Travis Wentworth

Stories by Travis Wentworth

  • Is South Ossetia Too Small To Be A State?

    Russia's support for tiny South Ossetia's independence raises a befuddling legal question: can a state be too marginal to be recognized? If granted autonomy, South Ossetia would rank as the world's 11th smallest state by population (72,000) and the 30th by landmass (3,900 square kilometers). Its GDP is negligible, but probably larger than widely recognized nations like Nauru. In any event, smallness itself is not the hurdle. The standard definition of a state is found in the 1933 Montevideo Convention, which says that such an entity must have defined borders and a functioning government with "effective control" over a permanent population. South Ossetia arguably lacks all of the above, but then so do some members of the U.N. "There is no clear principle," says Stephen Krasner, a professor of international politics at Stanford. "So the real issue is: how many people can you get to go along on your side?"Prospects are bleak: the United States, Britain and France would probably use...
  • China's Quest For Olympic Gold

    The medal count matters to China. After netting 32 golds in 2004, just four behind the United States, it's headed for a blowout now. Economist Dan Johnson, whose forecasts have a 94 percent accuracy over the past four Games, predicts 44 golds for China, 33 for the United States. Some factors are universal—home teams typically surge, and nations with autocratic regimes average 18 more medals than democracies. But one is specific to China: after disappointing 2000 results in major sports, Beijing launched Project 119, a training campaign to make itself competitive in all 119 (now 122) events, from the 100-meter dash to kayaking. With 88 of the golds this year coming in swimming and track and field, events in which China has lagged in the past, this year could mark a dramatic turning point—or an even more colossal comedown.
  • Travelers Go Far to Really Get Away From It All

    The elusive promise of the great escape, of leaving the BlackBerry at home and communing with nature, now rings hollow: experiences of "getting away from it all" are a dime a dozen. These remote sanctuaries require going that extra mile—or more.Explorers have ascended the Peruvian Andes for centuries, but can now enjoy the down bedding and modern bathrooms of the Mountain Lodges of Peru. Guides pack guests' gear on mules, but hiking at nearly 5,000 meters still requires legwork ($2,500 for four nights; mountainlodgesof peru.com).To get to Costa Rica's Lapa Rios resort, guests take a tiny turboprop into the rain forest, and then a thrilling four-wheel-drive jungle journey. A plush bungalow and a pool await, as well as an observation tower for spying on monkeys and scarlet macaws ($650 for two; laparios.com).Australia offers understated but potent beauty, and Longitude 131º promises luxury in solitude. After a long flight to Ayers Rock and a jeep ride into the Outback, guests find...