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  • A French Take on Sushi

    A top French chef defends his nation's culinary status ('French chefs are more creative') against the rise of Japanese cuisine.
  • Afghan Prison Blues

    Why are so few Taliban in jail? Hundreds are buying their way out for cash.
  • France’s New Anti-Hero

    When a rogue bank trader loses a record $7 billion, he is embraced as a star by the French, exposing the deep Gallic suspicion of capitalism.
  • Up, Up And Ka-Ching!

    In a time of tight budgets and earthly priorities, the space business is getting a rejuvenating jolt from entrepreneurs who do the right stuff on the cheap.
  • A Fight To The Death

    Sony has beaten Toshiba in the battle over high-definition DVD formats, but both sides lost the war.
  • In The Populist Corner

    Germany's elections signal a rise of the left, and a shift from anti-immigrant to economic populism.
  • Pakistan’s Forgotten Man

    If we lock up our judges and subvert the law, those who believe in a more brutal kind of justice will triumph.
  • The Imperfect Storm

    After China's leadership warns of 'a most difficult year' to come, the world may need to take shelter.
  • The New Food Capital Of The World

    Toru Okuda was in trouble. He'd slaved away for years to realize his dream of opening a gourmet restaurant in Tokyo, and by 2003 he had finally pulled it off. He'd even managed to land an address for his place, dubbed Koju, in the high-rent district of Ginza—quite an achievement for a thirtysomething from provincial Shizuoka. But just a few months after opening, Okuda realized that one critical ingredient was still missing: customers. "On some days we only had two or three," he recalls. "My cooks and I had to eat all the food. I should have enjoyed it, but it was sticking in my throat." Bankruptcy threatened.But Okuda persevered, serving impeccably prepared delicacies like charcoal-grilled blowfish and fresh snow crab topped with roe. And this past November he received his reward. Paris-based Michelin, publisher of the world's most authoritative restaurant guides, announced it was awarding him and seven other Tokyo restaurateurs its highest distinction, three stars, rocketing them...
  • Hot Spot: Hotel Boscolo Aleph, Rome

    A few steps from Via Veneto, this sleek hotel was transformed from an old bank by New York architect Adam Tihany. Inspired by Dante's "Divine Comedy," the themes of saints and sinners make it the perfect place for being naughty or nice this Valentine's Day. ...
  • 4 Hours In: Florence

    Little has changed in Florence in the last 500 years, which makes visiting this medieval city so romantic. But to make the most of four hours, you'll have to skip some of the city's top destinations, like the Uffizi and Accademia museums. Focus your time on these intimate spots instead. ...
  • The Maximalist

    Anyone can give diamond earrings for Valentine's Day. But what about diamond earphones? Norwegian jeweler Thomas Heyerdahl has created the iDiamond Ear, hewn from 18-karat white and rose gold and encrusted with 206 brilliant cut diamonds—about 1.65 carats' worth. One thousand numbered pairs are being manufactured and sold for $6,400 apiece. Too bad a matching iPod is not included (heyerdahl.no).
  • Fashion: Following The Tracks Of Her Tiers

    Tiered dresses in luxe fabrics and whimsical layers skirt the line between sweet and saucy, making them perfect for a romantic night out on the town. Andrew Gn's empire-waisted vermillion silk tiered gown features a plunging neckline of handcrafted ruffles; it's finished with a silky side bow and a waterfall of flowing fabric ($7,950; bergdorfgoodman.com). Valentino has welcomed the season of love with a flirty one-shoulder sky-blue gown made from layers of gravity-defying taffeta ($23,850; valentino.com). Luella's form-fitting ruffle minidress, in midnight-blue organza, demands to be admired over a candlelit dinner ($670; luella.com). Notte by Marchesa mixes foxy with romantic in a stunning black metallic lace baby-doll dress with a scalloped, tiered skirt ($735; www.net-a-porter.com). For a more modern love affair, Chanel's art deco-inspired silver and white sequined minidress blends structure with a touch of sweetness, adding 18-karat-gold accents and a shell-encrusted gold...
  • Motorcycles: Faster Than a Speeding Heretic

    The best way to a man's heart is through his wheels. And the Ecosse Heretic Titanium motorcycle is about as palpitation-inducing as they come. The first bike made with an all-titanium chassis, it marries high-tech engineering with old-style design. Built for speed, the handmade engine is composed of solid aluminum and is fuel-injected and supercharged. But thanks to a radial braking system with 12 individual brake pads in front, it's easy to stop, too. Made with a carbon-fiber body, the Heretic Titanium is also shockingly lightweight, tipping the scales at about 192kg. And it's comfortable, with an adjustable, ergonomically correct gel-padded seat. As the world's most expensive bike, perhaps it's only fitting that it comes with a matching timepiece ($275,000; www .ecossemoto.com). But with this baby, he'll never be late.
  • Leader Watch: How Medvedev Got More Popular Than His Boss, Putin

    It could be called the vodka index, and it is perhaps as reliable an indicator of the popularity of Russian leaders as any opinion poll. In 2003, Moscow's Kristall distillery began producing Putinka vodka, and it shot up in popularity almost as quickly as its near-namesake, Vladimir Putin. By the end of 2007, it was the country's second-best-selling brand, with 2.7 percent of the $11 billion vodka market. But within weeks of Putin's endorsement of Dmitry Medvedev as his successor, the Perekrestok supermarket chain cut Putinka prices by 25 percent. At the same time, Rospatent, Russia's trademark registry, was swamped with applications to register brand names containing the word "Medved"—Russian for "bear"—for vodka and other products.Chances are good Russians will take to them with the same enthusiasm as the Putin paraphernalia. A poll last month by the Moscow-based Levada Center showed Medvedev's approval rating at a staggering 82 percent—up from around 24 percent when he was...
  • Picking Out Faces In The Crowd

    Cameras may be everywhere, but recognizing faces in the images is difficult for both people and machines alike. Test subjects do well at recognizing the faces of people they know in photographs. (Tony Blair is as easy to spot in a profile taken in a dark room as in a full frontal shot under the sun's glare.) But they do poorly at matching images of an unfamiliar person taken in varying light conditions, resolution, quality and camera angle. Computers have the same problem. The face-recognition system used by the Australian Customs Service, for instance, scored a poor 54 percent hit rate in a test by University of Glasgow psychologist Rob Jenkins, which he published recently in the journal Science. However, Jenkins was able to improve that score markedly by feeding the system a digital blend of several different images, rather than any particular one. Blended images pushed up the hit rate to an astonishing 100 percent. When Jenkins repeated the test using only those people whose...
  • Indonesia: Remembering Suharto

    The death of Suharto, architect of Indonesia's authoritarian 'New Order,' draws a muted reaction from the nation he once dominated.
  • Managing the Baby Backlash

    Baby trafficking and corruption have contributed to a drop in the number of intercountry adoptions, after years of rapid growth. Adoption scholar Peter Selman is worried that the children will suffer as a result.
  • Q&A: Building a Visual Internet

    Scrolling and searching are primitive ways of handling information. The human mind is much better at zooming, says Microsoft computer scientist Blaise Aguera y Arcas.
  • Israel Doubts U.S. Intel on Iran

    Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak sharply disagrees with the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear capabilities.
  • Hamid Karzai on Pakistan

    Afghan president Hamid Karzai fears the consequences of Pakistan not cracking down on extremism.
  • By Land and By Sea

    Booking a room at a hotel doesn't necessarily mean sleeping there. Some coastal hotels are buying or renting private yachts for guests who want to split their stay between land and water. Guests at the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives, where the spa has its own island, can book the hotel's newly renovated catamaran for a three-, four- or seven-night cruise. The 24-strong crew includes a personal chef and a masseur, as well as a videographer for underwater-photography classes (from $1,200 per night on land and $17,000 per day on water; fourseasons.com/maldives).At the Hotel Belles Rives in Antibes, the concierge can reserve a yacht for sailing the French Riviera. The popular 12-meter Sunseeker can be hired for an overnight trip to St-Tropez, Monaco or Corsica, while a larger 40-meter model can sail for a month and store Jet Skis (from $290 per night on land and $3,680 per day on water; bellesrives.com).Guests who book a hotel stay at the Romazzino on Sardinia can party at night and fly...
  • From Your Lips to My Mobile

    Ever had such a hectic travel schedule that when you call back to your office you find you have 15 voicemail messages and can't find a pen to write it all down? Why isn't there a technology to translate voice to the written word so you can have the messages emailed or sent as text messages? After decades of refinements, speech-recognition software is still not good enough to reliably recognize free-form speech from many different speakers—exactly what's needed to master the average voice inbox. London-based SpinVox has come up with a clever work-around. Its new service uses the latest speech-recognition and artificialintelligence software to analyze voice messages. When the software comes across a word or phrase it can't decipher, it alerts a human operator, who steps in to translate. The software learns from the operators' example, becoming more productive as it accumulates experience. The technique enables SpinVox to cover unlimited messages a month with 12 network operators...
  • Pulling the Wool Over One’s Body

    Long a favorite of knitting grannies, merino wool is finding a new purpose in activewear, thanks to a group of innovative designers in sheep-abundant lands. Soft as cotton but much more breathable, it's cool in summer and warm in winter. The brand leader is New Zealand-based Icebreaker, whose popular line of T shirts, sweatshirts, trousers and jackets includes an appealing red Plant It T shirt for women ($53) and a men's felt-lined Mayfair windproof jacket ($215; icebreaker.com). Another Kiwi company, Global Culture, makes a black-and-charcoal half-zip top for men ($152) and a shirt with a profile of a heron for women ($84; globalculture.co.nz). Untouched World offers a whole collection of stylish merino active clothing, including a great pair of women's lounge trousers in colors such as black and cucumber ($173; untouchedworld.com). And the Canadian company Sugoi has teamed up with Australian wool suppliers to create the Wallaroo line, which includes a $100 half-zip pullover in...
  • All It Needs Is A Popcorn Machine

    Now there's another reason to stay in the sack in the morning: beds with full-blown, built-in entertainment systems. The Luksus Scandinavian Style TV-Bed offers a concealed 66cm flat screen, which discreetly rises from inside the footboard and disappears when it's not needed ($11,658; righteous.co.uk). The Elite, from Hollandia International, includes surround-sound and a bigger 81cm screen ($38,000; hollandia international.com). And the Starry Night bed will provide entertainment from dusk until dawn. The bed connects wirelessly to the Internet, and a screen projector mounted in the headboard allows viewers to watch their favorite movies from under the covers. If someone actually falls asleep, a built-in diagnostics system will record tossing and turning and provide feedback in the morning. Best of all, if the sensor detects snoring, it will adjust the offender's angle, allowing anyone else in the bed to get some shut-eye ($50,000; starrynightbed.com).
  • 4 Hours in Zurich

    This streamlined Swiss city is a bastion of both refinement and edgy creativity. Visitors, whether intrepid or more traditionally inclined, can immerse themselves in either extreme. ...
  • Like A Super Hero

    Humans weren't made for scrolling and searching. We were made for zooming.
  • ‘Welcome To Natoland’

    Of all the lazy thinking in Europe's capitals, the laziest is the notion that the next U.S. administration will usher in a new era of sweetness and light in transatlantic relations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Barack Obama is the darling of the anti-Bush crowd in Europe. But in his book "The Audacity of Hope" he declares, "We have the right to take unilateral action to eliminate an imminent threat to our security." Obama insists that the U.N. Security Council should not have a veto "over our actions." He even offers an old metaphor as he accuses Russia and China of seeking "to throw their weight around," which means "there will be times when we must again play the role of the world's reluctant sheriff. This will not change. Nor should it."Indeed, however much they dislike the idea, every U.S. president has to wear the free world's sheriff's badge. For Europeans to think otherwise is to sleepwalk into a freezing morning shower when the next U.S. president makes the first...
  • Hot Spot: Casa Los Sauces

    El Calafate, ArgentinaBuilt on the edge of this frontier town, this new estancia-style hotel makes an ideal base for exploring Perito Moreno glacier and the Patagonian ice fields. It's owned by Argentina's First Couple—Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Néstor Kirchner, the current and last president—whose weekend getaway is next door. They know something about stress and promise maximum pampering. ...
  • The Kremlin Wises Up

    After strong-arm tactics backfire, Moscow finds smarter ways to extend its influence abroad.
  • Where’s Pest Control?

    Market turmoil is just beginning. The cockroach theory says debt woes travel like vermin: in packs.
  • A High-Tech Crisis?

    Readers took issue with our Dec. 10 story "Why Apple Isn't Japanese." One said, "Japan still dominates many fields such as digital cameras, where Canon and Nikon own the high-end market." Another noted: "If Japan overcomes its problem with how to market innovation, it will generate amazing technology." ...