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  • Investing in North Korea

    Emerging markets have taken a hit over the past couple of weeks, as global market wobbles have prompted a flight from risk. So it's surprising that North Korea—a country that stretches the very definition of emerging market—has been in the news as a target for foreign investment. For example, Egyptian conglomerate Orascom recently spent $115 million to buy a 50 percent stake in a North Korean cement company. The Egyptians are by no means the only ones piling into Pyongyang these days. Since North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il began a program of pseudo-reforms in July 2002, outside investment has increased from places as diverse as Britain, Germany, South Korea and China. Pyongyang's announcement a few weeks ago that it had shut down North Korea's sole nuclear plant in order to comply with an aid-for-weapons deal has only increased the buzz among investors, who view the country—so far off the standard investment grid—as beyond the usual emerging-market dynamics. While dicey accounting...
  • Water Shortages: Investment Opportunities?

    The new oil may be water. According to Global Water Intelligence, a U.K. consultancy, by December total assets under management in water funds could hit a record $20 billion this year, a 53 percent increase from 12 months earlier. No wonder: since 2001, shares in glob-al water companies have gone up 150 percent, according to Thomson Financial. That compares with a 50 percent rise in international blue chips.The reason is simple: there is profit in scarcity. Buffeted by constant news of dying rivers, droughts and water shortages from China to Mexico, investors are increasingly aware that water is a threatened resource. With more and more governments handing public water systems over to the big multinationals like the U.K.'s Veolia Environnement and Thames Water, profits are rising. One of the top companies, France's Suez, saw global sales from its water unit increase 11.7 percent, helped by a 20.3 percent rise in revenue from China. These days, savvy asset-management companies have...
  • Artists Respond to Rapidly Changing Singapore

    All cities change, but Singapore seems to change a little faster than most. From small fishing village to colonial outpost to cosmopolitan metropolis, the city-state keeps reinventing itself, sometimes at neck-breaking speed. Skyscrapers, expressways, concrete and glass are now icons of a highly urbanized city whose seemingly insatiable craving for new buildings shows no sign of abating.How artists respond to such a rapidly changing environment is at the heart of several new exhibitions in town. They form part of the Singapore Art Show, a two-month visual-arts event involving more than 300 Singaporean or Singapore-based artists showcasing their work in 47 venues, ranging from museums and art galleries to shopping malls and nature reserves. Established to promote local work, the event does not have an overarching theme. But perhaps unsurprisingly in a city obsessed with making its mark on the region, Singapore itself is at the heart of many of the exhibitions. "Every city in Asia is...
  • Level Up

    My first Xbox 360 died just two weeks after I received it as a wedding-anniversary gift last summer. One minute it was humming along as I parachuted into position on Bridge Too Far in Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, the next it froze up and stared me down with the dreaded "ring of death" error light. I exchanged it for another unit and wrote off the failure as bad luck. Truth be told, the Xbox consoles are the first Microsoft products I've truly loved (my household computers are all Apples). It felt like Redmond had gotten it right: solid, if chunky, industrial design; smooth and bug-free operating system; genre-defining games like Halo and Xbox Live—the lifeblood of my nightly gaming. More recently, news of Xbox manufacturing problems has given me pause. I now look at my Xbox and wonder when, not if, it will die. It's funny: I know that my iPod, which cost as much as an Xbox, is nearing its end, but I'm not nearly as upset at the thought of it tanking. When my second Xbox goes, my...
  • Mail Call: A Long, Sad Goodbye

    Readers of our June 18 report on caregiving for Alzheimer's patients offered unstinting praise. Cheered one, "Wonderful, much needed articles!" Added another, "Your story is the best conversation starter." The rest shared their experiences of caring for an afflicted loved one. ...
  • Samuelson: Paying for Aging Baby Boomers

    If you haven't noticed, the major presidential candidates—Republican and Democratic—are dodging one of the thorniest problems they'd face if elected: the huge budget costs of aging baby boomers. In last week's CNN/YouTube debate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson cleverly deflected the issue. "The best solution," he said, "is a bipartisan effort to fix it." Brilliant. There's already a bipartisan consensus: do nothing. No one plugs cutting retirement benefits or raising taxes, the obvious choices.End of story? Not exactly. There's also a less-noticed cause for the neglect. Washington's vaunted think tanks—citadels for public intellectuals both liberal and conservative—have tiptoed around the problem. Ideally, think tanks expand the public conversation by saying things too controversial for politicians to say on their own. Here, they've abdicated that role.The aging of America is not just a population change or, as a budget problem, an accounting exercise. It involves a profound...
  • U.S. Soldier’s Guide to Iraq—Circa 1943

    In 1943, U.S. servicemen stationed in Iraq were issued a pocket-size 41-page book entitled “A Short Guide to Iraq.” In straightforward prose, the book gave American soldiers a primer to help them through the cultural snarls and byways of the country in which they were stationed. They learned a little history, a little geography and a smattering of vocabulary and grammar.In light of what we know about Iraq and the Middle East today, the book’s contents look a little slight. But when you reflect on what Americans knew about a then-obscure corner of the world in 1943, it looks like a godsend. Back then there was no television to beam a country’s culture into living rooms around the world. You couldn’t Google “Iraq” and learn basic history and culture on the fly. “A Short Guide to Iraq”—recently republished by the University of Chicago Press as “Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq During World War II”—filled a big gap in the knowledge of American troops in Iraq, and its overall...
  • Iraqi Prison Tries to Un-Brainwash Radical Youth

    Wiry and lean, Abdullah looks on with a glassy stare as the instructor explains the subject for the day: revenge. The case study is the first gulf war, and the instructor lists religious and moral reasons why it was wrong for Iraqi soldiers to loot and kill in Kuwait. Abdullah, 17, and the nine other teenagers sitting with him on wooden benches in the class nod impassively. This isn't an ordinary high school. The teens, all decked out in orange uniforms, are detainees at Camp Cropper, the high-security facility in Iraq that once held Saddam Hussein.Some of the teens may have tried to kill American or Iraqi soldiers, others may have been picked up for smaller offenses like breaking curfew. But the group, all Sunnis, have one thing in common: they've all been brainwashed for jihad. "They get their education from Wahhabis," says Sheik Abdul Jabbar, 37, an Iraqi cleric working with the teens, as he looks on from the side of the class. "They say their enemy is the Shia first and then the...
  • Iraq: On the Ground With an Anti-IED Unit

    Most American soldiers in Iraq want to avoid roadside bombs. Ted Seitz isn’t one of them. The powerfully built Navy chief petty officer spends his days and nights deliberately searching for improvised explosive devices, better known by the infamous acronym IEDs, along desert roads and highways in northern Iraq. It’s tough, tiring and dangerous work, and it takes a particular nasty toll: three fellow explosive ordnance technicians died in separate incidents last month. Seitz, an Arizona native, had been a training instructor for two of the dead. “It sucks,” he told NEWSWEEK. “It reminds the guys that this is for real.”The men and women of Seitz’s battalion, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2, based out of Little Creek, Va., probably don’t need that reminder. They’ve lived and worked seven days a week for months on end to rid northern Iraq of the weapon that is the biggest threat to U.S. troops. Several members of their battalion (officers won’t say exactly how many) have...
  • China’s Fight to Spin the ’08 Olympics

    Beijing hopes to use the 2008 Olympics to showcase its political and economic gains. But one year before the Olympics, journalists are far from free--and China and its critics are locked in a competition of ideas.
  • Ghandi: Father of a Troubled Son

    Mohandas Gandhi's son Harilal lies drunk and destitute on a dirty Mumbai street. A couple of passersby find him and cart him off to a nearby hospital. There a doctor prods him to name a family member they can contact. But Harilal can barely remember his own name. Eventually he whispers: "Gandhi." Impatiently, the doctor tells Harilal that Gandhi is father to the whole Indian nation. "What is your father's name?" he asks.The poignant scene dramatizes the central tension in the new film "Gandhi, My Father," a gripping account of the stormy relationship between one of the world's greatest political icons and his rebellious eldest son. Based on the biography "Harilal: A Life," by the Gujarati scholar Chandulal Dalal, "Gandhi, My Father"—shot in Hindi and English—sheds light on the human side of the mahatma, whose nonviolent resistance to British rule helped win India its independence in 1947. First-time film director Feroze Abbas Khan and Bollywood star turned producer Anil Kapoor blend...
  • Q&A: Amory Lovins On Living Green

    Amory Lovins was a green guru long before it was fashionable—he’s been holding forth on energy efficiency and alternative power from his Rocky Mountain Institute for decades. His 380-square-meter home (about 4,000 square feet), nestled in Snowmass Creek Valley, Colo., doubles as RMI’s headquarters. It is a model of energy efficiency. A sun-filled indoor greenhouse acts as the home’s furnace, generating heat that can be stored and used months later. Appliances were selected for their efficiency, like the refrigerator that uses 8 percent of the energy of a conventional fridge. There’s even a draftproof doggy door. Take a tour below.
  • Jaycee Chan (Jackie's Son) Finds His Rhythm

    Jaycee Chan was filled with apprehension. He was in a hotel room trying to film a love scene for his new movie, "The Drummer," and it wasn't going smoothly. "'Wah, with 50 people staring, how can I do the job right?' " he recalls thinking. He had already banished his famous father, Jackie, from the set; the action star was passing the time in the bar downstairs, singing karaoke. Eventually the younger Chan found his groove and aced the scene. "At first there was a lot of pressure," he says. "Now I don't care." But audiences will: Chan, 24, gives a mesmerizing performance in "The Drummer," in which he plays a crime boss's troubled son who is transformed by Zen drumming. "I think Jaycee is going to be a very, very good actor," says Hong Kong upstart Kenneth Bi, the film's director and writer. "He's got stuff going on."That's putting it mildly. This summer Chan stars in no fewer than three major Asian films. In addition to the independent "The Drummer"— scheduled to premiere at...
  • Buying Culture From the West

    Tough negotiations are nothing new to Jean d'Haussonville. The special adviser to France's Foreign Ministry has represented Paris in major negotiations with both the EU and NATO in recent years. But nothing prepared him for the high-stakes deal he struggled to hammer out over the past year and a half: an unprecedented agreement to open a branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the tiny capital of the United Arab Emirates. Persuading his compatriots to part with a portion of their cultural heritage was no easy matter; founded by Napoleon in the 18th century, the home of the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa had never before established a presence outside France. And there was plenty of resistance to opening the first foreign outpost in a country that had gone from barren desert to glitzy shopping haven in the space of 30 years. The general feeling, as Sorbonne president Jean-Robert Pitte summed it up, was, "Can we really bring culture to camel riders and carpet sellers?"Abu Dhabi, led by...
  • Global Investor: The Japan Syndrome

    Is Japan slipping back into global irrelevance? Frustrated investors may well be asking themselves that question after the Tokyo market's unimpressive performance of the past 18 months. In a period when most other Asian markets have blown the doors off, with returns ranging from 20 percent for military-ruled Thailand to an eye-popping 270 percent for the Shanghai market, the Nikkei index has risen a tame 9 percent. Since the yen is one of the few currencies to have fallen against the U.S. dollar—the other notable example being Zimbabwe's currency—returns to foreign investors have been flat at best.It gets worse. Over the past several weeks, a series of court rulings and shareholder votes have gone against foreign activist investors who had been pressing managements to improve. And Japan certainly needs activists. Currently, less than one fifth of profits are paid out to shareholders. One recent request for an electric power utility to hike its dividend for the first time this...
  • The Pitfalls of Buying Culture

    The relatively unknown emirate of Sharjah, an hour’s drive from Dubai, provides a cautionary tale for those hoping to “buy culture.” The Emir of Sharjah, Sheikh Dr. Sultan ibn Muhammad al-Qasimi, himself an established art collector, decided in the early ‘90s that the best way to differentiate his neighbors in the United Arab Emirates was by making a massive capitol investment in cultural institutions. “Sharjah was the first city in the U.A.E. to focus on the arts,” says Marwan Al-Sarkal, the CEO of the Qanat Al-Qasbah cultural district in Sharjah. “We started before anybody even thought about culture as a priority.” The dozens of museums and art galleries he constructed earned the city the designation of “cultural capital of the Arab world” by UNESCO in 1998.But a city needs more than money to become a true cultural capital. The quality and sustainability of the museums have fallen victim to the breakneck speed with which these museums were developed. Most of the museums are...
  • Britain's Post-Blair Identity Crisis

    Once upon a time, cricket seemed the most British of sports. Leisurely games on the village green. Rain breaks. Warm beer. White men (for the most part) in fussy white uniforms. Such reverence for fair play and civility that a casual observer could hardly tell who was rooting for whom, much less who was winning. Today, however, it is football—with its boisterous crowds and huge financial stakes—that reveals most about what the country has become. Consider: nearly half of Britain's top football clubs are now owned by foreigners. Most of the best players are likewise foreign. In some ways, the most emblematic of the modern clubs is now London's Chelsea—or Chelski, as it's called, in a wry homage to its Russian-billionaire owner—famous for being the first big British club to field a starting lineup composed entirely of non-Britons.As this suggests, Britain is changing fast—off the football pitch as well as on it. Having absorbed the end of empire and the collapse of its industrial base...
  • Supplying Abu Dhabi's Labor

    Amid the opulent hotels and glittering high-rises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, it’s easy to forget that the U.A.E. has a working class. With the arrival of the Guggenheim and the Louvre, demand for construction and service industry workers looks set to rise. Where will these workers come from? NEWSWEEK’s Katie Connolly asked Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch’s executive director for the Middle East and North Africa. Excerpts: ...
  • Johnson: Onscene at Congo Gorilla Killings

    On July 23, rangers at Virunga National Park of the Democratic Republic of the Congo made a gruesome discovery. Four endangered mountain gorillas had been slaughtered, for reasons unknown, leaving two infants orphaned. The killings are signficant because the world­ wide population of mountain gorillas only numbers around 700.Richard Leakey is the founder of Wildlife Direct, a European Union-funded conservation organization based in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), works to protect the apes in Virunga park. A renowned paleontologist, Leakey’s tough antipoaching measures are credited with putting an end to the elephant slaughter in Kenya in the 1980s. He spoke by phone from Kenya to NEWSWEEK’s Scott Johnson about the recent slaughter of some of the endangered animals, the threat posed by the charcoal industry and what the international community needs to do next. Excerpts: ...
  • Profile: The Arab Sheik

    He wears a long, flowing thobe and a white headscarf and smells faintly of oud, an ancient Arabian perfume. With his trim beard and loose sandals, he looks much as his ancestors might have nearly two centuries ago when they took over this tiny fishing village on the shores of the Persian Gulf. But Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktum, the ruler of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is a thoroughly modern prince. From his offices on the 44th floor of a sleek steel-and-glass skyscraper, he juggles nonstop cell-phone calls and dashes off salvos of quick-fingered text messages. "Sorry," he says with a wan smile to a visiting reporter. "It's a very busy time."Indeed. Dubai is one of the fastest-growing cities on the planet—a bustling trade, services, tourism and financial hub for the Middle East and Asia, and increasingly even Europe. Its economy is expanding at about 16 percent a year, roughly double that of sizzling China. Business people and multinational...
  • Benazir Bhutto Negotiates a Return to Pakistan's Politics

    Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president and strongman, met his nemesis, the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, in Abu Dhabi on July 27. Only extraordinary political circumstances could have thrown these two together. Musharraf sees Bhutto—a former prime minister who’s lived in exile since the general brought corruption charges against her—as emblematic of all that’s wrong with Pakistan’s inept and graft-ridden political parties. Bhutto, for her part, sees him as yet another military usurper, like the one who had her father—then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto—hanged in 1979.The sad fact is they’re both right. So what explains the possible union of these antagonists? The answer is simple: power. Musharraf wants to retain his; Bhutto wants to get hers back. But their underlying differences remain profound, and the dangers great. While Western leaders hope a deal between them will help calm Pakistan, the truth is it probably won't.The Bhutto and Musharraf camps have been holding...
  • Q&A: The Guggenheim's Thomas Krens on Saadiyat

    The Guggenheim was one of the original inspirations for the development of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. In 1997 the museum opened a branch, designed by architect Frank Gehry, in Bilbao, Spain—in the war-scarred and economically depressed Basque country. Since then, the museum has drawn more than 9 million visitors and helped create more than 4,300 new jobs a year, contributing a total so far of $2 billion to Spain’s GDP. To replicate this success, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) hired the California design group Gensler, as well as the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and lined up the Louvre in Paris. Then they approached Thomas Krens, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Krens was not impressed with the Gensler master plan, but he ultimately decided to help Abu Dhabi expand its ambitions. Krens spoke with NEWSWEEK’s Zvika Krieger about the project. Excerpts: ...
  • Recycling Hot Air

    We all know it's possible to save energy by recycling waste, but it's also possible to recycle waste energy. Physicists at the University of Utah have found a novel way to do it—by first turning waste heat into sound, and then turning the sound into electricity. They developed a cylindrical "heat engine" that soaks up the heat and pushes it to one end of the cylinder. Once it reaches a certain temperature threshold, it passes through a valve, which makes the air vibrate (much like a flute). From there, it's a simple matter to make electricity by passing the sound through a "piezoelectric" device, which converts pressure into current. Orest Symko, a physicist leading the effort, says it holds promise for a cheap method of harnessing solar energy, as a portable energy source for electronics and ultimately as a way to generate electricity from waste heat released from power-plant cooling towers.
  • The Future of Theater Is Digital

    To watch a play is to step into a world that seems far removed from electronic bleeping and ringing—assuming, of course, that theatergoers remember to turn off their cell phones. At the Goyang Digital Theater on the outskirts of Seoul, however, managers have been imploring the audience to leave their phones on. During the performance, everybody is expected to whip out their mobiles, call into a computer and, using their keypads, direct the movement of puzzle pieces on the screen behind the stage. At some point, an ordinary housewife appears on the screen, connected from her kitchen via the Internet, and interacts with actors on the stage in real time.These are some of the innovative features introduced in "Synthasia," an experimental play this summer at Goyang. The 50-minute production combines the latest digital technology with live actors, audiences and the stage. It's being billed as the first digital play to be shown in a theater. True or not, the play is a groundbreaking effort...
  • Redemption Games

    For Gazans who want to escape the territory's political tensions, there are few boltholes. And video games aren't always the answer.
  • Gideon Rose: Don't Worry, Be Happy

    There is an odd disconnect these days between popular perceptions of international relations and the actual state of affairs. Americans increasingly see the world as a source of threats, worrying about terrorism, nuclear proliferation or immigration. Non-Americans, meanwhile, see the United States itself as a dangerous rogue bent on imperial adventures.Neither view is quite right: the United States profits far more from its engagement with the world than its citizens recognize. And it's far more benevolent than outsiders think. Aside from managing the endgame in Iraq, therefore, the greatest foreign-policy challenge facing President George W. Bush in the next 18 months—and the toughest job his successor will confront—will be how to convince everyone else that things really aren't that bad, and that desperate measures to change course would be unnecessary and unwise."Naive claptrap," many will respond. Don't I understand that radical Islamist terrorism is a grave and continuing...
  • Zakaria: A Way Out of Our Oil Addiction

    Amory B. Lovins talks big. He proposes to wean America off oil by the 2040s, touts ultralight cars and tells some of the most powerful corporate executives in the world, like those at Wal-Mart and Texas Instruments, how to behave more efficiently. But perhaps a former Oxford don—one who built a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in his basement during high school, anticipated global warming in 1976 and lives in a house that can run on the same amount of energy as a conventional light bulb—is allowed to be bold. In the first of a series of conversations with thinkers and executives about the future of energy, NEWSWEEK's Fareed Zakaria spoke to the Rocky Mountain Institute's cofounder and chairman to see how this optimist makes sense of the world's energy woes. Excerpts: ...
  • Mail Call: Improve on Nature?

    Readers of our June 4 report on efforts to create life in the lab were divided over the project. "Kudos!" cheered one who urged the scientists to "speed up their endeavors." Another said, "Religion should not enter into this." But a third warned, "Can we control what we create?" ...
  • The Papa of Paparazzi

    It was a cold, quiet night in New York, 1937. Weegee, the legendary photo-reporter, sat waiting outside police headquarters. Suddenly a cop car hurled up the street. The door swung open and a young, drunk pickpocket burst forth, dressed to the nines in women's clothing. Weegee jumped up. "Action!" he cried, pointing his Graflex Speed Graphic camera at the man. "Gimme a smile—I'm gonna make you a star!" The grinning transvestite raised his skirt. Flash! A tabloid sensation was born."Boy Arrested" is one of more than 200 photographs by Weegee currently on view at Paris's Musée Maillol (through Oct. 15). "Weegee—The Berinson Collection" records the rise of the first 20th-century paparazzo, who scoured New York City in search of candid photo opportunities. During the 1930s and '40s, his snapshots of gangster murders, scandals and citizen arrests garnished New York's tabloids and broadsheets. "Weegee brought media photography to a height," says Cynthia Young, assistant curator at New...
  • How Wiki Software is Changing Communication

    The United Nations, notorious for endless deliberations, is trying a technological quick fix. Its Global Compact Office, which promotes corporate responsibility, has embraced a once fringe social technology—the wiki—in hopes that it will help staff in 80 countries share information and reach consensus with less deliberation and more speed.The office has done this by enlisting the public in its review of progress reports from more than 2,000 companies—an effort to make sure each is complying with established social and environmental guidelines. It's debatable whether encouraging public input is a good way to increase efficiency, but the move is the latest example of a quickly growing trend. Wiki software—easy-to-use programs that let anyone with Internet access create, remove and edit content on a Web page—first gained popularity thanks to Wikipedia, the user-generated encyclopedia that has come to be hailed as one of the Web's greatest resources. Now the technology is increasingly...
  • Deadly Decisions

    Lucidly, dramatically and without resorting to partisan rhetoric, Charles Ferguson's not-to-be-missed documentary "No End in Sight" lays out in convincing, appalling detail the disastrous missteps of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The magnitude of the errors perpetrated by the Bush administration—a lethal combination of ignorance, incompetence, arrogance, bad or nonexistent planning, cronyism and naiveté—can make you weep with anger. We hear about the many jobs in Iraq handed to the sons of Bush campaign donors, and of the young woman, fresh out of college, who is put in charge of managing all traffic in chaotic Baghdad—despite having no experience studying traffic control or speaking Arabic.These examples would almost be funny were they not a microcosm of all the bad edicts that emanated from Washington. Those decisions were made by a small cadre—Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Condoleeza Rice and the president, all of whom declined to be interviewed for the film—that...
  • Suicide Bombers: A Breakdown

    The story of Ahmed Abdullah al-Shayea sounds like a fairy tale, and not a very pleasant one.  Recruited as a jihadi in the conservative Saudi town of Buraida as a 19-year-old, he volunteered to go to Iraq as a fighter. Once there, he balked when insurgents — including Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Mussab al Zarqawi himself — tried to persuade him to become a suicide bomber.  So instead, he claims, they told him his mission was to drive a huge fuel truck—with no truck-driving experience at all—through Baghdad neighborhoods—with which he had no familiarity whatever—and drop it off at the Saddam Towers.  It was Christmas Day, 2004.Two other militants rode with him, but jumped out suddenly, leaving him alone.  A less guileless person might have taken that as a sign, but al Shayea carried on driving toward his destination.  Then as he approached the residence of the Jordanian ambassador in the Mansour neighborhood, another militant cynically pushed a remote control button and blew up the...
  • Dickey: Libya's 'Immoral' Games With the West

    The cosmopolitan son of Libyan leader Muammar Kaddafi is surprisingly frank about the Middle East and his former pariah state's nukes-for-prisoners deal with France. 'It's an immoral game,' says Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi.
  • Taliban Commander: Why We Took the Koreans

    The kidnapping of South Korean aid workers signals a key shift in Taliban tactics. In an exclusive interview with NEWSWEEK, a Taliban commander discusses the thinking behind the abduction and what might happen to the surviving hostages.
  • Japan's Tidal Wave Vote

    Japanese voters rebuked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, turning sharply away from his political party in Japan’s July 29 upper-house parliamentary elections. Officials from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) watched helplessly as a twelve-seat majority evaporated into a seventeen-seat deficit (Economist.com), though the party retained its ruling coalition with New Komeito in the lower house of parliament. Abe said he would not cede his post, despite some calls for his resignation (Daily Yomiuri). LDP officials, meanwhile, said they would continue to support Abe (FT) as prime minister. Yet whether Abe stays or goes, Japan’s vote divides the two houses of Japan’s parliament and reveals fissures in Japanese public opinion at a critical juncture for the country’s foreign policy.Though Abe took the helm with Japanese foreign policy increasingly under the global microscope, CFR’s Sheila A. Smith says in a new interview that Japanese voters did not vote primarily on international issues. Rather...
  • Unpaid Teens Bag Groceries for Wal-Mart

    Thousands of adolescents work as unpaid baggers in Wal-Mart's Mexican stores. The retail giant isn't breaking any laws—but that doesn't mean the government is happy with the practice.
  • Inside Gaza: An Arms Dealer's Tale

    It is not a fact that he particularly likes to advertise, but, if pressed, Abdel Hamid Bahar will acknowledge that his business is at its best when people are dying. Last Sunday I went to see the black-market arms dealer at his home, a squat, dilapidated structure made of cinderblocks and tin sheeting, in the central Gaza village of Moghraga. We sat on pink plastic chairs in the shade, next to a slightly sickly garden with a couple of banana plants and a slender olive tree. The weapons merchant's business varies widely, of course, depending on how much fighting is going on. Last summer, when Gaza was at war with Israel after the kidnapping of Gilad Schalit, Bahar was pulling in almost $3,000 per month, more than most Gazans earn in a year. How is business now, I asked, with Hamas in power and the streets relatively calm? "Zero," the gun dealer complained, without bothering to hide his frustration.Bahar nodded to one of his sons, who had been leaning against a cinderblock wall and...
  • Environment: Healthy Swamps

    Have we heard all the bad news about global warming? Apparently not. Reduced biodiversity—one byproduct of climate change—could have a more serious impact on ecosystems than previously thought. In the past, scientists may have looked too narrowly at what it takes to keep an ecosystem healthy—they'd use, say, water quality as an indicator of viability. But the combination of animals, plants and microbes needed to maintain clear water aren't the same as those required for other "ecosystem processes," such as keeping the food chain going or absorbing carbon dioxide. University of Zurich scientists, who published a study of European grasslands in the journal Nature, say that ecosystems need a different group of species for each of half a dozen processes. Ecosystems need more biodiversity to stay healthy, and could be more vulnerable to species loss than we thought.
  • Japan's Abe Turns Off Voters

    It's election time in Japan again, yet Kazuyoshi Arima, a 25-year-old systems engineer, still doesn't know whom he'll vote for—if he goes to the polls at all on July 29. "I know I should be more engaged, feel more strongly about exercising my right to vote. But these days I'm getting to the point where I will just have to vote 'no'." It was easier to stay involved in politics a few years ago, he says, when the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi led the country. Under Koizumi, says Arima, Japan's direction was clear: toward economic reform, deregulation and the remaking of the sclerotic Liberal Democratic Party. But now, under Koizumi's successor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, "it's just so hard to decide who to vote for," Arima says. Both the LDP and the opposition Democratic Party of Japan seem rudderless and mired in mud.Arima is not alone in his disillusionment. Recent opinion polls suggest that more than half of the Japanese electorate now share his view that neither party offers...
  • China Learns to Love Its Animators

    It's the kind of scene that only a few years ago would have terrified the Chinese authorities. In the eastern city of Hangzhou, two men dressed like Japanese cartoon characters—with spiky white hair and wearing black leather—fight each other with giant swords for the affections of a pouting young woman in a yellow wig and a miniskirt. The audience of teenagers, many in brightly colored wigs or with animal ears attached to their heads, cheers and jeers the antagonists to the sounds of Japanese rock music. These devotees of cosplay, or costume play, are engaged in a Japanese form of entertainment in which ordinary people act out their fantasies in the role of their favorite cartoon characters and compete with one another for the approval of the audience and judges. "You can become someone else for a while, express things you can't normally express yourself," says 19-year-old Fei Fei, a Hangzhou university student, dressed in a kimono. "Most people like this Japanese style now,...
  • The Joke Is On Poland

    For a European politician, Andrzej Lepper always cut an unlikely figure. Over the years, the Polish deputy prime minister has been convicted of slander and assault. Allegations of an attempted rape of a prostitute (which he refuses to comment on) and taking part in a sex-for-jobs scam (which he denies) have been widely reported in the press. Then two weeks ago Lepper, leader of the populist Self Defence Party, a junior partner in the ruling coalition, was forced from his job over allegations of bribery (which Lepper also denied): a black mark for a government supposed to be leading a moral revolution.So what's new? True, the latest rumpus threatens to bring down the government, but in recent years Polish politics has regularly provided a troubling show of turbulence. Under the rule of identical twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski—president and prime minister, respectively, and founders of the Law and Justice party—the country has assumed an outsize importance in the affairs of the...
  • Do High-Tech Child Monitors Work?

    To say that the search for 4-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from a Portuguese resort on May 3 while on vacation with her British parents, has attracted attention would be an understatement. Celebrities Richard Branson and J. K. Rowling offered reward money. The pope blessed the girl's photograph. And volunteers marked 50 days since her disappearance on June 22 by releasing balloons in 50 countries.This and other recent cases have stimulated the market for child-monitoring gadgets. Cybernetics professor Kevin Warwick of Reading University in Britain has invented a microchip that can be implanted under a child's skin and transmits its location via satellite or mobile-phone network. Since Madeleine's disappearance, he's been getting more than 100 e-mails a day from concerned parents.Suppliers say that sales took a sharp upturn in recent months (though they declined to give numbers). Connect Software, a firm in Blackburn, England, makes electronic wristbands and domino-size...
  • Last Word: Mia Farrow

    Mia Farrow: The actress talks about helping the victims at Darfur and putting Steven Spielberg in his place.