World

  • The Mystique of Swiss Watchmakers

    True beauty is not only in the eye, but in the mind of the beholder. It lies in knowing what's behind the painted face, the well-polished surface, the baubles and diamonds. It is to understand (or at least imagine) what gives that beauty life, what makes it tick.Yes, we are talking about watches—the kind made exclusively, and beautifully, in Switzerland. Their purpose is to tell time, of course, but in a timeless way that, at the apogee of the craft, is as much immune to the fashions of technology as to the vogues of apparel. Their mystique is in their movements, which are entirely mechanical and based on engineering principles that go back centuries: myriad tiny cogs, balance wheels, internal jewels machined to exquisite tolerances, then polished by hand and assembled by master watchmakers.There was a moment in the 1970s—the age of astronauts and the Concorde airliner, which had a simple liquid-crystal display to clock the surpassed speed of sound—when such mechanical elegance was...
  • Beijing Invokes FDR's New Deal

    What a difference a mere $1.41 can make. To most residents of affluent countries, the figure is minuscule, small change. The same goes for most middle-class residents of China's booming cities. But for rural Chinese farmers, whose $460 average income is less than a third what China's city dwellers earn, it's a very different story. One dollar and forty-one cents drove 20,000 residents of Zhushan Village in Hunan province into the streets last Monday, to violently protest a rise of that amount in bus fares; $1.41 meant life or death to one student, who was reportedly killed in the clash with 1,500 baton-wielding police. Several dozen more protesters were injured. As600 cops continued to patrol Zhushan last Wednesday, a farmer named Sun, who requested anonymity to avoid trouble with authorities, explained why she and others had risked their lives over so small a sum. Their village is remote and desperately poor, she said. "Some men go and work in construction in town, earning just $64...
  • Bayrou: France's New Man in the Middle

    A month before the French go to the polls, François Bayrou's greatest asset seems to be who he's not. As voters have wearied of the in-your-face UMP party candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialists' Ségolène Royal, the self-styled centrist Bayrou has bounded up the charts. His poll numbers have quadrupled since January, and a survey last week predicted he'd come out even with Royal (at 23 percent) in the first-round ballot on April 22. If he makes it to the May 6 runoff—still a big "if"—current polls have him beating Sarkozy by 10 points....
  • Four Hours in ... Jerusalem

    Whether you're on a spiritual journey or just a shopping quest, there'll be something to satisfy you in the Israeli capital. Western Wall, or Kotel, and take a tunnel tour where they are still excavating artifacts from the Muslim, Hasmonian and Herodian eras (english.thekotel.org).AT Darna, the best Moroccan restaurant outside Marrakesh. Try the phyllo pastry stuffed with Cornish hen, almonds, sugar and cinnamon. And don't forget to ask about its secret wine cellar.THROUGH the Damascus Gate and into the Muslim quarter and market. Haggle hard; it's expected. Then enjoy a hookah pipe and a game of shesh-besh (Arabic backgammon) with the locals.THE Dead Sea scrolls in the Shrine of the Book at Yad Vashem, the recently modernized Holocaust museum, and the 12 Chagall stained-glass windows in the Hadassah University hospital (imj.org.il).
  • Museums: England and America, Special Friends

    When Englishman John White set forth, armed with a sketchbook, to help found the colony of Virginia in 1585, Sir Walter Raleigh implored him, "Drawe to liefe all strange birds beastes fishes plantes hearbes ... the figures and shapes of men and women in their apparel." And so he did. White's impressively detailed watercolor images became the first anthropological depictions of Native Americans, singularly shaping European views of the New World for centuries to come. They include in-depth scenes of Algonquin Indians hunting, fishing, praying and dancing, as well as portraits of individuals. In one, a jovial chief, adorned with beads, elaborate tattoos and a woven wrap, holds a tall bow; in another, a man with feather earrings sits on a mat across from a woman preparing meat. White even portrayed what has become one of the foremost traditions of American life: a barbecue grill.White's works have rarely been seen in recent times. They are exceedingly fragile, and were almost lost in a...
  • As Seen on TV: Japan's Corporate 'Vultures'

    "Are 'vulture' funds simply looters? Or can they be saviors?" an anchorwoman asks herself, having reported on successful corporate buyouts. This isn't a script from the evening news, but a scene from a new hit Japanese TV show called "Vultures," or "Hagetaka," which chronicles the wheelings and dealings of a Western buyout fund in Tokyo.Private equity is top of mind these days, and not just on the small screen. Over the past several months, scores of Western private-equity funds, including KKR, Bain Capital and Texas Pacific Group, have opened or expanded their offices in Tokyo. Others, like the Carlyle Group, have raised new money for Japan—in fact, private-equity investment here has more than tripled to $34 billion in just two years, according to a survey by news service Nikkei Shimbun. While February's hostile takeover bid by New York-based Steel Partners for Sapporo Breweries is likely a one-off, it does seem that private equity is set to overhaul the country's notoriously...
  • N. Ireland: Finally, a Pact to Share Power

    In a supposedly impatient age, progress toward something like peace in Northern Ireland has come at glacial speed. It took 30 years, over 3,000 deaths, and arm-twisting by any number of prime ministers, presidents and leading politicians to reach the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. At the time, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, then new to office, said he felt that “the burden of history can at long last start to be lifted from our shoulders.” Nearly a decade later, the burden is still there—but finally it actually lightened a bit. Earlier today, the two leaders of the province’s largest parties, the once-implacable foes Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams, agreed finally to share power. Not now, but perhaps soon—which in this contentious land counts as a major step forward."We've all come a very long way in the process of peace making and national reconciliation,” said Adams, the republican leader of Sinn Fein. “We are very conscious of the many people who have suffered. We owe it to them...
  • 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: ...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...

Pages