Kasia Kasprowicz

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That Rolex won't come cheap, ever more so...
Economy

Why Living Rich Is Costing More And More

PARIS - The price of luxury products is skyrocketing. The quasi-hypnotic appeal of some brands and the increasing number of extremely wealthy clients throughout the world is enabling luxury brands to hike prices to stratospheric levels year after year.

A pair of John Lobb shoes, a Kelly Hermès bag, a kilo of Petrossian Sevruga caviar, a bottle of 2002 Dom Pérignon champagne, a session with a Fifth Avenue therapist, a face-lift by a famous plastic surgeon, two seats at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the chicest of Sikorsky’s helicopters, or a Rolls-Royce Phantom – these are some of the essential 40 goods and services used to calculate the renown “Cost of Living Extremely Well” index, created in 1976 by Forbes magazine.

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Underground, where there is no light
Economy

Pirate Gold Mining Thrives In The Remnants Of South Africa's Boom Times

WELKOM - It's a small open-air factory, impossible to spot from the road. You have to go into Thabong, the township in Welkom, three hours south of Johannesburg, to discover it in an old mining town in the G-Hostel, where a dozen workers are clustered, busy transforming rocks into gold.

Behind the apparent disorder hides a well-oiled production chain. First the mineral blocs are extracted from deep beneath the earth, and heated up. They are then ground into a powder using a cast-iron bar that resonates with a clang in the courtyard with each hit. The particles are separated from the rest of the rock using a cylinder filled with cold water and mercury that is rotated with a crank.

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The captain of the Costa Concordia, which sank in 2011 off the coast of Italy, was one example of un-chivalrous practices.
food / travel

Women And Children First? Fat Chance, Says Shipwreck Study

A shockwave, an explosion, a fire. The boat lets in water and topples over, passengers hang on to life boats or jump into the waves. Few circumstances have the tragic intensity of a shipwreck, which takes mere seconds to throw human beings into life-threatening situations, where the cruelest of decisions have to be made: who is a priority and who can wait?

Two economists from the University of Uppsala in Sweden studied 18 naval catastrophes in order to analyze the attitudes and actions of people in those situations. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, put to rest the chivalrous idea that "women and children first" is an ironclad rule.

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Deforestation in the Amazon
Switzerland

Witness Latin America's Deforestation As It Happens

Since June, it is possible to witness the extent of deforestation, in quasi-real time, with just a few clicks. This is thanks to Terra-i, the first satellite deforestation detection and surveillance tool in Latin America.

Presented at the Rio +20 conference, Terra-i is based on calculation algorithms bio-inspired and developed at the Vaud School of Business and Engineering in Switzerland. A similar program already exists in Brazil, but this new computer tool will enable smaller countries to easily track the evolution of their forests.

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Mineral extraction in Potosi, Bolivia
Economy

Theft Or People Power: The Battle Over Bolivia's Nationalization Spree

LA PAZ - Nationalization is in the air -- and on the ground -- in Bolivia.

On May 1, the country's armed forces were sent to the offices of TDE, a Spanish company that manages three-quarters of Bolivia's electricity network, to "take control of management and administration." On June 20, the Colquiri pewter mine, held by the Swiss Glencore company for the past 12 years, was seized "with immediate effect" to be administered by Comibol, a state-owned company. On August 2, Canadian mining company South American Silver was dispossessed of its indium mine. And last July, Bolivia breached its contract with Jindal, an Indian company that was supposed to run the Mutun iron mine.

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Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde
Economy

YouTube Has A Case Of Doctor Jekyll And Mister Hyde

Do you want to see The Avengers? Or a French movie? Or a one man show? And you don't have a penny in your pocket? There is a solution to your problem: YouTube.com. This isn't a shady alleyway where you risk being mugged at nightfall. YouTube is a respectable company. Over 800 million users watch videos uploaded by anyone on the website every month, and YouTube is a subsidiary of search engine giant Google.

YouTube is the new Megaupload

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A Rwandan guide at the Volcanoes National Park.
Rwanda

Poachers Turned Park Rangers: Local Profits In Saving Rwanda's National Parks

GAHUNGA - Not long ago, the communities bordering Rwanda’s three national parks were the biggest threat to their survival. The villagers poached animals and illegally exploited the forest. But today, locals collaborate with the tourism industry and take part in the protection of biodiversity while improving their living standards.

Much of the credit goes to a new revenue-sharing scheme, with five percent of tourism-generated revenue pumped back into the surrounding towns and villages. The new income has allowed locals to replace poaching with tourist-related businesses and other activities linked to the parks’ conservation.

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Lost in transition
Switzerland

Lost: Living Life Without An Internal Compass

She remembers her panic attacks at age six, whenever she lost sight of her mother at the supermarket. Later, to avoid getting lost on her way to high school, she was constantly accompanied.

Andrea* is now 47-years-old and lives with her father in Vancouver, Canada. To go to work, she follows an itinerary that is always identical. If there is roadwork or a disruption that requires a detour, she is likely to lose her way and will have to call someone to come get her. Andrea doesn't drive. Her social life is very limited.

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The Nahal Haredi Orthodox battalion
Israel

Will Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Finally Be Forced Into Military Service?

JERUSALEM - It is almost prayer time in Ramot, the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in north Jerusalem, and men in black suits, white ties and black hats with wide brims are hurrying to the synagogue.

On July 31, the 10-year-old “Tal Law” exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from military duty expired, sparking a nationwide debate in Israel over the past few weeks.

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A billboard celebrating the leaders of the revolution in Tehran
Geopolitics

How The Syrian Regime's Downfall Could Make Everything Unravel In Iran

It is hard to dispute that Iran's geopolitical importance, both internationally and regionally, has been on the rise over the past decade.

With the Arab Spring, the Islamic Republic saw a new opportunity. For Tehran, the Arab uprisings meant "the awakening of Islam," the rise of Islamist political parties sympathetic to Iran's plight, and a defeat for the Americans, Israel and the West.

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food / travel

WWII Bomb Alerts: Airport Closed In Amsterdam, Spectacular Detonation In Munich [WATCH]

DUTCH NEWS (Netherlands), BBC NEWS (UK), DER SPIEGEL (Germany)

Worldcrunch

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An open market in Kasese, Uganda a border town home to many Congolese.
Sources

Straddling The Congo-Uganda Border With Two Nationalities - Best Of Both Lives

BWERA - It's market day in Bwera, a Ugandan city on the banks of the Rubirihiya river that separates the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Uganda, east of the Beni region.

Ugandans and Congolese sell from the same stalls. It is hard to distinguish them because they all discuss products and prices in "Kinande," their shared mother tongue. They aren't that different, really. Transactions are carried out in shillings on the Ugandan side, and in francs on the Congolese one. The same merchants do their market rounds on both sides of the border.

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