How Idol competitions change the world
May 25th, 2011
08:32 AM ET

How Idol competitions change the world

By Omar Kasrawi, CNN

Tonight is the American Idol finale.  The TV show has become such a staple of American life that many aspiring singers are now more hopeful of making it in the competition than scoring a record deal some other way.

The winner (but more likely the runner up or a cast-off) could go on to some lasting measure of success or wind up the next Taylor Hicks.

But the phenomenon that is Idol (and was originally UK’s “Pop Idol”) has a far greater potential social impact. The show's unique formula is changing countries from Afghanistan to the Arabian Gulf to China.

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Topics: Afghanistan • China • Culture • Middle East • United States
Superman renounces his American citizenship
May 18th, 2011
10:06 AM ET

Superman renounces his American citizenship

By Omar Kasrawi, CNN

Superman, the world’s most iconic superhero, has announced his plans to renounce his American citizenship. The Man of Steel has apparently had enough of the world seeing him as a pawn of American foreign policy.

“I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship. I am tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy,” said Superman in a story written by David S. Goyer.

Superman, the last survivor of the planet Krypton, first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938 and crash landed as an infant in Kansas. From there he grew up to fight for “truth, justice and the American way.” But after this story, which appeared in issue no. 900 of Action Comics, he might have to alter his catchphrase.

The tale features Superman peacefully standing by in support of protestors in Tehran. That leads the Iranian regime to declare this an act of war by the Americans.

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Topics: Culture • Current Events • Diplomacy • Iran • United Nations • United States
April 12th, 2011
04:40 PM ET

Last Look: Hollywood casts America's new boogeyman

The Cold War inspired such classic films as Dr. Strangelove, The Manchurian Candidate, Top Gun and more.

Now Hollywood has decided to remake the cult classic Red Dawn, where a group of high schoolers fight off Soviets invading their Colorado hometown. In this modern remake, however, the bad guys are the Chinese. As you can see in our Last Look video, filming was completed in Detroit and starred a Hollywood-created Chinese invading army.

But not so fast. According to the LA Times, Hollywood is too scared to offend Chinese investors and audiences, so the film studio is digitally altering all the Chinese logos in post-production to be North Korean.

As Fareed notes, "There are no real worries about North Korean investment funds withdrawing money."

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Topics: China • Economy • Last Look
April 11th, 2011
03:56 PM ET

What in the World? Checklist for a new nation

So what exactly would happen if the secessionist movement in Belgium succeeds? Or if southern Yemen separates from the northern part of the nation? We've put together a small checklist of some of the less glamourous, but still necessary things that will go into the foundation of the new South Sudanese state.

Some of the tasks that the new nation will need to tackle, among other things of course:

- A new anthem
– A new monetary system
– A new country code
– New embassies across the world

Now the video we put together maybe a light hearted look at the birth of a new nation but it's important to remember what Fareed says about South Sudan:

Now, it's fun to take a tongue in cheek look at the plans of a nation that's long coveted independence. But let's not forget, this is a serious story. Please keep an eye on Sudan and on the new Republic of South Sudan. Their people have been neglected by the world before and with dire consequences. That shouldn't happen again.

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Topics: Africa • Culture • Economy • What in the World?
April 4th, 2011
04:52 PM ET

Last Look: War of the machines?

Afghanistan is a country where you might be hard pressed to find a working elevator, but if the latest numbers are right, you could have a good chance of running into a robot - that is, if you're on the front lines.

Our latest video shows what might be the latest in a line of increasingly used robots on the combat field. As Fareed says:

According to the Marine Corps robotics guru, there are now more than 2,000 robots being used to fight back the enemy in Afghanistan. That's one out of 50 troops in that country. There are, of course, robots to detect bombs, to disarm bombs and to dispose of them, but also a robot whose main job is to get shot at.

And now this might be the newest robot of all. It goes by the very creative name of X-47B, sort of like R2-D2, and looks like a cross between a stealth fighter and drone. And it is that. But it's also much more. It requires almost no human interaction. It can take off and land by itself. Current drones require pilots, often thousands of miles away to complete those tasks for them by remote control.

The X-47B is even said to be able to take off and land itself on the rolling deck of an aircraft carrier. It will be able to find its target by itself. The only thing it needs a carbon-based life form for is to let it know it's OK to drop the bomb.

Automated combat hasn't quite yet reached the apocalyptic vision of man vs. machines that James Cameron envisioned in his Terminator films. And while they may have conquered chess and Jeopardy, it could still be some time before robots truly control the battle field.

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Topics: Afghanistan • GPS Show • Last Look • Military
March 30th, 2011
10:36 AM ET

Last Look: Hand signals that could land you in hot water

Before you take off on your next vacation, you might want to brush up on your sign language. You don't want to wind up insulting a cab driver you're trying to flag down in the pouring rain or anger the waiter bringing you your coffee.

So as you pack up your Lonely Planet guide, you might want to look at our book of the week: Don't Get Me Wrong: The Global Gestures Guide. It will show you how everyday gestures are interpreted in countries all over the world.  Hopefully it will keep you out of trouble during your travels.

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Topics: Book of the Week • Culture • Global • GPS Show • Last Look
March 22nd, 2011
01:01 PM ET

A logo that makes Iran say no-go

Iran threatened to pull out of the 2012 Olympics in London due to what they called a "racist logo." Iran believes that the numbers 2012 in the logo resemble the word "Zion," the biblical name for Israel.

The U.S. and the Soviet Union boycotted each other’s Olympic Games when they were held in Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984). The U.S. was protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the Sovietsreciprocated the boycott when the Olympics were held on U.S. soil.

This could be the first time a country has threatened to pull out over a logo.

Iran's resolve didn't last too long, though. After British Prime Minister David Cameron told them they could stay home in 2012, the Iranians decided to send a delegation.

March 21st, 2011
11:57 AM ET

What in the World? Al Qaeda launches their version of Cosmo

Al Qaeda's got a new weapon against the West. One that explains just how a woman should walk and maintain her jewelry collection. The terrorist organization that planned the deadly attacks on the USS Cole and 9/11 is now producing a magazine for their female followers.

The publication, titled Al-Shamikha (which roughly translates to "The Majestic Woman"), features a range of articles from "The Path to Jihad" to "Even From Your Jewelery". If want advice on marrying a mujahid, they've got it covered.

But make no mistake, this magazine is still aimed at pointing women in the direction of supporting al Qaeda's terrorist agenda. The underlying theme of the publication is that women should be supporting the cause of the martyr and making it their main goal in life.

It now seems al Qaeda wants to make sure women look fashionable while doing so.

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Topics: GPS Show • Terrorism • What in the World? • Women
March 19th, 2011
09:11 AM ET

Photos: A look back at the nuclear age

The nuclear crisis in Japan is adding to the infamous history of one of the world's major power sources. The debate on the safety and need for nuclear power is one that rears its head every time a disaster occurs or comes close to happening.

One thing's for sure, this energy source and our quest to harness it has left us with some iconic images. We've gathered them into the gallery above that spans the nuclear age.

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Topics: Global • Japan • Nuclear
March 17th, 2011
07:48 AM ET

What the "average Joe or Jane" really looks like

It might just be time to retire the phrase "average Joe" or "average Jane." A recent project at National Geographic Magazine tells us that the average person on planet Earth is actually a 28-year-old Han Chinese male.

The project also reveals that the most common person on this planet is:

- Right handed
– Has an annual income under $12,000
– Owns a cellphone, but doesn't have a bank account

March 13th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Fraying ties between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence agencies

Allegations that CIA contractor Raymond Davis gunned down two men in Lahore, Pakistan, in January triggered a wave of protests calling for Davis' execution . Pakistanis burned Davis in effigy, as well as the American flag. The U.S. government originally called Davis "a consulate employee" but has since admitted his CIA connections.

Ahmed Rashid, one of Pakistan's most respected journalists and a guest this week on “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” says that this case exemplifies the mounting strains between the intelligence communities of the United States and Pakistan.

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Topics: Afghanistan • Pakistan • Terrorism • United States
March 8th, 2011
06:06 PM ET

Photos: Women revolutionizing the Mideast, N. Africa

One hundred years ago Tuesday, Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland celebrated the first International Women's Day. Rallies were held in support of women's rights and to end discrimination.

A century later, the playing field between men and women hasn't been leveled. In many parts of the world massive inequality still exists. But one thing is clear: women had a major role to play in the recent wave of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and will continue to shape their countries.

We've put together a photo gallery to showcase their struggle and bravery.

(Also, check out Time.com's "16 of History's Most Rebellious Women.")

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Topics: Middle East • Women
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