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  • By the Numbers on Iraq's Remaining Debt

    Last week the United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf state to cancel the entirety of Iraq's debt, some $7 billion. This follows the lead of countries such as the U.S. and Cyprus. A look at the recent history of Iraq's obligations: 66.5 Billions of dollars in Iraqi debt waived, reduced or paid since 2004, from a total of $127 billion 28 Billions of dollars still owed by Iraq to Kuwait for its 1990 invasion, which Baghdad pays out from oil revenues 25 Difference in billions between Saudi Arabia's claim of Iraq's debt to it ($40 billion) and Iraq's claim ($15 billion) 80 Percentage by which the 19 developed countries of the Paris Club have agreed to reduce Iraq's debt to them
  • Beauty: Beating The Heat With A Spritzer

    Summertime and the living is … refreshing, thanks to facial sprays. Canned or bottled, aerosol or pumped, scented or fragrance-free, these hydrating mists cool parched visages.Lavender notes spring up in Decléor's Fresh Hydrating Mist ($22; sephora.com). Linden blossoms perfume the Toning Floral Water by style child Stella McCartney ($35; sephora.com). Parisian brand Sisley offers hints of rose in its Eau Florale ($65; saksfifthavenue.com). Ole Henriksen's Balancing Cucumber Face Mist harnesses the vegetable's soothing properties ($21; olehenriksen.com).Natura Bissé won't reveal the ingredients in its Diamond Mist ($79; neimanmarcus.com), but The Mist from La Mer proudly touts its marine extracts ($50; saksfifthavenue.com). With restrictions on liquids, jet-setters should stick to the travel-size Moisture Bound Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System from Amore Pacific ($35; bergdorfgoodman.com).Getting back to basics, La Roche-Posay's Thermal Spring Water contains natural minerals...
  • A Tool Of Revolution

    The failure of a Facebook protest in Egypt common to new technologies that seem ready to change the world, but not yet.
  • Mail Call: A Global Problem

    Readers of our May 19 coverage of the world food shortage expressed concern. One wrote, "we can't afford uncontrolled population growth." Another said, "rich countries must lift barriers to farm imports." A third, linking oil prices to food scarcity, advised "economic sanctions for OPEC countries." ...
  • Periscope: Japan Seeks to Overturn Whaling Ban

    As delegates from 81 countries converged on Chile for the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting, the host government left little doubt about where it stood on Japan's efforts to overturn the IWC's commercial-whaling moratorium. On June 23, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet declared whales a national monument and introduced legislation to make Chile's waters a permanent sanctuary where no whale or other marine mammal could ever be hunted or traded. The message to the visiting Japanese delegation was clear: no whaling on our watch.Japan continues to risk international opprobrium over its hunts (which exploit an IWC loophole that allows for up to 1,000 whales a year to be killed for "scientific research," even though whale blubber keeps turning up on sushi menus and in school cafeterias in Japan). Tokyo is threatening to unilaterally resume whaling if the IWC doesn't relax its moratorium, which has been credited with ensuring the comeback of the endangered blue whale off...
  • Salman Rushdie Favored to Win Best of the Bookers

    For the 40th anniversary of the Booker Prize—Britain's annual award for the best novel by a Commonwealth or Irish citizen—a Best of the Booker is being bestowed on July 10. The winner (who gets a trophy and bragging rights) will be chosen by popular vote from among six preselected finalists. The shortlisted names are illustrious: Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee. But none of the contestants truly stands a chance against the supernova shining in their midst, one Sir Salman Rushdie and his incandescent breakthrough novel, "Midnight's Children."Other Booker winners who might have given Rushdie a run for his money—"Life of Pi," for example—failed to make the cut, and Rushdie has already won a Booker of Bookers on the prize's 25th anniversary. While his five rivals are notable examples of English prose, they can't match the ambition and sheer exuberance of 1981's "Midnight's Children," which borrows from magical realism and Dickensian caricature to tackle the entire Indian subcontinent and...
  • Time To Come Home

    Most leaders at last week's G8 summit in Japan shared a dubious distinction: they're unloved at home. George W. Bush is so unpopular his own party doesn't know what to do with him. Same goes for Gordon Brown. Nicolas Sarkozy's approval numbers keep sliding, and Yasuo Fukuda's are in the pits.Among other things, this suggests we should expect less emphasis on high-profile summitry in the days ahead. Apart from Russians, who are enjoying a commodities boom—and are rewarding their president for it—citizens of other G8 nations are suffering from rising prices plus slower economic growth and a relative decline in their nation's power. So they're ever more likely to lose patience with leaders who focus on international issues. Most people, according to polls, now consider the economy at home to be their top priority. The message is clear: voters want more attention paid to them at home. Politicians take note.
  • Indian Companies Still Torn By Family Feuds

    For some time now, Indian firms have been growing in competitiveness; companies like Tata, Reliance, and the Aditya Birla Group now rival giant Western multinationals like General Electric and Procter & Gamble. The conventional wisdom has also been that Subcontinental powerhouses are getting more sophisticated. Management is becoming more professional, too; bullish analysts point to the recent merger of Ranbaxy (India's largest drugmaker) with Japan's Daiichi as a sign of a new willingness among India's CEO scions to move beyond the walled garden of family firms and team up with smart outside companies.Now a very public fight between Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd. and Anil Ambani's Reliance Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group—the billion-dollar refineries to telecoms rivals created when the brothers divided the family assets after a soap-opera-style split in 2005—underscores how much work remains. The brothers are battling over Anil's planned merger of his Reliance...
  • Munich Celebrates 850th Birthday

    This is the summer to visit Munich, as the dynamic metropolis celebrates its 850th birthday with two citywide parties. On July 19 and 20 and Aug. 1 to 3, roads and bridges will be closed and illuminated, with events—including concerts, plays, art exhibitions, extreme-sports competitions and historical re-enactments—set up on outdoor stages and other venues across town.Now is the time to take in the city's culture. The Alte Pinakothek features a world-class collection of such masters as Raphael, Rembrandt and Rubens, while the Pinakothek der Monderne is showing drawings by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who designed the Munich Residenz Palace, to coincide with the city's birthday. No one should miss the Lenbachhaus Gallery, with its unique showcase of Munich-based expressionist Blue Rider painters like Kandinsky, as well as contemporary work (www.lenbachhaus.de/cms). The Bavarian State Opera offers spectacular performances in two theaters where Mozart and Wagner premiered their works...
  • Brewed By Lamborghini

    Rolex's Oyster watch fits the 25-meter rule: it is recognizable long before the brand name is visible.
  • The Fruits Of Tyranny

    In his witty first novel, a journalist takes on the regime of Pakistan's despised former dictator Zia.
  • Europe Heads Towards Recession

    Similarities between 1992 and 2008 are striking. Politics has the same sour taste, and there is the same transatlantic divide.
  • Food: A Taste Of Designer Chocolate

    For those looking to send a personal message with chocolate, M&M's will print sweet nothings on 600 grams of their candy for €23, or portraits for €29 (mymms.com). But now luxury chocolatiers are taking personalization to a whole new level. The Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate and Champagne House in London offers a set of chocolates by award-winning master chocolatier Bill McCarrick, who consults with each client for four to six weeks before creating a confection with the perfect taste, texture and aroma. For €1,500, customers receive their chocolates in a hand-made box with rosewood stringing and ripple sycamore inlays. The company even promises to keep recipes under lock and key so no one can duplicate them (sirhanssloane.com). But for more immed-iate gratification, the special-order Marie-Belle Chocolate Picnic Steamer Trunk, made of textured leather and antiqued brass hardware, is filled with more than 13 kilos of gourmet chocolate; a teapot and tea infuser, and even a hand-bound...
  • Human Intelligence Key to Colombia's Raid on FARC

    The rescue of 15 military and civilian hostages by Colombia's Army on July 2 was more stealth and bewilderment than shock and awe. Instead of hitting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with air raids, the Army infiltrated the group and tricked its fighters into handing over prisoners to government forces. It was a strategy low on brute force and high on inside knowledge of the enemy. As such, it represents not only a major departure for Colombia but perhaps the best new model for combating terror groups worldwide.Such an operation was unthinkable a decade ago, when Colombia's army seemed to be stalemated against the FARC, which then boasted 20,000 guerrillas and raked in hundreds of millions of dollars annually from drug smuggling and kidnappings. But a big increase in its military budget allowed Colombia to double the size of its armed forces to 500,000 and train more men in special operations. Then, after 9/11, Washington permitted U.S.-supplied aircraft and...
  • Hot Spot: Puku Ridge Camp, Zambia

    This newly opened lodge is located in South Luangwa National Park, a remote part of southern Africa where tourists are few but wildlife plentiful. Visitors travel an hour by plane from the capital, Lusaka, then drive two hours to the hillside property. ...
  • Q&A: Lomborg on Al Gore and Climate Change

    Bjorn Lomborg earned the wrath of many scientists by calling into question the direness of global warming.  Now, in this wide-ranging interview, find out why he claims that Al Gore is 'wildly exaggerating' about climate change and its effects.
  • Q&A: Xianglu Founder on Environmental Protests

    When China's central government approved construction of a chemical factory, residents took to the streets in protest. In this exclusive interview, the businessman behind the stalled project describes what the reversal means for foreign investors in China.
  • A Car For The Future

    Honda has unveiled the future of personal transportation: the FCX Clarity, a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car that emits only water from its tailpipe and can get the equivalent of 119 kilometers per gallon. The first Claritys were delivered to southern California on June 16, and Hollywood crowds are already lining up to lease it for $600 a month. "This is a must-have technology for the future of the earth," said Honda president Takeo Fukui at the rollout. "Honda will work hard to mainstream fuel-cell cars."Sounds great, but sadly the mainstreaming of fuel-cell cars will come much farther out. Honda, for all its good intentions and buzz-worthy PR, is heavily subsidizing the Clarity, which actually costs several hundred thousand dollars to produce per model. Fukui says it will take 10 years to get the price of the car below $100,000, and it plans to lease only 200 models over the next three years. But the biggest roadblock is beyond Honda's control: a dearth of hydrogen-filling stations...
  • Sex, Lies and Pillow Talk

    William Butler Yeats once said that sex and death are the only things that can interest a serious mind. If that's the case, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler is as serious as they come. His last book, "Severance," was told through the voices of recently severed heads. His latest, "Intercourse," is about, well, sex—but it's not erotica. Instead, it's the uninhibited inner thoughts of partners throughout history, all (well, most) based on serious historical research. ...
  • Cleanest Tour Yet?

    The countdown is on for the 2008 Tour de France and the scandals keep on coming. In June, green-jersey champion Tom Boonen was banned for a positive cocaine test, making him the latest in a string of expulsions that include defending champion Alberto Contador, whose Astana Team was barred in February for past doping problems. With such a rocky pre-race, fans are wondering: Can there ever be a clean Tour de France?The paradox is that the Tour has to uphold its anti-doping image while still attracting edgy riders whom fans (and sponsors) adore, says cycling commentator Matt Rendell, whose recent book "Blazing Saddles" notes that cheating has been around since the Tour's early days, when turn-of-the-century riders secretly took the train and downed arsenic to boost performance. "There will always be doubt. But I think that's part of the charm of the Tour," Rendell says. "Is this guy superhuman or is he just so smart that no one's been able to catch him? And sponsors want that."But...
  • The First 100 Days of Fighting

    As France takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union in July, French President Nicolas Sarkozy looks a little like the bull asked to clean up a china shop. He might kick some of the mess out the door or under the rug, but he just keeps breaking things.Sarkozy had grand dreams for his six-month term, from pushing forward his pet project of a Mediterranean Union to leading the way to a more perfect EU as laid out in the Lisbon Treaty. When the Irish shot down those hopes in their "no" vote in the June 11 referendum, Sarkozy blamed European Commissioner Peter Mandelson for scaring the Fenians with free-trade talk. After the Germans squelched Sarkozy's plans to cap a fuel tax, Sarkozy vowed, "I will not give way; I will fight on this issue." He's also been sparring with ex-Portuguese prime minister José Manuel Barroso, now president of the European Commission, by painting Barroso as a puppet for anti-protectionist, anti-agricultural, pro-free-trade Anglo-Saxon interests....
  • Big, But Not Very Bad

    Sovereign wealth funds aren't so scary. That's the finding of a new study of SWFs, the booming investment arms of petro states like Saudi Arabia and emerging giants like China. The recent SWF investments into groups like Citibank and Merrill Lynch raised concerns that these state funds are now rich enough to buy into strategic Western assets. But the Monitor Group study of 785 public SWF investments since 2000 found that only 14 involved sensitive industries (like technology or financial services) in developed countries. Eleven of those were made by Singaporean SWF Temasek, widely considered to be a mature and professionally run fund. Overall, two thirds of the deals done since 2000 were in emerging markets, meaning SWFs are targeting their own countries, not the West.
  • The Other Global Warming

    Global warming tops the agenda of the July G8 summit of leading industrial nations in Hokkaido, but warming of a more beneficial sort is coming to Japan, too. Asia's two great powerhouses, China and Japan, are trying to calm their long and bitter rivalry, in ways that could transform the region.The animosity dates to Japan's imperial aggression during World War II, and has been fueled by modern politicians. Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, whose term ended in 2006, persisted in visiting a Tokyo shrine to war dead, including men the Chinese consider war criminals. This unleashed violent protests in China. Now current Prime Minister Yasuko Fukuda is sending conciliatory signals by avoiding shrine visits in favor of uplifting talk about what unites China and Japan. He's also accepted an invitation to the opening ceremonies of Beijing's Olympics and has pointedly declined to criticize Chinese human-rights violations.These efforts appear to be paying off. In late June,...
  • Fashion: Holes In The Sides Of Her Shoes

    From the catwalk to the red carpet, the hot footwear trend this season is cutout sandals. Evolved from their trendy ankle-boot ancestors, they offer a sexy spin on booties for warm weather. Oscar de la Renta has snipped straight to the point with the befittingly named Cut-Out Bootie, which maintains the classic ankle-boot shape but exposes a triangle of skin just behind the toes (€489; neimanmarcus .com). Jimmy Choo has created the rebellious Anise Biker Leather Sandal, embellished with bold gems that will be sure to sparkle the next time you take your Ducati motorcycle out for a spin (€866; www.jimmychoo.com). For a softer look, the Manolo Blahnik Hande sandals come in black, gray or turquoise leather and feature triple straps and button closures (€632), while the whimsical red Bu sandals, with a provocative black-and-white striped heel, might have been Dorothy's shoe of choice (€626; manolo blahnik.com). But stealing the spotlight is the metallic Christian Dior Extreme Cutout...
  • Grooming: Razors To Relish

    Shaving doesn't have to be a chore. Luxury razors feel sleek and substantial in the hand as they combat stubble in style. Established in 1805 by the Duke of Edinburgh, Truefitt & Hill offers ebony, faux horn or imitation ivory Wellington handles ($110; truefitt andhill.co.uk). Caswell-Massey, America's first perfumery, is older than the country but belies its age with a futuristic-looking chrome razor ($125; caswellmassey.com). The Art of Shaving has designed a classic razor, stand and badger-hairbrush set out of sterling silver ($3,400; theartofshaving.com). But nothing tops the platinum-handled damascene razor by Hommage, which resembles the tool used by Sweeney Todd, and features 4,500 layers of handcrafted steel ($30,000; hommage.com). Now that's cutting-edge.
  • The Maximalist

    Talk about a luxurious soak in the tub. The Amaltea bathtub, designed by Baldi of Florence, Italy, is made entirely of the precious purple gem amethyst, and adorned with 24-karat gold-plated legs. Matching lotion dispenser, soap dish and tumbler are also available. Now there's no reason for a bather ever to get out (€95,000; baldi.biz).
  • 4 Hours In Atlanta

    Mainly steel and concrete, Georgia's capital doesn't look like much from the highway. But rewards await for those willing to probe a little deeper. ...
  • Hot Spot: Figueira Rubaiyat, São Paulo

    This Jardins outpost of the Rubaiyat family's restaurants—famous for serving meat and poultry from their farm and ranch —is probably the most picturesque eatery in all of São Paulo. ...
  • Beijing's Luxury Hotels

    Luxury hotels are redrawing Beijing's skyline as the city prepares to welcome the world to the 2008 Olympic Games. By the start of the opening ceremony Aug. 8, China's capital will have an estimated 130,000 hotel rooms. While top-tier chains like Raffles, the Peninsula and the St. Regis have been busy renovating their Beijing branches, plenty of other brands—including the Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and InterContinental—have moved in. Just in time for the Games, the elegant Park Hyatt Beijing (beijing.park.hyatt.com) and the minimalist, avant-garde Opposite House (theopposite house.com) are due to open in July.Conveniently located next to the Forbidden City, the 55-room Emperor Hotel may feature a classical Chinese brick façade and roof, but the interior is decidedly contemporary, with sleek, fluid room furnishings ($773 for the suite; theemperor.com.cn).The 14-room Hotel Côté Cour, housed in a former courtyard mansion, channels imperial China with stunning antiques, yet keeps an updated...