ESPN Launches (Another!) Network, Fights Feds

Shortly before "March Madness" begins, on the 15th, ESPN will launch its first college-sports network, ESPNU. Interested spectators will include the Justice Department, which has quietly been pursuing an antitrust investigation of ESPN for such practices as "warehousing" (buying broadcast rights for a conference but airing only the top football and basketball games) and forcing teams to schedule games at odd hours in order to receive coverage. ESPNU's added coverage should help mitigate these practices.


Dan Rather Retires

When Dan Rather assumed the anchor's chair at CBS, upon Walter Cronkite's retirement, he was reportedly so cowed by his predecessor's reputation that he refused to sit in the actual chair Cronkite had used, and crouched behind the anchor desk. Thus began a long, strange ride. "Gunga Dan" dressed as a mujahid for a trip to Afghanistan (the Soviets claimed he killed three villagers there), sparred with Republican presidents, and was once the victim of an inexplicable physical attack by someone demanding, "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" Rather remains a 60 Minutes correspondent.


New and Improved SATs

So you scored 1600? On the new SAT, making its debut today, that wouldn't even get you into Brown. The Educational Testing Service, which designs the SAT, has added a written-essay component and a new reading portion and removed analogies and quantitative comparisons; the math section also includes some second-year algebra. A perfect score is now 2400 (and the new average score is expected to be around 1520). The revised SAT was prompted in part by the University of California's threat to drop the old test. In the past the SAT routinely underestimated women's college performance. Women, who tend to perform better on the writing sample, are expected to see a slight increase in their scores.


The Shrinking Coalition

Although eight countries have already pulled out of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, the Netherlands' departure, scheduled for today, represents the largest withdrawal—some 1,300 troops—since Spain removed the same number last spring. The Dutch, performing security and stability operations in southern Iraq, have suffered two fatalities, one in a grenade attack and one in a firefight.


Corporate Crunch Time

Passed just after the wave of financial scandals in 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act aims to improve corporate behavior by requiring large publicly traded companies to prove they have fraud control in nearly every aspect of corporate life, from the paychecks given current employees to clearances revoked from fired ones. The deadline for most companies' reports is today, but according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, only 20 percent will have addressed their faults in time. While there is no fine for noncompliance, offending companies will probably see their stock prices drop when their accounting trouble becomes public.


WMD Snafu Report

Last year President Bush grudgingly agreed to an independent investigation of the flawed pre-war intelligence on purported Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence commission, whose report is due today, has a broad mandate and may look at the nuclear distribution network led by the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan; Iran and Libya's nuclear development programs; and possibly the failure to predict nuclear detonations by Pakistan and India. Critics fear that the result will be less attention paid to the bad intelligence about Iraq's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction. The report comes three months after Congress finished work on the largest restructuring of the intelligence community in half a century (over that period there have been at least twenty-one other intelligence commissions).


Armored Humvees, at Last

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was caught off guard in December when, during a question-and-answer session, a U.S. soldier asked him why troops had to scrounge through local landfills to outfit their trucks with makeshift protection ("hillbilly armor" in military slang). "You go to war with the army you have," Rumsfeld replied. Even before Rumsfeld's embarrassment the Army had rushed to armor its trucks after realizing that it had underestimated the scope and tenacity of the Iraqi resistance. The final shipment of the 8,000 armored Humvees ordered last fall is due to arrive this month, along with armor kits for another 12,800 (out of 30,000 total). About half of all U.S. troop casualties have been caused by improvised explosive devices—typically roadside bombs.