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  • Faceless Fashion

    Quick: name the designer for Yves Saint Laurent. How about Gucci? Céline? Givenchy? Chloé? Seven or eight years ago, the answers were easy: Tom Ford, Tom Ford, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, respectively. All were fashion stars who had become household names, and their stardom drew the spotlight onto their brands, increasing sales exponentially. Some of those brands grew to the point of doing more than $1 billion a year in sales. In return, the stars commanded multimillion-dollar deals, commuted on the Concorde, were ushered about town in limos andshowed up on red carpets almost as often as the celebrities they dressed. They worked large, and they lived large. They weren't just the creators of luxury fashion; they were its emblems.But now celebrity fashion designers have gone the way of the power suit: they're so last century. Luxury brands no longer swipe stars from their competitors, as Christian Dior did in 2000 with Yves Saint Laurent's famed menswear...
  • War With the Media

    Moscow's crackdown on independent news outlets harkens back to the dark days of the Soviet era.
  • Global Jitters Over Terror Attacks

    As some security officials worry about the possibility of new terror attacks around the globe, New York City increases security after two car bombs are discovered in London.
  • Ali Farzat: Arab Cartoonist and Gadfly

    Ali Farzat, Syria's best-known political cartoonist, began publishing Al-Doumari, the country's first independent satirical weekly in 2001. Although Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had initially encouraged Farzat's efforts, he soon soured on the experiment. The magazine's call for sweeping political reforms, its attacks on corruption and—most of all—Farzat's stinging cartoons infuriated the Baathist leadership. In 2003, the government shut the magazine down. Since then, Farzat has kept fighting to bring it back to life, and he has continued to publish his cartoons in the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Watan. The BBC is now working on a project to bring his characters to life in animated cartoons that are to air in several Arab countries. Recently, NEWSWEEK-in-Arabic's Hassan Abdallah talked with Farzat in Damascus, where he lives. Excerpts: ...
  • What's Next for Blair?

    What’s an ex-prime minister to do? In the case of Tony Blair, who leaves office on June 27 after 10 years in power, the answer is … well, any number of things. Nothing may match the thrill and excitement of being prime minister of a power like Britain, but if you’re 54, hale and hearty—and not totally demolished by controversy—the offers are bound to be plentiful. Some of the options:
  • Q&A: Remembering Blair's Early Days

    John Burton was there at the creation. It was the spring of 1983. As secretary of the local branch of the Labour Party in Trimdon Village, an old mining town in northeast England where he taught physical education, Burton got a phone call one day from a little-known politician named Tony Blair. Since 1980 Blair had been trying, and failing, to get elected to Parliament. Twice, local selection committees had turned him down. Once, in 1982, he ran but came in a poor third in a by-election in a solidly Conservative constituency. Now he was calling Burton to see what his chances might be to get himself nominated as a candidate from Sedgefield, the constituency in which Trimdon was located.In the end, with Burton’s help and more than a little luck, Blair got his wish. Eleven years later he became leader of the party. In 1997, following a massive election victory that ended 18 years of Tory rule, Blair became prime minister. On Wednesday, June 27, he will resign from office.Burton, who...
  • Britain: Revisiting Tony Blair's Legacy

    After a shamelessly long and high-profile six-week farewell tour, Tony Blair finally leaves office on Wednesday. As Britain’s prime minister steps down, his reputation shredded by his support for the Iraq War, it’s worth pausing to consider where he came from as a politician: a gritty Labour Party stronghold in England’s post-industrial north, a couple hundred miles from the Cool Britannia he helped create. Blair and the Sedgefield constituency he’s represented in Parliament for 24 years always seemed an odd pair. After all, the future prime minister started out as an Oxford-educated barrister in London. Sedgefield, by contrast, was a hard-edged, working-class area whose coal mines were dead or dying—along with an entire way of life. Surely, this was no place for Anthony Charles Lynton Blair to launch a political career.In fact, Sedgefield might have been the perfect platform for Blair, and recalling this helps underline the ideas he once stood for—ideas that led to reforms that, in...
  • Talk Transcript: Sean Smith on Angelina Jolie

    Perhaps it wasn't the best idea to dress actors in Pakistani police uniforms, hand them AK-47s and stand them in the dirt courtyard of a Muslim school in India while children were in class. Still, that gaffe would have been fast forgotten if the film being shot on campus, "A Mighty Heart," weren't about the murder of Jewish American journalist Daniel Pearl by Muslim extremists—and weren't starring Angelina Jolie. When parents showed up that Nov. 16 afternoon to pick up their kids, the gates were closed to keep out the paparazzi who had surrounded the school, their telephoto lenses aimed like rifle scopes. The parents became anxious, so the school opened the gates, and the paparazzi flooded in with them. The film's security guards tried to hold back the crowd. A scuffle ensued. No one was injured. But the following morning, two of Jolie's bodyguards were arrested for intimidation. Unnamed sources in local newspapers claimed that the white British guards had shoved parents and kids...
  • Nancy Drew Is Back … On the Silver Screen

    Go get your flashlight—there's a mystery we need to solve. Nancy Drew, girl sleuth, who vanished from movie theaters nearly 70 years ago, suddenly reappears this week. Where has she been? And can the teenager time forgot appeal to a generation obsessed with the Pussycat Dolls? Let's get to the bottom of this.Before the new "Nancy Drew" movie, the 16-year-old crimefighter had last hit the silver screen in 1939. Back then, the Stratemeyer Syndicate's series of novels (by the pseudonymous Carolyn Keene) was just nine years old. Now, nearly 200 books later, the Nancy of the novels has traded the blue roadster for a hybrid, and she's been one of Simon & Schuster's most bankable brands since 1979, when it bought the rights from Stratemeyer. Apparently that didn't impress the movie industry, which has co-opted just about every other boomer-era character, from Inspector Gadget to the Brady Bunch. In Hollywood, Nancy Drew couldn't get, as they say, arrested.Nancy did have a short-lived ...
  • Long Memory

    Plenty of central European writers have been obsessed with the theme of human memory. The poems of the late Polish Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz, the prose of Czech émigré Milan Kundera and the writings of countless others have focused on, as Kundera put it, how "ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten."No one fought harder against that than Ryszard Kapuscinski, the Polish journalist turned literary superstar who died in January at 74. And nowhere is this more explicit than in his 2004 book "Travels With Herodotus" (275 pages. Alfred A. Knopf), now published in English for the first time. Like many of his works, this is a collage of sorts, part travel writing, part self-reflection. But as befits a work that feels almost like a last testament, it's far more of the latter. He describes how in his travels he took along Herodotus' "The Histories," snatching it up as soon as a Polish translation was available during the post-Stalinist thaw in 1955. He views the Greek who...
  • Sudan: The New Serengeti

    Mike Fay pilots his four-seater Cessna down a short, dusty runway in Mabior, southern Sudan, and up over a landscape of cattle and tukuls, traditional huts that look like giant Hershey's Kisses. A few minutes later, tall yellow grass dotted with emerald-green Balanites trees stretches to the horizon. Fay spots a brown patch and heads toward it—a herd of antelope, which suddenly darts to the right. A few minutes later Fay spots a roan antelope, thought to have gone extinct in Sudan. "Wa-hoo!" he yells, banging his hand on the steering wheel.Fay, National Geographic's explorer in residence, has been crisscrossing Africa for 25 years searching for wild animals in need of help. He's found thousands of elephants in Chad, and jungles full of chimpanzees, gorillas and forest elephants in Gabon, and he's seen animal populations in Angola and Mozambique, devastated from years of civil war. When he started surveying the 360,000 square kilometers of southern Sudan earlier this year, where...
  • Videogames: Competitive Thrills

    Videogaming is a minor pastime in most places, but in South Korea, it's a powerful social phenomenon, a $2.5 billion business and, for a kid, a quick route to fame and fortune. It's also been a lucrative market for Blizzard Entertainment, the world's largest PC gaming company. Whereas gamers in most countries prefer platforms like the Playstation 3, Xbox or Wii, four out of five Koreans prefer PCs—the most popular game being Blizzard's StarCraft. In the decade or so since it was introduced, StarCraft has attracted 13 million fans—in a country of 45 million.Last month Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational annual videogame competition, held each year in Seoul, attracted 50,000 fans—its biggest crowd yet—in no small part because Blizzard chose the event to unveil StarCraft II, the long-awaited sequel. Fans cheered and jeered as 16 top players from around the world demonstrated their battle skills in colorful and dynamic space wars, each contest displayed on huge screens. "A real war could...
  • Mail Call: Climate Conundrum

    Readers of our April 16/April 23 reportage on global warming were divided on its merits. While one found it "an objective and eye-opening analysis," another was "astounded by the smug prognostications that many people will actually benefit from the dramatic climate changes." ...
  • France: Sarko's Eclectic Economics

    New French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been labeled a free-market fan, a shameless interventionist and a spendthrift opportunist. So which of the labels fit? All of them. Sarkozy's economics are nothing if not eclectic. But in spite of that, or perhaps because of it, the new president has a better chance of galvanizing growth than any leader in decades. With a 65 percent approval rating, Sarkozy neared war hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle's record Inaugural score. Consumer confidence leapt to a five-year high in May. And Sunday's impressive win in lower-house elections gives him plenty of lawmakers to back his program of economic reform.But what, exactly, is Sarkonomics? His mix of free-enterprise friendliness and state-coddling can seem erratic. But it's a pragmatic way to get results from the globalization-leery French, who need to be reassured as much as they need to get moving. The president has won kudos from economists by promising supply-side reforms like the end of the 35-hour...
  • Russian Art Is Hot Stuff

    Art sales aren't usually raucous affairs. But last week's Russian-art auction at Sotheby's in London was an exception. In a heated battle for one painting, a private Russian buyer playfully threatened to strike his contender before winning with a $2.5 million bid—more than double its estimated value. Moments earlier, a huge turquoise pet parrot broke free from its owner's bejeweled shoulder, flying madly around the room. "It wouldn't be a Russian show without something like that happening," said the auctioneer.Sotheby's should know. Thanks to the nouveau Russian rich, Russian art has become the single hottest commodity at auction houses. Sotheby's has already moved more than $100 million of Russian art since January, putting it on pace to trounce last year's record total of $150 million. Last week Christie's in London held its first-ever summer Russian sale, fetching an impressive $36 million, and setting a new world record for the highest price ever paid for a painting in a Russian...
  • Why Peace Fails the Middle East

    No one can seriously believe that a "two-state solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is possible. Especially not now, with Gaza burning. Yet heads of state including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush, who meet this week at the White House, still give lip service to that goal. Like everyone, they are entrapped by five fallacies that now shape discourse on the Middle East.1. The Top-Down Fallacy. Many observers believe that the way to resolve the conflict is a final peace agreement, or "final status" in diplomatic parlance. Such a deal would form a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, while giving security assurances to Israel. Since the disputed areas are small, measured in a few square kilometers, frustrated statesmen (like Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice) argue that the endgame is known and the only problem is getting there. President Bill Clinton's Parameters of December 2000, which presented a final status blueprint, are often depicted as the...
  • Gaza's Middle Class Flees

    Sana Dahman only dared peek out her window at night. The men with guns in the street looked like shadows. In the glow of the flames from the burning city, she could see grenade tubes on shoulders and ski masks on faces. Her neighborhood, like the rest of Gaza City, smelled like smoke. She was trapped in her house and food was running low. A friend tossed a loaf of bread through her window and then dashed away. Before the power failed for the night, she typed Hotmail instant messages to her husband: THEY'RE ASSASSINATING PEOPLE. THEY'RE BURNING HOUSES. WE CAN'T SLEEP.Her husband, Mohammad Dahman, moved to Norway six months ago. He says he's never coming back to Gaza. Both Dahmans had been raised in Gaza's refugee camps, alongside roughly 1 million other Palestinians. After college, where Mohammad studied business management, he took a job as a trade-union leader and human-rights activist. His $700-per-month salary let the couple and their five children eventually move to a red-roofed...
  • A Flood Of Flowers

    In the early 17th century, new trade routes to Africa and the Far East brought regular shipments of exotica to Dutch ports, and wealthy collectors amassed shells, gemstones, paintings, coins, marbled paper, even dogs. Almost anything deemed beautiful, rare or new was collectible. The tulip was all three. According to lore, its arrival created a country-wide speculative financial bubble that in 1637 popped, ruining lives and crippling the Dutch economy.In the meticulously researched "Tulipmania" (University of Chicago Press; 400 pages), Anne Goldgar tells another story entirely. In her account, the tulip traders were wealthy merchants with money to burn—hardly a representative cross-section of Dutch society. Far from wiping out the Dutch economy, she writes, the 1637 crash only dented the bank accounts of those rich enough to speculate in the first place. Meanwhile, in the two years prior, bubonic plague had killed approximately 135,000 Amsterdam residents and the region was mired in...
  • Behind the Secret Door

    Velvet ropes, burly doormen and screaming paparazzi are so passé. In New York City, the hottest bars and restaurants keep a low profile—so low, in fact, you may have a hard time finding them without a GPS. Discretion is the watchword when it comes to getting through the (unmarked) doors of these secret Manhattan nightspots, but once inside, you'll be rewarded with swank furnishings, lovingly crafted cocktails and the discreet thrill of having made it to the inner sanctum. ...
  • Sharma: How Can Russia Be Both Statist and Free-Market?

    For all the opinion offered on Russia these days, the key operating rule to keep in mind before reaching any conclusion is that the exact opposite of what's being said is also true.Many in the international media have conjured up an image of Russia as a hyper petro-power run by an authoritarian regime with a cold-war vision for the country. While there's more than an element of truth in such a portrayal, it would also be fair to say that Russia has been working hard to reduce its dependence on oil, the Kremlin has rarely mattered less for the people on the street and capitalist fervor continues to sweep the economy.Russia is increasingly turning out to be a tale of two different countries. At one level, the state is becoming more assertive and is seeking to broaden its influence in the "strategic" sectors of the economy as it looks to use oil as a weapon. This is undoubtedly undermining the investing environment and preventing the country from realizing its full potential in the...
  • Why Gaza Matters to U.S., the World

    The Israelis didn't want Palestinian elections back in January 2006. Even Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had been worried about them and kept asking for delays. As early as the spring of 2005, Abbas had warned American officials that he did not have the popular support to disarm Hamas, the Islamist party that turned suicide terror bombings into a standard tactic in Israel and which both Abbas and the Israelis saw was growing in power. But Bush administration officials insisted, confident of the curative powers of democracy. Later, after Hamas stunned the world by winning control of the Palestinian Parliament, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claimed: "Nobody saw it coming."The line could describe much of what has resulted from George W. Bush's efforts to transform the world—or at least one part of it, the Middle East. As long as the Islamists of Hamas refused to recognize Israel, the United States refused to deal with the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government. The...
  • Oil Money for a Dream

    Ten years ago, José Ramos-Horta was a painful pebble in Indonesia's shoe. The charismatic East Timorese intellectual earned a Nobel Peace Prize by trolling the halls of power in dozens of capitals around the world, telling anyone who'd listen that the former Portuguese colony was under a savage occupation. Now he's the establishment: last month, he was sworn in as the second president of independent East Timor (also known as Timor Leste). On June 4 he made his first state visit—to former foe Indonesia, which is now his friend and neighbor. NEWSWEEK's Joe Cochrane spoke to Ramos-Horta in his hotel suite overlooking Jakarta. Excerpts: ...
  • Is Turkey Winning Over the Kurds?

    Turkey's military appeared to be poised for war. Responding to a surge in Kurdish separatist attacks launched from northern Iraq, Turkish troops massed on the border—while commandos reportedly staged hot-pursuit raids inside Iraq itself. At the same time, though, inside Turkey the Army was trying a very different tactic—an unprecedented bid for hearts and minds that may end up doing more to end Kurdish violence than brute military force.What a difference a year makes. Last May, the cities of Turkey's southeast were convulsed by bloody riots as ethnic Kurds vented their anger at discrimination, poverty and police brutality. Last week the streets of Sirnak and Diyarbakir were again full of demonstrators, many of them Kurds. But this time they were protesting not against the government, but against the very group that claims to fight for their rights—the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Turkish authorities sanctioned the rallies, where speakers denounced the PKK's latest terrorist...
  • The Spaces in Between

    American sculptor Richard Serra takes over MoMA with a retrospective of his heavy-metal works.
  • Global Warming: Hot Air Is Not Enough

    President George W. Bush averted a nasty rift when he agreed in the final hours of the recent G8 summit to "consider seriously" the need to halve the world's emissions of global-warming gases by 2050. Canada, the European Union and Japan had already embraced that goal, leaving America the dirty stand-out. The deeper truth is that these eight industrial countries controlOnly part of the world's emissions, and the industrial activities that cause emissions are slow to change. Coal will be the hardest to tame because it is so cheap and abundant. Many coal-power plants coming online today will still be in service by 2050, and advanced plants that store effluent safely underground won't be used widely for many more decades. The geopolitical hurdles are also high. The plan introduced with much fanfare earlier this month by China, which next year will become the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, contains nothing beyond what Beijing already had in place. The world, therefore, is in...
  • Governing Gaza: Hamas's Dilemma

    Now that Hamas has taken complete control of Gaza by force, what will result? Mogadishu on the Mediterranean? Or will the sole responsibility for governing 1.5 million Palestinians force Hamas to moderate its militancy?The most prominent exponent of the theory behind the latter hope—i.e., the notion that governing forces radicals to become more reasonable—is, ironically, none other than George W. Bush. It was that conviction that led Bush to insist in December 2005 that the Palestinians go ahead with elections, though Palestinians and Israelis warned him Hamas could win. Bush argued that it would be good for Hamas to govern and be held accountable to the people.But things haven't worked the way Bush expected. Elections in the Palestinian territories did not produce transparent and accountable government. Hamas never followed the democratic rules of the game; instead, when power sharing became tiresome, its militia launched a putsch.As a result, the West Bank is now controlled by...
  • Last Word: Hoshyar Zebari

    Baghdad was already feeling the heat of an increase in suicide blasts and roadside bombs, mortar attacks on the Green Zone, and U.S. pressure to meet its "benchmarks" of progress by September. Amid all this, rumors abound in Baghdad of coup plots, which Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has fueled by accusing political rivals—aides say he means former P.M. Ayad Allawi—of "conspiring" against the government with the help of "foreign intelligence." (Allawi has denied any connection to a coup plot.) Few in Maliki's government see more of the internal challenges that the prime minister faces than Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd who has managed to retain his post since being appointed to the interim government in June 2004. NEWSWEEK's Melinda Liu and Larry Kaplow spoke to Zebari. Excerpts: ...
  • The Palm Economy

    Ibiza is better known for dance music than diplomacy. But last February, the breezy and bohemian Mediterranean island was the site of an important meeting between Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Nobody knows exactly what they discussed that day under the palms. But since then, economic ties between the two countries have been getting plenty of ink. This past spring, the Italian power company Enel helped its counterpart in Spain, Endesa, defeat an unsolicited German buyout bid. Spain's largest telecom, Telefónica, has bought a 10 percent stake in Italy's Telecom Italia. A few weeks ago, Italy's biggest bank, UniCredit, bought into Spain's number-four player. A number of other such deals are being discussed among not only banks but big-infrastructure companies. It could, wrote the Italian brokerage firm Euromobiliare in a note dated Feb. 28, "be the beginning of a series of such negotiations between Spain and Italy."Europe...
  • Global Investor: Don't Count America Out

    A more balanced global growth picture means that the enormous U.S. trade deficit has reached a plateau and is set to recede, perhaps substantially. Ditto the U.S. current-account deficit. That will mean less dependence on the American consumer as an engine for global growth, and less U.S. borrowing from abroad. But it will also mean more reliance on a new kind of growth engine: the American producer and exporter.By now, the catalysts behind the shift are fairly well known. Rapid import growth, fueled by U.S. consumer and business spending, has been dampened by recent Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes. Japan, Germany and other European economies, enjoying a healthy new economic momentum, are now growing faster than the United States. Recent structural improvements in these countries have lifted their potential growth rates. Along with the weaker U.S. dollar, these trends will continue to dampen demand for foreign imports to the United States and increase the appetite for U.S....
  • The Dynamic Duo

    Want to know Europe's dirty little secret? You won't hear it from the locals grousing as the EU goes into talks on a new constitution. But the truth is that the Union is working. More jobs have been created in the euro zone—13.1 million of them since 2000—than in the United States during the same period. Add in those economies that still use their own currencies, such as Britain's and the Nordic states', and the picture looks even better. Gone are the high unemployment rates that, just recently, seemed a permanent fixture of the landscape.In the east, the EU's newer members are purring like tigers. Poland's current growth rate is as good as India's, and the Czech economy is growing faster than Taiwan's or Malaysia's. Even China, supposedly the world's export king, is being outpaced by Germany, which sells more of its goods and services abroad. Little Belgium now exports more than mighty South Korea. And the euro zone is running a trade surplus—unlike the United States, with its...
  • Henry Tang: Better Times Are Here

    With mainland China moving to embrace capitalism, "one country, two systems" should mean that Hong Kong and the mainland are different politically. And the way to ensure Hong Kong's distinctness is to allow the people of the city to choose their own leaders. Looking over the past decade, there have been obvious instances of interference in Hong Kong's domestic affairs, often with the city's leaders looking the other way to avoid provoking Beijing.Due to a lack of transparency, it is often difficult to tell whether decisions are made in Hong Kong or Beijing. For example, there was the case of the newspaper proprietor Sally Aw, whom the Independent Commission Against Corruption charged as a co-conspirator in a fraud case. The Justice Department decided to drop charges against her. Aw was a member of China's top advisory body at the time.Outright interference can also be documented. In 2000, the pro-independence candidate Chen Shui-bian won the Taiwan presidential election. The...
  • Q&A: Architect Brian Mackay-Lyons Goes Back to Basics

    While the contemporary architects who draw the most attention these days tend to design extravagant, explosive, fluid forms—which are translated into real structures by employing computer technology—other architects have been focusing on the essential elements of modern architecture. These “renewed modernists,” as they have been called, are making modest buildings that are filled with light, use appropriate materials and are about the experience of space and the landscape where they are sited. One of the best of these architects is Brian MacKay-Lyons, 52, of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His work has been championed by the Pritzker-prize-winning Australian architect Glenn Murcutt for its rugged simplicity, its connection to place, its natural ecological sympathy and most of all, for its authenticity. MacKay-Lyons spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Cathleen McGuigan. ...
  • For Whatever It's Worth

    Often when I wander down the world's great shopping streets, I silently curse the concept of shareholder value. It always seems to me to come with an expectation for constant growth, and for this, luxury companies need to find ever more ingenious ways of getting us to spend more.There are some brands that achieve this almost effortlessly. For instance, the other day I strolled into my local branch of Hermès and examined some of the cute crocodile-skin ring-binder diaries: small things a few inches square with a nice silver pen slotted into the side. I was delighted to see that the more expensive ones were heading north of £1,500.The fact that I was only mildly surprised by this price tag testifies to the power of the Hermès image and its reputation for quality and style. Being charged a considerable sum for a small and beautiful object has a value to the customer; it offers reassurance that this is indeed a serious purchase. And to be taken seriously you have to take yourself...
  • Made by Foreign Hands

    The town of Prato, just outside Florence, is not exactly typical of this part of Italy. Sure, it's got the requisite medieval wall, a handful of baroque churches and charming cobblestone streets. But instead of sautéed garlic, the lingering aroma is of fried wontons. In the cafés, red paper lanterns are as prevalent as red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, and more people speak Mandarin than Italian.In fact, this Tuscan community of about 200,000 is home to Europe's second largest Chinatown, after Paris. It's also the heart of Italy's apparel industry, home of the MADE IN ITALY label, which for many conjures up visions of old Italian craftsmen hunched over workbenches, sewing the last stitches on a pair of leather shoes or designer handbag. Gucci and Prada have their factory outlets here; Prato even houses Italy's official textile museum, which traces the history of the country's luxury-garment industry.But the image of the skilled Italian worker lovingly plying his trade is fading...
  • Onscene: Chaos and Desperation in Gaza

    There wasn't much left of Mohammed Dahlan's house by the time I stopped by Wednesday morning. The whitewashed villa in Gaza City's lush Remal neighborhood had been torched, robbed and stripped by looters of any loose fixture or ornament of value, including the sewage pipes in the backyard. Children had sketched unflattering charcoal drawings of Dahlan, the reviled founder of the Fatah-controlled Preventive Security apparatus, on the walls upstairs; captions like HE IS A SPY and HAMAS WAS HERE were scrawled underneath. Adolescent boys swung sledgehammers at the floor, chipping away rectangular slabs of marble and stacking them in a donkey cart. "I'm taking this stuff," a teenager with a pickaxe told me, explaining that he was going to "pave" his living room with marble. While we talked, another small boy jumped up and snatched my sunglasses, while a third grabbed the tiny flashlight clipped to my backpack. "Let's go," said my translator, Hassan. "And check your pockets."Visiting the...
  • Q&A: How Police Cracked Online Porn Ring

    British police spent months infiltrating one of the world’s largest online child porn rings. They arrested its ringleader, Timothy Cox, at his Suffolk home last September, then assumed his online identity to gather evidence on the Web site’s members. Their global investigation—dubbed Operation Chandler—led them on a trail stretching from Australia to North America and Europe, netting over 700 suspects around the world and rescuing 31 abused children. Yesterday, they finally made the case public after Cox was convicted of distributing indecent images and sentenced to jail for an indeterminate period—meaning he will be incarcerated until he is no longer considered a threat to children.Cox was the ringleader of a chat room called “Kids the Light of Our Lives,” which allowed users to trade and watch live images of children being abused through file sharing and video streaming. “No investigation has rescued so many young and vulnerable people from a group of hard-core pedophiles,” says...
  • Digging a Grave for Crumbling Zimbabwe

    Last Maingehama was on his way to a memorial service when he was kidnapped. A little after 2 p.m. on March 20, in the middle of an upscale Harare neighborhood, government thugs dragged Last out of his car, tied a blindfold around his eyes and drove him into the Zimbabwean savanna. For the next five hours they beat the 33-year-old businessman and opposition activist relentlessly with hard wooden "battlesticks." They pounded the soles of his feet, he says, in an account verified by two independent human-rights researchers. They broke his left leg just below the kneecap. And then, when he was bruised and bloody and unconscious, the men left Last for dead and disappeared into the night. When Last finally crawled back to the road, half naked and petrified, he flagged down a passing tractor. But it is a sign of how pervasive the climate of fear has grown in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe that even to his rescuer, Last lied about what had happened in the bush that night. "I told [him] I was...
  • Good News About the Falling Dollar

    Not so long ago, a single dollar was considered a pretty good tip for bellhops around the world. But lately, Megan Carrella, a 34-year-old New York executive who travels regularly from Mexico to Greece for business, has found hotel help less enthusiastic about her usual palm. She's taken to handing out at least two or three greenbacks to guarantee good service. "People used to really smile when you gave them a dollar," she says. "Now it seems almost like an insult."Bellhops aren't the only ones whose love affair with the dollar is over. Since the dollar's peak in February 2002, it has now fallen 20 percentage points against a basket of global currencies including the rupee, Canadian dollar and real, with 3 percent of that fall coming in the past three months. Countries all over the world are dropping their local currency pegs to the dollar, and eurobonds are beginning to compete with the almighty T-bill as a reserve currency in places like Russia and Sweden. There's even a movement...
  • Level Up

    Having recently become a father, I've been struggling with the conventional wisdom on parenthood—that I'll never have time to do anything I like ever again. One recent evening, however, when my daughter was asleep, I fired up the Halo 3 multiplayer beta—the early-release version of the follow-up to the Halo 2 videogame for Microsoft's Xbox 360. No surprise: Halo 3 is great. It's an elegant blend of very familiar gameplay, welcome refinements to mechanics and clever new elements that I barely had time to tinker with. The physics and animations are substantially better than in Halo 2 multiplayer; taking down an opponent feels more satisfying. (In Halo 3, downed enemies drop to the ground more quickly.) My only tiny concern: Gears of War really impressed me with how genuinely shocking moments are possible in familiar genres. I want to have similar moments of panic in Halo 3. It would make the ability to detach a turret cannon and carry it Jesse Ventura style even more of a delight....
  • World View: A Darkening In the North

    Iraq's kurdish north has offered a heartening contrast to an otherwise blood-soaked country. Its polity works; its economy thrives. But the reports last week of a Turkish military incursion, in pursuit of Kurdish rebels, is an eruption of only one of three steadily deepening problems that could combine to worsen the Bush administration's predicament in Iraq.The first is the dispute over Kirkuk, capital of At-Tamim province. The city and its environs contain some 10 billion of Iraq's 112 billion barrels in proven oil reserves. Saddam Hussein expelled thousands of Kurds as well as Turkomans and Christians from the Kirkuk region in the 1980s and 1990s, replacing them with Arabs, mainly Shia from the south, themselves victims of his repression. With Saddam gone, roughly 350,000 Kurds moved back (some original residents, others not) with active support from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Thousands of Arabs fled, alleging threats and attacks by Kurdish groups. The influx also...