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NEWS

Issue 29 | July 6, 2007

Aishwarya Rai

VIEWS
REVIEWS
from the world's best print media
Rai: India’s Angelina Jolie
China's first international press digest www.nvrmagazine.com
People, pg 10
Britain under attack
What hope now On the front pages, pg 2
Caught: Indonesia’s most wanted
for Palestine? On the front pages, pg 2
pg
3 Yang at Yahoo
Business, pg 8
The world’s ugliest plant
Health & Science, pg 13
Sept 11. and Chinese food
Opinions, pg 16
Hillary and Celine
Opinions, pg 17
Kevin Costner: Serial killer
Film, pg 19
Forgedaboudit: Sopranos bow out
Arts & Entertainment, pg 24
The axis of decency
Travel, pg 26
Chris Patten... ten years on
Penultimately, pg 38
RMB12 HK$20 July 6, 2007

On the front pages July 6, 2007
N E W S

Britain under attack


The story...
world.” What’s more, radicals have been able to
Britain was placed on the highest terror threat increase their following in Britain because our
level on June 30, following three failed bomb Islamic institutions refuse to broach the diffi-
attacks in 36 hours. cult topic of “violence within Islam.” Instead,
On June 29, two cars filled with fuel, nails and “they repeat the mantra that Islam is peace,
gas cylinders were found by chance in central focus on Islam as personal, and hope that all
London, one of them outside a popular night- of this debate will go away.” It won’t, until we
club. Police said the bombs could have caused tackle it head on.
“significant loss of life” if they had exploded. Whatever the mind-set of these individuals,
The following day, a jeep packed with gas it’s clearly a “twisted” one, said The Sunday
cylinders was set alight and driven into the Times (London) in an editorial. “How else to
main terminal building at Glasgow airport in explain an attack directed at ‘ladies night’ at the
an apparent suicide attack. The vehicle failed Tiger Tiger nightclub?” For Muslim extremists,
to explode, but witnesses said the driver had “young women drinking, dancing and enjoy-
doused himself with petrol and was on fire ing themselves embodies everything they find
as the vehicle smashed into the terminal. The repulsive about western society.”
driver fought with police and airport security Some terrorism analysts also believe the plots
as they tried to extinguish the flames, while his were intended as a message to the new British
accomplice was wrestled to the ground by a Inflamed actions: an “apparent sui-
cide attack” at Glasgow airport government led by Gordon Brown, said BBC
member of the public. News.
At the time of going to press, eight arrests, in- what drives them? When I was a member of the Brown handled his first big test as prime
cluding that of a Jordanian neurosurgeon and an British-Muslim jihadist group Al-Muhajiroun minister well, said the Guardian (London) in
Iraqi doctor, had been made by British officials we used to “laugh” when people claimed an editorial. Less than a week into his new job,
who said they are hunting for an al-Qaida-linked “Western foreign policy” was to blame for “he did not seek to play up the danger, or to
network behind the attempted attacks. Islamic acts of terror like Sept. 11, the Madrid capitalize on it.” Brown “refused to resort to
bombings and 7/7. The truth is that what drove the politics of fear,” unlike Tony Blair, who de-
The comment... me and my associates to plot terrorist acts within clared after 7/7 that “the rules of the game have
The London bombing attempts are “likely to our British homeland “was a sense that we were changed” and tried to introduce “draconian”
have been carried out by my former peers,” fighting for the creation of a revolutionary state security measures such as detention without
said Hassan Butt in The Observer (London). So that would eventually bring Islamic justice to the charge for 90 days.

Caught: Indonesia’s most wanted


The story...
Indonesian police arrested the head and military Herald. Zarkasih and Dujana — known among
chief of Southeast Asia’s most feared terrorist militants as “the guru” — should know most, if
organization, Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), claiming not all, of JI’s “secrets.” Indonesia’s anti-terror
a breakthrough in the fight against radical- police will now have access to a “walking treas-
Islamic extremism in the world’s most populous ure trove of intelligence.” What’s more, both
Muslim nation. men are “graduates of al-Qaida’s Afghanistan
Zarkasih, 45, the group’s leader, was captured academy of terrorism” of which JI is now in
in Yogyakarta, just hours after anti-terror police short supply.
closed in on its military chief, Abu Dujana (pic- But don’t break out the champagne just yet,
tured), 37, in a village in central Java. said Philip Bowring in the International Herald
JI, formed in Malaysia in the late 1990s, is Tribune. Many Indonesians believe JI is more
blamed for a number of terrorist attacks in of a “concept with which zealots are to varying
Southeast Asia, including the September 2002 degrees affiliated,” rather than an “organization Dujana: “a walking treasure trove of intelligence”
Bali bombings which killed 202, the August with a structure.” Thus, while the arrest of key Also “looming in the background” is
2003 bombing of Jakarta’s Marriott Hotel individuals is a success, “decapitating a headless Indonesia’s failure to ban JI, said The Wall
which killed 12, the September 2004 bomb- movement” is of limited value. Street Journal in an editorial. Add to that a weak
ing of the Australian embassy in Jakarta which Yes, to stop further attacks, we really need to court system that’s proved “woefully inad-
killed 11, and a return attack in Bali in October come to terms with the organization’s “ideol- equate” in tackling complex terrorism cases, as
2005 which killed 25. The group’s stated aim ogy” and “psychological and cultural relation- the “muddled prosecution” of Bali mastermind
is to create an Islamic state across much of ships” which have turned scores of “ordinary Abu Bakar Bashir in 2005 shows. That said,
Southeast Asia. people” into jihadists, said Noor Huda Ismail in Indonesia “has come a long way in a short
The Jakarta Post. JI’s “ideological roots run deep time” in combating terrorism, and the two re-
The comment... in Indonesia,” and the organization is resilient cent arrests show “what committed anti-terror
The two arrests are the “heaviest of blows” enough to withstand the arrest of a small num- governments can accomplish, even in countries
for JI, said Mark Forbes in The Sydney Morning ber of individuals. with majority-Muslim populations.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S On the front pages

Front page of
Cover story
Hamas “accepts none of these things.”
Palestine splits in two Ever since Hamas won Palestinian elec-
The story...
Palestinian Islamist party Hamas seized
tions in January 2006, the United States
and Israel have done everything they
could to isolate it. Now, 18 months on,
the week
control of the Gaza Strip on June 14 “Hamas is that much stronger and Fatah
after days of bloody fighting with rival is that much weaker.”
party Fatah, which left 116 people dead Yes, it’s “wishful thinking” to believe
and put an end to the two parties’ so that aid money alone can create a strong
called “unity government.” new administration in the West Bank
After Hamas militants routed Fatah in or squeeze Hamas in Gaza, said The
Gaza, Palestinian President and Fatah Washington Post in an editorial. “While
leader Mahmoud Abbas declared a state it’s worth trying” to support the new
of emergency, dismissed the Hamas-led government of the “moderate” Abbas,
unity government and installed a new he’s proved incapable of controlling
cabinet comprising mostly bureaucrats. Fatah’s armed gangs or ridding the
Abbas, who is based in the Fatah- party of “rampant corruption and mal-
controlled West Bank, vowed to reunite the feasance” which led to Hamas’ election victory
Palestinians under their “lawful” government. in 2006. Hamas still has the support of a large
But Hamas declared the new government illegal number of Palestinians: it can’t be “abolished The Independent (London), Friday, June 15.
and refused to recognize it. by decree,” and isolating it “will only make it The Independent uses the Palestinian
The United States and European Union more radical and more dependent on sponsors flag for its front page to make the
said it would support the Abbas government in Syria and Iran.” point that Hamas’ triumph in Gaza
through direct financial aid, while continuing “In seeking to boost ‘moderates’ such as may well be Palestine’s tragedy.
an economic boycott of Hamas. Sanctions Abbas, the west only hugs them to death,” said
were imposed last year when Hamas — which Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (London).
the United States regards as a terrorist organ- The more aid Abbas takes from the west will
ization — formed the unity government with only confirm him as a “western proxy” in
Fatah. In Washington, U.S. President George Arab eyes, casting him alongside Afghanistan’s
W. Bush praised Abbas as “a voice for modera- Hamid Karzai, Iraq’s Nuri al-Maliki and
tion” and called him the true “president of all Lebanon’s Fouad Siniora. If the West Bank is
the Palestinians.” showered with money but most of it stays in
Meanwhile, Israel said it would release US$560 “Fatah’s gilded circle,” it will foster “precisely
million in frozen tax revenue to the Abbas the resentment” that brought about Hamas’
government. election victory in 2006. 南开大学电子音像出版社
One thing’s clear, said Niall Ferguson in 责任编辑:宋立君
The comment... The Sunday Telegraph (London). Any “lingering
Managing Editor JFK Miller
It might seem like there’s not much choice be- hopes” of a two-state solution to the Israeli-
Editors Paul Collins, Toby Skinner,
tween “the gunmen of Fatah and the gunmen of Palestinian conflict have now “evaporated.” Japhet Weeks
Hamas,” said The New York Times in an editorial. The next peace plan for the Middle East Editorial Assistant Daisy Lu
“But there is.” Fatah has renounced terrorism and will need to be a “three-state solution: Israel, Designer Vivien Gu
supports a two-state peace settlement with Israel. Hamastan and Fatahland.” Editorial Consultant Steven Crane
Contributors Anton Berkovic, Phil Boyle,
Vera Charlie, Emma Faulkner, Jake Hamilton,
Marissa Holden, Sophie Loras, Karlijn Meulman,
“Doctors of death.” The Sun (London), July 2. Anna Shen, Sherry Shen, Casey Whale
HK Focus Media Ltd, Hong Kong.
The Sun describes the doctors arrested in connection with the
failed car bombing attacks on London and Glasgow. China PO Box: 032-058

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Miscellany
July 6, 2007
N E W S

Calendar Tuesday confused with the exiled billionaire


of the same name. This week
July
10 on YouTube
Saturday Hong Kong fashion week Saturday Hail to the thief
Pressing the flesh in
7 On the back of the island’s 10th
anniversary celebrations to mark 14 Albania was a new experience
for U.S. President George W.
Live Earth its return to China, Hong Kong Bush where he was mobbed
Fashion Week should have more Bastille Day like a Hollywood film star. The
buzz than usual this year. Featuring France’s most important national crowd seem genuinely astonished
the latest creations from Asia’s hot- holiday commemorates the upris- to have such an international
test young designers, the event is ing that marked the beginning of statesman within their modest
expected to draw 15,000 visitors the French Revolution. The focal midst. A memento of this-once-
in-a-lifetime event was too great
and buyers into the city. Running point — aside from liberté, égalité an opportunity for one patriotic
concurrently will be a flurry of and fraternité — is a huge military Albanian to pass up: at some point
fashion shows by individual de- parade on Paris’s Champs-Elysées, during the impromptu walkabout
signers, while essential trade tips but celebrations are held around the president was deftly relieved of
can be picked up at any number of the country, including dancing in his US$50 Timex watch.
seminars organized by the region’s Bastille Square the night before. www.youtube.com [Search for:
leading fashion authorities. Curious features of Bastille Day Bush watch stolen Albania]
celebrations are the parties held Salud!
in fire stations, and the Incredible When Boris Yeltsin was
Picnic, which in the year 2000 fea- somewhat worse for
The mega-concert is back. After tured a 1000-kilometer feast. This wear, the journalistic euphemism
last year’s Live8 just about changed year, around 4 million picnickers was “tired and emotional.” Newbie
the world, the team behind it are expected. world leader Nicolas Sarkozy
are doing it again with a series looks as though he too enjoys the
of concerts taking place in eight occasional long lunch. But facing
cities over 24 hours, to trigger the world’s press at the recent G8
a global movement to solve the Wednesday summit straight afterwards, and
with an uncontrollable smirk on his
climate crisis. While Live8 was
fronted by Bob Geldof, this time 18 face, can surely only be put down
to inexperience on the French
it’s Presidential-candidate-turned- leader’s part.
campaigner Al Gore. Concerts Japan sea celebration [Search for: Sarkozy pissed]
will be held in Shanghai, New Until 1996, July was the only month
York, London, Sydney, Rio de in the Japanese calendar without a Barack me tonight
Janeiro, Johannesburg, Tokyo Friday public holiday. An oversight that has Mmm… a wannabe
since been rectified by Umi no Hi, starlet, Amber Lee
and Hamburg. London will host
performers such as Madonna, 13 which celebrates the country’s seas Ettinger, believes the quickest route
to pop stardom is to pen a slushy
while Shanghai will see the likes of and oceans, and Japan’s particular love song to one of the 2008 U.S.
classical-crossover soprano Sarah First night of the Proms relationship to them. The crisis over presidential candidates. Choosing
Brightman. The Proms is most famous for the nation’s current tuna shortage the most photogenic presidential
its last night, but the best bits has made it clear just how import- candidate to boost your career
normally come during the two ant that relationship is. The date makes sense, but with “friends”
months of the world’s greatest marks the return of the Emperor like this, Obama can now look
Sunday classical music festival, which Meiji from a boat trip to Hokkaido forward to charges of “dumbing-
starts on July 13. Themes in 2007 in 1876, probably the only occasion down” his election campaign.
8 include words and music such as
Shostakovich’s take on Hamlet and
an emperor ever came close to leav- [Search for: I got a crush on
Obama]
ing Japan, as Hokkaido, at the time,
Wimbledon final Stravinsky’s ‘Three Songs from was just being colonized.
The fortnight in which British William Shakespeare.’ Violinist
mothers and grandmothers sud- Joshua Bell will appear again after
denly become tennis experts
will come to an end with the
a triumphant 2006 performance,
and illustrious Russian pianist
American states vs. the world
Wimbledon men’s final. Expect Boris Berezovsky should not be The fact that the United States has the world’s largest Gross Domestic
Product (GDP) isn’t exactly news. What people may not be aware of is that
to see Swiss world No. 1 Roger its individual states boast economies that are comparable to major nation
Federer, who is going for his fifth states. California tops the list and would rank as the world’s eighth largest
straight title. Some people say his nation by GDP if it counted as a country. Its GDP of US$2.15 trillion gives
dominance is dulling the men’s it a similar ranking to European superpower France. And even though the
tournament, while others argue his Texan economy (at No. 2) is only half
game on grass is a thing of beauty. that size, it equates roughly with Canada
His biggest challenger is French on US$1.08 trillion. Other intriguing
Open champion Rafael Nadal, matches include Australia (Ohio), Ireland
who reached the final last year but (Nevada) and Saudi Arabia (Tennessee).
The once mighty Russia now stands
is yet to prove he has the grass- head-to-head with... New Jersey.
court skills to match Federer.

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S In brief: Asia

Kabul Beijing

Worst bomb attack since Sept. 11 Hu gets casual over energy


A bomb attack on a police bus in Kabul The start of the Chinese summer saw Chinese President Hu Jintao shed
killed up to 35 people and injured more than his suit and tie to address a conference of similarly attired officials, in
30 others. The attack, by Taliban militants, an attempt to encourage energy conservation by turning down air-con-
is thought to be the worst bombing in the ditioning. China’s leaders also attended a standing committee meeting
Afghan capital since the Taliban were ousted in casual clothes for the first time ever, and central government offices
by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Most of spent a day without air-conditioning. On one day in Beijing, temperatures
those deceased were police instructors, hit 37 degrees, lifting electricity consumption to 11.22 million kilowatts,
while five foreigners were wounded. Police are unsure if the attack was the highest ever recorded. The State Council has ruled that big buildings
conducted by a suicide bomber, as the Taliban claim, or a pre-planted must not set their air-conditioning below 26 degrees Celsius.
device. Meanwhile, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai survived an as-
sassination attempt after Taliban militants fired rockets at him while he Tokyo
was giving a speech in a district known as one of their strongholds.
Japan running out of tuna
High demand for sushi and sashimi worldwide has led to a tuna crisis in
Japan, with shortages leading to prices beyond the reach of many Japanese
consumers. Since January 2006, the average price of imported frozen
northern and Pacific bluefin — the best and most commonly-used tuna
in sushi — has risen by more than a third to about US$6 per kilo-
gram, according to Japan’s Fisheries Agency. Japan has been further
panicked by the decision of dozens of nations to reduce annual tuna
catches in the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas by 20 percent.
See The last word in fish, pg 27
Guangzhou

Local authorities get sniffy about pollution


A group of “professional noses” will sniff out foul-smelling gases as part of
a battle against unlawful emissions from factories in Guangzhou. The team,
from the Panyu environment monitoring station, will use equipment to mon-
itor the density of the gas, but will use their own noses to detect its harmful-
ness. Liu Jingcai, part of the team, said: “It’s quite unpleasant. We have to
stay in a lab smelling those awful gases repeatedly.” Liu said the group could
differentiate between hundreds of smells, many of which can make people ill.
The team will target oil refineries, rubber factories and rubbish dumps.
Bangkok

Anti-government protests continue


Up to 15,000 protesters have been marching nightly
for the past month against Thailand’s military gov-
ernment which took power in a coup last September.
The protesters, who are mostly supporters of ousted
Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra, want to see the
junta resign and fresh elections held. The military,
who overthrew Thaksin over allegations of electoral
fraud, have provoked the ire of Thaksin supporters
by freezing US$1.6 billion of his assets, disbanding his party and
barring him from office for five years. Thaksin has been ordered
to appear in court in Bangkok, but has chosen to stay in England,
Manaparai where he is bidding to take over Manchester City Football Club.
Teenage surgeon on run Kuala Lumpur
Indian police have arrested the parents of
a 15-year-old boy who allegedly delivered Fleeing maid highlights abuse
a baby by Caesarean section under their The plight of Indonesian maids in Malaysia has come
supervision. The boy has absconded and under the microscope after a maid who was allegedly
police are looking for him. Physician Dr. beaten and starved by her employer knotted pieces
K. Murugesan showed a video to the Indian of fabric together to flee a 15-storey apartment.
Medical Association of his son, Dhileepan Raj, performing the operation Sumatran Ceriyati Dapin, 33, was rescued by firefight-
in an apparent bid to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as the ers while hanging 12 floors up, after fleeing from her
youngest surgeon. Murugesan, who filmed the operation in his mater- 35-year-old female employer who had locked her in.
nity hospital in Manaparai, was arrested alongside his wife. The baby Malaysian authorities have since suspended 19 maid agencies and black-
was born with a lump on the spinal cord, although it was not due to the listed 85 employers for failing to pay workers. Maids enjoy little protection
Caesarean section. under Malaysian labor laws, and earn around US$100 a month.

www.nvrmagazine.com

In brief: World
July 6, 2007
N E W S
New York Montreal

Ripley’s re-opens for business Roid rage suspected in Canadian Crippler killings
After a 35-year absence, Ripley’s Believe it or Police are investigating whether steroid use is to blame
Not, famous for depicting the weird and the in the suicide and double murder of professional
wacky, has opened a new emporium in New wrestler Chris Benoit and his family. Nicknamed the
York’s Times Square. Ripley’s new “Odditorium” is being touted as the “Canadian Crippler,” Benoit is believed to have hung
“greatest collection of unbelievable odd and unusual items ever assembled himself using a weight machine pulley after strangling
under one roof, from this world and beyond!” The collection includes a two- his wife and then suffocating his 7-year-old son. A
headed calf, a six-legged cow, an albino giraffe, a lock of Elvis Presley’s hair Bible had been placed next to their bodies. Anabolic
and 24 shrunken heads from Ecuador. It’s an experience organizers insist is steroids, which can cause paranoia, depression and
a “family affair.” Ripley’s last exhibition in Times Square closed in 1972. explosive outbursts known as “roid rage,” were found
in the house. Benoit was known as a family man and
Washington no suicide note was found.
Bush’s immigration reform collapses
The authority of U.S. President George W. Bush continues to
be undermined after much of his party abandoned him on a key
vote to overhaul the country’s immigration policy. The bill, that
would have given legal status to millions of illegal immigrants in the
United States while strengthening the nation’s borders, was rejected 53 to
46. Despite last minute pleas from Bush, only 12 of 49 Senate Republicans
sided with him in the vote. The contentious bill would have meant some of
the most radical changes to U.S. immigration law in more than 20 years, but
opponents criticized the proposal for rewarding lawbreakers.
Caracas

Chávez calls country to arms


Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has warned the United States not to
consider using force against his country. “We are ready to die defending
the sacred sovereignty of our country,” Chávez said on a recent visit to
Russia. Last year, Venezuela bought helicopter gunships, fighter planes
and rifles from Russia worth US$3 billion. Chávez said he welcomed
Russian investment in the country’s booming energy sector and reiterated
his call to U.S. oil companies to the leave the country if they were not
happy with Venezuela’s move towards nationalizing its oil resources. “The
door is open,” he said. Only days earlier, U.S. companies ExxonMobil
and ConocoPhillips pulled out of Venezuela.
Bogota

Same sex marriage bill loses final vote


A new bill approved by the Colombian Congress and supported by
President Alvaro Uribe to allow same-sex couples equivalent access to
social security, health insurance and estate inheritance as heterosexuals has
hit a road-block. The bill had already been approved by the country’s sen-
ate but a final vote was derailed when a senator affiliated to an evangelical
Colombian church called for an unusual floor vote. The ballot allowed
conservative lawmakers to break ranks with their parties, defeating the
bill 34-29 in the 102-member Senate. Many of the bill’s supporters were
absent. Had the bill been passed, Colombia would have become the first
South American country to endorse same-sex relationships.
Lima
Sydney
Cameron Diaz insults Peru
Speeding not “manly” Hollywood star Cameron Diaz has apologized to the
Australian traffic authorities have taken a novel approach to reducing road people of Peru after visiting the ancient Incan city of
deaths, by suggesting drivers who speed have small penises. In a new tele- Machu Picchu carrying a bag emblazoned with a red
vision advertising campaign, women are shown shaking their little fingers star and the words “Serve the People” in Chinese. The slogan, made fam-
as male motorists speed past them. The gesture suggests a man has a small ous by Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong, is said to have evoked
appendage. Australia often uses shock-value advertisements in a bid to painful memories in Peru of the Shining Path insurgency which killed
reduce its road-death toll, but the new “Speeding. No-one Thinks Big of almost 70,000 people in the 1980s and early 1990s. “I sincerely apologize
You” campaign has been designed to target a young audience desensitized to anyone I may have inadvertently offended. The bag was a purchase
by graphic computer games and horror films. In the state of New South I made as a tourist in China and I did not realize the potentially hurtful
Wales, speeding accounts for 40 percent of road deaths each year. nature of the slogan printed on it,” Diaz said.

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S In brief: World

London Berlin

Blair’s final farewell Germany blocks Cruise film


Hostilities in the British House of Commons The German government has blocked mak-
were fleetingly suspended for the occasion of ers of an American movie from filming on
Tony Blair’s final appearance as prime minis- a German military site because Tom Cruise, its star and co-producer, is
ter. Watched by his family in the public gallery, MPs from all parties gave a Scientologist. Valkyrie stars Cruise in the role of Colonel Claus von
Blair a standing ovation in recognition of his 10 years in power, despite the Staffenberg, who led an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler in
confession that “he never pretended to be a great House of Commons man.” 1944. Director Bryan Singer planned to film at the Bendlerblock memorial
Wife Cherie Blair couldn’t extend the same courtesy to journalists waiting in Berlin, where von Staffenberg hatched the plot, but the government
outside No. 10 Downing Street later the same day, telling them: “I don’t think intervened on the grounds that Scientology’s money-making goes against
we’ll miss you.” Gordon Brown takes over as prime minister after being the the country’s constitution. Cruise’s religion also upset Germany’s Christian
country’s longest-serving finance minister of modern times. Democratic Party and von Staffenberg’s 72-year-old son, who said that
See Broker Blair, pg 15 the actor should “keep his hands off my father.”
London

Muhammad by thy name


Muhammad could become the most popular name in Britain, after it came
second in last year’s registration of boys’ births. The prophet’s name was given
to 6,010 babies in 2006, second only to the 6,928 children called Jack. Officially,
Muhammad did not appear in the top 10 boys’ names published by the U.K.’s
Office of National Statistics, because the registrations are split into 16 differ-
ent spelling variations. There were 12 percent more babies with the name
Muhammad than in 2005, and experts predict that above-average fertility rates
among British Muslims will make the name the most popular this year.
Paris

France’s power-couple split


Ségolène Royal, the Socialist presidential
candidate who lost the French election
to Nicolas Sarkozy in May, has split from
long-term partner and Socialist party leader
Françoise Hollande, admitting their relation-
ship had been in trouble throughout her campaign. The pair, who were
considered France’s foremost power-couple, had been together for 30
years and had four children together. Royal said she asked Hollande to
leave their Paris home so that he could pursue “his love interest” else-
where. Hollande said the split had “no political cause” and “no political
consequence.” Rumors of a break-up had dogged Royal’s campaign, par-
ticularly after the couple were photographed shaking hands in March.
Baghdad

Chemical Ali to hang


There was little surprise in Iraq that Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known
as “Chemical Ali,” received the harshest sentence possible for his role in
the massacre of Kurds during the so-called Anfal campaign of the late
1980s. Al-Majid, a cousin of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, was
given five death sentences for ordering the use of deadly nerve agents and
mustard gas which led to the deaths of as many as 180,000 people. As the
verdict was read, al-Majid was heard to say “Thank God.” The trial also
heard how victims were tortured and executed in concentration camps as
part of a campaign to try to eradicate Kurds from northern Iraq.
Tehran
Khartoum
Fuel rationing sparks protests
Sudan agrees to Darfur peacekeepers The start of fuel rationing in Iran has led to unprecedented scenes of vio-
Following months of pressure from the United Nations and Western lence as protesters torched several petrol stations across Tehran. Queues
governments, Sudan agreed to allow a joint U.N.-African Union force of several hundred meters formed outside stations as the government
of 20,000 peacekeepers into the country’s ravaged Darfur region. The imposed the plan, which is expected to last between four and six months.
joint force will replace a 7,000-strong African Union force that observers President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hopes prices will rise for a commodity
say did little to stop the violence. International experts say some 200,000 that currently costs less than for a comparable amount of mineral water.
people have died and about 2.5 million been displaced in four years of Such is the level of consumption in Iran that the country is forced to
fighting. Observers have warned, however, that the U.N.-African Union spend billions of dollars importing petrol from abroad, despite being
peacekeepers stand little chance of success. OPEC’s second largest oil producer.

www.nvrmagazine.com

Business
July 6, 2007
N E W S

Yang at Yahoo
Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang (pic- Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s
tured) has replaced Terry Semel Bill Gates have pulled it off, but
as CEO of Yahoo, while Susan they’re exceptions to the rule.
Decker, a key Yahoo executive, What’s more, Yang has “a cred-
was named president. Semel pre- ibility problem” because he’s been
sided over five years of 20 percent at the company through its recent
annual sales growth at Yahoo, but problems, said the Los Angeles
in recent years, the company has Times. He “isn’t like Michael Dell,
lost its lead in Internet advertising Steve Jobs and other high-profile
to competitor Google. Last year executives who returned to rescue
alone, Yahoo shares fell 35 per- the companies they founded.”
cent. Taipei-born Yang, however, Some people at Yahoo believe
says he can turn things around. Yang’s position is only temporary
“I believe that Yahoo has all the and that Decker will soon take
assets it takes to win, and we’re well over, said Kevin J. Delaney in The
positioned to do just that,” he said Wall Street Journal. However, Yang
following the announcement. denies such claims. And at least
Will Yang and Decker be able to one former president of Yahoo,
do what Semel couldn’t? “I doubt Jeff Mallet, agrees. He described
it,” said Fred Vogelstein in Wired. Yang as having always been “half
com. Semel’s biggest mistake was in that chair [of CEO].” But others
that he let rival Google grow from in the company perceive Yang as
a “pipsqueak into a giant.” Now, a “gentleman founder” who’s “not
not only is Google the “most ef- that involved in the day-to-day
ficient producer of content on the operation of the business.”
planet,” but it doesn’t even have One thing’s for sure, said Miguel
to pay for marketing; when it re- Helft in The New York Times: the
leases a new product, “everyone shake-up has “left investors with
comes.” Founder and savior? Yang is more “a technologist than a manager” more questions than answers.”
Google isn’t Yang’s only chal- wiser” than when he founded the than a manager. Running a public Shortly after the announcement,
lenge, said the Financial Times company in 1995 [he’s now 38], company takes “sophisticated” Yahoo shares fell 49 cents to
(London). Yes, he’s “older and but he’s still more of a technologist management skills. People like US$27.63.

In the courts... Good week for...


Wendi Deng, the Chinese wife of Rupert Murdoch, who was given
Judge loses pants and court case an official post within News Corp. as chief of strategy of MySpace
A Washington, D.C judge who filed a US$54 million lawsuit against his
China.
dry cleaners over a pair of missing pants “will not get a penny,” says
Ariel Sabar in The New York Times. Roy Pearson could not prove that Chinese workers, who are set to enjoy improved working conditions
Korean-owned Custom Cleaners was misleading customers with its thanks to new laws which set standards for labour contracts, use of
"satisfaction guranteed" sign, after one of his suits was returned without temporary workers and severance pay. The move follows a crackdown
the pants in 2005 following a US$10.50 alteration job (they were found
two days later, though Pearson argued unsuccessfully they had been
by authorities on illegal labor practices after an outcry over revelations
replaced by a cheaper pair). Pearson will have to pay up to US$5,000 of slave labor at brick factories in the country’s central provinces.
in court costs, and possibly up to US$100,000 in legal fees if Judge
Judith Bartnoff, who delivered the verdict, deems the lawsuit “frivolous.”
Pearson rejected a US$12,000
settlement in March, and
Bad week for...
continued to argue that U.S. Chinese consumers, after inflation hit a 27-month high in May,
consumer protection law entitled according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
him to “thousands of dollars Food prices, which comprise a third of the consumer basket, rose
for each day over nearly four 8.3 percent from a year earlier and a shortage of pork caused meat
years in which signs at the shop
promised ‘same day service’
prices to jump 26.5 percent.
and ‘satisfaction guaranteed.’” Thomas the Tank Engine, after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
The verdict brings a “momentary Commission announced that toy maker, RC2 Corporation of Oak
pause” to a case that has
“inspired international ridicule
Brook, Ill., was recalling some 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden
and calls for legal reform.” railway toys because its Chinese manufacturer appeared to have used
highly-leaded pigments in their paint.
Taken to the cleaners: Pearson See Tainted toys, pg 9

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S Business

Viewpoint Viewpoint

China’s virtual gold rush Tainted toys Seung-Youn Kim


The Internet has produced some Thomas the Tank Engine has South Korea’s richest brawler
pretty weird jobs over the years, served up some “important lessons Seung-Youn Kim, one of South Korea’s richest tycoons, has been given
18 months in jail for “abducting and beating up a group of karaoke bar
but it’s hard to imagine anything about regulating environmental workers” who had attacked his son, says Phillippe Naughton in The Times
“more surreal than that of the poisons in the global economy,” (London). Kim, who is head of the Hanwha group, South Korea’s 12th-largest
Chinese gold farmer,” says Julian says Christian Warren in The New conglomerate, and worth around US$1 billion, “stormed into an upmarket
Dibbel in The New York Times. An York Times. In the United States, karaoke bar” with several bodyguards, looking for the men responsible for
estimated 100,000 workers, mostly the Consumer Product Safety beating up his son, a 22-year-old Harvard University student. The victims were
migrants, toil in online fantasy Commission recalled 1.5 million taken to “a building site outside Seoul,” where the businessman
games like World of Warcraft Chinese-manufactured Thomas “kicked and punched” them, as well as threatening them
(WOW), killing monsters and & Friends wooden railway toys with an electronic shock device and hitting one of
robbing them of virtual gold to because their coatings contained with a steel pipe. Kim said during his trial that he
asked his bodyguards to take
sell to Westerners. In fact, China lead. The recall of lead-tainted over because he “got tired” of
produces the “bulk” of the world’s children’s products is not unusual, beating the workers himself.
virtual booty in what has become but the products are almost always The judge said Kim had taken
a US$1.8 billion-a-year business. cheap, un-branded novelties and “advantage of his status to
The individual gold farmers them- trinkets rather than a product carry out ‘organized’ violence for
selves see only a fraction of that, purchased in “upscale toy stores.” private purposes.” The Hanwha
earning about 30 cents an hour. A “spirited game of blame and group has interests in explosives,
This “gray market,” called real- counterblame has ensued”: people petrochemicals, finance,
money trading, is prohibited by argue the American company, RC2 insurance, telecommunications,
construction and retail, and
game companies, but it persists Corporation, “should have exer- owns the Hanwha Eagles
nonetheless. Recently, American cised more control over its Chinese baseball team.
WOW players filed a “first of its partners”; that the commission
kind” class-action lawsuit against should have caught the problem
the virtual-gold retailer, IGE. But earlier; and that President George
in the end, it’s the farmers, not W. Bush should not have cut the Currency counter
the customers, “who catch it in commission’s budget by 10 percent
Currencies RMB Weekly change (%)
the face.” The Internet is experi- in the last two years. The solution United States (US$1) 7.61 - 0.21
encing an anti-Chinese backlash is not just to prevent the import of Euro (€1) 10.28 + 0.11
with “homemade” WOW video dangerous toys, but “to help inter- United Kingdom (£1) 15.27 + 0.15
clips posted to YouTube bear- national partners curtail the use of Japan (¥100) 6.17 - 0.03
ing names like “Chinese Farmer lead and other toxic substances in Korea (₩1000) 8.24 - 0.06
Extermination.” And farmers are their own markets.” Lax regulations Singapore (S$1) 4.98 + 0.32
being called “vermin” and “rats” may lower costs, “but it perpetuates Malaysia (RM 1) 2.21 - 0.23
— rhetoric that bears “unsettling the risk to our children,” who will Australia ($A 1) 6.46 - 0.23
parallels” to 19th-century U.S. not be safe until “stiff standards are Canada (CAN $1) 7.16 + 0.37
Hong Kong (HK$1) 0.97 - 0.27
literature on immigrant Chinese global norms.” Taiwan (NT$10) 2.32 - 0.50
laundry workers. See Letters, pg 17

Media

A Bollywood fairytale for Disney?


Disney has teamed up with Yash has been working “particularly rather less uplifting than, the
Raj Films to make at least one hard” to find production partners plotline of the average Hindi
feature-length animated movie in India, spurred on by last year’s movie.” While the world’s big-
a year, in what will be the com- appointment of Indian film pro- gest movie market sells 3.7 bil-
pany’s first deal to co-produce ducer Shyam PS to head its Indian lion tickets a year, the industry
films in India. The first film, studios. The company already has traditionally offered “mis-
Roadside Romeo — understood to owns India’s Disney Channel, erable returns to its backers.”
be about a spoilt dog who is aban- and last year bought Hungama Revenues have been “swallowed
doned on the streets of Mumbai TV, a Hindi-language children’s up by a blend of piracy, taxes
— will feature traditional Indian channel. and inefficiencies.” But the fact
singing and dancing plus the “This could be huge,” said that companies like Disney are
voices of Bollywood stars Saif Ali Foreign Policy. Yash Raj Films ex- starting to enter Bollywood “is
Khan and Kareena Kapoor. pect the Indian animation market testament to improving industry
Disney aims to “crack the to triple its returns of US$40 mil- dynamics.” Reduced piracy, new Disney: not such a small world
growing Indian entertainment lion by 2011 — “probably not an ways of mitigating taxes, more analysts now say Bollywood of-
market,” said The Independent unreasonable estimation.” overseas shooting locations and fers returns of about 30-35 per-
(London). Bob Iger, Disney’s No it’s not, said the Financial increasingly specialized entertain- cent, “not too dissimilar” from
chief executive, “has put growth Times (London). Once upon a ment companies are just a few of Hollywood. “Years of tears fol-
in overseas markets at the top of time, Bollywood returns were the ways in which the industry is lowed by a happy ending? How
the company’s agenda.” Disney “about as predictable as, but streamlining itself. As a result, Bollywood.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
10
People July 6, 2007
N E W S

America’s tiger tamer The word


Rai of light U.S. Democratic
Senator Charles
Schumer has
around town
Actor Christian Bale
China by the tail was attacked by
and he’s not about angry ants during
to let go, “no mat- the filming of his
ter how loudly the new film Rescue
tiger roars,” says Tom Plate in a Dawn. The
Batman Begins
syndicated column. Brooklyn-born star agreed to
Schumer, 57, is “on China’s case” hang upside down with his face
over its under-valued currency and buried in an ants’ nest for a torture
burgeoning bilateral trade deficit scene in the movie, in which he
with America. But Schumer, who plays a prisoner of war. “I could’ve
is as “rough as a Brooklyn bookie,” done without that,” said Bale.
despite a Harvard education, wants
to “red hook” Beijing with tariffs Ex-jailbird Paris Hilton has been
and sanctions. That’s in sharp dumped by her agent because
contrast to U.S. Treasury Secretary she “just wasn’t worth it,” says
Us Weekly magazine. A source at
Henry Paulson who has “skill- Endeavor Agency was reported
Rai is "ludicrously beautiful" fully” played the “supplicant role as saying, “The goal was to make
[to China] of the vassal from a far her the Martha Stewart of her
Indian actress Aishwarya Rai is at the Cannes Film Festival. And province requesting the emperor’s generation. It just didn’t work out
“ludicrously beautiful,” says Martyn her most recent film, Provoked, a beneficence.” In this “tale of three that way.”
Palmer in The Times (London). And true story about Kiranjit Ahluwalia, cities” — Washington, Beijing
that’s not just a personal opinion: who, after an arranged marriage, and Brooklyn — Washington A DNA test has
the judges of Miss World (she suffered horrific abuse at the hands seems for now to be holding back confirmed that
held the title in 1994), Harpers & of the British husband she later Schumer’s red hook and “leaning Eddie Murphy is
Queen, Hello! and Julia Roberts all murdered, is a good example of her eastward toward Beijing.” the father of his
agree. After watching her in the “refusal to be pigeon-holed.” ex-lover Melanie
“lavish potboiler” Devdas, Roberts Rai, 33, grew up in a traditional Brown’s 11-week-
described Rai as the most beautiful family in Mumbai, where as a old daughter, Iris.
woman she’d ever seen. With her teenager, she “fended off offers
Open-source optimist The comedian —
Jimmy Wales, who notoriously
“big, almond-shaped blue-green of modeling work,” hoping in-
the founder of dumped a
eyes, lips to rival [Angelina] Jolie’s stead to focus on her studies. She pregnant Brown, aka “Scary
in the bee-stung stakes, honeyed wanted to be an architect but at Wikipedia, is “an
Spice,” and intimated during
skin and a figure to die for,” it’s no 18 she sealed her fate by doing Internet rock star,” interviews that she slept around
wonder there are 17,000 Web sites a fashion spread as a favor for a says Katherine — took the court-ordered test last
devoted to her, with the number teacher. After that, says Rai, “the Mangu in Reason month.
growing each year. And not only modeling work started coming Magazine. But de-
does Rai get the pick of Bollywood in and it kind of never stopped.” spite his notoriety, Prince William has rekindled his
roles — she’s starred in over In April, Rai married fellow the 40-year-old public face of one romance with Kate Middleton
40 films since 1997 — increas- Bollywood actor, the “ludicrously of the world’s 10 most popular after seeing her partying with other
Web sites “plays it low key.” Wales, men. The second in line to the
ingly, she’s getting offered roles in handsome” Abhishek Bachchan.
who lives with his family in a one- British throne was reminded of
Western movies as well. “Miss World, Bollywood star and what he was missing when he saw
But Rai isn’t just a pretty face. In beyond: Aishwarya Rai has done story bungalow in Florida, is mod-
pictures of a happy Kate enjoying
2003, she was the first Indian ac- the lot.” Now prepare yourself for est when it comes to Wikipedia’s nights out on the town without
tress to be invited to sit on the jury Ash and Abhi. success. “We make the Internet him, said a royal source. Since
not suck,” he says. Wales’ latest their split in April, Kate has been
project is “Wikia,” a free Internet spotted enjoying herself in London

Gaffe of the week


tool based on Wikipedia that en- clubs with apparently no shortage
ables users to create open-source of male suitors.
communities. For now, the biggest
A joke in bag taste “wikis” are devoted to Star Trek The husband of former
It seems the head of Britain’s equality watchdog, Trevor Phillips, forgot Hong Kong actress
that royalty are a little more equal than everyone else. While giving
and Star Wars but Wales hopes Moon Lee has filed
a recent after-dinner speech on Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday, to one day start an open-source for divorce, alleging
Phillips joked about having once danced with the late queen mother search engine he calls “The Google that the 42-year-
and having to avoid clasping her colostomy bag. Phillips said that Killer,” armed with a commun- old had an affair with
as a student leader he was briefed by Buckingham Palace officials ity of volunteers who “rerank their godson. Dennis
about how to dance with the queen mother at a ball. “One said, ‘Mr Phillips, I results and tweak algorithms” so Law told the Apple
need to share something with you. When you’re dancing with the queen mother as to streamline searches. Wales, Daily newspaper he
you will have to lay your hands on her.’” Phillips replied: “Yes, that’s what who calls himself a “pathological returned to the couple’s
happens in dancing. But I’m not going to grope the queen mother,” to which optimist,” is certain things will apartment one day last
the aide said: “You have to be careful where you put your hands. You have to be year to find his godson,
careful about the colostomy bag.” The joke with the audience of some 2,000
work out — which means, soon, dancer Zong Tianyi, hiding half-
went down like a, well, lead colostomy bag. Phillips later issued an apology. there will be “another reason the naked in his closet.
Internet doesn’t suck.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S
11
People
In their
Obituary
No more Paris
U.N. head who tried to hide his Nazi past
own words Mika Brzezinski,
an MSNBC mor- Kurt Waldheim, 1918-2007
“Other than the diamonds ning presenter, Kurt Waldheim, who was elected
and all of that... I’m “obviously wasn’t President of Austria despite rev-
really low maintenance.” thrilled with her elations of his former ties to Nazi
Bollywood actress Shilpa lead story” when she was given a
Shetty on her easy- Germany, has died aged 81.
script about Paris Hilton’s release The disclosure ensured he be-
going dating style. from jail, says Richard Gizbert came “the best known Austrian
“Reviewing takes expertise, in The Huffington Post. “She an- politician since Adolf Hitler,” said
wisdom and judgment. I am nounced on air that she didn’t want The Daily Telegraph (London). It
not much fond of the notion to read it,” which she got away with was an achievement that also owed
that anyone’s view is as good in the first news block. But when a something to his high-profile role
as anyone else’s.” Author Ian Hilton story appeared at the top of as Secretary-General of the United
McEwan on Internet reviewers. the second news block, Brzezinski Nations (1972-1982). After study-
tried to burn the script with a ing law in Vienna, his decision to
“A girl’s history book producer’s lighter, “before settling
is important. One join the Nazi student association
ex too many and
for just ripping it up.” At this point in 1938 showed “opportunism” if
others will think you her co-presenter, ex-Congressman not necessarily “convictions” in the Waldheim: "opportunism"
have a bad record.” Hong Kong Joe Scarborough, picked up the movement’s ideology. But his role He hoped to serve a third term but
actress Fiona Sit on how rumored scraps of paper and sniffed them, as an intelligence officer linking the proposal was vetoed by China.
relationships destroy reputations. presumably “imagining that he Italian and German forces in 1942 If Waldheim had chosen to bow
had in his possession a pair of Ms. fully implicated him in the massacre out of public office at this point,
“She’s accomplished many Hilton’s underwear.” The third
missions impossible. It’s okay to be of partisans at Kozara in Bosnia “his Nazi past would probably
time a Hilton story appeared, that year. After the war, he served never have been revealed,” said
pushed down by a girl. I have my
movies anyway.” Singer Jay Chou
Brzezinski “ran the script through as his country’s ambassador to the Jonathan Kandell in The New York
on the possibility of losing to fellow the shredder.” Brzezinski’s father United Nations, a springboard to Times. But running once more for
songster Jolin Tsai in album sales. was President Jimmy Carter’s na- the organization’s top job. the Austrian presidency in 1986,
tional security advisor, and she’s “a He viewed his appointment as rival politicians began to investigate
“The price tag is the art.” Journalist bit of a celebrity herself, albeit one “fitting compensation” for failing his wartime record. A newspaper
Nick Cohen trashing artist Damien who is lumbered with a brain.” A la to win the Austrian presidency uncovered his Nazi associations
Hirst, who unveiled a diamond- Hilton, she could certainly “smell
covered skull for sale for US$100 the previous year, said The Times and the findings were made public
the ratings.” (London). But it was rumored that by the World Jewish Congress. The
million.
Waldheim’s “mediocrity” was seen revelations, however, were regarded
“It was pretty embarrassing. They as his most fitting qualification for by many Austrians as an “intolerable
brought Brad and me in, and they The other Churchill a post which was soon to be “de- interference by foreigners,” and they
just made us take off our shirts and Arabella Churchill, granddaugh- liberately downgraded.” A “hot elected Waldheim regardless. It was
stand there for a while, and then ter of Sir Winston, is one of the temper” may have marked him out also true that many Austrians saw in
they picked Brad.” Actor George “founders, organizers and guiding
Clooney on losing the hitchhiker
as a difficult boss, but his efficient his life a “parable of their own,” as
role in Thelma & Louise to Brad
spirits” of Glastonbury, England’s handling of what was then seen as citizens of a nation that was occu-
Pitt. biggest outdoor rock festival, says an “unmanageable” organization pied by Germany and which forced
Cole Moreton in The Independent ensured his re-election in 1977. As them to collaborate. But even an
(London). Churchill, 57, was an “indefatigable” worker, he acted investigation at Waldheim’s own
“I always felt as if I had “very close” to her grandfather, as a personal go-between in the behest found he must have been
been born into the wrong who died in 1965 when she was
family. I felt that I should
“tortuous” negotiations to release aware of certain “atrocities,” even
have been royal.” Actress
15. Back then, the Churchills the hostages from the American if he wasn’t guilty of “war crimes.”
Jessica Alba on growing were “almost as famous” as the Embassy in Tehran in 1981. And Right up until his death he expressed
up poor. royal Windsor family, which meant he wasn’t without “moral courage” no “remorse or regret” for his ac-
that the “glamorous debutante” in forcing the United Nations to tions, preferring to see himself as
“Seeing a hereditary monarch Arabella constantly found herself directly address terrorism after the “an ordinary citizen who had been
reward people by calling them a the subject of media scrutiny. So Munich Olympic Games massacre. caught in a maelstrom.”
‘Member of the British Empire’ she ran away to a Glastonbury
in 2007 makes me sad for my in 1971 and liked it so much she
country.” The Independent’s
columnist Johann Hari on the
decided to stay. Since then she has
overseen the festival’s non-musical
Farewell
Queen’s Birthday Honors List. Vilma Espin
acts. Once a year she commands
"First lady" of the Cuban revolution, aged 77.
“Here [in the United States] they “a mutant army of jugglers, sword
swallowers, contortionists and fire Gianfranco Ferre
get their snatches waxed. I get a
Italian designer known as the “architect of fashion,” aged 62.
strip, a runway strip. I don’t think I breathers as well as serious actors,
Ruth Bell Graham
could get it done in England. They dancers and some of the biggest The woman behind American evangelist Billy Graham, aged 87.
stare at it. They spend ages doing names in comedy.” Churchill dis-
it. It’s like, ‘Get it over and f***ing Bernard Manning
likes comparisons with her famous Racist, homophobic and misogynistic British comedian, aged 76.
done with!’” Britpop singer Lily
Allen admires the bravery of body
grandfather. “I was no good at be- Richard Rorty
conscious American women. ing Churchill,” she says. “People American philosopher, aged 75.
never saw me for me.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
12
Sport July 6, 2007
N E W S

Olympic watch
Basketball

Generation Yi 399 days to go


China’s golden boy Liu Xiang
isn’t content with holding the
current 110 meter hurdles world
China’s Yi Jianlian, who has just And will he “have the impact of the record. “I think I have the chance
been drafted into the NBA for Houston Rockets’ Yao Ming?” Or to break the world record again this
the Milwaukee Bucks, is not just will his stay in the NBA match the year and I’m sure I can run faster,”
another player, said Liz Robbins in “short, modest” careers of Wang said Liu. With the hopes of a nation
The New York Times. He’s a “sym- Zhizhi and Mengke Bateer, the on his shoulders, his coach Sun
bol of discovery that is rippling only other Chinese players in the Haiping is now demanding that
through [China].” The 7-feet tall Yi league? No one really knows, as Liu gets special “leg insurance” to
joins the NBA at a time when “its Yi remains a “mystery.” Even his protect his career, which is worth
an estimated US$2.5 million a
players, agents and multiple shoe age is a matter of contention. The
year in endorsements.
companies” are all wanting to get Chinese Basketball Association
a foothold in China in the run up claims he’s 20, while others say he’s China is building a highway to
to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The three years older. Mount Everest in preparation for
success of players like Yi is “critical Whatever the case, his “pace, the 2008 Olympic torch relay,
running up to base camp at 5,200
to the international growth of the natural leap and soft hands” evi- meters — the highest road on
game,” especially in China where, dently impressed the Milwaukee earth in one of the world’s most
according to NBA estimates, some Bucks enough to pick him, said remote regions. The torch relay will
300 million people play organized Reuters. But it remains to be seen cover 85,000 miles in total, lasting
basketball. NBA Commissioner whether the former Guangdong for 130 days and reaching the
David Stern knows this all too Tigers power forward will be able peak of Everest.
well, saying, “It is time for us to to “step out from the shadow of
be making a greater investment in Yao Ming and carve out a career in Numbers game
China… to take advantage of the the world’s top league in his own 17,000, the total tons being
opportunities, from marketing, to way.” The only certainty is that shipped from Hainan Island to
new media, to retail, to merchan- Yi’s arrival in the United States Chaoyang Park in Beijing for
the Olympic Beach Volleyball
dise, to television.” will only “deepen China’s passion- Competition, at a cost of US$1.28
But is Yi any good? asked Stephen ate love affair with basketball and million.
Wade in the San Francisco Chronicle. Yi helps China aim high the NBA.”

Cycling
Profile
Avoiding scandal
Peng Shuai “Never mind who wins,” said Julien
Back from the brink Pretot in The Washington Post, the
Just a year ago, the “rise of the East” in women’s tennis was predicted Tour de France organizers “just
when Li Na became the first Chinese woman to reach the Wimbledon want their sport to emerge scan-
quarter finals, said Katie Scott in The Times (London). But this may dal-free” when the race finishes
have been a “false dawn” since only one Chinese player made the
second round in this year’s tournament. For Chinese No. 2 Peng Shuai,
later this month. After a “traumatic
however, even qualifying for Wimbledon was an achievement. Peng experience” last year, when winner
nearly quit the sport last year due to disillusionment and depression. Floyd Landis tested positive for
Her change of heart is due to her new coach Michael Chang, the former doping, and further drug scandals
world No. 2 and the 1989 French Open winner, who has made Peng throughout this year, everyone is
believe in herself again. And Peng may just have got the break she hoping for a “smooth ride.” The
needs. One half of the reigning Wimbledon doubles champions, Zheng Tour is not only looking for a new Vinokourov: "pin-up boy"
Jie, is about to winner, said Alasdair Fotheringham as the new hero? The favorite is
undergo surgery on in The Independent (London), but “for Alexander Vinokourov (pictured),
her ankle that will
put her in doubt for
some kind of credibility as a sport- said William Fotheringham in the
next year’s Games, ing event.” And “it will be looking Guardian (London). Kazakhstan’s
paving the way for hard.” This is one of the reasons that “most popular sportsman” is the
Peng to step in the start of the race will take place kind of pin-up boy the sport needs:
alongside Yan Zi. in London, giving the event a fresh “blond, with piercing blue eyes and
Yan believes she lease of life. But who will emerge the stocky build of a boxer.”
can emulate her
Wimbledon doubles Coming up
success with her
2014 Winter Olympics venue announcement, Guatemala July 7
new partner, despite
Tour de France, July 7-29
having never played
British Formula One Grand Prix, Silverstone July 8
together.
Fed Cup tennis semi-finals and play-offs, July 14-15
German Moto GP, Sachsenring July 15
Peng's return: the Chinese No. 2 almost quit British Open Golf Championship, Carnoustie July 19-22

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
N E W S
13
Health & Science
Older and wiser
A 20-year study from Norway Gellene in the Los Angeles Times.
has confirmed “what many older Nobel prizes are awarded to more
siblings have thought all along firstborns than other siblings, and
— they’re smarter,” said Kavita they make up “disproportion-
Mishra in the San Francisco Chronicle. ate numbers” in American col-
Experts have long disputed the leges. Kristensen’s analysis found
role that birth order plays in in- firstborns had an average IQ of
telligence, but now “the debate 103.2, roughly 2 points higher
is over,” according to researcher than second-borns and 3 points Some might say I'm smarter: Noel and Liam Gallagher
Petter Kristensen, a professor of higher than third-born sons. But their families. But then, as birth as a perfect example of a later-born
epidemiology at Oslo University. the reason they’re on a “trajectory order expert Prof. Frank Sulloway who proved to be “good at differ-
His team looked at the IQ scores of for success” has nothing to do points out, Isaac Newton and ent things.”
250,000 men as they entered com- with genetics and everything to do Charles Darwin are both examples A famous older child like rock
pulsory military service, including with their parents. Boys who only of “revolutionary thinkers” who singer Noel Gallagher of Oasis,
60,000 pairs of brothers. Previous became the eldest after the death had older siblings. however, would no doubt agree
studies suggest women are similarly of an older sibling, for example, In fact, Charles Darwin was the with the findings, said Steve Connor
affected by birth ranking. were found to have IQs very close fifth of six children and “didn’t in The Independent (London). While
The findings are “the latest twist to firstborns. Kristensen contends fare very well in some of his classes younger sibling Liam “causes havoc,
in a phenomenon that scientists this is because they are given a at Cambridge,” said Katharine starts fights and occasionally sings,”
have long noticed but have been similar amount of responsibility Sanderson in Nature. Sulloway cites there’s little argument about where
at a loss to explain,” said Denise and are treated as “leaders” by the father of evolutionary science the real talent in the pair lies.

Amazon vs. Nile World’s ugliest plant Birds’ new habit


Big ideas
A ring that costs peanuts
Scientists at Edinburgh University
have developed a technique “to
create artificial diamonds from
peanut butter,” said the Edinburgh
Evening News. Peanut butter is just
one of many carbon rich materials
that can be transformed into the
gems simply by “squeezing” at
very high pressures. The technique
involves squeezing the paste
between two diamonds at a
pressure greater than that “found
A team of scientists from Brazil “It lives for 2,000 years, has only Birds are apparently starting to in the center of the earth.” The
are claiming the Amazon River, two leaves, and has been called take up smoking, said Roger same technique is also being used
“not the Nile, is the longest in the the most hideous plant on earth,” Highfield in The Daily Telegraph to turn oxygen into red crystals.
world,” said John Loach in National said Sean Thomas in the Daily (London). But instead of inhaling, Professor Malcolm McMahon of
Geographic. The Amazon in Brazil Mail (London). While the giant they are using cigarettes “to fumi- the university’s Centre for Science
was always known to be larger in panda, Siberian tigers and moun- gate parasites from their wings.” and Extreme Conditions described
volume, but it was thought to be tain gorillas enjoy the limelight as Rooks in Britain have been spot- the research as “the holy grail of
high-pressure physics,” in being
slightly shorter than the African endangered species, the “silence ted swooping onto cigarette butts able to discover the “metallic
Nile. But the findings of a 14-day is deafening” when it comes to as soon as they’ve been discarded phase” of hydrogen. “Metallic
expedition has now “extended” the the welwitschia, which also faces by humans. One man saw a rook hydrogen would be unlike any
Amazon by about 284 kilometers, imminent extinction. It grows up pick up butts on the station plat- other metal ever seen,” he said.
after the discovery of new head- to 6 meters wide and 2 meters form in Exeter, pulling its wings “It is predicted to have a number
waters at the mouth of the river. tall, with each leaf reaching up to over the butt to “collect the of unusual properties, including
The researchers claim this makes 75 meters long, and lives perhaps smoke” underneath. “It seemed being a superconductor at room
it 105 kilometers longer than the longer than any other organism. as if it were using the smoke to rid temperature.”
Nile. The two rivers have been “There are welwitschias around itself of ants or something simi-
at the center of a “centuries old today that were first showing their lar.” Another rook carried out the
rivalry” as to which is the longest. ugly little tendrils when Jesus was same routine when another ciga-
Glenn Switkes, co-ordinator for a boy.” But changing climate and rette was flicked away. Richard
conservation group International human pressure are destroying its Archer, of the Royal Society
Rivers Network, believes the debate habitat in Southern Africa’s Namib for the Protection of Birds, said
over the length is “trivial” but hopes Desert. It’s a shame, because the birds may have adapted and
the publicity will focus attention on the welwitschia is a “triumphant learned that cigarettes can be used
efforts to build more than 60 large counterblast” against a world that to kill parasites. “Rooks are very
dams on the Amazon’s tributaries. ranks beauty above all else. intelligent,” he said.

www.nvrmagazine.com
14
Opinions: Asia V  
I E W S
July 6, 2007

North Korea China

Can’t tell who’s Hu?


Will Kim disarm this time? “Such is the level of confusion” regarding the
state of Chinese surnames that China’s public
security ministry wants to introduce a law allow-
ing parents to give their children hyphenated
surnames, says Jane Macartney in The Times
(London). The current law says that a child must
be given the surname of either his mother or
father. But China’s 1.3 billion people share only
about 100 surnames, which leads to more than
a little confusion. China has so many Wangs
(93 million) that if they seceded they’d become
the world’s 12th-most-populous nation. And
the U.N.’s World Food Program, “distributed
annually to people in 82 countries,” wouldn’t
be enough to feed China’s 88 million Zhangs.
Apart from the most popular names — Wang,
Zhang and Li (92 million) — at least 20 million
people share just seven other surnames. Imagine
the confusion Chinese authorities face when it
comes to differentiating between 1.3 million
people (1 percent of the entire population)
named Liu Bo. When the Communists came
to power in 1949, parents named millions of
children “Liberation” and “Nation Founding.”
Then, during the Cultural Revolution, names
like “Safeguard Red” and “Leap Forward” were
all the rage. In recent years, a “vogue” for names
of two characters, instead of the more common
three-character kind, has compounded the
problem. The proposed new laws, however, will
open up some 1.28 million new possibilities.
After four months of diplomatic wrangling, Well, “we won’t be holding our breath,”
Washington and Pyongyang agreed on a said The Washington Post in an editorial.
three-week timetable for shutting down North Since February’s disarmament agreement, Hong Kong as Switzerland?
Korea’s nuclear reactor, following a surprise Washington “has made a string of concessions” China’s growing capital surplus, soon to exceed
visit to the reclusive state from top U.S. envoy to Pyongyang, which “has done nothing, other US$1 trillion per year, could catapult Shanghai
Christopher Hill on June 21. than skillfully extract those favors.” Hill’s visit over Hong Kong as the country’s financial cen-
“Stay tuned,” Hill told reporters on his arrival to North Korea is a perfect example, as up ter, says Andy Xie in the South China Morning
in Tokyo following his visit to North Korea, until that point Washington had consistently Post. Hong Kong was once a necessary inter-
the first by a high-ranking U.S. official since refused direct dealings in favor of the six-party mediary between international finance and
October 2002. format. Chinese opportunities, but China’s new capital
The three-week timetable followed the re- Hill’s visit was certainly a “propaganda tri- surplus will soon make that role “obsolete.”
lease of some US$25 million of North Korean umph” for Pyongyang, said The Straits Times Cheap capital is now available to mainland
funds, frozen by Washington two years ago (Singapore) in an editorial. It made the news companies via a “buoyant” share market. China
on account of alleged money laundering and about the nuclear reactor seem “almost second- “simply doesn’t need foreign capital anymore”;
counterfeiting. Pyongyang had demanded the ary.” It’s hard to imagine that so little as US$25 indeed, it actually needs to export capital. And
funds be unfrozen as a prerequisite to shutting million — “petty cash in sovereign finance it’s just “not practical” for an offshore financial
down its reactor under the disarmament agree- terms” — has delayed until now Pyongyang’s center like Hong Kong to mediate Beijing’s
ment it reached in February with the United compliance with February’s agreement. But it savings into investment, even though it boasts
States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. turned out to be a crucial component of that a “world-class” financial system. What’s more,
Pyongyang, which conducted its first nuclear compliance, “rather like a jetliner missing a Hong Kong’s stagnant population of 7 million
test explosion last October, had pledged to close critical bolt.” is about a third smaller than Shanghai’s, which
the reactor in exchange for energy aid. “The money was the easy part,” said the Los is still on the rise (a country’s financial center
A team of U.N. nuclear inspectors will now be Angeles Times in an editorial. “Now comes the is usually its largest city). In the end, it’s more
allowed to visit North Korean’s nuclear reactor hard part.” February’s agreement was vague likely Hong Kong will become a “center for
to verify its closure. about the “truly critical issues” which are yet private wealth management, like Switzerland,”
to be negotiated, not least of which is: “what with its low tax rate and offshore status. With
Washington’s “good-cop strategy” towards does ‘disabling’ mean?” Pyongyang wants such massive wealth, the city could “sustain a
Pyongyang seems to have worked, “for now,” to disable its reactor “in such a way that its good living standard without strong economic
said Mitchell Landsberg in the Los Angeles Times. bomb-making apparatus could be restarted growth.” For now, Hong Kong can “afford” to
But it’s “far too early” to say whether it will suc- within days.” Washington, however, is looking watch the mainland’s “mad dash for money.”
ceed in “peacefully persuading” Pyongyang to at something “that would require months or After all, “if you already have it, why bother
give up its nuclear program for good. years to reverse.” again?”

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
V  
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15
Opinions: Europe
United Kingdom Germany/Poland

Berlin or bust
A knight’s crusade? “It’s not exactly how one
expects to see German
Chancellor Angela
Merkel,” says Charles
Hawley in Der Spiegel (Hamburg). Polish week-
ly magazine Wprost recently headlined with
“Europe’s Step-Mother,” showing a picture of
Merkel with “two breasts spilling out” of her
blouse and Poland’s governing Kaczynski twins
— Prime Minister Jaroslaw and President Lech
— “suckling” one each. The article makes it
clear that while Merkel treats the rest of Europe
like her step-children, “she has been particu-
larly condescending to the Poles.” Reaction
to the image in Germany has been “predict-
ably shrill”: Cologne daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger
said the Chancellor had been “mocked” and
“ridiculed,” while Bild quoted a number of
politicians criticizing the cover’s “tasteless-
ness.” It’s “just the most recent salvo” in an
“ongoing media war between the two coun-
tries.” In 2003, Wprost printed a cover show-
ing then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder being
“ridden dominatrix style” by Erika Steinbach,
head of a group representing Poles kicked out
of Germany in World War II, wearing a Nazi
uniform. Germany’s Die Tageszeitung has printed
images of the Kaczynskis “with potatoes as
heads,” while Der Spiegel showed Merkel being
Rushdie: a “living target” for over a decade “ridden” by the Polish twins.
The fuss about Salman Rushdie’s knighthood is move away from such “literalist fanaticism.”
“depressingly predictable,” said India Knight in The truth is that “the Islamic world has United Kingdom
The Sunday Times (London). Eighteen years after acquired a penchant for self-righteous fury,”
the Iranian government called for his death fol- said Jenny McCartney in The Daily Telegraph Broker Blair
lowing the publication of his novel The Satanic (London). It’s now the “emotion of choice” for The speed with which former British Prime
Verses, Tehran has now made the “inane” sug- many, in much the same way that Westerners Minister Tony Blair “has scripted his own
gestion that his knighthood is somehow an “in- have developed a taste for “mawkish sentimen- sequel” by becoming the world’s envoy to the
sult to Islamic values.” Like most of us, Rushdie tality.” In the case of Rushdie’s knighthood, Middle East “gives the impression of self-ab-
could never have predicted the “calamitous there’s no shortage of “competitive outrage” sorption,” says Bronwen Maddox in The Times
consequences of his act of creativity” and his between Iran, Pakistan and homegrown crit- (London). The rush to announce a new role
deserved knighthood surely takes account of his ics, all keen to be seen as the “authentic voice” for Blair by the time he left office seemed “de-
being a “living target” for over a decade. But of their community. But such anger “need not signed to ease the sting of surrendering high
rather than “pandering to extremists” with half- define Islam.” Moderate voices like that of late office more than to solve the problems of the
hearted apologies, British politicians should be Arab scholar Zaki Badawi who pleaded with Middle East.” That said, Blair’s appointment
defending the government’s decision to award fellow Muslims to “spurn” The Satanic Verses isn’t as absurd as it might seem, as long as “you
Rushdie a knighthood, as well as championing but “spare” its author, remind us that anger “is take a long step around” his role in Iraq and
the right to free speech. In the face of pressure not a compulsion” but “a choice.” his support for Israel’s military campaign in
from this “grotesque distortion” of the Islamic As a British Muslim who enthusiastically Lebanon last summer. After all, Blair’s “pas-
faith, it appears that “art, beauty, reason and supported the fatwa against Rushdie at the sion for tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
morality” must now be sacrificed. time, I now admit “our detractors had been is beyond dispute.” But it will be virtually
And all because a writer said some “question- right,” said Inayat Bunglawala in the Guardian impossible to define his new role “while the
ing, querying things about a man who died over (London). I still “strongly disagree” with political route ahead remains so unclear,” with
a thousand years ago,” said Johann Hari in The Rushdie’s caricature of revered Islamic figures, the only certain conclusion being that it will
Independent (London). By simply trying to “nudge but acknowledge that banning the novel “was be political rather than economic. Blair faces
his fellow Muslims” away from a literal reading not the answer.” In the intervening years I’ve serious problems in reconciling U.S.-Israeli
of the Quran, the Indian-born writer ensured that come to realize that the “freedom to offend is plans and those of Palestine, though he may
beheading became “a legitimate form of literary a necessary freedom.” That said, our protests at feel the “paralysis plays to his strengths.” His
criticism.” The mullahs he so “enraged” by men- the time gave Muslims immigrants from Arabic, great success in bringing peace to Northern
tioning the Prophet Muhammad in The Satanic Bengali, Gujarati, Pakistani, Turkish and other Ireland “sprang from his skills as a broker.”
Verses would rather maintain their own “monop- backgrounds, a sense that we were, together, But that approach could “make too light” of
oly” on how the Holy Book is interpreted. And “British Muslims.” And for that I can only say his new mission, in which he will lack “the
the jihadism seen in the years since the fatwa was “Thanks, Sir Salman.” clout of a government head.”
pronounced in 1989 underlines the urgency to See Letters, pg 17 See Blair’s final farewell, pg 7; Letters, pg 17

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16
Opinions: Americas V  
I E W S
July 6, 2007

Jew hate, in moderation


Twatting about on the Net A little bit of anti-Semitism isn’t such a bad thing,
says Eugene Volokh in The Wall Street Journal. As a
“relatively assimilated” American Jew, I feel that a
moderate level of anti-Semitism is actually a “net
positive” for the American-Jewish community
and for Israel. Why? Well, feeling “embattled”
leads to “group solidarity” — a bond that’s sorely
lacking at a time when increasing assimilation of
American Jews has led to a “declining sense of
a common fate” and a dwindling “emotional
connection” with Israel. The “fear” of anti-
Semitism also reminds American Jews of Israel’s
potential role as a “refuge” should we ever need
it, as European Jews did 60 years ago (“Home
is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in”). Then there’s the flip
side. If we suppress anti-Semitism — “whether
Muslim, white nationalist or otherwise” — it
could have the effect of making the anti-Semites
look as if they’re the persecuted ones. Obviously,
rampant anti-Semitism is a dangerous thing, but
American Jews should support free speech, even
if it means the free speech of “anti-Semites and
unfair, bigoted critics of Israel.” Anti-Semitic
advocacy which is publicly visible is an “import-
ant informational tool” in today’s America. It
reminds American Jews of the “value” of their
In another age, all that campaigning politicians melodrama’s final ever scene — “complete with religious and cultural institutions and does so in
were expected to do was to wear a “smart suit” obligatory blackout ending.” The stunt has been an “emotionally effective way.”
and kiss a “baby or two,” says Stuart Heritage such a success that the fact that “bloody Celine
in HecklerSpray.com. Now, they’re expected to Dion” was the winner of the song competition
“twat about on YouTube every now and again.” has barely been noticed. Fellow Democratic The “Law and Order” candidate
The “pack-leader when it comes to wanking hopeful Barack Obama has also learned the Former Senator Fred Thomson, who recently
about like a dickhead on the Internet” is 2008 power of the Internet. A song about how “sexy” announced he may run for president in 2008,
presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Rather the politician is recently appeared on YouTube, has been embraced by some Republicans as a
than announcing the winner of her recent cam- and did more for his popularity than a “thou- “political messiah, a latter day Ronald Reagan
paign song competition like a “normal” person, sand of his tiresome Hollywood fundraisers” who can lead their party out of the wilderness,”
Clinton recruited her husband Bill to “spoof” the ever could. As for Clinton, she now plans to says Holly Bailey in Newsweek. But what do
final scene of television series The Sopranos. The continue doing send-ups of popular Internet conservative voters really know of the star of
video, available on Clinton’s Web site, shows videos for the rest of her campaign. So, what’s television’s Law and Order beyond his obvious
the power couple proving why they’ve made it next? Clinton “dressed as a toddler screaming ‘I “magnetism” and “celebrity”? Take his flip-
big in Washington rather than Hollywood, with want my money, bitch!’ a la Will Ferrell?” flop on abortion. Thinking that he’d “forever
a “slightly confused” re-enactment of the mob See Blogs view, pg 17
traded Washington for Hollywood,” Thomson
handed over years of records to be publicly
archived at the University of Tennessee. They
reveal a history of positions on issues which
Sept. 11 and Chinese food have proved to be a political minefield for other
“Twenty years ago, American perceptions of and chop suey that nobody back in their native Republican candidates. For example, in a 1994
Asian food could be summed up in one word: land would have recognized.” But nowadays newspaper interview Thomson said, “The ul-
‘Chinese,’” say Tim and Nina Zagat in The getting ingredients is no drawback. Instead, the timate decision on abortion should be left with
New York Times. Since then, Americans have “principal obstacle to improving Chinese fare the woman and not the government.” Once a
been introduced to Korean, Thai, Japanese here is the difficulty of getting visas for skilled Senator however, his pro-life credentials were
and Vietnamese food, but while the quality of workers since 9/11.” Top Chinese restaurateurs impeccable. The “charismatic and down to
restaurants serving those cuisines has greatly have complained that their plans to open major earth” former Senator also made “enemies” in
improved in the United States, Chinese res- eating establishments have been derailed by the the Republican Party by supporting campaign-
taurants “have stalled.” The “unimaginative amount of time it takes to secure work permits. finance reform and investigating Republican
dishes” we’ve been subjected to seem as dated Perhaps Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice campaign funding abuses. But on that same
as the “pseudo-imperial décor” of the estab- could try a little “dumpling diplomacy” so that issue now, he says he’s a “changed man.” So
lishments that serve them. But why? There’s our two countries could develop a program will Thompson’s Tennessee charm be enough
a historical reason for the “abysmal” state of making it easier for Chinese chefs to come here? to convince conservatives to turn a blind eye
Chinese restaurants in the United States. Back “Eating food prepared by an influx of Chinese to these inconsistencies? As one pundit put it,
in the 1860s, during the great wave of im- chefs would be like opening up a culinary time “You can never get all of the stain out, but you
migration, Chinese, faced with a lack of key capsule.” And believe us: “American palates are can get some of it out. The test is to see if he
ingredients, “improvised dishes like chow mein ready for the real stuff.” really means it.”

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July 6, 2007
V  
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17
Letters
Exchange of the week
A knight’s crusade?
much offence but I don’t want Mr. Siddiqui
silenced because he and I clearly differ on Blogs View
this, and I hope he would feel the same.
You and I: Hillary and Celine
To The Independent (London) Paula Jones, London
See A knight’s crusade, pg 15
How can I express my personal outrage at
the queen’s lack of judgement in agreeing
to bestow a high honor on Salman Rushdie, Broker Blair
a person who is widely considered to be a To the Guardian (London)
scoundrel by U.K. Muslims and by the vast Blair’s failure to condemn Israel’s destruction
majority of the entire Muslim world? of Lebanon last summer would appear to make
Nearly 19 years ago when The Satanic Verses him unfit for the job; but on the other hand
was published, my wife and I skimmed he got Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness to Celine with backing by Hillary
through the book. It is filled with utterly have tea together. Hillary Clinton hit upon the idea that she should
filthy language including four-letter explet- let the American public choose her 2008
ives all over the place, not to mention a San Cassimally, Edinburgh presidential campaign song. So, which song
grotesque portrayal of the personal life of did the people decide upon? U2? KT Tunstall?
Muhammad. I cannot help but feel that this news redefines Smash Mouth? No, it was Celine Dion’s ‘You
irony in a way not seen since Henry Kissinger and I.’
What were the advisers thinking of when See Twatting about on the Net, pg 16
they chose to recommend Rushdie for this was awarded the Nobel peace prize.
From LAist:
honor? They surely would have thought Julian Howes, Plymouth It’s possibly the lamest campaign song EVER.
about the offense this would cause. But Move over, Bill and Fleetwood Mac. Here comes
clearly this mattered not a jot. I am deeply To the Los Angeles Times Hill and Celine Dion. Yup, to appeal to all those
disappointed that Her Majesty did not reject Tony Blair may be passionate about Middle kids and liberals out there, she picked the
this out of hand. Does she not see the news? East issues, but I do not detect any passion Canadian queen’s ‘You and I.’ (Why? For the
I was born and bred in the United Kingdom. for him by the people of the Middle East. His love of God, why?) Of course, Hillary held an
interactive voting campaign on her Web site to
I am a subject of Her Majesty, whom I have nomination to be a Mideast envoy makes about
let the masses pick the winning song, but those
always held in high esteem. I also adhere to as much sense as President Bush seeking the Celine fans probably stuffed the ballot box. What
the Muslim faith. same position in 2009. was wrong with Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’?
While the Danish cartoons were produced Dodd Sheikh, Redondo Beach Hillary, this is America. Democracy can always be
by someone I consider to be plain ignorant, See Broker Blair, pg 15 overruled.
but caused deep offence, I’m afraid this Christine N. Ziemba
knighthood to Rushdie cuts even deeper. Tainted toys
This is a highly public endorsement by the From TimesOnline.co.uk:
To The New York Times Songs have always been associated with
Establishment of Rushdie’s offensive book.
I would urge that a precedent be set with As the Thomas the Tank Engine recall shows, presidential candidates — Jimmy Carter used the
the export of goods from China is seemingly Rocky tune, for instance, and Al Smith had ‘The
Rushdie and that his knighthood be revoked Sideways of New York’ in 1928. Clinton’s use is
on the grounds that it was a mistake. A very driven by greed and that the regulation of im-
very clever, since she has dumped five songs and
bad error of judgment. ports from that same country is dangerously inserted public choices in the “second round” and
Athar Siddiqui
lax. So let’s not wait for hundreds or thousands is noting who writes in so as to add them to her list
of poisoned Americans to force a revision of supporters. Clinton-Obama, Clinton-Richardson,
of consumer safety laws governing imported Clinton-Inouye or Clinton-Mabus in 2008 looks
I am sorry that Athar Siddiqui is offended
products. a real possibility, though one final thought is
by Salman Rushdie’s writing and the deci-
sion to award him a knighthood. He says Congress should pass legislation that requires that song saying ‘we’re gonna rock this country’
a prominent warning label when any product continues ‘and blow it out of this world’... uh oh...
he is outraged by the queen’s lack of judge-
ment in this matter, an opinion he is fully sold in the United States is manufactured in or Dr. M Meenagh, London, England
entitled to express publicly however much contains ingredients obtained from China.
From www.mickwright.net:
it might offend the head of state and others Pietro Allar This may be the worst lyric ever written: ‘Brighter
in Britain. See Tainted toys, pg 9
than the sun and darker than the night / I can see
I would, however, ask him to consider your love shining like a light.’ Then there’s: ‘If I
whether he would enjoy the same entitle-
ment in states where religious or political
Polling booth could travel across the world / The secrets I would
tell.’
frictions lead to death for those who speak Varying states of failure Is Hillary Clinton really going to “travel across the
freely. I have never read The Satanic Verses The threats of weak nations “ripple far beyond world” and tell our secrets? What is this, a love
nor any of Salman Rushdie’s work so am their borders,” says Foreign Policy in its Failed song for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
unable to offer an opinion on his literary States Index. Corruption and an absence of Mick Wright
achievement. I do think he is among those the rule of law are among some of the “all too
similar” problems that beset many failed nations. From Grammar.qdnow.com:
writers who, at no small risk, have defended When I heard that Hillary Clinton had chosen the
the right to free expression which is so fun- Unfortunately, the “complex” process of state
failure “remains little understood.” Using 12 song ‘You and I’ by Celine Dion for her campaign
damental to democratic society. That to me social, economic, political and military indicators, theme song, I knew it was finally the right time to
is worth acknowledgement and is what I Foreign Policy listed 177 states in order of tackle this topic!
suspect lies behind his award. vulnerability to “violent internal conflict and Celine Dion’s song ‘You and I’ is grammatically
We are all offended by opinions and beliefs societal deterioration.” For the second year in a correct, whereas the Jessica Simpson song
we don’t share, especially those we see as row, Sudan topped the list, followed by Iraq and ‘Between You and I’ is incorrect. It should be
a threat to our view of the world. For me, Somalia. Eight of this year’s 10 most vulnerable ‘Between You and Me.’
belief in God and prophets is the source of states are in sub-Saharan Africa. Grammar Girl

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18 July 6, 2007
Film R E  
V  
I E W S
Heist caper Comedy Biopic

Knocked up La Vie en Rose


Ocean’s Thirteen ∂∂∂∂∂
Released: June 1
132 minutes
∂∂∂∂∂
Released: June 8
140 minutes
∂∂∂∂∂
Released: June 8 Like his previous work, The 40- Director Olivier Dahan’s bio-
122 minutes Year-Old Virgin, writer-director pic of French singer Édith Piaf
Judd Apatow’s new film is “a has “all the makings of showbiz
morality play dressed up as a filthy melodrama: childhood blindness,
piece of mummery,” said Anthony doomed love affairs, the death of a
Lane in The New Yorker. This time child, serious car accidents, onstage
the focus has shifted “from a guy collapses and drug addiction,” said
who hasn’t had sex but wants it to Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com.
a guy who has had sex but wishes Marion Cotillard gives a “dazzling,
he hadn’t.” The setup is somewhat seamless and un-self-conscious”
“sitcom trite,” said Peter Travers performance as Piaf, said Philip
in Rolling Stone. Gorgeous career Kennicott in The Washington Post.
girl Alison (Katherine Heigl) falls She seems to get “the frailty, the
pregnant to party animal Ben awkwardness, the sexiness, the
(Seth Rogen) after a drunken one- sadness, the coquettishness and
night stand. While the two leads finally the utter, self-annihilating
“nail every laugh,” it’s the film’s misery” of the legendary singer’s
“unexpected gravity” that carries life. Cotillard certainly turns in a
it through. There’s a reason why “passionate performance,” said
Apatow is being hailed as “the Anna Smith in Empire, but structur-
new king of comedy”: he “won’t ally the film “has almost as many
settle for skin-deep” and his gags problems as the troubled singer.”
tend to “double back after the first Dahan, who also co-wrote the
Sound off: the movie features a “faked earthquake” laugh and hit you where it hurts.” script, adopts a “flashback-heavy
After the European setting of the movie that still resembles a movie,” Above all, the film “feels honest,” structure” that’s “so full of incident
2004 sequel that irritated some said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall it leaves little room for insight into
fans, Ocean’s Thirteen returns the Street Journal. Piaf’s complex character.” Scenes
action to Las Vegas and thereby Actually, it’s a “rambling mess,” of Piaf’s youth, for instance, are
“recaptures the feeling” of the said William Arnold in the Seattle “broken up” by deathbed scenes
2001 original, said Todd McCarthy Post Intelligencer. The film is just “a set many years later. Dahan makes
in Variety. This time around the jumble of fragmented scenes filled it harder for us to “fully empa-
heist is about taking revenge on vil- with incomprehensible techno- thize with the hopes and dreams
lain Willy Bank (Al Pacino), who’s babble,” designed to give each of the young Piaf” when he’s
cheated the gang’s beloved men- of the stars “their moment” on frequently reminding us “of the
tor Reuben out of co-ownership screen. “A chimpanzee could re- said A.O. Scott in The New York wizened, drug-addled woman she
of his soon-to-be-opened casino. arrange these scenes in any way Times, particularly its exploration of became.”
To do this, the group — again and the movie would play basically “the built-in discrepancies between
led by George Clooney’s Danny the same.” what men and women expect.”
Ocean — plan to bankrupt Bank The problem is that “only the For all its “gynecology-inspired”
on opening night by rigging most characters know what the plan is, humor, the film “rarely feels coarse
of the casino’s games so that the and we’re expected to watch in or crude” and perfectly captures
house loses. The heist involves a gratitude and amazement,” said the moral ambivalence and sexual
faked earthquake, some loaded Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun- confusion of our age “without
dice manufactured at a Mexican Times. “I know full well I’m ex- straining or preaching.”
plastics factory and the theft of pected to Suspend My Disbelief,”
Bank’s diamonds. but during Ocean’s Thirteen, “the
Much of the movie “is taken up suspension cable snapped.” U.S. box office
with the complex planning neces- Well, “I left my PhD in ridiculous Rank Title Total Gross Week #
sary for these elaborate scams,” said heist plots at home,” said Wesley 1 Ratatouille $47m 1
Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Morris in The Boston Globe. So I 2 Live Free or Die Hard $48m 1
Times. While this is “entertaining was able to enjoy the “breezy way” 3 Evan Almighty $61m 2
up to a point,” it sometimes seems Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest put 4 1408 $40m 2
that the entire film is “an elaborate the job in motion while not under- 5 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer $115m 3
sleight-of-hand maneuver, a series standing exactly they were up to. 6 Knocked Up $122m 5
of manufactured crises designed to It may seem like a “rinse, repeat” 7 Ocean's Thirteen $102m 4
divert us from how little is actually version of the original film but it’s 8 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End $296m 6
going on.” Indeed, director Steven good, “and that’s enough.” 9 Sicko $5m 2
Soderbergh and cast “have man- See Real Vegas vs. Film Vegas, pg 19; 10 Evening $4m 1
aged to make the least possible Curb appeal, pg 26

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
R E  
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19
Film
Horror Thriller Feature

Hostel: Part II Mr. Brooks


∂∂∂∂∂
Released: June 8
∂∂∂∂∂
Released: June 1
Real Vegas vs. Film Vegas
94 minutes 120 minutes

The sequel to 2005’s gore-fest sees “The appeal of Mr. Brooks is


respectable businessmen bid for as obvious as it is hard to re-
freshly-abducted American college sist,” said Mick LaSalle in the San
girls they’ll later torture and kill in Francisco Chronicle: Kevin Costner
a network of dungeons hidden in as a serial murderer. Costner plays
an abandoned factory in Slovakia. wealthy Oregon businessman Earl
“You come to the film expect- Brooks, a “reasonable man in the
ing — hoping — to be grossed grip of something that is twisted
out,” said Kyle Smith in The New into his very nature.” By casting
York Post. And on that level the Costner against type and examin-
movie delivers: “Arteries gush like ing Brooks’ compulsion to kill, the
Oprah.” If there is a “creative ele- movie does “a number of insidi-
ment” here, it’s the set pieces and ous things”: it turns a “heartless
makeup. As for the script, well, sociopath” into a “sympathetic On a roll: Vegas presented as “sanitized promotional montages”
“any four randomly selected dudes “What is it about Las Vegas and as “a place where a backwoods girl
I went to high school with could movies?” asks Kevin Maher in could become a starlet through grit
dream up something equally sick The Times (London). Already this and determination alone” (The Las
over a six-pack of Molson.” Too year we’ve had three films set in Vegas Hillbillies, 1966). Even “icon-
true, said Scott Bowles in USA America’s gambling capital: Ocean’s ic” Vegas movies such Elvis’s 1964
Today. The Hostel films make the Thirteen, Lucky You and Smokin’ Viva Las Vegas (pictured) were no
Saw franchise look like “Oscar Aces. In each movie, Vegas “isn’t more than “sanitized promotional
bait.” It seems that “porn-torture just some arbitrary shooting loca- montages.”
is what passes for horror these tion.” Rather, it’s “a title character, Then, in the ‘90s when the city
days,” and director Eli Roth has figure,” and, “most disturbing of a dramatic player, and indeed a had somewhat cleaned up its act,
all,” makes his addiction to killing star.” movies like Bugsy (1991) and Casino
seem “almost understandable.” A film with “Vegas” in the title (1995) portrayed a Vegas “that
Writer-director Bruce A. Evans suggests a “stylistic and emotional had clearly vanished.” Both films
presents Brooks’ internal struggle terrain” we all know: “sharp suits were “dripping with nostalgia for
through an ongoing dialogue with and hipster cool,” “seedy under- a bygone time of glamorous gang-
Marshall (William Hurt), his “invis- world connections” and “life-al- sters” and contributed to “the
ible alter ego,” who eggs him on tering high-stakes” card games. myth of Vegas as a fantasy place.”
from murder to murder. Imagine Ironically, Hollywood’s current In fact, director Martin Scorcese
the introvert/extrovert duo from “love affair” with Vegas occurs complained that the real-life Vegas
come perilously close to making Sideways “sandwiched into one at a time when the real Vegas is exteriors he wanted to shoot for
“a snuff movie.” And “if you think psychological ham-on-wry,” said “virtually unrecognizable” from Casino “weren’t ‘Vegas’ enough.”
Kazakhstan got a bad rap in Borat, Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. Indeed, its film version. Today’s Vegas is The late French philosopher
the Slovakian board of tourism one of the “pleasures” of this mostly a “family-friendly tourist Jean Baudrillard once argued that
must be in conniptions.” In the “totally absurd and equally enter- trap” which makes the majority Vegas is a place of “hyper-reality”:
end, said Vince Horiuchi in The taining” thriller is the interplay be- of its profits from non-gambling a “plastic copy of every city and no
Salt Lake Tribune, the “real victims tween Costner and Hurt, said Jack entertainment. city, of everywhere and nowhere.”
of this exercise in cynically-pack- Mathews in New York Daily News. Hollywood, however, has never And Hollywood has been happy to
aged horror moviemaking” are the The two are so “terrific together” been “too bothered by the discon- perpetuate this myth of an “ideal-
viewers of this “dreck” who fork that “you’re prepared to accept a nect.” During its gangster heyday ized city.”
out money to see it. story riddled with holes.” of the 1960s, the city was presented See Ocean’s Thirteen, pg 18

Reel time Coming up


Shaken and stirred, German style July 11
What will the “notoriously touchy Bond fan-base” make of the recent Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
announcement that German film-maker Marc Forster will direct the next In the fifth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry returns to Hogwarts to
007 movie? asks Wendy Ide in The Times (London). The news may not discover that much of the wizarding community is in denial about the return of
be as earth-shattering as the casting of Daniel Craig as the first “blond evil Lord Voldemort.
Bond,” but it’s “not far off.” After all, Forster is a “Bond neophyte with no
experience of directing action pictures.” He’s also a “curious choice” given July 20
that his CV has “previously veered towards intimate dramas” (Monster’s Hairspray
Ball), “sentimental family stories” (Finding Neverland) and “total misfires” John Travolta is back on the musical track in a film based on John
(Stranger Than Fiction). Forster is reportedly looking forward to the Waters’ 1988 cult classic about star-struck teenagers on a local
challenge and says the direction the Bond films took with Casino Royale Baltimore dance show. Also stars Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer and
offers “a host of new possibilities.” Christopher Walken.

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
R E  
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21
Music
Top tunes
White Stripes

Icky Thump “You know you’re


in for a treat the
minute Maximo
Park‘s new single
∂∂∂∂∂ ‘Books From
Released: June 19 (Warner Bros/Wea) Boxes’ kicks into
gear,” said Miriam Zendle in
DigitalSpy.co.uk. “Lovely keyboard
antics provide a funky backing” to
the gentle yet powerful sound, and
Paul McCartney there’s something “increasingly
lovely” about their accents. This
Memory Almost Full is a “pretty rare find,” a “brilliant
∂∂∂∂∂ track.”
Released: June 5 (Hear Music)
“It seems that
Editors have found
McCartney’s new album will “play their life-force in
in every Starbucks store in the death itself,” said
world,” said Joan Anderman in NME. Single ‘Smokers Outside
The Boston Globe, referring to the the Hospital Doors’ “is a dizzying
former Beatle’s cross-promotion gurn across the contradictions
Earning their stripes: the Detroit duo are “thriving” of terminal illness,” and has the
with the coffee giant, but it still
When they first arrived on the corded a song for a Coca-Cola ad intensity of a life that knows it’s
“smacks of Wings at its goofiest.”
about to be blown out. “Audacious,
scene in July 1997, the White last year, Oasis’ Noel Gallagher And yet this, his 21st solo output, certainly, and very good to boot.”
Stripes “seemed destined for declared: “Jack White ceases to shows that Macca still holds “a
a shorter shelf life” than most be in the club.” But you have to sentimental, effervescent charm “The new Unklejam
other bands, said Alexis Petridis wonder why White didn’t leave to everything he touches.” But his single is great!”
in the Guardian (London). Their sooner. With Icky Thump, he “wipes “sugary romanticism often gets un- said Rosie Swash
“contrived” image and “self-con- the floor with anything that has checked,” said Randy Lewis in the in the Guardian
sciously limited” music indicated a borne the Oasis imprint for more Los Angeles Times, and although it’s (London). ‘What
quick fall. And yet, a decade on, the than a decade.” He is now an “ir- far from his worst effort, the “friv- Am I Fighting For?’
has two essential components that
blues-rock duo from Detroit are resistible force” with a slew of olity” of the tunes often “sounds make it so fantastic: the chorus’
“thriving.” Icky Thump, their sixth “great ideas” as a songwriter. One like arrogance.” ‘Dance Tonight’ “resounding synthy bass line”
studio album, “positively swarms can only imagine that for White, and ‘The End of the End’ carry and the “stripped back verse.”
out of the speakers” with a “breezy “writer’s block is something that the cheery, inoffensive sound of The band show that “restraint is
diversity.” usually resolves itself by the end his “late-1970s period,” said Allan definitely better than overkill when
The title track provides an “omin- of the afternoon.” Kozinn in The New York Times, it comes to funk.”
ous thud, enlivened by frantic White’s lyrics covers a wide but as dire as the album often is,
abuse of a primitive synthesizer,” range of subjects, said Andy McCartney should be respected for Norwegian duo
while ‘You Don’t Know What Gill in The Independent (London). Datarock “pumps
“steadfastly avoiding hopping on
life” into the flagging
Love Is (You Just Do What You’re From relationships to “Scottish- current pop music trends.” genre of electro
Told)’ has a “fabulous, effortless and Mexican-themed tracks and clash with their
melody that bears a hint of ‘70s America’s treatment of its immi- “terrific, if slightly
FM radio rock.” Meanwhile, Meg grant minorities.” Musically, the
White’s drumming smacks “not band has abandoned the man- Gig guide offbeat” debut Datarock, Datarock,
said Adrienne Day in Entertainment
of a percussionist but a first-time dolin, marimba and glockenspiel Blondie (pictured) Weekly. They’ve taken Talking
property developer setting about employed on 2005’s Get Behind Me U.K., until July 11 Heads and Devo as their muses,
a supporting wall with a sledge- Satan, and returned to the “guitar/ Genesis and though it’s not all new, singles
hammer.” drums formula” that has served Europe, until July 14 like ‘Fa-Fa-Fa’ with their techno
drumbeats and David Byrne-
The album also formalizes the them so well in the past. Though Alice Cooper inspired vocals “definitely bear
band’s departure from indie rock, this time a mariachi trumpet and Australia, until July 21 repeating.”
said Pete Paphides in The Times bagpipes have been thrown in for The White Stripes
(London). After Jack White re- good measure. U.S. & Canada, until July 31 Era Vulgaris is the
fifth Queens of the
Chart toppers Coming out Stone Age album,
“and like the others,
Rank Week # Artist/Album July 10 it’s intricately
1 1 Bon Jovi / Lost Highway Interpol / Our Love to Admire crafted, meticulously polished
2 2 The White Stripes / Icky Thump Smashing Pumpkins / Zeitgeist and ruthlessly efficient,” said Rob
3 3 Brad Paisley / 5th Gear They Might Be Giants / The Else Sheffield in Rolling Stone. Most
of the record concerns having sex
Rank Week # Artist/Album July 17 with ladies, though Josh Homme
1 1 Editors / An End Has A Start Garbage / Absolute Garbage shows his tender side with ‘Into
2 1 Kelly Clarkson / My December Suzanne Vega / Beauty And Crime the Hollow.’ He also throws some
3 1 Traveling Wilburys / Collection Rooney / Calling The World New Wave synth into the mix.

www.nvrmagazine.com
22Nonfiction July 6, 2007
Books R E  
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Biography Science/Philosophy History

The Black Swan Justinian’s Flea


A Woman in Charge
Carl Bernstein
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

∂∂∂∂∂
William Rosen

∂∂∂∂∂
Published: May 3 Published: May 3
∂∂∂∂∂ 400 pages, Allen Lane 384 pages, Viking Adult
Published: June 5
640 pages, Hutchinson Taleb has penned an “important, Rosen’s book is “a librarian’s
albeit at times, abstract book” nightmare” in that it defies easy
The legendary Watergate journal- dispelling the notion that humans categorization, said The Economist.
ist’s account of Hillary Clinton are somehow able to predict “ex- It “reads like several books in one,”
“stands as a model of contem- treme impact” events, said Michael dealing with cultural, medical, mil-
porary political biography,” said Scown in The Asian Review of Books. itary, political and even zoological
Ronald Brownstein in the Los The author calls these “Black history. It examines the bubonic
Angeles Times. In a “balanced, judi- Swans”: events that couldn’t pos- plague’s effect on the fall of the
cious and deeply reported” study “slapdash six pages,” depriving us Roman Empire and the rise of
he paints a “three dimensional of an insight into the kind of pres- modern Europe. But Rosen also
portrait” of the Democratic Party’s ident she might make. covers the evolution of the Silk
leading presidential contender that Bernstein’s book “will please nei- Road, the rise of Islam, and even
challenges common assumptions. ther Friends of Hillary nor Enemies dabbles in microbiology with
The belief the Clintons’ marriage of Hillary,” said Michiko Kakutani the development of the bubonic
only served Hillary’s own political in The New York Times. It’s “often bacteria, Yersinia pestis. “At the
ambitions, for example, is turned critical” of her as a politician, yet is core of the book, however, is a
“on its head” with the revelation “often sympathetic” toward her as splendid biography of the em-
she sacrificed her early “forays an individual coming to terms with peror Justinian (482-565),” said Ian
into political activism” for family a complex marriage and trying to Pindar in the Guardian (London).
life. Yet later as a governor’s wife put her genuine idealism into ac- sibly have been predicted, such Justinian survived the plague and
and then first lady, Bernstein shows tion. Bernstein “tries hard to feel as Sept. 11 and World War I.
her “defining characteristic” was to the Clintons’ pain,” arguing that Historians may now tell us of “ris-
view politics uncompromisingly the couple “were “treated more ing tensions” before 1914, but the
as “war.” While the president was harshly” than any other president price of bonds at the time “barely
happy to “convert” or somehow and first lady of the 20th century. moved” until war broke out. This
“envelop” his opponents by ac- His retelling of the “sex and real inability to come to terms with
commodating their concerns, estate follies” of the Clinton era is unforeseen phenomena is “in part,
Hillary was living proof that “even like a “slow acid flashback” where hard wired into us,” said Will Self in
paranoids have enemies.” This we learn anew about “Monica, The Independent (London). But this
shrewdness allowed her to spot Whitewater, bimbo eruptions” and doesn’t excuse whole disciplines
Monica Lewinsky-investigator the changing state of the couple’s being built on the “shifting sand
Kenneth Starr early on as a “sanc- marriage. of our ignorance” as practised by went on to leave lasting memorials
timonious partisan” out to destroy Yet it’s exactly the “central mys- economists and other professional such as Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia.
her husband. But such “pugna- tery” of this enduring relationship forecasters. Taleb accepts, like most But Rosen’s central contention,
cious instincts” were also her un- that Bernstein renders “curiously of us, that sometimes “shit hap- that the plague gave rise to the
doing. Threats to “demonize” any flat-footed,” said Ana Marie Cox pens.” But his dismissal of these development of today’s Europe,
Democrat senator opposing her in The New York Observer. He con- industry “bluffers” is a “little un- seems “too slick an answer,” said
ambitious universal healthcare plan, cludes that “some kind of partner- fair,” said The Economist. Countless Mary Beard in The Sunday Times
merely had the effect of killing the ship” means they could never have business successes, for example, (London). The birth of modern
proposal altogether. Bernstein only achieved what they did without can be attributed to “rigorous re- Europe “is a rather more com-
falters in glossing over Clinton’s each other: not exactly an earth- search and canny marketing,” and plicated process than a series of
more recent senate career in a shattering revelation. not just mere chance. footnotes to a pandemic.”

Hitchens silenced (in Malaysia) Nonfiction bestsellers


If religious militancy is on the increase in Malaysia, 1. The Secret / Rhonda Byrne
then dictating what citizens can and can’t read 2. Women & Money / Suze Orman
isn’t going to help matters, said Ioannis Gatsiounis 3. In an Instant / Lee and Bob Woodruff
in Asia Times Online. The country’s Internal Security 4. You: On a Diet / Michael F. Roizen
Ministry has the power to “pressure bookstores not to 5. I Feel Bad About My Neck / Nora Ephron
carry certain titles” on the grounds that it may “disrupt
peace and harmony” in the largely Muslim nation.
The latest victim is the best-selling God is not Great 1. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid / Bill Bryson
by British-born journalist Christopher Hitchens (pictured). The well-known 2. The God Delusion / Richard Dawkins
polemicist’s study of the “irrational legacy of religious conviction” has fallen foul 3. Humble Pie / Gordon Ramsay
of the authorities, despite the fact that anti-Semitic literature like the Protocols 4. Don’t Tell Mummy / Toni Maguire
of the Elders of Zion is still “readily available” throughout the country. 5. Please, Daddy, No / Stuart Howarth

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
R E  
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Fiction
Books
23
Novella Historical novel Thriller/fantasy

After Dark Heyday


Haruki Murakami Kurt Andersen The Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Michael Chabon
∂∂∂∂∂ ∂∂∂∂∂
Published: June 7 Published: March 6 ∂∂∂∂∂
191 pages, Knopf 640 pages, Random House
Published: May 1
432 pages, HarperCollins
Japanese cult writer Haruki Andersen deals with a time in
Murakami delivers a suspense- America “when a combination of Pulitzer Prize-winning Chabon has
ful thriller, similar in style to the technological and political revolu- crafted “a capacious meditation on
films of Jean-Luc Godard or tions seemed to rewrite all the rules the contradictions of Jewishness,
Michelangelo Antonioni, “where overnight,” said Dan Zigmond in disguised as a detective novel,” said
something dire seems always the San Francisco Chronicle. The time Lisa Schwarzbaum in Entertainment
about to happen,” said Michael is 1848: a year which saw the start Weekly. In the writer’s “virtuoso
Dirda in The Washington Post. The of the California Gold Rush and imagining,” the fledgling state of
story takes place during a single the popular use of “new inven- Israel lasted just three months in
night in Tokyo, but Murakami’s tions” like the photograph and 1948 before its cast of “criminals, Jewish to enjoy Chabon,” said Neil
emphasis is more on setting and telegraph. Through immigrant cops, dreamers, losers and schem- Steinberg in the Chicago Sun-Times.
characters than on what happens, Englishman Benjamin Knowles, ers” were relocated to Alaska. “But it sure helps.” The narrative’s
said Edward Champion in the Los Andersen allows the reader to Unfortunately, this land for the “Yiddish tone” enlivens this “bleak
Angeles Times. A cast of “sad sacks “see the sprawl of pre-Civil War “Frozen Chosen” was leased for world” in which Orthodox Jews
and loners” inhabit this dark- America through a foreigner’s only 60 years and time is almost up. are “grotesques,” and heroin ad-
ness, including Murakami’s two eyes,” said Allen Barra in the Meanwhile, alcoholic cop Meyer dicts use the leather straps from
heroes — struggling university Chicago Sun-Times. The plot, which Landsman has taken on one last their prayer boxes in order to
students Mari and Takahashi — sees Knowles and acquaintance case of a dead man found in the shoot up. But a story about a “ca-
and a sociopathic engineer named Duff Lucking travel cross coun- same “fleabag hotel” he’s been bal” of Jews conspiring to reclaim
Shirakawa, who represents “the try in search of Lucking’s sister reduced to living in. These two Palestine and “boot Arabs out of
feral yin to Mari and Takahashi’s events collide when the “teeming, their homes” while dividing up
insouciant yang.” Styles Murakami slushy” Jewish tundra of Alaska their criminal spoils, is in danger
employed in previous novels reverts to the United States, and of provoking both “old slanders
— “dark surrealism,” “mournful thereby halts the investigation. and contemporary accusations.”
realism,” and “supernatural yearn- The subject matter proves that Yes, a thriller needs villains, and
ing” — are all here, said Steven “Chabon the serious artist means Hasidic Jews fit the bill as well
Poole in the Guardian (London). business” even if the conceit is as anyone, but some might argue
The story’s minimalist plotline “jokier and cartoon broader” the novel’s “fanciful premise” is
“spells out less” than his previous than usual. ultimately undone by the very real
stories have, but “evokes as much In fact, “no quirk of Jewish life” weight of history.
if not more.” is left unexplored for its comic Indeed, and the “sheer awfulness
Polly, gives us “a sightseeing tour potential, said Ruth Franklin in of one miserable Jew after the next
of North and Central America Slate.com. Alaskan Jews shop at sticks in the throat after a while,”
at a time just before modernity “KosherMart,” while a reclusive said Lisa Jennifer Selzman in the
overwhelmed the primitive, buf- religious sect is described as a Houston Chronicle. If Chabon weren’t
falo-strewn West.” Unfortunately, “Disney shtetl.” But it’s a select- Jewish himself, one could imagine
a book with such scope suffers ive humor for a small audience. “outraged protest” over this book.
from “facts. And more facts,” said Ironically, Chabon has fashioned His underlying message that Jews
Louis Bayard in The Washington “a mass entertainment” that’s have had enough of oppression is
Post. Andersen “whiles away” for “largely inaccessible to the mass- “powerful and deeply important”
about 300 pages before bothering es.” but must he resort to every “vicious
to set his main plot in action. The truth is “you don’t have to be stereotype” to make his point?

Fiction bestsellers World honors Achebe


1. Lean Mean Thirteen / Janet Evanovich Often referred to as the father of African literature, Chinua
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns / Khaled Hosseini Achebe has been awarded the Man Booker International
3. Blaze / Richard Bachman Prize. The 76-year-old author topped a shortlist that
4. Double Take / Catherine Coulter included iconic literary names like Philip Roth, Doris Lessing
5. The Navigator / Clive Cussler with Paul Kemprecos and Carlos Fuentes. Awarded every two years, the prize for
lifetime achievement has earned “the status of an authentic
world award,” said John Ezard in the Guardian (London).
1. Crystal / Katie Price Earlier this month a fellow Nigerian and “disciple” of Achebe,
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns / Khaled Hosseini Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, scooped the Orange Fiction Prize for her novel,
3. The Overlook / Michael Connelly Half of a Yellow Sun. The more established Man Booker Prize, awarded in
4. The Children of Hurin / J.R.R. Tolkien October, aims to recognize the best novel of the year by a citizen of the British
5. The Quest / Wilbur Smith Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

www.nvrmagazine.com
24Arts & July 6, 2007
Entertainment R E  
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Documentary Architecture

Icons wanted
Pilger’s War on Democracy Buildings by well-known architects have their
fair share of critics, and Beijing’s National
Grand Theater “is no exception,” said Calvin
Veteran journalist-documentarian John Pilger’s Low in The Straits Times (Singapore). Known
new film, The War on Democracy, looks at “half as the “egg,” the structure (pictured) has been
a century of furtive and bloody U.S. interven- criticized as “too modern” for the city. But
tion” in South America, said Danny Leigh in the “time heals all wounds,” if the once-contentious
Guardian (London). It shows how U.S. foreign examples of the Eiffel Tower and Louvre pyra-
policy has sought to topple many of the sub- mid are anything to go by. Citing the “Bilbao
continent’s democratically elected leaders and effect” as justification, city planners the world
put brutal pro-U.S. strongmen in their place. over are constructing more and more “elabor-
Pilger’s film details a “noxious story,” which ate and expensive edifices” to attract tourists.
“needs to be told.” Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum, de-
Perhaps the film is “rightfully indignant” of signed by Frank Gehry, swelled the coffers of
U.S. foreign policy on South America, said the former “rust-belt” Spanish city by US$400
Kevin Maher in The Times (London). But it’s Whiter than white: Pilger in South America million within two years
ultimately spoiled by its presenter Pilger — the of it opening in 1998. But
veteran of over 50 documentaries — “who can’t istic duty” by glossing over the darker side of procuring the “gilded ser-
help but jump into frame at the slightest provo- the Venezuelan president’s regime. Chávez’s vices” of a “starchitect”
cation, attired in Man-From-Del-Monte whites decision to bypass the National Assembly and is no guarantee of success, as the developers
and loaded with oily amour-propre.” Whether rule by decree for 18 months, for instance, is of London’s Millennium Dome found to their
he’s ingratiating himself with Venezuelan conveniently ignored. cost with Richard Rogers. A bigger problem
President Hugo Chávez, praising the spirit of “Yet for every interview that feels contrived is that the centers of power that once created
the poor, or tricking a rich Venezuelan business- or staged,” said Rich Cline in RealMovieNews.com, architectural icons like Beijing’s Forbidden City,
man into being an ignoramus on camera, “the there’s another that “bristles with raw honesty.” Athen’s Parthenon and Agra’s Taj Mahal, no
temptation to reach into the screen and slap Pilger’s film digs under the surface “to show a longer exist. Today, architects and the “consum-
him is overwhelming.” side of the story the media rarely reports.” It ing public” alike need to discover new points
The Chávez interview in particular “has mo- also serves as an “eerie” parallel to the current of reference to create our own “contemporary
ments of almost Hello! magazine deference,” said U.S. occupation of Iraq. iconography.”
Peter Bradshaw also in the Guardian (London).
Pilger is unabashed in his admiration for See the trailer at www.youtube.com [Search for John Television
Chávez, but he’s “in dereliction of his journal- Pilger, The War on Democracy]
Sopranos bow out
The final episode of The Sopranos arrived in “a
Venice Biennale frenzy of audience speculation” but was “per-
versely non-earth shaking,” said Frazier Moore
What’s dug up, Doc in The Huffington Post. There was no “mass ex-
The 52nd Venice Biennale won’t be remem- termination” and the only violence came when
bered as “groundbreaking or dynamic,” said Leotardo was “whacked”; a predictable, “even
Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times. comical” demise witnessed by his grandchil-
But this year’s festival — the largest yet — is dren. True to form, producer David Chase
at least “independent” and “strong in its con- refused to give viewers “comfortable closure,”
victions.” or even “catharsis.” Even in the final scene,
That’s certainly true of the Korean pavilion’s every moment during the family gathering at a
display which features the imagined fossil re- diner seemed to “foreshadow disaster” which
mains of Bugs Bunny. But overall, this year’s never came. But then “any ending would have
displays could hardly be described as “funny.” been a letdown” for the “most unusual and
Typical is Emily Prince’s “deeply moving” draw- realistic family drama in television history,” said
ings of every U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan Alessandra Stanley in The
and Iraq. Meanwhile, Tracey Emin’s etchings New York Times. For the
are like “warmed over Egon Schieles” and sug- Floor act: an installation at the biennale whole of the final season
gest that even Britain’s cheekiest artists are just springs to mind. But the selection suffers some “myriad hints and red
“reactionaries at heart.” It’s true that this year’s “uncharacteristic lapses in discrimination,” herrings” suggested any number of outcomes,
event may be “a little boring” but it certainly notably in curator Thomas Storr’s favored cat- but Tony (James Gandolfini) finally turning
“grows on you.” egory of painting. state’s evidence perhaps wasn’t the hardest
We critics can secretly wonder “how we got That may be, but if “curators could win the to predict. Gandolfini “looked like he hadn’t
lucky enough to call this work,” said Sarah Nobel Prize,” said Richard Dorment in The slept in week,” said Phil Gallo in Variety. Yet
Milroy in The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Many Daily Telegraph (London), “I’d nominate him.” his performance was as “tough and focused”
nations boast their “best curatorial picks in a For the first time ever, artists from the north as any we’ve seen in 85 episodes. Chase and
long time,” and there’s less of the cheap and and south of Ireland share the same pavilion his team did “yeoman’s work” trying to tie up
“hastily installed” exhibits we’d come to expect including one whose “masterly” film depicts loose ends, but there were still enough gaps to
from past biennales — Switzerland’s recent the “haunting” of this troubled region by the have us wondering where “all those Sopranos
“menstrual hut in upholstered maxi pads” ghosts of murdered civilians. might be five, 10, 15 years from now.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
26 July 6, 2007
Travel R E  
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The axis of decency


“Rogue states are easy to find, but places at the
other end of the scale are few and far between,”
says Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler in The
Independent (London). Five years ago, I wrote
Bad Lands, a guide to the world’s “axis of evil”
countries — Afghanistan, Albania, Burma,
Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and
Saudi Arabia. But “finding a mirror-image set
of ‘good lands’ is, unhappily, nowhere near so
easy.” After all, a place like Switzerland, which
seems “democratic, neutral, neat and tidy,” is
in fact a favorite place for dictators to deposit
their cash. And Scandinavia, which has every-
thing Switzerland does plus socialism, is as Countries with no axis to grind
“unscrupulous as any other country” when it
comes to arms dealing. “Let’s face it, no country Iraq, while remaining “one of the biggest con- waters, and while neighbor Australia is “apt to
is all good.” That’s why I’m “happy to settle for tributors” to the Afghanistan peace-keeping send refugee boat-people off to its Pacific Gulag
eight ‘pretty good’ ones.” mission. Canada, where Greenpeace first start- (also known as Nauru), New Zealand is likely
It’s hard not to rate a country like Bhutan ed, is also a member of the “axis of decency.” to take them in.” Other bastions of decency
“good” considering that it’s more concerned Despite its neighbor to the south, it’s resisted include Iceland, Finland, Ireland and Costa
about “Gross National Happiness” than both the “Iraq call siren” and “gun-ownership Rica which deserves special mention. It’s got
Gross National Product. Germany also makes madness.” an economy based on ecotourism and, here’s
the grade, doing the “hard yards to make the Nor, it seems, can New Zealand “do anything the “trump card” — no army.
European Union work.” What’s more, it’s wrong these days.” It’s “so anti-nuclear” that the
“steered clear of international mistakes” like U.S. Navy is prohibited from sailing into their www.lonelyplanet.com/tonywheeler

Gourmet traveler
Macau United States

Macau to get Playboy Mansion Curb appeal


As cool as a cucumber Playboy Enterprises, “home to gentlemen clad Motel life was once “a glimpse of paradise”
If you’re looking for a way to quench your
thirst in Japan this summer, try Pepsi’s new
in silk pyjamas, girls with bunny ears and an in America, says Wayne Curtis in The Atlantic
cucumber-flavored soda, says Brian Tracey empire that ranges from gambling to soft-core Monthly. Recently however, motels have been
in MSNBC.com. The innovative soda, “Pepsi porn,” has announced plans to open a Playboy displaced by “boxy three-story chain hotels.”
Ice Cucumber,” is already in stores, but Mansion in Macau, says Dan Glaister in the So the classic motels that remain, such as the
don’t pop open a can expecting a health drink Guardian (London). The Mansion will feature a ones along Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard, are to
— “it doesn’t have any of the green gourd hotel, pools, grottos, restaurants, gambling tables be savored. Biscayne Boulevard is home to one
in it.” Instead, it’s been “artificially flavored and, “of course, scantily clad bunnies.” The plan of Florida’s finest collections of postwar motels,
to resemble the refreshing taste of fresh follows last year’s launch of a Playboy club in Las typified by their distinctive “collage of angles,
cucumber,” said Aya Takemoto of Suntory Ltd., Vegas. Playboy once ran 22 clubs, “from Chicago swooping curves and neon lights.” In the days
Japan’s Pepsi distributor. It turns out that in
Japan, cucumber is the first thing that comes
and New York to Tokyo,” but the last of those before Internet booking, it was all about “curb
to mind when people think about “keeping cool died out in Manila in 1991 due to “an awaken- appeal.” Former fashion mogul Eric Silverman
in the summer heat.” But this “mint-colored” ing cultural maturity, feminism and the growth hopes to single-handedly restore the boule-
soda will only be around for the summer, of pornography.” Now things have changed vard to its “former glory.” He’s purchased the
during which Suntory expects to unload about again, “with an explosion of interest in gambling Vagabond (pictured), which once had a “raff-
200,000 cases. Pepsi rivals should “retaliate and a burgeoning resort sector.” Macau used to ish, if Rat Pack charm” (Dean Martin used to
with Spinach Sprite and Dr. Bell Pepper.” That be “the personal fiefdom of billionaire Stanley perform in the hotel bar). Silverman believes the
way, “we can skip the salad bar entirely and Ho,” but the Chinese government ended his motel will one day become “a destination for
get all that green goodness in liquid form.” casino monopoly in 2002. The first foreign-run people to come see what life was like” — and
casino opened in the former it’ll be even better this time
Portuguese colony in 2004, around since there won’t be
and “the territory’s revenue any “orange shag carpeting.”
has soared.” In 2006, Macau’s But other motels along the
gambling revenue grew to strip are waiting to see what
over US$6.95 billion, more comes of his attempted ren-
than Las Vegas. Playboy maga- aissance. For now, unfortu-
zine is banned in China. nately, “none seem quite
ready for retro-tourism.”
Pepsi's new soda: "taste of fresh cucumber" www.worldcasinodirectory.com
See Ocean's Thirteen, pg 18; Real Vegas vs. Film Vegas, pg 19 www.motelguide.com/flmi.html

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007
R E  
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27
Travel
Beat the crowd
The world’s wackiest hotels
Looking to stay in one of the world’s “craziest”
hotels? Oddee.com lists some of its favorites.

Ice Hotel, Sweden


This 550 square meters
of ice and snow is the
world’s first, and largest,
ice hotel. You’ll get to sleep
on an ice bed in a thermal
sleeping bag, and in the morning a cup of hot
lingberry juice will be brought to your bedside. But
with an average indoor temperature of -8 C, be
sure to “bring lots of layers.”
All soled out: the market unloads 2,000 tons of fish a day
www.icehotel.com
Japan
Poseidon Undersea Resort, Fiji
The last word in fish This hotel’s rooms, 12
In the “wild, engulfing, blood drenched madness” auctions that are closed to the public. Unable to meters beneath the
of Tsukiji, the world’s largest fish market in Tokyo, cut open the fish, which come from as far away surface of the “clear
a bluefin tuna can sell for more than US$170,000 at as Spain, or as near as Osaka, they poke around blue” Fijian Lagoon, are
enveloped in acrylic walls,
auction, says Nick Tosches in Vanity Fair. Tsukiji, in the body with flashlights in search of “kata” enabling guests to enjoy unparalleled ocean
whose 1,677 stalls unload 2,000 tons of fish a day, — the “mysterious” qualities that constitute an views. The only catch is that you’ll have to wait
has a history dating back 400 years. Each day, its ideal specimen. until early 2009 to reserve a room because the
fishmongers offer up a “biochromatic wealth of Tsukiji is also where you’ll find Tokyo’s best resort is still under construction.
mysterious mollusks and other sea invertebrates,” sushi. Down a warren of nameless alleyways, bur- www.poseidonresorts.com
including barnacles, “grotesque” scorpion fish, ied somewhere in the 55 acres the market occupies,
toxic blowfish, octopus roe and the “weirdest there’s a “poky” restaurant called Daiwa that seats Capsule Inn, Japan
looking” of all, sea pineapple, which resembles an fewer than a dozen. But be sure to arrive early. At 7 If you find yourself on a
“otherworldly marital aid of inscrutable purpose a.m., there’s already a long queue of people waiting shoestring in Tokyo and
for the brides of Satan,” and tastes “something to enter. With Tsukiji at its doorstep, it’s no wonder looking for a place to
sleep, check in to the
like iodine.” that chef Shinichi Irino serves up fatty bluefin- Capsule Inn. Each capsule
But bluefin tuna, a migratory fish that can grow belly-meat sushi that “melts in the mouth.” is made of reinforced plastic and comes with all
to more than 700 kilograms and almost 3.5 me- of the usual amenities such as TV, radio, and
ters in length, is the market’s “main event.” In www.tsukiji-market.or.jp alarm clock.
the “dark of early morning,” bidders take part in See Japan running out of tuna, pg 5 www.capsuleinn.com

Green Magic Tree house, India


Iran Located in India’s southern
Kerala state, this hotel is
Money in the name of Allah the perfect getaway for
someone who “longed for
The Shrine of Imam Reza in Iran is the Islamic a tree house” as a child.
republic’s “biggest and richest business empire,” Each suite, equipped with running water, private
says Andrew Higgins in The Wall Street Journal. baths and telephones, is built 30 meters above
Located in Mashhad, Iran’s second largest ground. All of the tree houses have been built
city, the shrine is a “sumptuous parade” of using eco-friendly materials and are powered by
mosques, minarets and marble that’s “vaster” alternate energy sources.
than Vatican City and draws more pilgrims than www.hotelskerala.com/greenmagic
Mecca. For centuries, the shrine has “intermin-
gled faith and money.” In addition to operating
an Islamic-studies center, the companies in its
corporate portfolio “make everything from city
Travel deals
buses to pizza strudels.” Priceless: the shrine has its own "corporate portfolio" Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai, Daning
The shrine is what’s known in Iran as a to US$2 billion due to a lack of transparent ac- Experience Sheraton Shanghai’s brand new
“bonyad” — a “nominally charitable” foun- counting. In Mashhad, where the shrine owns guestrooms from RMB699, including daily buffet
breakfast for up to two persons. Upgrade to a
dation with huge holdings acquired through three-quarters of the land, the shrine also runs a Comfort Suite for an additional RMB500 with
generations of donations confiscated after the bakery, Reza Bread Co., that buys its yeast from access to the fitness center and heated indoor
1979 Islamic Revolution. Bonyads publish no Reza Yeast Co., its sugar from Reza Sugar Co. pool. Until August 31.
accounts and answer only to Iran’s supreme and its fruits from shrine-owned orchards. One www.fourpoints.com/daning (2602 2222)
leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In fact, the of the bakery’s biggest customers for its stru-
shrine’s “independence from government dels is the Reza Hospital. Best of all, since Reza Grand Hyatt Shanghai Summer
Take advantage of the special summer offer at
supervision” — in addition to its stuffed coffers companies seamlessly blend capital gains and the highest hotel in the world, starting from just
— is what makes it so “potent.” religion, their employees never go on strike. RMB1,850 for a Grand Room. Until August 31.
How much the shrine makes each year is www.shanghai.grand.hyatt.com (5049 1234)
unclear. Estimates vary from US$50 million www.imamreza.net/eng/

www.nvrmagazine.com
28
Consumer
July 6, 2007
R E  
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Headphones to shut out the world


“Air travel this summer isn’t going to be pretty,” says David Pogue in The New York Times. Fortunately, you’ll be able to avoid one of the biggest head-
aches — the roar of plane engines — with noise-canceling headphones. Market-leader Bose provides quality you can’t dispute, but at US$300 a pair,
there’s “little wonder rival companies are now trying to bring you similar peace in the stratosphere without propelling the price up there, too.”

1. JVC HA-NC100
“You could buy seven pairs of these for the price of one Bose set.” And, solidly built, absolutely great-sounding headphones.” What’s more, the
since they rest on your ears instead of surrounding them, they’re very circuitry cuts out a “huge swath” of engine, road or train noise and the
small. The only problem is that they only cut out a “chunk of the lower music is “crystal clear, sweet and finely textured.”
frequencies, leaving much of the engine roar unabated.” www.audio-technica.com; US$132
www.jvc.com; US$40
4. Logitech Noise Canceling Headphones
2. Panasonic RP-HC500 The noise-canceling circuit on this pair is “superb.” And the music
The noise cancellation on this model works well, probably because the sounds “pretty good for the price,” though it can’t compare to
“pleasantly smushy-edged earcups “do an excellent job of isolating your Bose.
ears.” Also, the music reproduction is “stellar.” With these headphones, www.logitech.com; US$155
you’ll get “quality that’s nearly indistinguishable from the Boses — for
a third of the price.” 5. Bose Quietcomfort 2
www.panasonic.com; US$100 These may be pricey but Bose “know their acoustics.” The noise cancel-
lation is “amazing; when you throw the switch, the world just falls away.”
3. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 And the music sounds “fantastic.”
These are Bose “without the marketing campaign.” They’re “comfy, www.bose.com; US$300

Luxury real estate


More money than sense Up for auction
Spider-Man’s house
Bling bling mouse Iran’s military history
Toby Maguire (aka Spider-Man/ Its creators, Pat Says Now, are You can’t put a price on nostalgia,
Peter Parker) has made a “tidy calling it “the most expensive although Mr. Parviz Zeinali has
sum” on the recent sale of his computer mouse in the world,” tried. The former Iranian marine
Hollywood Hills house, says Ruth says Chris Davies in SlashGear. is selling his uniform on eBay for
Ryon in the Los Angeles Times. Fernandez. Covering almost 5,000 com. Made with 18-carat white a whopping US$1.5 million. The
Maguire bought the property for square feet, it includes a gym, spa, gold and set with 59 diamonds costume dates from immediately
US$3.7 million as a first-time buyer infinity pool, courtyard entry, in a floral pattern, the limited prior to the Iranian revolution which
in 2002 and has almost tripled his chef’s kitchen and maid’s quarters. edition mouse comes complete overturned the Shah and swept
with trackball for page navigation Ayatollah Khomeini to power in
price with a sale for US$11.5 mil- Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally lives and an optical sensor. And if you 1979. Zeinali claims the uniform
lion. The one-story Mediterranean- next door, and Keanu Reaves lives don’t like the flower thing, the is one of only three in existence,
style house was built in 1962, and three doors down. Swiss manufacturers will custom since all uniforms worn during
was recently refurbished by Cuban- make a design to your choosing. Shah’s time was ordered to be
born interior designer Waldo www.bergproperties.com Personally, I think it “looks a bit destroyed.
rubbish,” but if you’re the kind of www.ebay.com [Search for Parviz
person “who squeals over white Zeinali]
Just what you’ve always wanted gold encrusted with diamonds”
A musical condom then perhaps you’ll think the
A Ukrainian scientist has created a musical condom that plays music during exorbitant price tag of US$25,000
sex, says Korrespondent magazine. Different sex positions determine what is worth every cent.
tune is played by the condom, which has tiny sensors connected to a mini- www.pat-says-now.com
electronic device that produces the sounds. As the sex gets more passionate,
the condom — which also works like a normal contraceptive — registers
the increased speed of the movements and plays the
melody faster and louder. Dr. Grigoriy Chausovskiy, who
invented the device as an aid for more pleasurable
love-making, reassures “there is no danger of being
electrocuted.”

www.nvrmagazine.com
3
38
Penultimately

Hong Kong’s last governor...


July 6, 2007

ten years on
Chris Patten was the last pampered and plumed Governor of Hong Kong. On the 10th anniver-
sary of the handover, he talks to Elizabeth Grice about the lasting impact of the experience.

People still come up to Chris Patten and say:


“I remember the day you left Hong Kong.” Of
course they do. That night of bucketing rain
and high emotion on the waterfront when the
last Governor handed over the former British
colony to the Chinese. His three famously
lovely daughters in tears. ‘Nimrod’ playing as
the Union flag was lowered. The Prince of
Wales, soaked to the skin, water gushing off his
naval cap, doggedly peeling off the notes of his
sodden speech.
Next morning, Britannia sailed through the
Fleet for the last time, leading a diamond forma-
tion of 17 naval vessels as she ploughed through
the waves flanked by dolphins and flying fish.
Behind the clamor and the flypast, you felt the
quiet slide into history.
How can it be 10 years ago? The stiff dignity
of imperialism’s last gasp is still sharp. Lord
Patten says he hadn’t watched the film until the
other day and he was surprised how emotional
it made him. The “king over the water” and his
family had five glorious years in Hong Kong.
They’d made friends, worn down many — if
not all — enemies and lived high on the hog.
His daughters had done a lot of their growing up
there and sobbed when they had to leave. He’d
All back to Blighty: the Pattens say farewell
secured a dignified and successful transition that
was by no means inevitable. “You must try not dressing room to find suits, ties, pants, socks, left and he subsides gratefully into a red velvet
to be regretful,” he says, “but when you’ve done all laid out for him. This was a man who’d been chair, placing his mug of tea on a book called The
a job like that in your early fifties you know you used to polishing his family’s shoes every Sunday Mind of God by Peter Davies. Lavender would
may not have anything as interesting again. I try morning, as his own father had done. “I said to not like to find ring-marks on the table.
not to dwell on it too much.” my very nice steward, ‘Look, I’ve been dressing The convalescent quiet is due mainly to the ab-
It amuses him that on the stroke of midnight, myself for 40 years. I think I can manage.’” sence of his two irritable, ankle-hungry Norfolk
June 30, 1997, all glory vanished. Until 11.59 Ten years on, he’s back to the old habit of pol- terriers, Whisky and Soda, whose delinquent
p.m., the program notes respectfully referred ishing the shoes, only now there aren’t so many. behavior made their mark in Hong Kong before
to him as HE Governor — as the Queen’s His once-so-nubile daughters, Kate, Laura and Patten made his. Soda was the flirt with a pen-
representative, His Excellency theoretically took Alice, have flown the nest. His wife, Lavender, chant for custard tarts. He wrote her obituary
precedence over the Prince of Wales. But at is away in Italy, helping Kate after the birth of in Country Life. Whisky, who passed away last
midnight, he became plain “Mr. Patten.” When her second child, a son, their third grandchild. year, was the smaller and more crotchety. When
they reached the Philippines, there was a 21-gun Patten pads about their bow-fronted house on he came out of prison for biting a workman,
salute, but at Heathrow, servantless, chauffeur- the edge of Barnes Common looking more Patten likened it to the release of Ronnie Biggs.
less and cold, they were disgorged straight into baggy-eyed than usual and a bit forlorn. He Five television cameras and 30 journalists were
the taxi queue. “We came down to earth pretty has a small paunch, a slight stoop and a voice there to meet him.
rapidly,” he says, liking the poetic irony. of mellifluous melancholy. As usual, he is do- That is rather how it is these days when Patten
Patten only briefly wore the Governor’s ri- ing too much — writing, speaking, travelling, returns to Hong Kong, which — in keeping
diculous uniform and plumes. He didn’t think attending the Lords, obligingly saying yes when with his policy of looking forward rather than
he had the necessary height or elegance, and it he should be saying no. back — he says he tries not to do too often. At
wasn’t his style anyway, so he asked the Queen’s A Chinese film crew, one of many wanting his book signings, Fat Pang — a man the Chinese
permission to stick to a suit. On his first mor- reflections on the 10th anniversary of the return once called a whore, a tango-dancer and “a vil-
ning in Government House, he walked into his of the former colony to the mainland, has just lain for a thousand years” — is now a sort of

www.nvrmagazine.com
July 6, 2007

cult hero. His visits have been likened to the


return of an aging rock star.
The Chinese, he says, treat him with exquisite
politeness and respect. Chinese holidaymakers
come up to him for his autograph at airports.
Visibly shaken, he says he could feel the ground
slipping from under his feet and, at the time,
thought it was the worst thing that could have
happened to him. But three months after losing
Bath, he was on his way to Hong Kong. “Out
39
Penultimately
3
where. In Hong Kong, he indulged his pas-
sion for antiquities — figurines of court ladies,
Neolithic pots, horses from long-gone dynasties.
He’s been banned from buying any more pic-
tures, but managed to commission portraits of
The Chinese government in Beijing allows him of the wreckage came what were to be the most his loyal staff before the edict took effect. On
to promote his richly political and philosophical wonderful five years of my life,” he wrote. his mantelpiece there’s a little carved table loaded
books — East and West (1998) and Not Quite Looking back, Lord Patten of Barnes marvels with food, the kind of thing the Chinese don’t
the Diplomat (2005) — and people queue for at just what an Andy Warholish moment it was. buy because of its burial associations but which
hours to shake his hand at signings. On a visit A less honest man might have downplayed possibly appeals to him for that very reason.
in November, he had meetings with the foreign the glamour, or pretended to be unimpressed, A sense of mortality didn’t just arrive with the
minister and his deputy. The Chinese govern- but Patten accepted the trappings of high of- passing years. For him, it’s part of what it means
ment, he says, was “much too sophisticated” to fice with obvious gusto: the fleet of cars, the to be a Christian, a Roman Catholic. (A former
allow past differences and arguments affect the yacht fully staffed with waiters in white jackets altar boy, he can still remember most of the
way they did business when he was European and plimsolls, the helicopter and the scores responses to the Latin Mass.) He doesn’t want
commissioner for external relations from 1999 of staff. He loved the Chinese cuisine and to be frightened of dying, so he confronts it.
to 2004. In fact, when he was two years into asked for more of it at Government House, “I don’t know any way of doing that except by
that job, the then foreign minister publicly which endeared him to the cooks. “The snake thinking about it. I don’t think I’m catatonically
pronounced Patten “a force for concord rather soup was terrific but I’m not sure I could eat gloomy and I don’t want to give the impression
than discord.” cockerels’ testicles every day of my life.” The that I’m obsessed with cemeteries — I whistle
He imagines all this tolerance is because the effects of good living were worked off daily on past cemeteries — it’s just that, when you reach
government in Beijing, expecting the worst, the tennis court. a certain age [he’s 63] you can’t help but notice
found that the British had left Hong Kong in Patten is lyrical about the vitality and excite- the age of the people in obituary columns. It’s
extremely good shape. “We hadn’t made off ment of the port city — “the clutter, the sea, part of preparing yourself for the inevitable.”
with all the treasure, and we hadn’t deliberately the backstreets, the Chinese traders, the hawk- He had angioplasty in 1993 but his cardiologist
sown the seeds of turbulence.” ers, the rush, the noise, those elegant, elderly told him that stress was quite good for him, so
Patten ridicules the rumor that he is “absolute- Chinese gentlemen with a cigarette at the very he cheerfully went on as normal, leaving his wife
ly spitting” not to have been invited to the 10th end of their fingers... all the rumbustiousness to do the worrying. He says he shares with “Mr.
anniversary celebrations on July 1 in Beijing. of urban life.” Blair” an irregular heartbeat, implying that’s all
“Nothing is farther from the truth. I wouldn’t He won’t hear a bad word against Prince they share. The former prime minister’s long
have expected to be there. Indeed, it would Charles, whose private journal of the official farewell didn’t chime with Patten’s idea of dig-
have been curious to have been asked. Nor do visit to Hong Kong, in which he caricatured nity at all. “It’s hubris,” he says. “It makes you
I think the U.K. expected to be there. For the Chinese diplomats as “appalling old waxworks,” want a banana skin. It’s pretty tacky and it’s
past 18 months I have been planning my own was leaked to the press. All his scorn is reserved turning politics into showbiz. I think Mr. Blair
party for about 140 people in Oxford.” for the “friend” who circulated extracts. “The has become a tacky politician. He has confused
In a sense, Patten’s journey to Hong Kong Prince of Wales is an interesting, intelligent politics and policy. The question people will ask
began the night of April 9, 1992, when he won man, with enthusiasm for what matters — and is why, given such majorities, he accomplished
a fourth election victory for the Conservatives he behaved heroically on that day.” so little.”
(he masterminded their campaign) but lost his The former Governor’s fondness for things Patten now so obviously inhabits the world
own seat. It knocked the stuffing out of him. Chinese, and the Chinese he knew, is every- of ideas that he seems far removed from the
politics of pragmatism. He joins debates in the
House of Lords, he lectures and travels, and
he’s an energetic Chancellor of the University
of Oxford, with a flat in the city that gives him
the excuse to sneak off and buy a few more
pictures. But there’s another book taking shape
in his crabbed, indecipherable longhand on A4
ruled pads. “Don’t accuse me of vainglory,” he
says, “but it’s called How the World Works.”
The book is about the disconnection between
economic globalization and politics, a rallying
cry for international co-operation on issues that
nation states can no longer tackle alone: terror-
ism, climate change, organized crime, drugs,
people-trafficking.
In July and August, while on holiday at his
farmhouse in southern France with the family,
including his three small grandchildren, he has
to write 50,000 words. So his beloved vegetable
garden will have to run riot and there will be no
afternoon sleeps in the deckchair.
“I have a very happy life,” he says. “I just
work too hard.”

Hand it over: the British left Hong Kong in "extremely good shape" This article originally appeared in The Daily Telegraph
(London). Used with permission.

www.nvrmagazine.com
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40Sudoku
1 5
2 1 9
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July 6, 2007

Sudoku Challenge No.29

47
4 7
4 5 2
87 54
3 7 8
9 1
20
3 8 7
63 5 2
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Ju

Sudoku Challenge Solution to Sudoku Challenge No.28

Think Sudoku is easy? Then try NVR's Sudoku


Challenge. One rule only — each row, column and
3x3 box must contain the digits 1 to 9. The sender
of the first correct solution will receive two movie
tickets from Paradise Warner Cinema City (Value:
RMB 160). E-mail to info@nvrmagazine.com or
mail to: NVR Sudoku Challenge, No.51, Lane 749,
Yuyuan Lu, Shanghai 200050, China.

Air quality watch


City Fortnightly API* average Fortnightly % change

Beijing 105 - 79
Shanghai 64 + 63
Guangzhou 45 - 22
*Air Pollution Index

API Grade Pollution level


0-50 Ⅰ Good
51-100 Ⅱ Acceptable
101-200 Ⅲ Slight pollution
201-300 Ⅳ Medium pollution
>300 Ⅴ Heavy pollution

Source: State Environmental Protection Administration of China

Sources
Asia Times Online www.atimes.com; The Asian Review of Books www.asianreviewofbooks.com; Associated Press www.
ap.org; The Atlantic Monthly www.theatlantic.com; BBC News news.bbc.co.uk; The Boston Globe www.boston.com;
Chicago Sun-Times www.suntimes.com; The Christian Science Monitor www.csmonitor.com; Daily Mail www.dailymail.
co.uk; The Daily Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk; Der Spiegel www.spiegel.de; Digital-Spy.co.uk www.digitalspy.co.uk; The
Economist www.economist.com; Edinburgh Evening News edinburgh-news.scotsman.com; Empire www.empireonline.
com; Entertainment Weekly www.ew.com; Financial Times www.ft.com; Foreign Policy www.foreignpolicy.com; The Globe
and Mail www.theglobeandmail.com; Guardian www.guardian.co.uk; Hello! www.hellomagazine.com; HecklerSpray.com
www.hecklerspray.com; Houston Chroni-cle houstonchronicle.com; The Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com; The
Independent www.independent.co.uk; International Herald Tribune www.iht.com; The Jakarta Post www.thejakartapost.
com; Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger www.ksta.de; Korrespondent www.korrespondent.net; Los Angeles Times www.latimes.com;
MSNBC.com www.msnbc.msn.com; National Geographic www.nationalgeographic.com; Nature www.nature.com;
New York Daily News www.nydailynews.com; The New York Observer www.observer.com; New York Post www.nypost.
com; The New York Times www.nytimes.com; The New Yorker www.newyorker.com; Newsweek www.msnbc.msn.com;
NME www.nme.com; The Observer observer.guardian.co.uk; Oddee.com www.oddee.com; RealMovieNews.com www.
realMovieNews.com; Reason www.reason.com; Reuters uk.reuters.com; Rolling Stone www.rollingstone.com; The Salt
Lake Tribune www.sltrib.com; San Francisco Chronicle www.sfgate.com/chronicle; Seattle Post Intelligencer seattlepi.
nwsource.com; SlashGear.com slashgear.com; Slate.com www.slate.com; South China Morning Post www.scmp.com;
The Straits Times straitstimes.com; The Sunday Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk; The Sunday Times www.timesonline.
co.uk; The Sydney Morning Herald www.smh.com.au; Time www.time.com; The Times www.timesonline.co.uk; USA
Today www.usatoday.com; Vanity Fair www.vanityfair.com; Variety www.variety.com; The Wall Street Journal wsj.com; The
Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com
Photos: Amazon; The Barbican Center; China Foto Press; HBO; Imagine China; Lions Gate Films; Metro-Goldwyn-
Mayer (MGM) Studios; Panorama; stock.xchng; Universal Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures

www.nvrmagazine.com