Monday, August 30, 2004


Young and Republican — and Proud of It


    Zara Kozlov, a sprightly 24-yearold from New Jersey, cuts an image of suburban wholesomeness, rounded out with old-fashioned manners. At 5’4”, wearing a pink tank top and waves of short brunette hair, she meets her interviewer exactly when she says she will (“I can guarantee 2:15”) — not a minute later or earlier.
    She’s been diligently preparing for her final year Cordoza School of Law in the Village, where she helps edit its law journal. Yet, when classes start, she’ll be playing hooky — opting to attend one big party. Ms. Kozlov is New Jersey’s youngest delegate to the Republican National Convention, and one of the youngest in the country.
    “The phone’s been ringing off the hook,” she said, standing amidst the bustle outside Madison Square Garden. “I’m so not used to being the center of attention.”
    At a time when the youngest political participants in the upcoming election are expected to be rallying behind barricades, Ms. Kozlov is a rare example of the Republican party brushing off its sometimes stodgy image. Spokesmen tout this convention’s delegates as the Party’s most diverse, with 17% representing ethnic minorities, and 44% women.
    Ms. Kozlov is another exception to the Republican stereotype: a young Jewish twenty-something who reads William Bennett and lights up at the mention of RNC chairman Ed Gillespie’s name (“He’s great!”).
    Ms. Kozlov sat in a café in Penn Station, beneath the floor where she’ll stand next week, describing her role in the convention with carefully chosen words.
    “Being a young, Jewish adult is kind of an anomaly for the Republicans,” she says, “but I think it’s a good one because it allows people to see that Republican politics in 2004 isn’t as one-dimensional as people think it is. That’s what I’m here to say.”
    Being a delegate is a kind of activism in itself, she suggests, an opportunity to debate with those who would pigeonhole conservative ideals, or think Republicans are “a small group of people…Christian fundamentalists or wealthy, non-Jewish 45-year-old men.”
    “If anything that” — the Republican stereotype — “would propel me to get involved more rather than dissuade me from getting involved.”
    Ms. Kozlov was raised in a happy reform Jewish household in Cherry Hill, N.J., with weekends at their beach house in Longport. She says she loves to party; but Jenna Bush she is not. “I never did anything that my parents would yell at me for; the most I ever did was push to see how far I could go.”
    Her first foray into politics came when she was a college junior, during an internship on Capitol Hill for her congressman, Republican representative James Saxton. She says she first recognized her Republican leanings at the end of President Clinton’s first term. “It was a gradual, evolving perspective that I gained, listening to candidates and balancing their views.”
    She describes her opinion-making as well considered. She rarely needed to convince conservative classmates at her alma mater, Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, or at the family dinner table — her father, attorney Hersh Kozlov, is one of the president’s big fund-raisers. But most of her friends are liberal.
    “It compels me to get involved more,” she says of her casual debates with classmates at law school. “I don’t stand up on a platform and state my views, but,” she says excitedly, “I’ll go at it with my roommate quite often.”
    And then there is her new fiance, Evan, a registered Democrat who she’s hoping to convert by Election Day. “We don’t agree on most political issues…but I don’t think he’s made up his mind yet on who he’s gonna vote for,” she says with a slightly devious smile.
    Her views on women’s reproductive rights and civil unions are moderate — though “marriage in the eyes of the law is more an issue of religion” she says after much internal deliberation.
    Still, the war and the economy are no-brainers for Ms. Kozlov, and so is her biggest issue: restoring dignity and unity to America.
    “Sandy Berger was caught stuffing confidential documents into his socks, and not one Democrat could stand up and denounce what he had done. I think that 20 years ago you wouldn’t have found that,” she says disdainfully. Her fervent defense of President Bush ultimately hinges on the fact that he has managed to keep the White House free of Whitewaters and Lewinskys. “Whether you agree with his politics or not…he’s been on the whole a tremendous example for the United States, especially for young people.”
    Still, Mr. Bush can’t elicit the kind of smile from Ms. Kozlov that her hero, President Reagan, can. “I think he was very fair in his ability to see both sides. He wasn’t too left or too right, and I think he did a fantastic job of bringing Americans together.”
    Clearly, Ms. Kozlov won’t be completely satisfied with just a symbolic role for the party. Probed for information about her own future, she mentions a law firm, legal aid work, and the standard response about her definite political plans: “I don’t know in what capacity. I haven’t ruled anything out yet.”
    For now though, it’s banner-waving and schmoozing, and excitement at the prospect of shaking hands with Mayor Giuliani and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (a cocktail hour with Mr. Bush is already on her schedule).
    “Actually, as excited as I am,” she says of her turn at the convention, “I don’t want to consider this a once-ina-lifetime opportunity. Because I hope it’s not.”

U.S. Open Draws an Apolitical Crowd

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to The Sun

    As activists and conventioneers from around the country converged at Madison Square Garden, another excited — though more reserved — group of outof-towners assembled in Flushing. The only rally they were interested in was a quiet one between players on a court at the USTA National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open tournament starts today.
    Hundreds of tourists trickled onto the grounds in Flushing to watch players practice free of charge — a tradition for tennis enthusiasts and a reminder that the convention isn’t the only big show in town.
    While the Brazilian champion Gustavo Kuerten warmed up with his coach in the Louis Armstrong stadium, Steven Echsner of Gulf Breeze, Fla., said he and his wife came to the Open despite some concerns about security and inconvenience. But, sounding like a seasoned New Yorker, Mr. Echsner said they weren’t about to change their schedules just because of possible dangers — or even 500,000 delegates, guests, and protesters, who would be amassing not far from their (heavily protected) Rockefeller Center hotel.
    “The president’s security might be jeopardized but we don’t feel any more or less of a threat than we did when we were here last year or the year before,” he said. “If you analyze it too much you get this analysis paralysis. It’s the 21stcentury challenge: You have to be aware of these problems but you can’t alter your life.”
    “If something had happened we probably wouldn’t have come,” his wife, Rebecca added from her courtside seat. But we wanted to be here, at least for the qualifiers.”
    She said that coming the day before the tournament “gives you more of an opportunity to see everybody; if you go later in the week, during the semifinals and finals, you miss people, plus the crowds get worse.”
    Overcrowding, considering the amount of people in town, was a concern on the minds of others in Flushing yesterday. Charles Waters, who drove from Philadelphia with friends, said he was thankful that Manhattan was not on their route to the tournament. They drove through Staten Island.
    “It’s scary. Having the U.S. Open, the Republican convention, the protestors all at the same time, it’s too many people in one area,” he said.“If we had had to come through Manhattan, we might not have come.”
    But Mr. Waters was focused more on tennis than terrorism. He agreed that the free practice-watching was one of the city’s best bargains. “Problem is you have to ask people to find out who’s practicing. If they had their names up, it would be more fun.”
    Among those spotted hitting balls yesterday were Mary Pierce, Gustavo Kuerten, and the Bryan brothers, who played a small rock concert before conducting a tennis clinic.
    Terry Marquardt, a guest of delegates at the convention, came to Flushing for a Mets game and decided to stop by the Open. He and his boss, Michigan state Senator Judd Gilbert, happened upon a practice match between Jennifer Capriati and Wimbleon winner Maria Sharapova. “It was kinda neat. We walked in and they were hitting back and forth,” he said.
    What will they be doing for the rest of the week?
    “We’ll be going to a lot of the receptions and the convention sessions.” He added with a satisfied chuckle,“I think we’re going to a Yankees game later in the week.”

Friday, August 27, 2004

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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Miramax Rejects RNC Anti-Kerry Film

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

A proposal by the Republican National Committee to put a short documentary attacking John Kerry in theaters around the country was rejected by film distributor Miramax, RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie said yesterday.
   The film, a bare-bones collection of video clips of Senator Kerry making apparently contradictory statements on Iraq and entitled “Kerry Iraq Documentary,” was released at the end of July and has since been distributed on the Internet, by mail, at state fairs, and during Republican events.
   In a press conference yesterday, following a speech by Senator Kerry at Cooper Union, Mr. Gillespie acknowledged that he had asked Miramax,“the folks that distributed ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’” to distribute the film, but “they denied that request.”
   “We’ll continue to find other creative ways to make sure that the public gets a chance to see this,” he told reporters gathered at RNC headquarters near Madison Square Garden.
   Mr. Gillespie seems to be promoting the film as the Republican answer to the successful “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
   Mr. Gillespie said the Web site that offers free downloads of the RNC film,, has received 5 million hits and had more viewers “in its first week online than ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ had in its opening weekend.”
   After debuting “Kerry Iraq Documentary ” in Boston during the Democratic convention to acclaim from Republicans like Mayor Giuliani and Governor Huckabee of Arizona, Mr. Gillespie reportedly tried to contact Miramax’s chairman, Harvey Weinstein, to propose that his company distribute the film.
   Days later, Miramax rejected the request in a letter. Instead, the company offered to arrange a screening for delegates to the Republican National Convention of “Paper Clips,” its new documentary about Tennessee middle school students who learn about the Holocaust.
   “We thanked Mr.Gillespie for his submission,” said a Miramax spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik. “But we’re not doing any political films for either side now.”
   Mr. Hiltzik pointed out that Mr. Weinstein, and not Miramax itself, distributed “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Scarcity of Anti-Kerry Book on Shelves Raises Questions

Some Posit That Liberal Conspiracy Keeps It Out of Stores
By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

While a best-selling book has brought questions about Senator Kerry’sVietnam record to the front burner, some New Yorkers are asking another question: Where is the book?
“Unfit for Command,” the centerpiece of the critique of the Democratic presidential candidate’s war experience that has played out in the press recently, rose to the top of best-seller lists this week, but shoppers say they have had a hard time finding it at New York bookstores, where it’s either sold out or given minimal promotion.
Some wonder if booksellers around this heavily Democrat city are choosing not to carry it at all,as supporters of Mr. Kerry have attempted to pull the book from shelves.
“When any political book by a celebrity author has appeared, Borders, particularly, provides prominent displays,” said Bob D’Agostino, a teacher in the Bronx who has been unable to find the book at his local bookstores.
Borders and a competitor chain, Barnes & Noble, along with a number of independent bookshops, have denied any political bias, blaming high demand and a limited first pressing of the book by its publisher, Regnery, for the book’s absence from store shelves.
The publisher “couldn’t keep up with public demand for the title. The demand was not anticipated by the publisher nor the retailers,” said a Barnes & Noble spokeswoman, Mary Ellen Keating.
At least one local bookstore, Book-Court in Cobble Hill, was reluctant to carry “Unfit for Command,” ordering the book only after some customers demanded it.
“I definitely don’t want to sell it,” one of the store’s owners, Henry Zook, said. “From an objective, business point of view, we should have one or two copies just because some inquiring minds might be interested in it, or, for instance, if somebody wants to examine it for flaws.”
Chris Finan, a spokesman for the American Booksellers Association for Free Expression, an anti-censorship group, said it was uncommon for booksellers to choose not to carry books for political reasons, adding that it was unlikely that many were refusing to carry “Unfit for Command.”
“There are probably some booksellers who aren’t selling it on principle, and they have that right by the First Amendment,” he said. “From time to time, booksellers make decisions on what they’re going to sell, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.”
Since Regnery pushed up the book’s release date, to mid-August from September 1, political talk shows and Web logs have been buzzing with fervent debate about the claims made by authors John O’Neil and Jerome Corsi, who challenge the validity of Mr. Kerry’s war medals. But discussions by TV and armchair pundits have also veered to the difficulty of finding the book, with some crying liberal conspiracy.
On Friday, for instance, conservative radio talk show host Kevin McCullough reported on his Web site that Borders was “undergoing a ‘recall’ of the book and stopping sales.”
But at Borders and most other city booksellers, managers say that business trumps politics and that they would eagerly sell the book if only they could get their hands on it.
Peggy Zieran, the manager at a Borders store on Long Island, said many would-be customers suspected the store of suppressing the book.
“We are a retailer, we don’t censor,” she said. “If we had that book we’d be making a lot of money.”
While most bookstores await new shipments from the publisher, which will have printed half a million copies of the book by next week, visits to a number of local Barnes & Noble stores found the book in ample supply and selling well.
Nonetheless, a handful of store managers say they are still receiving complaints that the book has not been given the same prominent display as bestselling books by liberal authors like filmmaker Michael Moore and columnist Maureen Dowd.
“A few weeks ago we heard people complaining about our displays of left-wing books, and now people are upset that we’re not promoting this book enough,” said an employee at the Barnes & Noble on West 66th Street.
Only three of the store’s two-dozen copies of the book were on display on the first floor, next to a large stack of copies of President Clinton’s biography, “My Life.”

Monday, August 23, 2004

New Collegians Prepare for Convention Clogging


On top of the usual uncertainties that surround the first week of college — roommates, classes, and how to find the dining hall — the thousands of freshmen arriving in New York at the end of August are facing an additional unknown: sharing their new hometown with a 300,000-person political convention.
“I’m actually really frustrated about it. It’s really hard going away to college anyway; it’s going to be so busy, and this just makes things more difficult,” said Gillian Berrow, an 18-year-old from Concord, Calif., and incoming freshman at NYU. Like most new college students around the city, Ms. Berrow’s orientation program happens to fall on the same week as the Republican National Convention.
“Everybody I’ve talked to is pretty stressed out about it,” she said.
When her parents tried to book a room at the nearby Gramercy Park hotel, where they stayed on their first visit to the college, she said they found only “astronomical” rates. “We couldn’t afford that, and it was really hard to find another hotel room.”
Parents “are finding it very, very difficult” to find accommodations, said Carol Merles, a Long Island travel agent who typically helps NYU parents book hotels. Unless they opt to stay in Westchester or New Jersey, she said, “they’re paying a lot of money for a dump in the city.”
    Ms. Berrow’s family eventually found cheap beds at the school’s student-run hotel, but concerns still remained, fueled in part by chatter on online bulletin boards for new students. “I’ve heard cabs are going to charge people more because there are so many people coming in,” Ms. Berrow said.
    In recent weeks, administrators at colleges such as NYU and Columbia  have begun planning for convention-week headaches by inviting students to move in a day earlier than usual,sending letters home warning about delays, and setting up telephone hotlines for worried parents — all the while reiterating the famous post-9/11 New York mantra: “business as usual.”
    But such provisions are doing little to shift students’ and parents’ feelings about the potential convention chaos, feelings that range from concern to excitement to ambivalence.
    Among the many parents not looking forward to the move-in is Kim Fogarty of Bay Shore, who will be helping her son Ryan move in to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts on the Saturday before the convention. The ongoing threat of terrorism is not a major concern, she said, but the inevitable traffic congestion, parking regulations, and security stops are.
    “Moving somebody into college, you know what our truck will look like,”Ms.Fogarty said.“If they try to inspect us,I’m going to make them pack us back up.”
    Instead of taking the Holland Tunnel, she and her husband will drive through Brooklyn to get to NYU.“Very honestly it’s a nightmare. I wish I could do it another weekend, but what are you gonna do?”
    Kathleen Kan, an incoming freshman at Columbia  who will be driving in with her parents from Connecticut, said she was mostly unconcerned about interruptions due to the convention, especially since her school is located 100 blocks from the convention.
    “Actually, I am excited the more I think about it.At least I’ll be there and I can actually go,” she said, expressing an interest in joining anti-GOP demonstrations. Protest organizers from other schools had invited her and other incoming freshmen by e-mail to join anti-GOP demonstrations, she said.
    Students hoping to take part in the convention will also be juggling a busy schedule of unpacking and orienteering. “During orientation we have them fully booked, 9 to 5,” said Jason Caroll, an orientation organizer at NYU. “We won’t be encouraging [protesting] or telling them about protests, so it’s up to the students to find out about them.”
    As usual, some orientation programs will be geared toward making out-of-town students feel comfortable in the city, especially during the convention. “We want to make sure they’re advised, informed, and given the proper information, that they are aware of the neighborhoods,” said NYU spokesperson Richard Pierce of the students who will be exploring the city during the week of the Convention.
    Nonetheless, the convention and its protests promise to provide ample distraction from schools’ orientation programs.The protests,including the largest one, are planned for the Sunday before the convention, when many schools begin their orientations.
    But “in a place like Columbia  you kind of feel like you should be involved in the protest,” Atossa Abrahamian, a new Columbia  freshman, wrote in an e-mail.
    Despite students’ desires to acclimate to college life in the big city, Michael Gould-Wartofsky, a student organizer for the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, an activist group, said he expected many students to rally.“From what I’ve been hearing, a lot of freshmen would rather miss a few days of orientation to take part in protests,” he said
    He said he also knew of freshmen and other early-arrival students who would be offering valuable dorm room floor space to out-of-town protestors looking for a place to unroll their sleeping bags.
    While most schools aren’t near the convention site at Madison Square Garden, Yeshiva University’s Beren women’s campus and CUNY’s Graduate Center are both located two blocks to the east of the Garden. Spokesmen said that despite high security precautions, both buildings will remain open.
    Peter Ferrara, a spokesman for Yeshiva, said that moving in would be a challenge for the 1,000 women moving into the dorms that week.“Orientation and registration is already fairly challenging for students and parents; this ramps it up,” he said. The school’s orientation program of baseball games and city tours will go ahead, with an expectation for delays. “It will be a bit more challenging,” he said.
    A spokesman from the NYC Host Committee said: “The city has a plan to ensure that businesses, residents, commuters, students, and visitors can go about their lives during the convention.”
    Emma Poltrack, an incoming NYU freshman, said she didn’t think the convention would affect her week significantly, but was still nervous about the possibility of terrorism.
    “It’s silly to change your actions because of some unfounded idea of a threat, but on the other hand, if anything were to happen, it makes sense that it would happen that week/weekend,” Ms. Poltrack wrote in an e-mail.
    Meanwhile,Michael Arena,a CUNY spokesman,said that the CUNY system has planned no changes to its routine, and that the most common concern he’s heard from the largely commuter student body was over subway delays.
    “Believe me, we’re used to it,” he said.“Those kinds of things people live with day in and day out in this city.”

Thursday, August 19, 2004


As many as 875 New York City retailers have been selling cigarettes without licenses, according to an audit report released yesterday by State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s office, which pushes for improved coordination of tobacco licensing by state and city agencies.

Cigarette vendors and wholesalers in New York City must obtain licenses from the state and city. The Comptroller’s audit, conducted between January 2001 and October 2003, found little coordination between the two city agencies and the state agency over the licensing of cigarette sellers, even though more than half of the state’s retailers and wholesalers are located in the city.

The state’s finance department and the Department of Consumer Affairs “do not compare their records to ensure that retailers applying for a NYC license have the required [state license] and that the information for all retailers is correctly entered in each database,” the report concludes.

Comparing state and city records, auditors discovered 3,583 retailers with a state license but no city license. After investigating a random sampling of 85 of these resellers, they estimated that between 8 and 20 percent of retailers were selling cigarettes without a city license. Auditors also discovered that as many as 148 of the 764 retailers with a revoked or suspended NYC license were selling cigarettes.

A spokesperson for the state tax department, Tom Bergin, said the problems are significant. “It’s a very important issue, and we’re concerned about it,” he said. “We have to make sure we capture the revenue we’re losing,

Thursday, August 12, 2004

To Flee or Not To Flee Is N.Y. Question

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

Conventional city wisdom dictates there is no better time to flee the city than the last week in August — especially when that happens to be the week of the Republican National Convention.
On top of terror concerns, add some of New Yorkers’ biggest nuisances to this year’s end-of-summer boil — Republicans (roughly 30,000), journalists (15,000), protesters (500,000), and street closings (more than 30 blocks), and the notion of staying in the city seems ridiculous.
But then there’s the other branch of New York wisdom that says life goes on. For every resident leaving the city because of the convention, scores of others are shrugging their shoulders and staying put, either to work or because they see no reason to go.
“I think many people will view it as another work week,”said Neil Kleiman, the director of the Center for an Urban Future, a local think tank, who plans to stay in town.“There’s more of a sense in New York that people want to put their head down, do their work, and wait until this blows over.”
Unlike the mayor of Boston, who encouraged people around his commuter city to leave during the Democratic convention, Mayor Bloomberg has urged residents to stick around, highlighting ways to avoid inconvenience, and singing his now-famous mantra: Go about your daily business.
Ed Koch, the former Democrat mayor and supporter of President Bush, even tells New Yorkers in a TV spot to help the delegates “find shopping, a schmeer, a schwarma, a shoe shine, a shuttle, a show,” a tall order for a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5 to 1.
But while New Yorkers may not roll out the red carpet for conventioneers, they’re not skipping town on them, either.
Carlynn Houghton, 27, a Democrat who works as an assistant at an Upper East Side girls school, recently backed off the idea of going to Canada during the convention. “If you just up and go then you’re giving up and you’re saying,‘You can have this.’ No political party can have the place you live, certainly if its not my political party.”
It turns out that even among the scores of New Yorkers scrambling to rent out their apartments during the convention, worry is not much of a motivating factor, either.
“I’m just trying to sneak in a side pocket and make some extra cash,” said Michael Weiner, an actor who advertised his Murray Hill apartment on the online bulletin board Craigslist as suited to “both conventioneers and protesters.”
Those here for the convention will be giving city tourism a healthy shot in the arm during its slowest week of the year, at the end of what Cristyne L. Nicholas, the president of visitor bureau NYC and Company, said was a “recordbreaking summer” for tourism.
As for tourism unconnected to the convention, Ms. Nicholas said she did not expect it to drop, and said it might even rise.“Even those hotels [not housing delegates] are seeing the same type of business as they have in the past.”
A spokesman for the U.S. Open, which starts on the same day as the convention, said attendance was expected to be higher than last year, with 40% of the attendees to come from out of town.
Aside from the tennis tournament, which will draw 30,000 spectators a day, the Mets and Yankees are both expecting high attendance for their home games throughout Convention Week.
“Also, Restaurant Week will be extended, sales are going on, and Tax Free Week is happening, too,” Ms. Nicholas added. “And there will be real live Republicans walking around, which should be kind of fun.”

Monday, August 09, 2004


Conservative Will Need To Establish Residency

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

    A two-time presidential candidate and black conservative commentator, Alan Keyes, entered the campaign fray in Illinois yesterday, ending a month of Republican anxiety over who would face rising star Barack Obama in an uphill battle for the state’s Republican Senate seat.
    State GOP leaders last week asked Mr. Keyes, who has a handful of failed campaigns behind him, to run for office, and yesterday he formally accepted the nomination.Although Mr. Keyes is a Maryland resident with no Illinois ties, state law allows candidates to run for public office as long as they live in the state by Election Day.
    Six months ago, Jack Ryan dropped out of the race following embarrassing sex allegations that emerged from his divorce papers.
    The election will be the first Senate race to feature two blacks from major parties, and it means Illinois will produce the fifth black senator in American history.
    At his acceptance speech yesterday, Mr. Keyes promised a fight but not necessarily a victory against favored Democratic state Senator Obama. He also discussed his decision to run after other high-profile state Republicans declined, including a former Chicago Bears football coach, Mike Ditka.
    “I will spend a good deal of my time listening to the people of this state,” he told cheering supporters in a Chicago suburb. “I might not know the streets yet and the neighborhoods and all the things that go to make up the everyday life of the people.…but if in fact the people of Illinois still stand together on the American creed, still assert their right of self-government, still have the sense of responsible citizenship, then I believe I know their spirit and their conscience and their heart.”
    Mr. Keyes, 54, who last week questioned the notion of running for office in a state he had never lived in, joins the ranks of two other famous “carpetbaggers:” Robert Kennedy and Senator Clinton, who Mr. Keyes once criticized for moving to New York to win her Senate seat.
    To the local political establishment, the issue of Mr. Keyes’ parachuting in on the Illinois race,not to mention questions about debts and taxes owed, will be the least of the candidate’s worries. Some say Mr. Keyes’s staunch conservatism will prove hard to swallow in a state that has a long history of centrism and a strong fan base for Mr. Obama, who has achieved celebrity status since his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.
    Widely considered to be the nation’s most prominent black conservative,Mr. Keyes opposes abortion and gay rights, has proposed replacing the income tax with a national sales tax, and calls affirmative action a “government patronage program.”
    The interim director of the Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University and a moderate Republican, Mike Lawrence, said Mr. Keyes’s political stance and his previous failures to capture the Senate seat in Maryland could mean more frustration and division for local Republican officials.
    “I think his candidacy will generate enthusiasm among the most conservative elements of the Republican Party here, but I don’t think he’s going to do well in Illinois,” Mr. Lawrence said. “The moderates of both parties are the ones who’ve tended to be successful on a statewide basis.”
    Mr. Keyes’s supporters are banking on the candidate’s strengths to burnish the party’s image: name recognition, a compelling speaking style, and a mastery of issues honed on the campaign trail, in the state department and at his alma mater, Harvard.
    After learning of his opponent in the Senate race, Mr. Obama said: “Illinoisans want a Senate candidate who will attack the problems they and their families face rather than spending time attacking each other.”
    The co-chairman of the Illinois Republican State Central Committee, Stephen McGlynn, said the eloquent Mr.Keyes would pose a challenge to Mr. Obama in debates, where the up-andcomer might be pushed to shed his friendly, centrist image for a harder, more liberal stance.
    “We think voters will say, ‘We didn’t know this about Barack,we thought that he was a rock star, but he’s extreme,’” Mr. McGlynn said. “He’s going to have a tough time defending his record. He has to hope that this race doesn’t turn into a contest of ideas.We can win that.”

Sunday, August 08, 2004

xiu xiu, knitting factory, 8/7/04

HE takes many minutes to set up his instruments. To tune. To tinker with knobs that are only innocent-looking. Lately I've been thinking that musicians ought to do more setting up during their sets instead of beforehand, a way to add some aural spice to the set, some instrument groaning in the throes of birth and making the too long time between sets shorter.
This is not what he is doing. He is preparing himself for the song, the song which could end all songs. The song that soars and thumps and screams and runs and points fingers and kills itself in the most pathetic and dramatic electocution method: third rail, when the train is coming in. Fine, he is setting up, he is tuning. But he is taking a breath, and in so doing, in being completely silent, while his friend stands by blithely looking over the percussion she will bang, he allows the audience some respite, some time to digest, some time to get ready for whatever the hell will be thrown at it next, not knowing, a bit nervous, but eager like a nymphomaniacal sex torture victim but with drum machines and gamelans in place of whips and knives. And whips and knives.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Sole Example of Architect’s Work in America Is Destroyed

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

A death knell is clanging for an Upper East Side townhouse considered to be one of New York’s finest Modernist buildings, as its new owner finishes extensive changes to its façade despite protests from neighbors and preservation groups.
Since early June some of the building’s major elements, including its iconic stainless steel column, have disappeared amidst the stir of local irritation and underneath a shroud of black scaffolding. The revered two-story townhouse at 27 E. 79th St. is the only building in the United States designed by the acclaimed Viennese architect Hans Hollein.
Located across the street from Mayor Bloomberg’s townhouse, the building had been under informal protection since high-powered art dealer Richard Feigen, who once used it as his gallery, sold it to fashion designer Hanae Mori in 1973.
Following the bankruptcy of her store, Ms. Mori sold the building to Thomas Reynolds in 2002 without making a similar agreement, according to a representative for Ms. Mori who participated in the sale.
“I was absolutely astonished that this architectural landmark, which many have called the finest ’60s modernist building in New York by a great architect, could be altered like this,” said Mr. Feigen, who lobbied the owner and notified local groups after noticing construction in April.“Now it’s too late; they’ve ruined the façade.”
While architectural groups say they informally brought the building to the attention of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1999 — the earliest the building could have been designated as a landmark — the groups did not petition to protect it until June, said Landmarks officials, when renovation had already begun.
The formal petition came days after Mr. Feigen first noticed construction work on the building. He enlisted the help of a local preservation group, the Friends of the Upper East Side Historical District, and the architectural consortium Docomomo to help him certify the building as a landmark, and attempted to make an agreement with the new owner, to no avail.
Mr. Hollein told The New York Sun he was devastated at the alteration of one of his early works, what architect Robert AM Stern once called “one of the pioneering gestures…that would characterize architecture in the 1970s and 1980s.”
“I considered it a very important small building, important in the development at that time for architecture in the U.S. and New York,” Mr. Hollein said. “It was a new approach to the relation between art and architecture. I felt terrible when I heard about it.”
Mr. Hollein and Mr. Feigen said they were most concerned by the removal of the building’s signature double-barreled stainless steel column, which was fashioned using steel originally intended for the World Trade Center. Positioned in the middle of the façade and rising up two stories, the shiny column has lately given way to its structural pier, a tower of roughshod red-brick.
Because the building was not given landmark status and lies just outside the Upper East Side Historic District, any renovations are legal, said a spokesperson at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission,Diane Jackier.
Though the agency will occasionally expedite the lengthy landmark certification process for endangered buildings, a petition to protect the Feigen Gallery arrived months after a building permit had been issued in April.
“Sometimes things happen unexpectedly and in a faster time frame, and we react as quickly as we can,” Ms. Jackier said. “In this case, there was nothing we could do. The landmarks commission designation would not override a validly issued Department of Buildings permit.”
While Mr. Reynolds and his lawyers did not return repeated calls for comment about the purpose of the renovations, workers at the site said that the new building was being renovated for future gallery use. They said construction, mostly the replacement of the exterior slab with a tiled design, along with minor alterations to the chrometrimmed interior, is scheduled to be done next week.
Preservationists said the situation bespeaks a common threat to modern architecture in the city, where older buildings tend to monopolize the attention of the public and often fall outside the purview of an overburdened Landmarks Commission.
A co-chairwoman of the preservation group Docomomo, Nina Rappaport, said the responsibility to protect modern buildings in the city lies with groups like hers, and especially with the Landmarks Commission.
“We need to have the commission really pay attention to more recent buildings,” she said. “One idea is to do more surveys, to identify where these buildings are, at least to say in some way, if they review a building, ‘we’ve looked at this building, we don’t like it, and here’s why.’”
She added that the destruction of the Hollein building was “in a way faultless.” By the time they tried to negotiate the building’s protection with the owner, “it was just too late, and the owner wasn’t interested at all.”

Google Turns Up Credit Card Numbers

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

Amid growing concerns about the proliferation of personal data on the Internet, a Web site reported yesterday that a simple search on the popular Google search engine can easily be used to find individuals’ credit card information.
Using a feature that allows queries for particular number ranges — a tool meant to find consumer goods at particular price levels, for instance — people can easily find pages that contain thousands of credit card numbers and expiration dates along with their holders’ names and addresses, reported. The problem raises further alarm about the availability of personal data on the Internet.
While much of the information listed online may be outdated, calls by The New York Sun to a handful of the people listed verified the numbers were authentic; some said they had been the victim of credit card fraud in recent months.
The powerful tools and indexing technologies that have made Google popular among everyone from researchers to online shoppers have also made it a top choice among “google hackers” who have used the search engine to manipulate Web searches or gather personal information like Social Security numbers.
In this case,Web users that search for ranges of numbers beginning with particular four-digit prefixes will find Web sites that contain any number within that range. A search for “mastercard 5424000000000000..5424999999999999” yields hundreds of credit card numbers on dozens of Web pages, most in Russian and Arabic.
Jeffery Marchand, an antiques dealer from upstate New York whose credit card information was listed on a Russian website, said that while he appreciated Google’s usefulness, its search index should be censored in some extreme cases.
“I can’t understand why Google would allow that on the system,” he said. “Something that’s clearly illegal shouldn’t be allowed on there.”
Citing the quiet period surrounding their upcoming initial public offering, Google declined to comment, though a company official stressed that the problem lay with the Web sites offering the information,not the search engine itself.
Recently, the company has offered to remove sites that contain credit card and Social Security numbers, as long as users file complaints with
Ernest Lali, an Albany resident, said he was “stunned and irritated” to learn that his credit card information was easily found on a French-language message board.
“I had no idea whatsoever. This shouldn’t be happening,” he said. Because he rarely uses the Internet to make credit card purchases, he said it was especially surprising.
But according to Richard M. Smith, an Internet security consultant, the underground exchange of credit card numbers isn’t just the work of hackers who steal transaction information. He said that such fraud was increasingly committed by e-mail spammers selling fake products, or “phishers,” who use the Internet to gather information from consumers by posing as credit card administrators.
“Clearly Google’s the biggest privacy invader out there,” Mr. Smith said. “Once a piece of information gets out there, its available on the Internet. The trouble is once the stuff gets out, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.”
Consumer protection rules stipulate that credit card holders are typically not responsible for unauthorized charges, which make up 1% of all credit card uses, according to a spokesman for Mastercard, David Collett.
Preventing search engines like Google from listing such sites would be nearly impossible, Mr. Collett said.
“This is just the unintended consequence of their search technology. We can’t fault them, and we’d be happy to work with them if they want to,” he said, adding that Mastercard’s investigators were apprised of the Google trick. “We’re doing everything we can to find these sites ourselves and shut them down.”

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Pro-Bush Jewish Group Starts Blog

An non-partisan Jewish group calling for the re-election of President Bush because he is “best for Israel” took their message to the internet yesterday, opening a website with essays and a weblog documenting the presidential candidates’ “stark differences” over the current Palestinian crisis.

Jeff Steier, the New York non-profit executive who started the website, said he got the idea during conversations with friends who said that Israel was their biggest priority in electing a president. He says the site is meant to contrast President Bush’s defense of Israel with Sen. John Kerry’s “lack of leadership and poor judgment.”

“Senators Schumer and Clinton have been saying that Kerry is ‘also good’ for Israel,” Mr. Steier said, referring to New York’s Democratic senators. “We need someone in the White House who is better than “also good.’”

In recent months, Sen. Kerry has been backtracking from a slew of statements that have put him in hot water with pro-Israel groups. Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in December, he attacked Bush’s Israeli support for "jeopardizing the security of Israel [and] encouraging Palestinian extremists," and last year called Israel’s security fence a “barrier to peace.”

Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat who famously supports Mr. Bush and who is mentioned on the site, said he was less concerned about Israel than about the issue of terrorism everywhere.

“I don’t think Israel itself is the issue; I happen to be very supportive of Israel. The issue for me is America standing up to international terrorists when other countries are running away,” he said.

Ira Foreman, the executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, questioned the validity of the site’s support for Bush and doubted its relevance to Jewish voters, most of whom are interested in a range of political topics, not just Israel.

“The antipathy towards Bush in the Jewish community is palpable,” he said. “People say, ‘I’m fine with Kerry’s policies on Israel; and then I have all my other issues, and I can’t agree with bush on any of that.”

Monday, August 02, 2004

Computer Malfunction Grounds US Airways, American Flights for Several Hours

By ALEX PASTERNACK Special to the Sun

A computer malfunction forced the groundings of all American Airlines and US Airways flights in the country for three hours yesterday morning, delaying hundreds of passengers at New York’s three major airports through the evening.
The cause of the groundings “wasn’t a safety or security issue,” said a spokesperson for US Airways, Amy Kudwa. Instead, a malfunction in the flight operations database used by US Airways and American led the airlines to keep their planes on the ground.
A spokesperson for the company that maintains the computer system, Electronic Data Systems, said operators noticed a computer glitch, caused by human error,at around 7 a.m.To contain the malfunction, they shut down the entire system,which is used to manage the scheduling of flights and crews, monitor the weather, and coordinate catering.
An official at the Federal Aviation Administration said such malfunctions are rare, and that because such problems affect airlines’ internal systems, it is up to the airlines to decide to ground planes, not the FAA.
When notified of the problem, the airlines contacted the FAA, which helped ground planes at airports from coast to coast. Flights in the air at the time of the problem were “processed manually,” Ms. Kudwa said.
American, which grounded about 150 flights, had its planes back in the air after two hours, while US Airways, which kept 100 planes on the ground, resumed flights after three hours.
A Port Authority spokesperson,Tony Ciavolella, said that because of its heavy early-morning schedule, La-Guardia had the most delays in the New York area. No other air carriers were affected, he said.
An investigation into the cause of the error is underway at the airlines and EDS, according to the company’s spokesman, Sean Healy. “But safety was never an issue.”