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News Briefs

Martha Stewart Living Replaces Chief Executive

By Constance L. Hays

The New York Times NEW YORK

With Martha Stewart in prison, her company’s board announced Thursday that it was replacing the president and chief executive, Sharon L. Patrick, with a television and publishing veteran who joined the board just five months ago.

The surprise move means that Susan Lyne, the former president of ABC Entertainment who also founded and ran Premiere magazine, becomes one of the most powerful people at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. She will report to Thomas C. Siekman, the chairman, and no doubt to Stewart as well, who at present has no title at the company but owns about 60 percent of the stock.

The company said in a statement that Patrick had informed the board of her wish to resign as president and chief executive. In the same statement, Patrick said she was leaving after 10 years “for personal and professional reasons.”

Patrick had encouraged Stewart to start her own company and orchestrated her exit from Time Inc., which had published her flagship magazine, Martha Stewart Living. She took on the chief executive role after Stewart was indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2003. The two years she has held the post have been by far the worst in the company’s existence. Stewart was accused of lying to investigators about her 2001 sale of stock in ImClone Systems, and was convicted in March after a spectacular trial that included testimony from her former assistant and other employees.

Arafat Mystery: The Hidden Cash

By Steven Erlanger

The New York Times JERUSALEM

The battle over Yasser Arafat’s legacy involves an unstated but widely acknowledged concern: He personally controlled several billion dollars, and no one else knows where it all is.

The extent and whereabouts of this fortune, which relies on different aides and advisers as co-signers, had been a hidden part of the disputes at his bedside, Israeli and Palestinian officials say, giving the imminent death of this revolutionary figure the elements of a Victorian novel.

Arafat kept knowledge of the accounts compartmentalized, and only he knew all the details, well-informed Israeli officials say, in assertions confirmed reluctantly by Palestinian officials who do not want to harm Arafat’s legacy.

Much about the financing of the Palestinian movement over the last four decades has been shrouded in secrecy, and its details are hard to pin down. But Palestinians say Arafat has used the money to finance the Palestinian movement and administration to pay salaries, bestow gifts, ensure loyalty, establish embassies, buy arms and pay groups ranging from charities to young fighters like Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Arafat, abstemious, spent very little money on himself, living like a soldier with a narrow bed and a few uniforms in his closet. But the pattern of his revolutionary days in exile -- financing the Palestine Liberation Organization through secret contributions, the black market and extortion, and being ready to run at a moment’s notice -- persisted most obviously in his refusal to trust others and his desire to keep large amounts of cash available in case of emergency.

Intel’s New Chief Promises Kind Leadership

By Gary Rivlin

The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO

Intel, the world’s largest computer chip maker, announced on Thursday that its directors had confirmed the selection of the company president, Paul S. Otellini, as chief executive.

The promotion, which is to take effect May 18, will mark a subtle shift at the top of Intel; Otellini, 54, who will be the first nonengineer to lead the company, promises to be a kinder, more gentle leader than his last two predecessors.

Intel also announced that Craig R. Barrett, the current chief executive, would take over in May as Intel chairman, a post now held by Andrew S. Grove. Grove, a prominent figure in Silicon Valley, will leave the board after 30 years, but he stressed in a phone interview that he was hardly retiring from the company where he has worked since shortly after it was founded in 1968.

“My plan is to be a noodge without portfolio,” Grove said.

The choice of Otellini as Intel’s fifth chief executive came as no surprise to those who pay close attention to Intel. In January 2002, Otellini was named president and chief operating officer, all but guaranteeing his promotion to the top spot.

Microsoft Unveils Its Internet Search Engine, Quietly

By John Markoff

The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO

Microsoft rolled out its long-planned response to Google and Yahoo in the Internet search industry on Wednesday, but with an uncharacteristically soft-sell approach.

The debut, taking the form of a test site, was a stark contrast to another high-profile introduction the company made nine years ago. That was when Microsoft’s chairman, Bill Gates, all but declared war on Netscape Communications and its Web browser by announcing his company’s own browser, Internet Explorer, and proclaiming, “We are hard-core about the Internet.”

On Wednesday, as Microsoft prepared to switch on its search engine at midnight East Coast time (beta.search.msn.com), the company made none of its top executives available for comment.

The highest-ranking official who was willing to discuss the rollout was Adam Sohn, director of sales and marketing for the MSN Web portal. He said Microsoft’s intention was not to compete with Google, currently the Internet’s dominant search engine, but instead to “delight” its own customers.

He discounted the widely held notion that Microsoft, which fought a bitter federal antitrust battle as a result of its anti-competitive actions against Netscape, had similar aggressive designs on the market for Internet search.