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  • Brazil's Celso Amorim On the Collapsed Trade Talks

    Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister and long-serving trade chief, is not one to dodge a spat. At World Trade Organization talks in Geneva last week over a global rulebook slated to boost world wealth by billions and lift millions out of poverty, he compared the U.S. and Europe's tactics to those of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. But when the talks collapsed in acrimony over protection for farmers in developing nations, Amorim was shocked. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck. Excerpts: ...
  • Comedians Take Over Edinburgh Fringe Festival

    The Edinburgh Fringe has long been known as the wackier little sib of the esteemed Edinburgh Summer Festivals. But has the Fringe become too funny? This year comedy acts make up a record 32 percent of the program—overtaking theater events for the first time ever. What's more, the comics are debuting their own festival-within-a-festival that's set to be a big earner. All this has critics anxious that the Fringe's reputation as a bastion for experimental theater is being taken over by jokers.Perhaps this anxiety accounts for the particularly bleak lineup in straight theater performances this year. The plays are taking aim at some pretty somber themes: death, suicide and the end of the American Dream. One troupe is even staging its performances in a cellar to re-create the experience of a gas chamber. Still, one of the darkest offerings is also creating the most pre-show buzz: Matthew Bourne's ballet adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novella "The Picture of Dorian Gray." With all this doom...
  • Making a Style Statement With Bicycles

    A bicycle needn't be all about going places. These chic, retro-styled statement cycles combine utility with luxurious good looks. The Sogreni Classic is handmade in Denmark and weighs a mere 10 kilos. The entire bike is coated in a Sogreni secret-formula matte treatment, giving the bike a beautiful color and ultimate rust protection (€1,450; sogreni.dk). To stow and go, the French luxury trunk craftsman Pinel & Pinel has designed a handmade leather trunk for carrying a foldable Brompton bike, which is included and can be collapsed in 10 to 20 seconds. Customers can choose from 51 colors of leather for the outside casing and inside lining, ranging from luxurious crème and candy-apple red to lime green and lavender (€6,000; pineletpinel.com). But leading the pack in true vintage style is the Velorbis Scrap Deluxe. This silver attention-getter comes with blond balloon tires. Its mustache-shaped handlebars and luxury leather grips and saddle are designed for utmost comfort and...
  • When It Comes to Fashion, X Marks the Trend

    Integral to Roman numerals, algebra and pirate maps, the letter X is now making its mark on fashion. Often a symbol for the unknown, it's hard to miss when thin beige strips crisscross at the waist of an iconic black bandage dress from Hervé Léger by Max Azria ($1,250; intermixonline.com). Black lines also intersect at the midsection of a cap-sleeved olive-green dress by Chanel ($8,010; chanel.com for locations). Bust lines also feature the X factor; thick black straps overlay the décolletage of a red cocktail dress by Zero + Maria Cornejo ($573; zeromariacornejo.com). For those who don't want to cross their hearts, Kara Ross's X-shaped bangle is plated with 18-karat gold and has a tiger's eye at dead center ($215; vivre.com). Miniature gold X's surround a Van Cleef & Arpels onyx cuff from the 1970s ($68,000; kentshire.com), rendering the one-of-a-kind piece both vintage and ahead of its time. There's also an invisible way to wear the trend: patchouli, rhubarb and jasmine are...
  • Pakistan's Struggle For Control of the ISI

    In the latest sign of internal turmoil in Pakistan, tensions are rising between the ruling party of slain leader Benazir Bhutto and the country's powerful military. In a move widely attributed to Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Ali Zardari, the civilian government recently tried to wrest control of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from the Army and transfer it to a Zardari associate in the Interior Ministry. They fumbled it—and in doing so, Islamabad may have lost the faith of both normal citizens and of Washington.Before that attempted power grab, U.S. officials accused the ISI of being riddled with Islamist sympathizers who support terrorists in Pakistan's frontier tribal regions. The problem has grown so bad, they say, that it seems the ISI was involved in the fatal bombing of Kabul's Indian Embassy on July 7. According to a Tibetan official, the intelligence service warned the militants who carried out the blast to move their headquarters to avoid detection by...
  • Vancouver Offers Outdoor Delights and Great Food

    British Columbia's most cosmopolitan city and the future host of the 2010 Olympics, this pristine Canadian destination exudes a laid-back, West Coast vibe with an environmentally friendly flair.
  • David Blunkett's "Banged Up" Battles Youth Crime

    Banged Up," a new U.K. reality show starring David Blunkett (the former British Home secretary who clamped down on youth crime), follows 10 unruly teens whose parents have volunteered them to be locked away. Blunkett sits Simon Cowell-like on a mock parole board. His charges are strip-searched by officers and kept in stark two- by four-meter cells for 14 hours a day. The producers have even thrown a gang of hardened ex-cons into the mix. So far, so crass. Except that Blunkett's tough-love tactics seem to be working: despite two inmates dropping out in the first episode, many of the kids have vowed to live crime-free lives."Banged Up" comes at a moment when the British government is once again struggling with a juvenile crisis. Following a spate of high-profile knifings, Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched a $200 million "Youth Crime Action Plan" that includes such outlandish schemes as threatening parents of young offenders with eviction if they can't rein in their progeny, and...
  • Jorge Castañeda On Why Cuba Is No Vietnam

    At a recent meeting in Hanoi of a new global outfit called the Emerging Markets Forum, a group that is positioning itself as an emerging-economy, though business-oriented, alternative to Davos, participants were exposed to a fascinating perspective on the Vietnamese experiment. At the meeting—and during this writer's additional week touring the country—officials outlined a combination of rigorous one-party rule in the classic socialist style (including a Ho Chi Minh mausoleum indistinguishable from Mao's and Lenin's, and a completely official, propagandistic press) with freewheeling, swashbuckling, barely regulated market economics. Over the past 15 years, Vietnam has grown 8 percent annually, and last year saw more than $18 billion in foreign investment—one of the highest totals in the world as a percentage of GDP.Such an impressive performance (despite the current specter of rising inflation and slower growth) has led many to view the country as a model for nations now going...
  • DJ Tiesto Plays the 2008 Olympic Games

    China has promised an Olympics this year of unparalleled grandeur and novelty. Still, when viewers tune in to the festivities next month, the Games' signature sound might seem a bit familiar. That will be thanks to Netherlands native Tijs Verwest, better known as DJ Tiesto, who blew away crowds with his live musical performances during the opening ceremony at the 2004 Athens Games. Since then, Tiesto has mixed tunes for the likes of Justin Timberlake, snagged a Grammy nomination for his album "Elements of Life" and completed four tours in Asia, Europe and North America.Now Coca-Cola has tapped him and seven other Western musicians to compose soundtracks for the Beijing festivities. The tunes—which are paired with eight different Coke-bottle designs created by Chinese artists—reflect the theme of common global desires, such as good fortune, strength and perseverance and a healthy world. Tiesto's hypnotic electronic track "Global Harmony"—and its visual match, graphic designer Xiao...
  • It’s All About Commodities

    For much of the past decade, the emerging markets of Brazil and Turkey were considered identical twins. Following their long history of high indebtedness and hyperinflation, which led them to the edge of the abyss in 2002, both economies embarked on a path of structural reform and staged remarkable recoveries. They appeared to share a common destiny, with their stock markets and currencies trading in sync. Till oil did them part.The commodity-price explosion led by oil since late 2007 separated the fate of resource-rich Brazil, and resource-poor Turkey. Their divergent paths are symptomatic of the way the world has been operating this year. The only axis around which the global economy revolves is oil. In the first half of 2008, stock markets of most oil-exporting countries soared to new highs, while those of oil importers plunged 15 percent on average.Brazil has been a significant beneficiary of the oil-obsessed world; commodities account for nearly half of its exports. Turkey, in...
  • Europe Loves Obama But Would Never Vote For Him

    What was most interesting about the throngs who came to see Barack Obama in Europe last week was never articulated in public. It's that they adore him for America (the Bild tabloid called the German reaction "love at first sight") but would never get to vote for someone like him at home.To be sure, Europeans swinging American flags again instead of burning effigies of the U.S. president is a refreshing sight. To many Europeans, Obama feels like one of them—mildly left of center, talking about cooperation, promising that America will act on climate change. But Europe's adulation of the half-Kenyan senator has some observers asking an obvious question: he'd be a shoo-in if Europeans could vote in America, but would they pick him in Europe? Would a German Turk, a Dutch Indonesian or a Franco-Algerian stand a chance of making it up the ranks of the Continent's major political parties? "Absolutely not," says Jerome Mack, a London-based corporate diversity consultant.In the main, that's...
  • 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...
  • The Case of Kosovo

    Readers of Denis MacShane's June 16 column rejected his views on Kosovo's independence. One wrote, "It's a one-sided, biased piece." Another said, "Balkanization can only be avoided by negotiation and compromise." A third argued, "It's odd to blame others when America is the obvious troublemaker." ...
  • Oaxaca City Offers Ruins and Great Food

    Just two years ago, the restaurants and shops in this colonial Mexican city were closed off to outsiders after protesters and soldiers briefly turned it into a battleground. Now peace has returned, and with it, the tourists. ...
  • Sunglasses Come in Wild Prints and Patterns

    While on the lam in "North by Northwest," Cary Grant disguises himself with black sunglasses. Immediately someone asks, "What's wrong with your eyes?" Attempts at traveling incognito might fail just as badly with this season's bold, patterned sunglasses. Once limited primarily to tortoiseshell, prints now come in all shapes and stripes.The king of patterns, Emilio Pucci, places his iconic abstract designs on the arms of magenta frames ($285; neimanmarcus.com). Yves Saint Laurent sees spots through its leopard motif ($250; bergdorfgoodman.com). Zebra stripes are also popular; Leiber's white and purple lines are the result of minuscule mosaics on an amethyst-hued background ($775; bergdorf goodman.com). Moss Lipow makes an arresting pair of cherry-colored lenses surrounded by strips of red leather, but also creates custom patterns ($1,100–$4,000; mosslipow.com). And like a funky lining under a no-nonsense coat, Thakoon's jet-black frames hide a navy and white tie-dye print ($315;...
  • The Man Fighting Corruption in Russia

    A specter is haunting Russia—the specter of corruption. President Dmitry Medvedev, who last spring said Russia is suffering from "legal nihilism," conceded last week that some government jobs can be bought. Kirill Kabanov's National Anti-Corruption Committee offers an answer. Kabanov investigated some of the Putin era's biggest corruption cases with the NGO after leaving the FSB, losing friends to various poisons along the way. He talked with NEWSWEEK's Anna Nemtsova about the blurry line between money and power in Moscow. Excerpts: ...
  • Money Can Buy Suborbital Space Travel

    Beginning in 2010, a number of companies will offer rocket-powered space flights that will take astronaut wannabes just past the Karman Line—the official edge of space, 100km above Earth—where passengers can experience weightlessness and view the Earth's curvature. Space Adventures sells trips that include up to five minutes of weightlessness ($102,000; spaceadventures .com). Virgin Galactic will provide three days of training and a chance to float in the rocket's cabin ($200,000; virgingalactic.com). And the Japanese company First Advantage has partnered with Rocketplane Kistler to offer space weddings ($2.2 million; spacewedding.jp). Now that's out of this world.
  • By the Numbers: Countries That Outlaw Gay Sex

    Malaysia's leading opposition figure, Anwar Ibrahim, was recently detained on sodomy charges, which could land him up to 20 years in jail. A look at other countries that outlaw sex between consenting gay adults: 85 Number of nations that ban gay sex under laws on "sodomy," "pederasty," "buggery" or "serious indecency" 8 Number that impose the death penalty: Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, U.A.E., Sudan, Afghanistan, parts of Nigeria 10 Number where the max is life in prison: includes Uganda, India, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Singapore 35 Number that criminalize sex between men but not women: includes Bahrain, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan
  • Foreign Fighters Leaving Iraq For Afghanistan

    Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, said last week there is some intelligence that Al Qaeda is shifting forces from Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan. That would continue a larger trend: the departure of foreign fighters. The Pentagon says that in early 2007, at the peak of foreign terror in Iraq, foreign fighters made up more than 10 percent of the insurgency and were flowing into the country at a rate of 110 a month. Now that number is 40 a month. Many foreigners are heading for havens on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.The result is less violence in Iraq. A West Point study shows that in early 2007 nine of 10 suicide bombers came from foreign states. They were striking 27 times a month. By this May that number was down to six in Iraq, according to the Brookings Institution. But the bloodshed was rising in Afghanistan.
  • Q&A: Amtrak CEO on American Ridership

    Will Americans, with their vast country and automobile lust, ever take to trains the way Europeans have? The CEO of the nation's publicly funded rail service is taking on the challenge one track tie at a time.
  • The Maximalist

    Few high-end digital cameras offer more than 10 megapixels. But now Hasselblad makes a machine that boasts 50 megapixels of high-def resolution. The H3DII-50 DSLR also features a 7.6cm display and a choice of a waist- or eye-level viewfinder. It's picture-perfect for professionals—or amateurs who like to pretend they are ($39,995; hasselbladusa.com).