Progressive Dutch social attitudes on hot-button issues like drug legalization, euthanasia and gay rights may seem quirky to foreigners. But where the Dutch have boldly gone, other European countries seem to follow. Britain, Italy and Spain have all decriminalized the personal use of marijuana, and, like the Dutch, the Swiss have set up needle exchanges for heroin addicts. Spain now allows same-sex marriage. Berlin and Paris both have gay mayors. Doctor-assisted suicide is legal in Belgium.
But now the Dutch have turned to the right, making one wonder where Europe is headed. For years, authorities have been cracking down on the nation's famed "coffee shops," where the purchase and use of small amounts of marijuana is permitted. But two weeks ago the government also banned hallucinogenic mushrooms. Beyond that, while euthanasia is allowed (though tightly regulated), abortion, legal since 1984, is now coming under scrutiny. In February, a new, more socially conservative government led by Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced it would review abortion's social consequences, raising the possibility of future restriction. The nation also has the dubious distinction of being at the forefront of anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly against Muslims. A month before 9/11 made such ideas fashionable elsewhere, populist politician Pim Fortuyn called for a "cold war" against Islam. The Dutch, among the staunchest supporters of European integration, were ahead of the curve yet again in 2005, when they overwhelmingly rejected a proposed European constitution.
Why the change in attitudes? Simon Kuper, a British journalist who spent his youth in the Netherlands and has written extensively on the country, says the Dutch public is more receptive than ever to law-and-order policies. The murders of Fortuyn in 2002 and Theo van Gogh, a controversial filmmaker in 2004, left the Dutch with a profound fear of chaos and disorder, and a negative self-image. "The Dutch always used to bang the drums about the alleged superiority of their liberal values," says Kuper. "Now that they're no longer happy with the state of their country, that habit has ceased—at least for the moment." James Kennedy, professor of Dutch history at the University of Amsterdam, says the Dutch may have become neoconservatives in the original sense of the word: "Namely," he says, "liberals mugged by reality." Could the Dutch turn Europe into a continent of neocons? Now that would put the Netherlands ahead of the curve.
New Sharif In Town
The Saudis took in Pakistan's ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif after he was ousted eight years ago. They welcomed him back last month, after a failed attempt to return to Islamabad. Now they are said to be pressing beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf to let Sharif go home, ahead of January's elections. Speaking on condition of anonymity, highly placed Pakistani sources say Saudi King Abdullah urged Musharraf to let Sharif back out of respect for "the wishes of the Pakistani people" and a ruling by Pakistan's Supreme Court. NEWSWEEK's source says that Musharraf is refusing, but he may permit Sharif's wife, Kulsoom, to return.
Why the Saudis changed their minds isn't clear, but it may be another sign of Riyadh's newly assertive diplomacy. Like recent attempts to mediate peace deals between Israel and the Palestinians, the Sharif case reflects Abdullah's hopes to become a regional power broker and to offset Iran's rising influence.
Europe Thinks Different
If Europe continues to underwhelm in high-tech innovation, it's not for lack of brains. Two Germans and a Frenchman won Nobel Prizes for chemistry and physics last month. The problem is turning that research into private-sector innovation and start-ups. Now, however, a change is underway. According to an OECD report released last week, European countries are shifting research on public projects (think the struggling Galileo satellite project or the Franco-German Internet search engine Quaero) to the private sector. Universities across the continent, from Germany's Munich Tech to Sweden's Chalmers University in Goteborg, are pushing ties to industry and promoting spinoffs, ? la America's Stanford University. Already, these have helped give Europe a lead in environment and renewable-energy technology. L'Oreal and BMW have stepped up their funding for university science. SAP founder Hasso Plattner has funded a new software design center for Potsdam University. The German government's Excellence Initiative--a contest for ?1.9 billion in university research funding--has helped spark competition in bureaucratic academia. "The mind-set has changed completely," says David Audretsch, economist at the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany. How long until we see Europe's first Genentech or Google? "Give it five years," says Audretsch. "Things are finally falling into place."
By the Numbers
Emerging markets offer enticing opportunities for companies—and criminals too. A new survey of 5,428 companies in 40 countries suggests just how widespread the problem is.
2.4: Average amount, in millions of dollars, that the surveyed companies lost to fraud in the past two years
5.1: Average amount companies lost to fraud in the seven biggest emerging markets during that time
0.8: Average loss, in millions, due to asset theft reported by companies that responded to the survey
2.9: Average loss, in millions, due to asset theft for companies doing business in emerging markets
For A Home Away From The Big House
What kind of house does a man who has spent 34 years in solitary confinement in a two-meter-by-three-meter cell at a Louisiana prison dream of? That's what American artist Jackie Sumell asked imprisoned Black Panther and convicted murderer Herman Wallace. Three hundred letters, 20 prison visits and five years later, Wallace is still in jail and his house is still unbuilt, but an exhibit of Sumell's plan for it has been touring Europe since 2006 and is now on view in New York. As much about politics as design, the show draws attention to what Summell claims is the injustice of Wallace's conviction and the enduring racism of U.S. criminal law. Amnesty International describes Wallace's current home as "cruel, inhuman and degrading," but he retains a unique vision of the good life. Shag carpeting and mahogany furniture evoke the 1970s, the last time he was free to pick his own décor. He also has a unique approach to fire safety. Wood construction, Wallace notes in the exhibit, is a must "to set it a fire to give me a chance to make a clean escape upon attack." Though Sumell is raising money to build the house in Wallace's hometown of New Orleans, he won't be moving in any time soon. A request to reopen his case—on the ground that a prison warden bribed a fellow inmate to testify against him—has been denied by a Louisiana court.
Get Us Outta this Place!
When Callie LeFevre's study-abroad trip to Beirut last summer was cut short by Israeli fighter planes dropping bombs near her campus, the Princeton University junior got home via an emergency evacuation through Syria. The tricky logistics were handled by a company called International SOS, which now works with more than 120 colleges and universities. It's one of a growing group of firms that specialize in extricating student travelers from dangerous situations. The number of U.S. students studying abroad is expected to rise from 206,000 last year to 1 million annually within a decade and many are headed to places where conflict, natural disaster and political strife are common. Faced with balancing students' desires for adventure with their high expectations for safety, schools are increasingly turning to these private security and medical providers to protect students living in risky places abroad. Most colleges foot the bills, which start at about a dollar per day.
Stax Comes Back
Back in the day, Stax Records was the South's answer to Motown. The Memphis soul label's artists—a roster that included Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes—were less polished than their Detroit counterparts, but they introduced fans worldwide to an authentic slice of African-American culture. Now, 40 years after its touring revues spawned best-selling concert records like "Otis Live in Europe" and 30 years after it went belly up, Stax is alive again. Concord Records has resurrected the label with its first new release in decades, Angie Stone's "The Art of Love and War." Hayes, meanwhile, plans to release his first Stax album in ages next spring. "It sure feels good," he told NEWSWEEK. Stax's resurrection from the dead is a remarkable recovery, considering the label's dilapidated studio was reduced to a pile of rubble in 1989. A Stax museum stands there now. Where will the storied label go from here? Isaac Hayes has the answer: "Up, man. Up."
A gym-sculpted chest is the physical ideal which most men aspire to, but gynecomastia—enlarged breasts—is increasingly what they have instead. Nearly half of all men experience it during their lives, and breast reduction is the fifth most common surgical procedure among men in the United States. Hormonal fluctuations, heredity and disease are all causes of the condition, but the biggest culprit is weight gain. Given that 75 percent of Americans are forecast to be overweight by 2015, look for many men to reconsider their reflexive fondness for breasts.