The Web in China has been seen from the outside as a boon for dissidents—a place to organize and spread their views, with only sluggish harassment from the state in the form of blocked Web sites and occasional arrests.
Taliban sources in Afghanistan say jihadist allies from Central Asia have started heading home. Though the exodus is being encouraged by relentless American drone attacks against the fighters’ back bases in Pakistan’s tribal areas, it’s not necessarily good news.
Ciudad Juárez is at the center of Mexico’s drug war. Just across the border from El Paso, Texas, the city has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, who regularly receives death threats for his efforts to quell the cartels, recently spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo.
Close to nine months after the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 in Haiti, the city of Port-au-Prince is still in ruins. Yet the country’s artists are using their limited resources to channel the nation’s suffering, hope, and anxiety into new paintings, crafts, and sculptures.
Tall and defiant and cornered by disgruntled cops, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa stood at the window of a police hospital, clutched a microphone, and yanked his tie loose. "If you want to kill the president, here I am!" In a country that’s no stranger to coups, this was no political theater.
Intelligence agencies have stepped up drone attacks in Waziristan, but the Taliban say they're still plotting a big attack on the West. Chatter from satellite terrorist networks in Iraq and Africa suggests they might be right.
The woman set to succeed Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, is a former guerrilla who has never held elective office. She can hardly hope to evince the political skills Lula spent a lifetime developing.
Torre Del Greco is a postcard-perfect fishing village a few kilometers down the coast from Naples. The city is also a stellar example of “clean” economic success in an area known for its mafia corruption. The Torrese pride themselves on making an honest living off a $217 million international red coral jewelry and cameo trade. The local university even offers a special degree in the art of coral jewelry making and cameo carving—two crafts that have supported the people of Torre del Greco since the 16th century.
Billionaire Richard Branson, an extreme-sports fanatic, is taking another big risk—this time with his latest venture, Enterprise Zimbabwe. The nonprofit seeks to encourage the return of investment to Zimbabwe, which is reeling from the disastrous political strife and record hyperinflation of 2008. He recently sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo in New York to discuss Africa’s potential. Excerpts:
Michelle Obama may not think that her days at the White House are “hell.” But, for allegedly suggesting Obama had told her as much, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was on the hot seat after the September release of two new unauthorized biographies of the French first lady. The books, which catalog Bruni-Sarkozy’s indiscretions, grabbed headlines around the world and indicate how enduring—though ambivalent—our fascination is with France’s mercurial pop star turned première dame.
During a few tumultuous months in 1989, Soviet tanks pulled out of Eastern Europe, communist governments there collapsed, the Berlin Wall fell—and the Cold War ended without a shot fired. Figuring out why it happened so fast and so peacefully will occupy historians forever, and a new 700-page collection of documents will be essential to their understanding. Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989 is a treasure trove of the most secret discussions by leaders of the Soviet Union and the West that year, and the first time they’ve all been pulled together. Publication of the 122 documents, and hundreds more online, is the climax of a 15-year effort by the National Security Archive, the contemporary-history research project at George Washington University.
Moscow’s barrel-chested mayor, Yury Luzhkov, has been a force in Russian politics since 1993, but recently he learned who’s boss. When the -mayor thought he could run a highway through a patch of woodland on the city’s outskirts, Dmitry Medvedev blocked it—and when Luzhkov publicly complained, the Kremlin launched a media campaign accusing the -mayor of corruption, intimidation, and even murder.
For close to two decades, the Cuban government has issued a scathing annual report against the American trade embargo. But this year, as the island continues to face dire economic straits, the report—released last week—offered an unexpected and conciliatory twist. The document acknowledged that the Obama administration cannot end the embargo on its own and offered steps that Washington could take to unilaterally lessen its scope. Among them: permitting more religious, academic, and cultural groups to travel to Cuba.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is facing mounting problems at home, from disgruntled hardliners and senior clerics to continued criticism from the Green Movement opposition. Perhaps more dire, the Iranian president may need to cut $100 billion in government subsidies, partly as a result of this summer’s new sanctions, aimed at forcing Iran to come clean on its nuclear programs. But in New York last week for the U.N. General Assembly, he remained defiant. He sat down with NEWSWEEK’s Jerry Guo in an exclusive interview. Excerpts:
Five years ago, the Muslim Brotherhood—Egypt’s most powerful opposition group—won 20 percent of the seats in Parliament, an impressive feat for an organization that is technically banned from politics. While far from free, the elections were Egypt’s most democratic in decades. Since then, President Hosni Mubarak has dismantled judicial oversight of elections, and analysts expect widespread vote rigging in November’s parliamentary elections. Despite opposition calls to boycott the votes, the Brotherhood is likely to participate, and to lose most of its 88 seats.
East Asia may be reveling in its unprecedented economic growth, but old-fashioned territorial feuds continue to fester. The latest reminder came last week at the United Nations, with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warning darkly of the unnamed “consequences” Japan would incur unless it released the captain of a Chinese fishing boat “immediately and unconditionally.” The skipper and his crew were arrested on Sept. 7 after his vessel collided with two Japanese Coast Guard ships off a disputed and uninhabited island chain.
You can count on a few things during the U.N.’s annual General Assembly. The traffic will be bad, the speeches will be worthy (if a bit dull)—and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will say something absurd. This year the Iranian leader suggested that U.S. officials orchestrated the 9/11 attacks to save Israel and “reverse the declining American economy.”
The hangman of Tehran may soon get a taste of his own medicine. Over the last decade, Saeed Mortazavi has jailed dozens of journalists and reformist politicians and was instrumental in squashing the opposition Green Movement after last year’s presidential election. He was openly associated with some of the regime’s worst post-election abuses. But in August he was stripped of his judicial immunity, and a Tehran prosecutor named him as the lead person accused in the abuses at Kahrizak prison, a notorious detention facility where at least three people were killed and a handful of others claimed they were raped.
Beijing is currently showering attention and resources on the region in order to boost the local economy and develop further trade ties into Central Asia and Europe, but also to placate Kashgar’s restive Uighur population.
Only a year ago foreigners were ready to write off Britain. American financial guru Jim Rogers, cofounderwith George Soros of the Quantum Fund, advised the world not to put any more money in Britain. Sterling was “finished.”
Sweden has revealed the future direction of Europe, and not for the first time. For decades, Sweden led the way in defining the mixed model of free trade and social solidarity that became the European ideal. Not anymore.