International News, Opinion and Analysis - Newsweek World

World

More Articles

  • Ansen on Mira Nair's 'The Namesake'

    Mira Nair's sprawling, engrossing saga "The Namesake," like the acclaimed Jhumpa Lahiri novel on which it's based, spans three decades and two generations, traveling from the 1970s to the present, from Calcutta to New York and back again, immersing us in the immigrant lives of the Ganguli family. There is enough material in this story to fill a mini-series. Indeed, there are times when you wish the movie were a mini-series. This is meant both as a tribute, for the Ganguli family is so engaging you'd be happy spending much more time with them, and an acknowledgment that a tale this expansive doesn't always fit comfortably within the constraints of a feature-length frame.Early on, "The Namesake" transports us from a humid, crowded, colorful Calcutta living room—where young Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) meets his bride-to-be, Ashima (Tabu)—to a bare, wintry New York apartment where the couple, who barely know each other, begin their new life in America. The transition is a visceral and visual...
  • Waiting for Inspiration: Beckett's Impact

    Samuel Beckett is best known for his perennially reprised 1953 play "Waiting for Godot," about two men expecting someone who never arrives. But there is far more in the Irish Nobel laureate's canon, and as a new show at the Pompidou Center in Paris sets out to prove, his influence on other artists has been profound. "Samuel Beckett" (through June 25), explores the writer as a lasting cultural force by presenting an excellent mix of memorabilia and portraits of him, as well as works inspired by him. While the pieces themselves are individually powerful, the exhibit as a whole fails to explain them or how they connect to Beckett, who died in Paris in 1989. Intentionally or not, the show is as abstract as the author himself.Only by reading into the exhibit's brief, esoteric descriptions—or by touring with a curator—can viewers fully grasp the contours of Beckett's life. Born in 1906, he was raised a Protestant in the well-to-do Dublin suburb of Foxrock. He studied French, Italian and...
  • Europe's Knack for War

    Americans "don't do nation-building," Bush officials famously declared. In Iraq, it shows. Ian Cutherbertson, a British counterinsurgency expert at the World Policy Institute in New York, sums up the difference between U.S. and European military tactics. "The American approach is to shoot first, and ask questions later," he says. "Europeans are willing to take more risks. They want to be seen less as an occupying force, more as partners. Unlike the Americans, they have a holistic mind-set that looks beyond the battlefield."A clutch of recent military deployments has shown the strength of an Old World outlook that puts tact above brute force. Note the way British troops in southern Iraq used to patrol in soft caps rather than helmets, for example—more police than soldiers. In the dawning age of asymmetrical warfare, this leads to an interesting—and, for Washington, uncomfortable—conclusion. America may outspend Europe on defense by three to one. But when it comes to projecting power...
  • Law: Changes in Patents May Be Pending

    Jon Dudas often hears how the current U.S. patent system is "broken." Dudas, director of the Patent and Trademark Office, hates that term. The process is "the envy of the world," he says. "Brazil, China, other countries, they want to know how we do it."I'll wager, however, that China would be less than delighted to emulate the United States if the consequences included events like the one in a San Diego courtroom last month. A jury delivered a whopping $1.52 billion judgment against Microsoft for infringing on a patent involving the mechanics of playing MP3 music files. Here's what is outrageous: Microsoft had already licensed MP3 technology from the consortium that developed the standard, for $16 million. Years later, after MP3 technology took off, Alcatel/Lucent (inheritor of patents filed by Bell Labs) emerged to file its suit, and won almost 100 times as much as what was determined a fair license fee originally (because Microsoft had unwittingly infringed that patent). Unless...
  • This Is No Way To Cure Cancer

    When the government dangles $1.5 billion in front of scientists, they rarely say, oh no, please, keep it, there are better ways to spend the money. But as the biomedical establishment gears up for yet another megaproject, some leading scientists are doing exactly that, making the heretical suggestion that this latest extravaganza is poor science and bad policy.Called the Cancer Genome Atlas, it aims to identify mutations in tumor cells from the 50 most common kinds of human cancer. (A genome is the full set of genetic information in, in this case, all the malignant cells in these 50 cancers.) You can think of the mutations as misspellings in the cells' DNA; the hope is that designer drugs tailored to a patient's mutations will cure the cancer just as spellcheck cures typos. Now beginning a three-year, $100 million pilot phase, the atlas threatens to suck up ever-dwindling resources at a time of budget carnage at the National Institutes of Health, which funds it. But there's a bigger...
  • Q&A: Valery Giscard d'Estaing 

    Former French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing presided over the European constitution his compatriots rejected in a 2005 referendum. But at 81, he is still fighting for the European project. One of Europe's foremost architects sat down with NEWSWEEK's Tracy McNicoll at his Paris home to discuss the state of the Union. Excerpts: ...
  • Global Investor: Trade Starts At Home

    Not many Americans outside Washington care whether the bilateral trade agreements that the United States has negotiated with Panama, Colombia and Peru contain provisions to protect labor standards in those countries, or whether such treaties are ratified by Congress this spring. Not many are losing sleep over the fate of theDoha round of global trade negotiations that the Bush administration and other governments are frantically trying to save from collapse. Yet these issues have America's trade-policy community locked in round-the-clock political combat.While these are important questions, none amounts to the central problem in U.S. trade policy—dealing with the growing insecurity of Americans when it comes to economic change. The anxiety ranges from the 47 million citizens who are without health care to workers' fears about competition from China, where manufacturing wages are below 10 percent of those in America. At a time when trade has been growing more than twice as fast as...
  • Exhibit: Lalique Jewelry in Paris

    Around the turn of the 20th century, the French artist, jeweler and glassware artisan René Lalique spent hours studying Japanese plants in the botanical gardens of Paris. Japanese horticulture was in vogue all over Europe, and Lalique labored relentlessly to complete intricate sketches of unfamiliar plants such as hydrangeas and chrysanthemums. His aim: "To create something no one has ever seen before," he wrote.Now visitors to the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris can witness those wonders. "The Exceptional Jewels of Lalique, 1890-1912" (through July 29) is the largest-ever exhibition of the French master's work, gathering together some 300 pieces from around the world. Visitors are plunged into a magical universe of color and texture: orchids carved out of opal and jade; Japanese-style hair combs adorned with wasps and Egyptian beetles; bats and cats in lacquered enamel; dog collars embellished with pearls; the soft, fleshy female form metamorphosing into a dragonfly, or couched supine...
  • Barbarians Calling: Bonjour to Buyouts

    Europeans have always been unsettled by brass-knuckles capitalism. So it's no surprise that a recent rash of multibillion-dollar private-equity bids have caused quite a stir. Over the last few weeks, firms like Britain's J. Sainsbury supermarkets and Alliance Boots pharmacy chain have become targets for American leveraged-buyout firms like Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Blackstone, as well as homegrown players like the U.K.'s Permira. Unionists, who regularly grouse about buyout-related job cuts, have begun lobbying governments to cut the tax breaks raiders get on their massive loans. Last month, banner-toting protesters at private equity's annual conference in Frankfurt gave funds a clear message: "Slam the door as you leave the EU!"No chance of that. Last year European private-equity funds raised $114 billion, more than double the 2004 figure. This year the number will likely rise to $130 billion. While the biggest deals are still done in the United States experts say Europe is...
  • In Iraq, the Price of a Name Is Death

    To be called Abu Omar in today's Iraq is to be on death row. "Abu Omar" means "father of Omar." And this means that you probably are a Sunni and your son is a Sunni, too. And, as a Sunni friend explained to me last month—with her Shia husband sitting next to her—"all Omars in Iraq are either killed or change their names. For any Omar, the safest bet is to flee."This is what the Abu Omar from Baghdad whom I met in Amman had done. He fled to Jordan after his relative named Omar was murdered, and after his son (the little Omar, 9) was first beaten and then, in a separate incident, kidnapped along with his sister Nabaa, 11. The ransom demanded was $10,000. Abu Omar did not ask the name of the group that wanted the money; he sold his shop and house and paid. Thirteen days later, his two children were back with him. Without waiting for anything worse to happen, Abu Omar left Baghdad. He now "lives" with his wife and three children in one room whose broken windows are stuffed with plastic...
  • Dates, Citrus and IEDs

    Almost every night in Baghdad, American artillery units blast shells the size of engine blocks into the date and citrus orchards of Dora Farms, targeting insurgent mortar teams. The concussion of the big guns can be felt even in the Green Zone, which lies nearly two miles away as a Blackhawk flies. U.S. warplanes regularly bomb the area; M1-A1 Abrams tanks hover at its edges and fire away with their deadly 120mm cannons at insurgents burying IEDs in the road. Some evenings, the sky over this part of southern Baghdad glows orange.The carnage in Dora Farms commenced on a night four years ago this week—a night on which, some Pentagon planners hoped, the war in Iraq might both begin and end. On March 19, 2003, a pair of 2,000-pound bombs landed in Dora Farms, on the south bank of the Tigris River, just across from downtown Baghdad. A CIA informant had said Saddam would be sleeping in an underground bunker there. The "decapitation strike," as it was called, was aimed at achieving George...
  • Is Shaikh Mohammed Telling the Truth?

    In the four years since U.S. and Pakistani forces captured alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, intelligence agencies have disclosed little about his confinement and only selective details about what he told his interrogators. Held for more than three years in secret CIA prisons overseas, KSM, as the government refers to him, was subjected to aggressive interrogation methods. Last year KSM was moved to the prison at Guantánamo Bay with 13 other "high value" terrorists.Now comes the next phase of KSM's long, slow trip through post-9/11 justice. On March 10, he was brought into a small, barren courtroom, where he faced a panel of anonymous U.S. military officers who must determine if he is an "enemy combatant" subject to trial by a military tribunal.For the first time since his capture, Mohammed was given the opportunity to speak publicly on his own behalf. In a rambling diatribe in fractured English, he did not hold back his feelings. "For sure, I'm American enemies ... So...
  • The Best Euro Start-Ups

    Too often, the phrase "pan-European enterprise" conjures up visions of disasters like the Airbus A380. In the right hands—small entrepreneurs as opposed to state-run mega-projects—the Pan-European approach has produced a string of high-profile media and telecom successes that includes the most buzzed-about start-up on the planet. It's called Joost, and the hands belong to Janus Friis, a Dane, and his Swedish partner Niklas Zennstrom—tech rock stars of the first order, and Europe's answer to Google's Larry Paige and Sergey Brin.The pair gained fame as the creators of the megahit music-sharing site Kazaa, whose popularity with users was rivaled only by the enmity it earned from music companies. Then came Skype, which rocked Big Telecom by offering cheap phone calls via the Internet. Now the duo are turning their talents to new media and entertainment. With Joost, a video sharing website, they'll offer the Web generation a new way to watch favorite TV shows—when and where they want,...
  • The Last Word: Angelina Jolie

    Angelina Jolie began traveling as a good-will ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) some six years ago. She has visited the victims of violence in Africa, Pakistan and Cambodia—first as an observer in the background, then using her fame to draw attention to the plight of the helpless. Recently the movie star visited a refugee camp housing Darfur refugees in Chad. NEWSWEEK's Christopher Dickey spoke to her about her mission. Excerpts: ...
  • Growing Lights: What's New in Chandeliers

    No longer are chandeliers necessarily stodgy, showy and crystal-studded. Today's eye-catching modern fixtures come in a variety of shapes and incorporate unusual—and often recycled—materials, from goose feathers to Bic pens. They can work just as well in traditional homes as in contemporary ones. Some are even designed to be energy efficient as well.Online retailer Inmod sells an assortment of its signature space-age "Sputnik" chandeliers. The chrome designs are at once retro and modern and can be customized to suit any space. One customer recently ordered a 127cm model, with 50 shiny silver arms jutting out in every direction, according to cofounder Casey Choron. Its higher-end, imported models include handblown glass versions in red, white or black. The Ika Trio in red looks like a three-tiered bundle of red-hot chilis and retails for $1,699 (inmod.com).New York-based retailer Moss has long been known for infusing a whimsical streak into its furniture and interior design; the...
  • The Best of Europe

    To ask the question is to invite a deluge of answers—all of them correct, depending on who's doing the telling. Who makes the best chocolate in Europe? Well, that would be Pierre Marcolini of Belgium, or is it Godiva? Germany makes the best cars—BMW or Mercedes. But then there are those who think the mini Le Smart Car is pretty smart. Finland's Nokia all but revolutionized the global cell-phone industry. It's still a trend-setter for telephone markets worldwide. Yet the days when it was considered hotly entrepreneurial are long gone. Today, that laurel goes to Joost, whose founders are fresh from a series of prior mega-triumphs, among them Skype. But how to choose? Any number of European start-ups could vie for the honor. The key word here is European. In contrast to the past, we're not talking Silicon Valley.Big things are happening in Europe these days, and the rest of the world should take note. Europe is rediscovering the core of its enduring dynamism, best summed up, perhaps,...
  • Mail Call: Protecting Our Planet

    Our Jan. 29 report on energy conservation warmed the cockles of readers' hearts. "Informative and timely," complimented one. Another called it "a scholarly piece." A third summed up what many others thought: "Let's work together to preserve our planet for future generations."Your cover story on global warming and the greenhouse effect is a scholarly piece of work ("7 Ways to Save the World," Jan. 29) that packs a great deal of information, much of it not previously published. There is no denying the fact that developing countries like India and China aim to increase and boost their economic growth today, rather than gradually over a decade or so. These countries are blinded by their present growth of close to 10 percent and are polluting the world with carbon-dioxide emissions. They have no desire to have a new vision of conservation for coming generations. But we are all together in this doomed world, so it is the moral duty of all nations—rich or poor—to join forces to manufacture...
  • Iran: Secrets of a Nuclear Sleuth

    How hard could it be to find hundreds of tons of radioactive nuclear material? We've certainly got plenty of motivation to keep tabs on this stuff. There's the threat of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, the standoff between Pakistan's and India's arsenals and North Korea's Kim Jong Il. Iran, the next big nuclear challenge, already has missiles that can strike Israel and a thriving civilian nuclear-power program. It claims to have no ambition for nuclear weapons, but verifying this is critical. We must know how much to press for a diplomatic solution or how seriously to consider a military strike.Nuclear intelligence, however, is problematic. Despite all the high-tech gear that intelligence agencies have developed, facts on the ground are so thin that the whole question of what countries like Iran are doing with nuclear weapons is vulnerable to manipulation by policymakers. Who can forget how Condoleezza Rice, as head of the National Security Council in September 2002, declared that...
  • Levy: Invasion of the Web Amateurs

    Andrew keen is not surprised at the latest twist in the ongoing saga of Wikipedia. In his view, the entire Internet movement involving "collective intelligence," "citizen journalism" and "the wisdom of crowds" is a cultural meltdown, an instance of barbarians at civilization's gates. He considers Wikipedia, the popular Internet-based encyclopedia written and vetted by anyone who cares to contribute, as no more reliable than the output of a million monkeys banging away at their typewriters, and says as much in his upcoming poison-pen letter to Web 2.0, "The Cult of the Amateur" (due from Currency/Doubleday in June).So imagine Keen's delight in learning about an adjustment to last summer's New Yorker article about Wikipedia. The article's author prominently cited a person identified as "Essjay," described as "a tenured professor of religion ... who holds a Phd in theology and a degree in canon law." Essjay had contributed to more than 16,000 Wikipedia entries, and often invoked his...
  • Computers: An EyeMouse

    Manu Kumar had a bad case of repetitive strain injury from too much typing a few years ago that made clicking his computer mouse a painful chore. So he thought: why not eliminate the mouse entirely? Kumar, a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University's computer-science department, looked at ways of making a device that could track eye movements and move the cursor on the computer screen accordingly. The problem with previous attempts to make eye-activated mice was that the cursor tends to zip around the screen with each spurious movement of the pupil. "A person's eyes are never really stable," he says. He wrote computer software that ignored the eyes' lesser movements and followed the overall direction of a person's gaze. His program, EyePoint, has an error rate of about 15 percent, compared with 5 percent for a standard mouse. Kumar hopes to commercialize the software, but he wants to finish his thesis first.
  • Correspondents' Picks

    Cuisine isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Nepal, unless perhaps it’s yak meat on the mountain trails. Nepal is all about the outdoors—mountaineering, trekking, river rafting—where adventurers brave the elements on dried fruit and granola bars. But the country offers a tremendous variety of foods served in restaurants, bakeries and bars that cater to all visitors, especially in the capital, Kathmandu.A trip to Kathmandu should include some time in the Thamel district in the city center. Aside from being next to cultural exhibits like the ancient Durbar Square, Thamel is the base for most visitors. It’s small maze of alleys with shops and hawkers offering trekking tours, winter gear, Tibetan carpets, DVDs, T shirts, trinkets, marijuana, foot massages and hotel rooms. This buzzing little ghetto has some great little places to eat, though an address or phone number won’t help you find most of them:The Katmandu Guest House was the first hotel to open in...
  • 'Voices of the Fallen': Reporting the Story

    For several months, a large team of NEWSWEEK reporters called the families of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. Those wives, parents and children showed us a side of the story too seldom told.
  • Egypt: A Referendum to Roll Back Reform

    A half dozen opposition members of Egypt’s Parliament stepped out of the People’s Assembly a little after noon last Tuesday, expecting to join hoards of protesters there. Instead, they were met with an eerily empty street, blocked on both sides by plainclothes police agents manning iron barricades. What was meant to be a show of popular discontent against restrictive legislation passed in the Parliament hours earlier became yet another illustration of how far freedoms have been rolled back in Egypt in recent months. While some of the parliamentarians tried to make the best of the situation by delivering bombastic statements of outrage to the few that made it past security officials, there was no ignoring the pervasive air of defeat.“This is a dark comedy,” said Hamdeen Sabahy, an opposition M.P. in the People’s Assembly and head of the Nasserist Karama Party, as he walked away from the protest. “We are all simply actors in a play of democracy,” he said. “A poorly directed play,”...
  • Unlock Your Unexplored Psychic Powers

    As we travel through life we are all seekers after something larger than ourselves, a truth known to seers, healers and book publishers through the ages. For Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, a prominent clinical psychologist at Berkeley, her quest began in 1991 with the theft of a rare and valuable harp belonging to her daughter. On the advice of a friend, she sought help from a professional psychic named Harold McCoy, who, with only a street map and a photograph of the harp—he never left his home in Arkansas—told her exactly the address in Oakland where it could be found. For the rest of her life Mayer was obsessed with this feat, as who wouldn't be? So last month, 15 years after the harp was returned, I sent McCoy a picture of a lock—a cast-iron padlock my grandfather had used to lock up his pushcart at night—and a set of New York City street maps. Find the lock, I told him.Mayer's quest took her into a world where the ordinary rules of time and space don't apply—of dowsers like McCoy, who...
  • Grow the Market

    Last year MIT computer guru Nicholas Negroponte started his One Laptop per Child initiative to bring computing to the world's poor. Chipmaker Intel wouldn't participate in the program, opting instead to introduce its own machine for the masses—the Classmate PC. It's a much more luxurious device than Negroponte's—it comes with a one- or two-gigabyte flash hard drive and a WiMAX chip for networking. To persuade schools to buy the $300 PC, Intel will provide training to 10 million teachers over the next five years. (It will also donate 100,000 PCs.) The firm has collaborated with a handful of countries, including Thailand, Turkey and Ireland, to create online educational programs for science and math. "We're growing the market together—that's the concept," says Intel VP John Davies. Intel plans to ship hundreds of thousands of PCs to 30 countries this year.
  • Time To Decide About Kosovo

    Once again the Balkans are on the world docket. Few are paying attention, but the stakes are high: the stability of the region, the reliability of international promises, the credibility of the United Nations. We need to get the right answer.The question, of course, is Kosovo. U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari has drafted his plan for "supervised" independence, severing the southernmost province of the former Yugoslavia from Serbia to join Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro among the tribe of new sovereign states. In Vienna this week he will make a final effort to convince Kosovars and Serbian leaders that it is in their best interests to sign on. The next stop will be the Security Council, which must decide what to do. One temptation will be to call for continued negotiations among the "parties." That would be a disaster for the region, the West and the United Nations. So would any Serbian effort to promote the partition of Kosovo.The case for independence begins with...
  • Stromboli, Italy: Building On The Volcano

    The view from Punta la Bronzo Pizzeria on the upper reaches of the volcanic island of Stromboli is stunning. Tiny islands dot the turquoise sea in the distance, and dramatic cliffs tower above a black-sand beach below. The lifestyle is a blend of opulence and simplicity: Stromboli is car-free, the local community is generous to visitors and the food is divine. It's no surprise that wealthy Italians from the president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, to the luxe designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana keep summer villas here. Lately, however, the blue skies are hazy and the fresh air is powdered with volcanic ash, thanks to an eruption that began on Feb. 27.The sight of red-hot lava running down the sides of Stromboli should not have come as a surprise to its swank residents. Stromboli is the most active volcano on the planet, says the U.S. Geological Survey. Yet new construction has risen nearly 20 percent in the last decade, mostly multimillion-euro villas tucked into the...
  • Liu: Let 500 Olympic Flowers Bloom

    Preparing for the 2008 Games, Beijing horticulturists are breeding and pruning up a storm—and even shooting flower seeds into space.
  • Automating the Paris Metro

    Even in a country that's long prided itself on its trains, the Paris Métro stands out. It's fast, easy to navigate, clean, inexpensive and, with 16 lines serving 297 stations, remarkably dense—leading many transport experts to consider it the world's premier metro. Since the first few lines entered service at the turn of the 20th century, the Métro has grown into a 218-kilometer network that carries 1.36 billion passengers a year. A train sweeps through the 25 stations of Ligne 1, the city's busiest, every 105 seconds. Paris's Métro authority, the RATP, is apparently not satisfied. Last summer it began an ambitious effort to slice 20 seconds off train headway time and increase rolling speed. It plans to do it by automating the entire line—eliminating drivers and replacing them with computers.Paris is not the first city to install a driverless metro line—30 or so cities, such as Ankara, Copenhagen and Vancouver, already have automated lines, and 20 more are under construction. But...
  • France's Sarko Is Too American

    Rarely has a foreign dignitary—especially a French one—gushed so effusively about what's right with America. When Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy spoke at the headquarters of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Washington last September, he was Mr. Apple Pie—à la mode. He lauded Madonna, Hemingway, Hollywood movies, the New York art scene, American scientific research—even U.S. immigration policies. "Every parent in France dreams of sending his child to an American university," Sarkozy proclaimed in his paean to Yankee Doodledom. Sniping from French elitists is mere "jealousy in the face of your brilliant success," he said. "Nobody in France dares to say the truth: the United States is the greatest economic, military and monetary power in the world."...
  • The Power of Personality

    You are looking at the photographs of a grim refugee camp along the desert border between Darfur and Chad because the movie star Angelina Jolie was there. Her image catches your eye and, indeed, the world's attention.There's no use pretending otherwise. She doesn't. "If I can draw you in a little because I'm familiar, then that's great," she told NEWSWEEK after she came back from her late February visit to the 26,000 residents of Oure Cassoni camp. "Because I know that at the end you're not looking at me, you're looking at them." Well ... "As long as [you] end up looking at them, that's the point."The aid workers on the scene, at the edge of a conflict the U.S. government now calls genocidal, could not agree more. They live month after month in rough conditions amid constant danger as the war spills into their territory. "You can hear it and feel it," says Dr. Ashis Brahma, medical coordinator for the International Rescue Committee in the camp. Skirmishes take place within a couple...
  • Das: India's Love of Bureaucracy

    On Feb. 28, India's ruling congress party-led coalition introduced its latest budget, aiming, according to Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, "to lift the poor" and close the income gap. The new plan, however, is no more likely to succeed than past efforts. The problem is best understood by focusing on two numbers hidden in the document. One represents a promise to hire 200,000 new schoolteachers; the other, to grant 100,000 scholarships. These two figures underscore both what is right and wrong with India today, and why its leaders fail to help their neediest constituents.India as a country is getting richer at a bewildering rate. Somehow this chaotic, billion-person democracy has become one of the world's fastest-growing economies, expanding 8 percent in the past three years and 9.2 percent this year. Since 1980, per capita income has tripled. Some of this progress has trickled down: 1 percent of the poor have crossed the poverty line each year since 1980. That adds up to a total of...
  • Books: When Murder Ruled Chicago

    Michael Lesy’s “Murder City” is a creepy book. Fascinating, but creepy. Lesy (“Wisconsin Death Trip”) focuses on Windy City murders in the ’20s, a time and place we all think we know: Capone, Leopold and Loeb, “Chicago”—merely drop the city’s name and people start thinking Tommy guns and bathtub gin. Lesy takes his time getting to the notorious gangsters. Most of the perps and victims are people you’ve never heard of: a man who killed his wife because he wanted to go back into the Army, a man who killed two men for a Packard, lots of spurned lovers. They add up—but to what? Something strangely depressing: by 1924, Chicago had a homicide rate 24 percent higher than the national average, and it was choked by a culture compounded by gangsterism, corruption and rat-a-tat-tat headlines. Lesy dissipates the romance of the roaring ’20s before his book is half over, certainly well before we encounter the women who inspired the winking cynicism of “Chicago.” What sticks with you about that...
  • Higher Math From Medieval Islam

    Ancient, closely held religious secrets; messages encoded on the walls of Middle Eastern shrines; the divine golden ratio—readers of a recent issue of the journal Science must have wondered if they'd mistakenly picked up "The Da Vinci Code" instead. In stretches of intricate tiling on several 500-year-old Islamic buildings, Peter Lu and Paul Steinhardt wrote, they'd spotted a large fragment of a mathematical pattern that was unknown to Western science until the 1970s. Islam gave the world algebra, from the Arabic al-jabr, a term referring to a basic equation. But this pattern is far from basic; it comes from much higher math. "The ridiculous thing is, this pattern has been staring Westerners in the face all this time," says Keith Critchlow, author of the book "Islamic Patterns." "We simply haven't been able to read it." Now that we can, though, it is serving as a startling indication of how accomplished medieval-era Muslims may have been.No one knows what the architects of the...
  • Hollywood's New Moguls Shake Things Up

    Superrich Sidney Kimmel and Sam Nazarian are out to shake things up in Tinseltown. But will the old guard shake them down before they get the chance?
  • Defense Secretary Bob Gates to the Rescue

    The old, macho Bush administration took a certain delight in telling its enemies, at home and abroad, to go to hell. The president seemed to enjoy watching Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld swagger and put reporters down at press conferences in the post-9/11 buildup to the invasion of Iraq. (George W. Bush teasingly called Rumsfeld "Matinee Idol.") Advice from moderates, especially if they had worked in the administration of Bush's father, was generally scorned. And any suggestion from the chattering classes, from the media elites, was likely to push the president in the opposite direction.But that was then, before Iraq turned into a quagmire, the Democrats won control of Congress, Rumsfeld was eased out and Bush began worrying more about his legacy. When The Washington Post exposed wretched conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Bush team responded as if Texas had been invaded. The behind-the-scenes scramble to rectify the mess at the facility and to take better care of...
  • Zakaria: Right Ideas, Wrong Time

    President Bush has done the right thing in going to Latin America. He's visiting the right countries, and he has sounded the right themes, emphasizing that the United States supports democratic government, open markets and "social justice" (a phrase I have never heard Bush use before, and which must be causing ulcers in some of his right-wing fans). But Bush's new look at the region will not do much good. It's too little, too late.Until Bush's election in 2000, American foreign policy toward Latin America had been on the right track for two decades. Ronald Reagan orchestrated an extraordinary turnaround, supporting human rights, democracy and free trade in several countries. His administration played an important role in ending the dictatorships in Chile and Paraguay, among other places. He proposed new trade policies that would spur growth in the region. And perhaps most important, he began a tradition of support and cooperation for Mexican reform that became standard for later...
  • Phone "Phreakers" Steal Minutes

    The telephone industry has been in an upheaval ever since upstarts began competing with the big telecoms by sending voice calls over the Internet. Now even big firms use so-called voice over Internet protocol. But VoIP is not as secure as the old-fashioned phone lines—as carriers that rely on the Internet are finding out. They are increasingly falling prey to "phreakers," who steal their minutes and resell them on a thriving black market.Of course, anybody with a PC and an Internet connection can talk free of charge to another PC user. For the telecoms, the profit is in using VoIP to deliver calls from one telephone to another. That requires a "gateway" server to connect a carrier's telephone network to the Internet. Phreakers break into these gateways, steal "voice minutes" and sell them to other, usually smaller, telecoms. Many of these firms then sell printed phone cards, operate call centers or run phone boutiques. "It's a great racket," says Justin Newman, CEO of BinFone...
  • China Exports Trouble, Too

    China, the so-called factory of the world, has just produced its newest product—a global stock-market correction. The 9 percent plunge in the Chinese stock market late last month was a shot heard around the world. The hows and whys of this contagion speak volumes to the new and important role China now plays in driving the global economy and shaping trends in world financial markets.There are three key pieces to this puzzle—the first being China's disproportionate impact on the global economy. While a $2.6 trillion Chinese economy amounts to only about 5 percent of overall world output, it makes up a much larger share of the growth in the global economy. In 2006, for example, China's surging economy accounted for about one third the total increase in world GDP. Moreover, during the past four years, China has been responsible for about 50 percent of the cumulative growth in economically sensitive commodities such as oil and a variety of base metals, like aluminum, copper, lead,...
  • The Last Word: Roger Searle

    Roger Searle is going down under—way under. Last week the Durham University geophysics professor and a group of fellow scientists set sail from Tenerife aboard the £40 million research ship RSS James Cook. They are investigating a hypothesis that part of the earth's crust is missing. Halfway between the Canary Islands and the Caribbean lies what one of Searle's colleagues called "an open wound on the surface of the earth." Nearly 100 kilometers of seafloor seems to be, in effect, missing. The scientists will spend several weeks investigating why this area did not develop a normal crust and how it appears to challenge current tectonic-plate theories. With the Atlantic waves crashing around him, Searle spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ginanne Brownell by satellite phone from Tenerife. Excerpts: ...
  • Mail Call: Midlife Blues

    Our Jan. 22 Health for Life special on menopause garnered praise from readers. One who "more than welcomed it" added, "Your exposé is just the tip of the iceberg." A depressed woman shared her remedy: "The answer is not calcium and vitamin D ... it is to stop smoking and drinking.""Europe's Fallen Angels" (Feb. 19) presents a pessimistic picture of the prospects of the EU's new Central European members. An IMF staff paper is cited to suggest that financial markets' favorable view of these countries is ill founded. Your article misrepresents the findings of that paper. Our paper does find that interest rates on new members' euro-denominated sovereign debt are lower than we can explain on the basis of economic, political and financial conditions. However, we do not jump to the conclusion that these low interest rates have a malign basis. True, they may reflect a mistaken view that EU membership carries an implicit guarantee. But we argue that benign influences are at least as likely:...
  • Airbus: Headed for a Breakup

    It's hard to believe that just a few years ago, Airbus was cracking open the champagne to claim victory over U.S. rival Boeing. Talk about celebrating too soon. Over the past year, the company has run through three bosses and its shares have plummeted 30 percent. Following announcements of 10,000 job cuts and several possible factory sell-offs, European unionists responded last week with spectacular strikes. At Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, 15,000 protesters marched, waving banners that asked: is there a pilot on the plane?In fact, the company has been on autopilot for the past six years. Airbus's problems stem from three long-term issues: disastrous management, a politically motivated reluctance to downsize or outsource and a failing gamble on the biggest plane in history. The troubles came to the fore last summer, when the company was forced to admit that its new megajet, the A380, had technical problems and couldn't be delivered on time, costing the company billions.Since then...
  • The Met's Opera Broadcast to Cinemas

    The line for the Metropolitan Opera snakes around the corner. A white-haired society woman clad in velvet rushes in out of the winter rain, passing out-of-towners clutching handmade need a ticket signs. An older man waits with his 6-year-old granddaughter—the third generation to be introduced to live opera with this showing of Mozart's "The Magic Flute."A classic scene outside Lincoln Center? Actually, no; it's a movie theater in Albany, New York, where the Met performance is about to be broadcast live. Similar scenes are occurring simultaneously at more than 100 venues around the world, from specially redesigned Japanese Kabuki theaters to Norway's oldest movie house, 483 kilometers above the Arctic Circle. It's all part of a bold initiative recently launched by the Met's new general manager, Peter Gelb, to popularize opera and perhaps save it from obscurity. He plans to beam six live performances by satellite to remote movie houses. Broadcasts began in December with "The Magic...
  • Mideast: Still Waiting for News of Gilad

    It has been almost nine months since Palestinian militants crept across the Gaza border and snatched Gilad Schalit, a 19-year-old corporal in the Israeli military. In the aftermath of the kidnapping, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded forcefully, sending in tanks and bombing key ministries. But after months of war, Schalit is still missing, and authorities haven't received a sign of life from the soldier in almost six months. Still, news that Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah had agreed to form a national-unity government raised hopes of a breakthrough in the negotiations. As Schalit's family awaited further developments, NEWSWEEK's Kevin Peraino spoke with the soldier's father, Noam, at his home in the northern Israeli village of Hila. Excerpts: ...
  • Oberdorfer: How the White House Learned to Live With Kim Jong Il

    At 10:36 a.m. last Oct. 9, the first nuclear blast ever to shake the Korean peninsula created an artificial earthquake near P'unggye in the remote northeastern corner of North Korea. As nuclear detonations go, it was smaller than expected—less than 1 kiloton, the equivalent of 1,000 tons (2 million pounds) of TNT. However, that would be enough, according to U.S. expert Siegfried Hecker, former chief of the U.S. nuclear laboratory at Los Alamos, to kill instantly many thousands of people if it exploded in a major city.North Korea hailed the blast as a historic event that had been conducted entirely with "indigenous wisdom and technology." Following an unexplained delay of 11 days, it began holding mass celebrations of the country's nuclear status. Signs were erected on Pyongyang street corners declaring LET US MAKE SHINE FOREVER OUR BECOMING A NUCLEAR POWER, A HISTORIC INCIDENT IN THE 5,000 YEARS OF OUR PEOPLE'S HISTORY.The widespread belief, which I shared at the time, was that...
  • Bush's Body Language in Latin America

    What can a staged grip-and-grin picture tell you about international relations?  A lot, says Peter Andersen, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Body Language" (Alpha) and professor of communications at San Diego State University. "The body language of world leaders is reflective of their attitudes either toward the individual or toward the country or the culture," he explains. The president suffers poor approval ratings in the region, and anti-Bush demonstrations have been common during the trip. So it’s not surprising that some of  the photo ops from the five-nation Latin American tour reflect tension, Andersen says. "Bush's body language in many of the images from this trip is that of someone who's either very reluctant or somewhat inept, and that confirms the image that a lot of people in those countries and around the world have already developed of him." NEWSWEEK's Susanna Schrobsdorff asked Andersen to review photos from the trip to Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala...
  • United Nations: A New Way to Fight Famine?

    Famines generally follow a grim script: first the rains fail, then aid agencies issue dire warnings, and finally the United Nations scrambles to raise money and send food aid as journalists write stories of horror and tragedy. In the worst cases, real alarms don't go off until the starving appear on television screens. Even when peasants are spared death, they often lose everything they own—including animals and seeds.Does it have to unfold like this? The World Food Programme is trying a radical new idea: famine insurance. In this approach, a country secures an insurance policy against a catastrophic drought. If the rains come, the insurance company keeps its premium. But if rains fail and disaster is sure to strike, the international insurer pays out well before people go hungry. Richard Wilcox, director of business planning for the U.N. World Food Programme, hatched the idea in a pilot program for Ethiopia last fall. Now he's planning to enlarge the experiment. He spoke to...
  • America's Greenest Buildings

    The green movement is so much more than a referendum on what kind of car we drive—or don't. In a post-McMansion age, our homes, offices and community facilities have become a reflection of our newly green values, whether that just means replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent, or redoing our entire living spaces with solar panels, compost heaps and hemp wallpaper.Each year the American Institute of Architects singles out the nation's Top Ten Green Projects, based on the incorporation of so-called sustainable design concepts. Is the project energy-efficient? Does it employ natural light and conserve water? Is the building designed to promote community interaction? In short, how does what we build have an impact on the world around us? Here, we spotlight four of 2006's winners.A headquarters building is more than a roof over the head of the CEO; it's a three-dimensional billboard advertising corporate values to the world. Which is why software companies build "campuses" to...
  • Fashion Business: Reviving Lacroix

    For 20 years, the name Christian Lacroix has stood for two things in fashion: complicated clothes and capital losses. But that's about to change. Three American brothers who bought Lacroix from the French luxury group Moët Hennessey-Louis Vuitton (LVMH) two years ago are using their no-nonsense business acumen to reinvent the label. They have pulled the disparate lines into one, cohesive ready-to-wear collection and planned a major expansion into the United States, setting the company on a course to become profitable—for the first time—within two years. "This [restructuring] is what I've always wanted to do," Lacroix says in his immense new showroom in western Paris. "I was on my hands and knees begging my successive presidents at LVMH. It's a complete relief. It's as if I were reborn."And what a grand entrance he's making. Last week Helen Mirren picked up her Oscar for best actress wearing a Lacroix made-to-order gold lace couture confection. "It held me like two angel hands," she...