Newsweek’s Beijing Bureau Chief Melinda Liu reports that over the past few months, a number of dramatic product-safety scandals have rocked China-and horrified the world. Other economies, such as South Korea’s and Japan’s, experienced similar growing pains decades ago. The difference, and the danger, is one of scale, since Chinese goods now dominate the world in so many sectors. Unless Beijing can improve its image fast and turn “Made in China” into a prestigious-or at least reliable-brand, consumers will remain at risk and the country’s export-driven economic miracle could face serious trouble.
(Latin America edition) Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe and Correspondent Darren Briscoe report that the question over whether Illinois junior Senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is black enough is one that has dogged him his whole career and now in his campaign. A recent Newsweek poll shows that race is no longer the barrier it once was to electing a president. A clear majority — 59 percent — says the country is ready to elect an African-American president. But race is far from a non-issue. To win the election, Obama must ultimately appeal to large swaths of both black and white voters.
Signs of Progress. Contributing Editor Ellis Cose writes, “That Obama cannot take the “minority vote” for granted is a reflection of progress in America’s struggle to get beyond race. It also is a reflection of the unprecedented diversity among Democratic presidential candidates. With a black man, a Latino — and a white woman, of course — in the race, clan solidarity is less of an issue for minority voters than at points in the past.”
Doctor of Death. Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas and Investigative Correspondent Mark Hosenball report on the eight doctors involved in last week’s London terror plots and the chilling realization that some of the most dangerous extremists are not embittered young men without jobs or hope. They are the elites, or, more typically the sons of the elite, who are working out some grievance or vengeance and have the know-how and means to find dangerous weapons.
A Smashing First Act. The new British Prime Minister’s debut as a leader, as guest columnist Matthew D’Ancona, editor of The Spectator, puts it, “has been fleet of foot and sometimes dazzling.” The Islamist car-bomb plot, uncovered less than 48 hours after Brown became P.M., enabled him to showcase his greatest strengths. For many voters, Brown will already have been defined as the new P.M. who held his nerve and spoke with quiet poise as the police were still inspecting the propane tanks and fuel canisters that had packed the cars.
Unfinished Business. According to Berlin-based guest columnist Michael Levitin, just when Europe and America thought they had finally cleaned up the mess in the Balkans, the whole package is on the verge of unraveling. Serbia’s leaders have rejected a U.N. plan to grant independence to Kosovo, insisting that to forcibly redraw Serbia’s borders would violate its sovereignty. The West claims Serbia forfeited that sovereignty when it crushed the Kosovar insurgency in 1998-99. This, however, overlooks a dangerous truth: that pushing too hard on Kosovo would nourish Serbia’s legitimate sense of grievance, undermine moderates there and possibly spark a return to political extremism, even war.
The Power Broker. In an exclusive interview with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Editor-at-Large Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor, Jr. discuss the balance of power he holds and the fact that he does not love being called a “swing vote.” He told Newsweek that he and earlier denizens of the court’s center-Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the late Justice Lewis Powell- “never liked the term ‘swing vote’ because it indicates that you elect to swing for the purpose of accommodating one side or the other.”
Higher and Mightier. Hong Kong Bureau Chief George Wehrfritz and Jonathan Adams report that state-run funds are now far richer and more powerful than hedge funds, with vast implications for global markets. Over the past three years countries such as China, Russia, South Korea, Australia and many others have placed billions into new sovereign-wealth funds for investment abroad in assets including stocks, real estate and commodities. Already such funds control an estimated $2.5 trillion in assets, some $1 trillion more than all hedge funds combined, and Morgan Stanley recently estimated that they could balloon to $12 trillion within a decade to become the dominant force in global finance.
TECHNOLOGIST: Who’s the Smart Sibling? General Editor Mary Carmichael reports that scientists are weighing in on the decades-long controversy over whether first-borns are more intelligent than their siblings. While none have been able to show a definitive link between birth order and intelligence, a group of Norwegian scientists may be on the right track. In a soon to be published paper, in the journal Intelligence, these scientists have compared test performance of first-born children to their younger siblings. According to the study, the same birth-order pattern shows up: the firstborns, on average, score about two points higher than their second-born brothers, and third-borns do even worse.
There Goes the Neighborhood. Guest columnist Jorge Castaneda, Global Distinguished Professor of Politics and Latin American Studies at New York University, writes that the events at the end of June, including the failure of the U.S. Senate to pass the immigration reform bill, is leaving a “power vacuum” in the hemisphere that Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez are more than willing to fill to strengthen their influence in the region.
Fly Them Like Gods. India is launching airlines into the brutal market of global routes. Founder and Chairman of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal talks about entering the international market as airlines struggle with fuel costs. “Very few airlines make money … Nearly 30 million Indians live overseas, all doing very well. If Indians can run other businesses, why not airlines?” he tells Newsweek. “It’s not rocket science, it’s a hospitality business. Indians are raised to treat the guest as god; that’s our culture.”