Ravi Somaiya

How the Cell Phone Is Changing the World

The phones allow Masai tribesmen to bank proceeds from selling cattle; Iranian protesters to organize; North Koreans to communicate with the outside world; and Afghan villagers to alert Coalition soldiers to Taliban forces.

In France, Rising Fears of Islamic Terror

When a 78-year-old French aid worker was executed by Al Qaeda's North African offshoot this summer, France declared war on Islamic terror. Further kidnappings and a heightened threat level in Paris, a city already tense over a ban on the Islamic veil for women, have brought the battle home in recent weeks.

The Rise of Al Qaeda in North Africa

Five French citizens were kidnapped in Niger this morning. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist franchise endorsed by Ayman al-Zawahiri, is suspected. If the group is responsible, it would mark the third time this year that it has taken European citizens hostage.

Obama's 'New Beginning' Derailed

Just more than a year ago the fledgling president of the United States stood before a capacity crowd at Cairo University in Egypt and promised "a new beginning" for relations between America and the Muslim world. But now controversy over the proposed Muslim center near Ground Zero, the much-publicized flap over Pastor Terry Jones's planned Quran burning, and allegations of atrocities by U.S. troops in Afghanistan seem to have dashed such hopes.

Should We Cover the Quran Burning?

Hillary Clinton has called for the media not to cover a planned Quran burning by a Florida church on Sept. 11 as "an act of patriotism." But can reporters and cameramen turn away from a story they have magnified into one of worldwide significance? And, with bloggers poised to go viral, would it make any difference?

Petraeus: 'Burn a Koran Day' Could Endanger U.S. Troops

On September 11, pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., will lead a ceremonial burning of Qurans at his church. Amid protests in Kabul, Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has now said that the book burning will endanger troops.

Oppression Continues in Iran

The world's attention may have wandered from Iran, but recent reports from the country reveal a government that is as willing as ever to suppress dissent and a judiciary that still plans to kill a woman saved from a stoning sentence last month.

Why No Amount of Reporting Can Hurt Sarah Palin

Vanity Fair has released not one, but two damning articles investigating the woman and the brand that is Sarah Palin. But even the magazine admits that the reporting will not damage a woman whose credibility seems "incidental," it says, to fact.

Sudan Poised Between Peace and Civil War

Sudan, for so long the focus of the world's humanitarian attention, is back in the news. Deaths continue to rise, the country is splitting in two, and foreign workers are kidnapped with alarming regularity. It remains to be seen whether the nation can survive these latest challenges.

Leaked U.N. Report Implicates Rwandan Troops in Possible Genocide

Rwandan President Paul Kagame was reelected with 93 percent of the vote in the country's elections earlier this month. But there were widespread reports that journalists and opposition politicians were imprisoned or killed. Now a leaked U.N. report suggests that Rwandan troops may have committed war crimes and massacred tens of thousands in the late 1990s.

Jimmy Carter Secures Release of American Prisoner in North Korea

An American prisoner, held in a North Korean prison camp since crossing into the country earlier this year, boarded a plane for Boston today after former President Jimmy Carter succesfully negotiated his release. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, meanwhile, is still on a mysterious visit to China.

How Will Chilean Miners Stay Sane?

They have been trapped a mile underground for 20 days, their only lifeline to the surface a bore hole the diameter of a grapefruit. For 33 miners, alive but imprisoned underground after an earthquake in Chile, it will take three months to be rescued. A former NASA official explains how they will survive in dark isolation for so long.

Why Has Kim Jong-il Gone to China?

As Jimmy Carter arrived in North Korea to help negotiate the release of an American prisoner, the country's leader and his son Kim Jong-un took a private train into China, according to South Korean officials. Is it a diplomatic snub, a cry for aid from the North's only real ally, or medical emergency for the sickly dictator?

In Colombia, Teens Killed From Facebook Hit Lists

Earlier this month two teenagers were shot to death in the town of Puerto Asis, Colombia. Their names were among 100 or so that subsequently appeared on three "death lists" posted on Facebook. Another of those named was killed five days later.

Equatorial Guinea Condemned for Suspicious Executions

Human-rights groups and opposition parties have condemned the execution of four of President Teodoro Obiang's rivals, found guilty of plotting a coup and killed just an hour later. They allege that the deaths were essentially "political assassinations."

The Naomi Campbell Guide to War Crimes Trial Appearances

Naomi Campbell's PR agency has outlined its methods for getting the supermodel through allegations, in court, that she'd accepted blood diamonds from a dictator. Here, based on the advice, is our handy guide for any supermodels called to appear before war crimes tribunals.

Rabid Bats Kill Four Children in Peru

Emergency teams have been dispatched to a remote section of the Amazon rainforest to stop rabid bats from spreading their deadly disease. Four children of the Awajun tribe have already died in an outbreak.

The 'Gray' Wealth of China's Super-Rich

A report today reveals that a third of China's wealth may go unreported, and that most of that "gray income" ends up in the hands of the rising power's richest 10 percent.

Iran Stoning Woman 'Confesses' on State TV

A 43-year-old mother of two, granted a reprieve from being stoned to death on dubious adultery charges after an international outcry, has appeared on TV to 'confess' to complicity in murder and denounce the lawyer who previously saved her life.

Zimbabwe Begins Selling Alleged Blood Diamonds

A controversial stash of stones from a mine that could yield up to $2 billion a year, and that human-rights organizations allege were unearthed by virtual slaves threatened with death, goes on sale today in Zimbabwe.

Naomi Campbell Defends Her War-Crimes Testimony

Naomi Campbell has been under fire for telling a war-crimes trial that she did not know whether diamonds given to her at a dinner party were from former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. She's now released a forceful rebuttal, saying she had nothing to gain by lying.

Legalize Drugs, Says Mexican Ex-President

Vicente Fox, who has watched a national drug war claim 28,000 lives in less than four years under his successor, Felipe Calderón, says "radical prohibition strategies have never worked" and calls for drugs to be legalized.

Another Witness Refutes Naomi Campbell's Blood-Diamonds Story

Earlier today the actress Mia Farrow disputed Naomi Campbell's claim that she was not sure she had received blood diamonds from former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Now Campbell's former agent has also presented a different version of events than the model's.

Iran Stoning Lawyer Flees as New Client Faces Execution

An Iranian lawyer who helped orchestrate a campaign to stop one of his clients from being stoned to death in Iran has fled, under threat of arrest, to Norway. It has since emerged that another young man he is defending will likely be executed on dubious charges.

Mia Farrow Contradicts Naomi Campbell

Actress Mia Farrow took the stand in the trial of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and said that supermodel Naomi Campbell boasted of a "huge diamond" given to her by Taylor.