funds. The bank shall see you as the Next of Kin and Legal Transferee of the funds immediately your particular is submitted and shall establish contact with you. With your cooperation, I assure you that this transfer will be concluded successfully within 14 working days. I need your full commitment and attention to see to the immediate transfer of the money.

I will fly to your country for withdrawal and sharing and other investments. I am contacting you because of the need to involve a foreigner with foreign account and foreign beneficiary to act as Mr. George Williams’s Next of Kin. I need your co-operation to make this work fine. Because the Management of our BroadBank of Nigeria Limited is ready to approve this payment to any foreigner who has correct information of this account, which I will give to you later immediately, if you are able and with capability to handle such amount in strict confidence and trust according to my instructions and advice for our mutual benefit because this opportunity will never come again in my life. I need you to be honest and truthful in this transfer because I don't want to make mistakes and I need your strong assurance and trust. I will use my position and influence to effect legal approvals and onward transfer of this money to your account with appropriate clearance forms of the ministries and foreign exc
hange departments. At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 30% of the total amount, 65% will be for me, while 5% will be for expenses both parties might have incurred during the process of transferring. I look forward to your earliest reply by email.

The following information are required from you urgently: Your personal telephone and fax numbers, your banking details where the money will be transferred, your full names and contact address and your date of birth (indicate sex and marital status). You shall contract a lawyer here to act as your Attorney if you will not be able to come personally.

Yours truly,
Austen Obigwe

From: femiwilliams femiwilliams [femiwilliam2@lycos.com]
To: femiwilliam2@lycos.com
Subject: Offer
Tues 8/6/02 8:33 PM

I am a Barrister and a member of Nigeria Bar
Association (NBA). Your contact reached me through the
World Business Encyclopaedia and my insistence on you.
Hence, I made up my mind to introduce this business to
you in confidence for the mutual benefit of both of
us. The sum of USD65M (Sixty Five Million United
States Dollars) was lodged into one of the leading
private Banks here in the Country by the late Head of
State (GEN.SANI ABACHA) this money was lodged in a
DEFACED FORM and in vaults / boxes. The money was
originally meant to be used for his political
campaign. Because I was his family Attorney as such he
confided in me with the relevant document papers
relating to this Bank before he died of cardiac
arrest. As a matter of fact, I have adequately agreed
with some of the key officers of the private Bank to
negotiate with you a trustworthy person to provide an
account where this money could be transferred to
yourcountry through your Bank account, because we
cannot claim the money here in Nigeria. We have
concluded all arrangement with an offshore Security
Company to move this money through diplomatic means a
country where it could be directly transferred to your
nominated account to ensure absolute safety and
risk-free transfer of the money. After a successful
transfer, 30% will be for you for your assistance, 5%
for general expenses, and 65% for us. You are required
to send by e-mail immediately your Telephone and Fax
numbers and Bank particulars where this money will be
lodged and your personal contact address. Once you
notify me your willingness by sending the above
requirement. This transaction will be concluded within
10 (ten) working days. I will be waiting for your
urgent reply.
Best regards,

Bar.Femi Williams.

A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Thursday, August 8, 2002
Yesterday's Reader

Connie Cass, Associated Press
Dissatisfied with the speed at which the industry is going digital, the Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to require television manufacturers to have digital tuners on all sets by July 2007. Commissioners voted 3-1 to require manufacturers to add the tuners to all TV sets with screens of 36 inches and larger by July 2004, while the requirement for smaller sets would be phased in over the following three years. Congress has mandated that the nation switch to digital TV, which offers clearer pictures and better sound. But the transition to this new technology has been delayed by reluctance within the industry to make the switch before most households can receive digital signals.

Elizabeth Hume, Sacramento Bee
Airlines are slashing fares by as much as 80 percent, including offering flights as low as $19 in California, in a push to spark travel in a business still reeling from the Sept.11 attacks. The newround of fare cuts is "indicative of the dire straits the airlines are in," said Kevin Mitchell,editor of the Business Travel Coalition's Web site, BTCTravelogue.com. "They are really lurching from one strategy or tactic to another." The first major price cuts in California were announced last month when JetBlue Airways posted fares of $29 for flights from Long Beach to Oakland, beginning on Sept.6. A day later, Southwest Airlines cut some fares from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to as low as $19.

William Pack, San Antonio Express-News
San Antonio may get another chance to lure a PGA-backed golf resort to town if it moves quickly and in unison on a new development plan for such a project, Mayor Ed Garza said Wednesday. Back from a quick trip to the Professional Golfers' Association of America headquarters in Florida, Garza was typically cautious but clearly upbeat on the city's ability to reclaim its standing as the site for a PGA golf resort — a position it lost a week ago. "We can't take anything for granted. This is something that is very fragile at this point," Garza said. "But if we do what we need to do over the coming days and weeks, I feel good that PGA will maintain its commitment that this is their preference priority of all the other sites around the country." Garza said he will ask the City Council to support a letter of intent next week to design an incentives plan built around an agreement that could delay annexation of the resort for up to 15 years. In return, resort developers would have to implement strict environmental controls. An annexation delay would allow developers to recoup some of the costs of public improvements but would not provide nearly as much assistance as the $52 million outlined in the discarded plan.

Kevin Osborne, Cincinnati Post
In an effort to boost the number of police on Cincinnati's streets, a City Council majority wants to vote today on ending the DARE anti-drug education program and transferring those officers to patrol duty. With a record-setting number of shootings and homicides in the past year, council supporters said it's more important that the officers be involved in reducing crime rather than teaching a program that has proved to be ineffective. ... The city spends $351,000 a year on the program, $85,000 of which comes from a federal grant. Seven of the police department's 1,000 sworn officers are assigned to the program, but the number has been as high as 15 in some years. Several national studies, including one done by the University of Kentucky, have found that DARE — Drug Abuse Resistance Education — isn't effective in preventing school children from using illegal drugs and alcohol.

Torrential rain and floodwaters have struck Russia's Black Sea coast, sweeping several people into the sea and forcing the evacuation of more than 400 near the port of Novorossiysk. Details of what happened remain sketchy, but reports say that a wall of water swept through tourist camps and resorts in the region around the city. Rescue workers were able to pick up several people from the sea, but up to 70 others are reported missing. The reports say that the floodwaters submerged six villages near Novorossiysk.

Tamara Gignac, Calgary Herald
Calgary companies listed on American stock exchanges are scrambling to understand how they will be affected by tough new legislation requiring corporate officers to personally attest to the accuracy of financial reports. The just-minted law, dubbed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, was enacted by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 30 and includes tough criminal sanctions for any false statements filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The strict measures -- the broadest reform of American business in 70 years -- come on the heels of scandals at WorldCom Inc. and Enron Corp., which have created a crisis of confidence among many investors and cast doubt on the integrity of large corporations. The legislation applies equally to U.S. companies and foreign stock issuers with listings on the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq stock market -- a list that includes many of Calgary's biggest and best-known firms. Most, such as EnCana Corp., are struggling to make sense of the rules before they take effect Aug. 29.

Tom Allard and John Garnaut, Sydney Morning Herald
An Australian-based consortium has won a contract to supply China with liquefied natural gas worth up to $25 billion in what will be the nation's biggest single export deal.
The contract gives Australia a foothold into what promises to become a highly lucrative market. The gas, from the North-West Shelf off Western Australia, will be worth between $700 million and $1 billion a year for 25 years. China's offshore oil company will invest in the project, which promises $1.5 billion of capital works and new jobs in remote Western Australia. The Prime Minister, John Howard, who announced the deal, said the contract to supply China's first liquefied natural gas power station in the rapidly growing Guangdong province would benefit Australia for years.

John Roach, National Geographic magazine
Something massive is moving on or within the Earth and causing the planet's gravity field to get wider around the equator and flatter at the poles, according to a pair of scientists studying the field with sensitive satellite instruments. The scientists are uncertain as to the reasons for this phenomenon, which was just the opposite for several decades prior to 1997, but think the answer possibly lies within long-term variation in the oceans. "Starting after 1997, the world that was getting rounder started getting more oblate [flattened at the poles]," said Christopher Cox, a research scientist at the Space Geodesy Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. At first, the scientists had any number of explanations for this observed phenomenon—from changes in the atmosphere to the amount of water in the oceans to ocean tidal effects. But the Earth kept getting fatter at the equator and flatter at the poles. "It has finally gotten so big that we can't explain it with any known mechanism," said Cox, who co-authored a paper in the August 2 issue of the journal Science on this change in shape of the Earth's gravity field. The change in shape since 1997 is very subtle: an increase in equatorial radius of about one 25th of an inch (one millimeter) per year, according to measurements.
"What is interesting is that it tells us that some mass redistribution occurred inside the Earth system, probably the climate system," said Anny Cazenave, an Earth scientist at the National Center for Space Studies in Toulouse, France. "This is an interesting constraint to climate models."

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Wednesday, August 07, 2002

CHRISTOPHER YASIEJKO letter to www.medianews.org, 8/7/02:
Newspapers, if their stated intentions of reaching a younger audience are heartfelt, must provide space for writers who share that demographic. Clearly, a person doesn't have to be a particular age or race in order to share an opinion on a topic. But it is self-defeating to reserve columnists' spots for middle-aged journalists of any race simply because they have been in the business longer than some writers have been alive.
You want to reach youth? You want to raise a base of readers from their teen-age years? Put an intelligent young writer in that space. Let him or her write with conviction and flavor about life in that city. Zingy one-liners don't impress young readers. The blunt discussion of most 20-somethings' actual concerns -- self-definition, career, sex, and the constantly shifting priorities of friendships, for example -- will grab and hold young minds. The wise young columnist -- not an oxymoron, mind you -- will have no trouble vigorously addressing political issues in a way that makes people care. (Example: For instant arguments, add one part Government Censorship to one part Provocative Artist. Write, and stir.)
Hire such a writer, and plug him or her with as much energy as the television networks plug their prime-time talking heads. That'll attract new readers.
Newsroom seniority means little to the young men and women who aren't buying your paper.

A daily digest of noteworthy public discourse
Wednesday, August 7, 2002
Yesterday's Reader

Kevin Graham, Boston Globe
WELLS, Maine - In this unusual summer of land-walking snakeheads, beaching whales, and a poisonous weed that can blind, along comes another phenomenon of nature to worry New Englanders: sharks. Spotted just offshore for the third day in a row yesterday, the toothy creatures have transformed the popular town beach from a swimming mecca into something more akin to a shoreline sporting complex. On the beach yesterday, vacationers used seashells to build a makeshift pitching mound for baseball, children dug into the ground with their toes creating boundaries to play a game of four-square, and young adults passed the time playing catch. Other beachgoers stood close by, binoculars in hand, keeping an eye out for the predators. The only things making a splash in the water were the sharks. Authorities banned all water activities yesterday, allowing people to wade just up to their ankles, for a third consecutive day after more sightings were reported. The sharks were seen circling in water 4 to 6 feet deep.

Michael Riley, Denver Post
For years, city officials in Thornton have gone to job fairs, placed ads in newspapers, on radio, even in movie theaters, trying unsuccessfully to recruit enough workers to mow, clip and manicure the city's 350 acres of parks and sports fields for the summer. This year, the city is trying a unique solution, importing 24 workers from central Mexico to do a job city officials say Americans don't seem to want. "I'd like to hire U.S. citizens," said Noel Busck, Thornton's mayor, "but the bottom line is I have a responsibility to manage the parks at a level of service people expect. "If I can't do that locally, I'll find the workers wherever I can," he said. The effort is being watched carefully by cities and towns across Colorado, which face similar summer manpower shortages, as well as by critics, who say that in a sagging U.S. economy, there are plenty of Coloradans who need work.

Darren Yourk, Canada Globe and Mail
Prime Minister Jean Chrétien rewarded loyalty on Wednesday, shuffling his cabinet for the third time since June. Power is being shifted to Chrétien loyalists at a time when many expect the Prime Minister to loosen the purse strings as he tries to build support for his bid to retain the Liberal leadership. Chrétien supporter and Federal Industry Minister Allan Rock will take over Ottawa's $2-billion infrastructure program from Mr. Manley. Deputy Prime Minister John Manley confirmed changes had been made after a caucus meeting Wednesday in Ottawa. ... Mr. Manley will remain Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Finance Minister. He will still act as senior minister for Ontario and will continue to manage the security relationship with the United States.The shuffle was to be done Tuesday, but squabbling between Mr. Rock and Mr. Manley over how to run the $2-billion infrastructure fund delayed it for a day, sources said.

The Economist
GERHARD SCHRÖDER kicked off his general-election campaign this week at the head of a dispirited party with many people in Germany convinced that he will not win re-election as chancellor when voters go to the polls on September 22nd. No one denies that he has a battle ahead of him. The ruling coalition, which comprises Mr Schröder’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Green Party led by foreign minister Joschka Fischer, is trailing in the opinion polls. And then on Wednesday August 7th came the one thing Mr Schröder fears the most—bad economic news. Newly published government figures show another rise in unemployment and an unexpectedly large drop in manufacturing orders. The jobless figures pose a particular problem for Mr Schröder.

Katie Menzer, Dallas Morning News
Learning to read and follow directions was just one of the lessons students learned Tuesday during Wester's Cat Camp, a sixth-grade orientation day intended to help students make the sometimes difficult transfer from elementary to middle school. Students in school districts across the area are gearing up for the start of the school year. Plano children will begin school Monday, while students in Frisco, Allen, McKinney and Wylie will begin the following week. The Wester Wildcats spent their orientation day following class schedules, meeting teachers and learning the new rights and responsibilities they will have at their school. Students practiced walking through the halls – always stay to the right – and opening lockers. "This is the first time they've had a locker with a combination," said Kenny Chandler, principal of Wester, one of five new schools Frisco will open this year. "That's a major issue for them."

Carl Nolte, San Fransisco Chronicle
A group of World War II veterans and the National Park Service are in the middle of a nasty -- and a bit sad -- argument over San Francisco's most battle-scarred war memorial, the bridge of the cruiser San Francisco. The memorial, which overlooks the Pacific at Land's End, the edge of the Golden Gate strait, is hallowed ground for war veterans: it consists of the top deck of the ship, where a Navy admiral was killed in battle at the moment of victory. There are five big holes in the steel plating -- scars from what Fleet Adm. Ernest King called "one of the most furious sea battles ever fought." It happened during a night action against a powerful Japanese fleet near Guadalcanal, 60 years ago this fall. The San Francisco was repaired and went back to the war, but the ruined bridge was saved as a memorial -- and now war veterans and a government agency are fighting over the future of this relic of the past. It is a battle over plaques and memories.

Maureen Dowd, New York Times
It's hip to mix high and low. In fashion, women wear Old Navy with new Gucci. On TV, executives schedule classy dramas and cheesy reality shows. In politics, Senator Hillary Clinton is a saint on family issues and a sinner on soft money. At the movies, Steven Soderbergh sandwiches "Full Frontal," a low-budget "sketch," as he calls it, between his glossy big-studio hits "Erin Brockovich" and "Ocean's 11" and his upcoming George Clooney sci-fi thriller, "Solaris." ... When the A-list self-consciously slums in B movies, independence becomes a style accessory. When Hollywood luminaries are less self-indulgent, they are more self-congratulatory. Bad lighting and sloppy dialogue allow them to feel as though they're throwing off the platinum shackles of the studio system that cranks out all that expensive rubbish. Just because something is grainy doesn't mean it's cooler. Just because it's shot in 18 days with a hand-held camera that cost $4,000 doesn't mean it's more creative. Just because it's a neo-Godardian deconstruction of cinematic reality doesn't mean it's more interesting. And just because it has an erotic title doesn't mean it's sexy.

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