Newsweek Mar-06-15

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United States
The Newsweek/Daily Beast Company LLC
37 号


the not-so-great dictator

The morning of July 1 last summer began like any other for Peter Hahn, a 74-year-old who had come to do extraordinary things in a place that he would never call godforsaken but which, nonetheless, is. Tumen, China, sits on the border with North Korea; it’s a gritty city of 140,000, more than half of which is ethnically Korean. Like most of the region fronting this desolate border, it is poorer than much of the rest of eastern China. This is where, in 1997, Hahn decided to set up shop with his wife, Eunice, abandoning their comfortable life in suburban Los Angeles to pursue what would become his life’s work: trying to help the impoverished people on both sides of the border—but in particular those from North Korea, where, in 1942,…

invasion of the barcelona wallet snatchers

It’s a balmy Friday afternoon before Valentine’s Day in Barcelona, and even in winter, Las Ramblas, the city’s tree-lined promenade, is packed with people: teenagers dressed as devils for Carnaval, toddlers riding on their parents’ shoulders, vendors flinging annoying LED toys into the sunny sky. February may be a slow season for tourism in Spain, but there are still plenty of sightseers stumbling around, munching on patatas bravas and digging into their fanny packs for cash, sunglasses and wipes. And wherever they go, they are stalked by roaming packs of clever thieves. As the sun drops to the horizon line, I see a notorious pickpocket duck into a lingerie shop just off Las Ramblas. For hours, I’ve been searching for thieves like her on a patrol with two burly undercover cops,…

meet the soldiers trying to retake mosul from isis

The front line of the fight against ISIS in northern Iraq is manned by Kurdish fighters ranging from the young to veterans who proudly carry the same weapons they used to fight in the Iran-Iraq War three decades before. Mohamad Barzani, 60, says he has spent “40 years fighting. First the Iranians, then Saddam Hussein.” He has been based on this rocky hillside, surrounded by deserted villages and bombed-out houses, for four months. “But we are fighting for something,” he says, pointing to the tattered Kurdish flag positioned on top of a pile of sandbags. Kurdish fighters like him, known as the peshmerga, will play a role in the attempt to retake Mosul from ISIS, which could come as soon as April, according to an official at U.S. Central Command, to…

eight million tons of trash added to ocean from land each year

For the first time, scientists have estimated how much plastic in the ocean comes from the land, as opposed to from ships and fishing vessels. And it’s not a small number. A study published in the journal Science calculates that 8 million tons of plastic trash makes its way into the ocean each year. “This is equivalent to five large trash bags full of plastic trash, for every foot of coastline in the world,” says study co-author Jenna Jambeck, an environmental engineer at the University of Georgia. That number is the middle of the range of estimates the researchers came up with; the total may be as low as 4.8 million tons but could be as high as 12.7 million. And it could get worse: Under a “business as usual” scenario where no…

warren buffett’s transparency problem

Berkshire Hathaway, the giant conglomerate run for nearly half a century by lionized investor Warren Buffett, is drawing scrutiny for being less than crystal clear about how it is so profitable. The questions from Wall Street analysts, insurance specialists and corporate governance experts put the spotlight on a behemoth with $517 billion in assets that in recent years has grown increasingly opaque with its financial disclosures. Better known for giving shareholders a staggering return of more than 693,000 percent since its birth in 1965, more than 70 times that of the S&P 500, Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world’s largest companies, is one of the least transparent corporations in America. “There’s actually a tremendous amount we don’t know about parts of this company,” says Meyer Shields, an equity analyst who covers the…

the key to your heart, and garage and…

Owners of 3-D printers can already make their own untraceable firearms, so why not add tools for illegal trespass to the mix? A few lock-geeks are using custom 3-D software to print plastic keys that open standard and even high-security locks. Two MIT students have already developed software, Photobump, that allows them to order a “bump key” from any online 3-D printing service provider—all they needed to do was upload a photo of a keyhole. A lock picker designs and cuts a bump key to touch all the pins in a lock. Once he inserts the key into the lock, he taps, or “bumps,” it with a mallet. The resulting vibrations get the pins to jump up to align with the patterns in the lock. It’s a pretty effective lock-picking tool;…