• Christian Provocateurs and Muslim Moderation

    Have you noticed that Europe is issuing new provocations to Islam, and that Muslims are reacting so far with calm? Dutch politician Geert Wilders is promoting a film he says will prove his belief that "Islamic ideology is a retarded, dangerous one." A Danish newspaper republished one of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last month, after the arrest of a man purported to be plotting to kill the cartoonist. Most troubling was the pope's decision to baptize the Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam in St. Peter's on the night before Easter, thus converting a famously self-hating Muslim into a self-loving Christian in the most high-profile setting possible.Yet so far the main reaction to the pope was dismay from the 138 Muslim scholars of the new Roman Catholic-Muslim forum for dialogue, who said the "spectacle" of Allam's baptism, "with its choreography, persona and messages, provokes genuine questions about the motives ... and plans of some of the pope's advisers on Islam."There are...
  • Going Down the Tubes?

    As the Bear Stearns meltdown made front-page news in Britain last week, London bankers worried Wall Street's chaos could spread across the pond. And with good reason: bankers and regulators are still feeling the fallout of their own recent crisis of confidence.Last fall, after reports of liquidity problems at Newcastle-based Northern Rock, anxious account holders led the first run on a British bank since 1866. The lines lasted only a few days, but in that time, consumers reportedly withdrew billions in deposits from branches of Northern Rock, Britain's fifth largest mortgage lender. Offers from potential rescuers—including Virgin's Sir Richard Branson—were ultimately rejected by the government, which nationalized Northern Rock in February. Last week the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the United Kingdom's financial regulator, issued a report taking the blame for not spotting Northern Rock's problems sooner.Now there are signs that the FSA may be adopting a more aggressive policy...
  • What 10 Million Buys

    Zimbabwe's new 10 million dollar bill is red, perhaps a warning that this money is melting down fast. Last week, 10 million Zimbabwe dollars could buy two rolls of toilet paper. By now, it probably won't get quite that much. Not surprisingly, the currency is not adorned with the face of president Robert Mugabe, but with a pastiche of fish.The world's most bankrupt economy has an inflation rate of 100,000 percent and a vast black market for oil, corn and cash. Citizens carry wads of 10 million notes in plastic bags. Money changers lose track of whether they're talking billions or trillions. The government, too, buys black market foreign currency to pay bills. As voters went to the polls last weekend, even backers of challenger Simba Makoni says they are unlikely to fix the mess. Legislator David Coltart admits they have no experts on this kind of hyperinflation. Precious few nations do.
  • It’s Biennial Time

    The Whitney Museum of American Art's Biennial show has long been heralded as a survey of the most influential up-and-comers, and also derided as a hit-or-miss exhibit that fails to live up to its hype. The reality, of course, falls somewhere in between, and this year's exhibit—running through June 1—is no exception. Some of the works are sublime: Venezuela-born Javier Téllez films six blind people interacting with an elephant, in a literal adaptation of the old proverb on the limits of knowledge; Jedediah Caesar sculpts Technicolor resin into formations that bubble like the surface of some far-off planet; Daniel Joseph Martinez fills a room with simple yellow plaques giving name to "Divine Violence," groups both well known (The Irish Republican Army, Mossad) and obscure (Nuclei for promoting total catastrophe). Other installations fall short: a room filled with mutilated Bart Simpson photographs and a movie loop of "Pirates of the Caribbean" comes to mind. A common thread throughout...
  • PR For Dictators

    In the 1930s, the Nazis hired an American named Ivy Lee to improve relations between Hitler's government and Washington, until the deal provoked outrage and led to the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938.If only Lee could see us now. According to Kevin McCauley, editor of O'Dwyer's Public Relations News—a leading industry publication—questionable regimes are seeking more and more PR help, in longer-term multi-million-dollar campaigns. From African despots to Central Asian autocrats, rulers with shady human-rights records are spending more to have their bad images burnished by savvy Western firms.The latest prospective client is Belarussia President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who met this month to discuss representation with Britain's Tim Bell (the man who helped Margaret Thatcher get elected). Bell has his work cut out for him: Lukashenko was once quoted as saying, "Not everything connected with Hitler was bad." Spin that.
  • Containing Multitudes

    Literary wunderkind Junot Diaz's debut novel, "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," just netted top honors with the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spoke to NEWSWEEK's Jesse Ellison. Excerpts: ...
  • Building A Faster Internet

    A conductor in Tokyo moves his baton, and an orchestra in Cleveland starts to play. A few bars later, a violinist in Berlin joins in. To compensate for a slight delay, the musicians play along with an electronic metronome. The performance is broadcast on high-fidelity speakers and high-definition television. Such a musical experiment would be challenging enough for a television network to pull off; over the Internet, it would be impossible.That may soon change. Engineers are developing a new type of Internet connection called a dynamic-circuit network that could carry so much data so quickly it might startle even Net surfers in Japan or South Korea. If all goes to plan, the vast data speeds required for such a collaboration may soon be available to all. That might go a long way to solving the problem of how to handle the enormous growth in Internet traffic, which by some estimates is doubling each year.When a digital photo, YouTube clip or live streaming video is sent over the...
  • The Experts Get Their Revenge

    The Internet is known for giving power to the people. Sites like YouTube and Wikipedia collect the creations of amateurs and kick pros to the curb. But now some of the same entrepreneurs who funded the user-generated revolution are paying professionals to edit and produce online content. In December, Google began testing Knol, a Wikipedia-like Web site produced by "authoritative" sources that share ad revenue. A sample page contains an insomnia entry from Rachel Manber, director of Stanford's sleep center. In January, Big, a self-styled "YouTube for ideas" backed by former Harvard president Larry Summers and others, debuted its cache of video interviews with public intellectuals. Mahalo also just launched a test version of its people-powered search engine, which replaces Google's popularity-based page rankings with results that the start-up says are vetted by real people. In a search on "Paris hotels," Google returns 5 million pages from an array of obscure Web sites....
  • Zimbabwe’s $10 Million Bread

    In a nation with rampant hyperinflation, bread is a bargain at just $10 million. Inside Zimbabwe's collapsing economy.
  • Mugabe’s Last Stand

    A former close ally may offer the best chance yet of toppling Zimbabwe's dictator at the ballot box.
  • Saddam’s Files

    They show terror plots, but raise new questions about some U.S. claims.
  • Chatting On A Digital Chameleon

    Dov Moran was out jogging late one night when he got tired of carrying his BlackBerry everywhere. So Moran launched Modu Phone in Kfar Saba, Israel, and in October plans to bring out a 39-gram device that can mate with laptops, car sound systems and high-performance digital cameras. The black phone with red and green buttons may be at the cusp of a trend in personalization of mobile devices, says Dan Yachin, an analyst at IDC in Tel Aviv. Modu is readying a line of wired casings to go with the phone—a waterproof one for skiing, another with data storage and modem, another that displays heart and pulse rates along with text. Russian distributors are interested in casings for kids; Italian operators are working on designer models. Modu plans to launch the phone in Italy, Russia and Israel for €180 (including two casings). Moran is betting that consumers will like the idea of changing cell phone styles, if not the actual hardware. "People buy phones as if they were cars—signing a long...
  • From Web to Print

    The pages of 8020 Publishing's two magazines are filled entirely with content submitted by readers through its Web sites.
  • Stemware: Taking Time To Breathe

    Oenophiles know that some wines need time to breathe to fully develop their bouquet and flavor. But busy connoisseurs don't always have the two hours-plus necessary for older wines to open up. Now, thanks to an innovative German stemware company, the impatient tippler need wait no longer. Eisch has developed an oxygenated glass that it claims can aerate wine in just two minutes, so a 1982 Bordeaux will reach its prime moments after being uncorked. The company isn't revealing the secrets of its special material, but a line of designs for whites, reds, sparkling wine and even hard liquor is now available ($28 each;
  • Fashion: What The Heel …?

    Women's footwear designers seem to be focusing their innovative efforts this season on one particular part of the shoe: the heel. Prada's Flower-Heel Mary Janes are dressed in purple and green velvet with dark green patent-leather trim, and the heel resembles an art-deco flower ($750; something a little edgier, Louis Vuitton's Extreme Leopard Chain Pump ($1,570; in pony-styled calf leather has a one-of-a kind heel made of leopard-print Plexiglas cut to resemble a chain. Fendi takes the motif more literally, making a black suede sandal with knotted straps, its heel encased in a metallic chain-link cage ($690; Dior's glitzy red suede pump features a 14-centimeter cutout strassed, or crystal-covered, heel ($1,295; Sergio Rossi's studded, rust, 10-centimeter-high leather sandals feature a heel made of three gold spheres ($793; sergiorossi .com). But for those who really want to walk on air, British fashion...
  • 4 Hours In Berlin

    Once divided, this German city has rebuilt itself into one of Europe's most affordable, artistically vibrant cultural capitals. ...
  • Hot Spot: Casa Cruz, Buenos Aires

    Since opening its imposing bronze doors in 2005, this Palermo Soho eatery has established itself as the key spot in the Argentine capital for local fashionistas and jet-setters to see and be seen. Owned by Chile-born Juan Santa Cruz, a former investment banker, it slyly blends pretentiousness with world-class fusion cuisine. ...
  • Global Investor: Don’t Wait To Hit Bottom

    As this is written, the financial panic of 2008 is in full swing. Equity markets around the world are being slaughtered by waves of selling. The most recent debacle is the forced fire sale of Bear Stearns, but we can be sure that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow there will be additional disasters as financial institutions, hedge funds and individuals rush to de-leverage, setting off a vicious cycle.Wise men to whom we should listen respectfully (such as George Soros) are saying this is the end of the 60-year post-World War II supercycle, and the secular abyss looms. However, after living through (and surviving) nine panics over the past 45 years, my intuition is that we are close to the end of this one, and that markets around the world are poised for a rally that could be as violent as the decline. It sounds dramatic, but the Dow Jones industrial average could rise a thousand points. Here are the reasons why:First, stocks around the world are cheap. We employ a variety of...
  • When Older Means Better

    A real bottle from a modest vintage can be fitted with a trophy label, dramatically increasing its value.
  • Testing Baby’s Brain

    Infants with early signs of autism respond well to therapy. Are health systems up to the task?
  • The Ingenue Grows Up

    Like Meryl Streep, the Chinese-American actress Joan Chen keeps getting better roles as she ages.
  • A Grand Experiment

    A 27-kilometer underground loop of magnets will soon go to work on the universe's deepest mysteries.