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China suicides: Is Apple headed for a consumer backlash?

BEIJING, China — As Apple released the iPad today across Europe and Japan, a key supplier in China continued fortifying factory buildings with anti-suicide nets and bracing against a growing tide of public criticism about working conditions after 10 apparent employee suicides this year — including one this week hours after the company chief visited.

Thai soapy massages meet politics

BANGKOK, Thailand — There’s still a dash of kingpin swagger to Chuvit Kamolvisit’s deluxe penthouse: the waxed marble staircase, the slick designer-decorated sitting room, the perfumed secretary wearing a slinky black dress and dental braces. But for a man once cast in headlines as the “King of Commercial Sex,” the brash businessman-turned-political crusader has been uncharacteristically quiet of late. Sinking into a love seat, Chuvit explains his absence.

Japan: It's faketastic

TOKYO, Japan — On a recent Saturday afternoon at a fake European village in Tokyo, a group of Japanese women with fake eyelashes sipped cappuccinos at a fake French cafe and watched a real wedding. A Japanese couple in Western wedding clothes was getting married in a fake, vaguely European-looking chapel by a Caucasian priest. A fake one, of course.

McDonalds calls local foods campaign a success

ROME, Italy — Italians have always had a soft spot for locally grown and homemade products. Now Italy’s government has allied itself with the most notorious American fast food chain — McDonalds — to source food locally.

Owner of Kyrgyzstan fuel depot speaks out

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Valery Hon owns what in local business jargon is described as a “tasty morsel.” Hon is founder and chairman of the board of the VOSST company, located just outside of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital. Among his holdings is one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate in Kyrgyzstan: a fuel storage facility located about half a mile from the country’s main international airport, Manas. 

In Taiwan, an old-fashioned globalization debate

TAINAN and LINKOU, Taiwan — Cabdriver Chang doesn't like the deal. Weaving through traffic in the balmy, temple-studded southern city of Tainan, he lets loose on why a proposed Taiwan-China trade deal — the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — is bad for Taiwan. Taiwanese will lose jobs, he says. Taiwan's president is "selling out" the island. And Taiwan firms can't compete with the dirt-cheap "China price" made possible by low-wage labor.

China business: The dragon eyes the tiger

BANGALORE, India — The Chinese are out to conquer the world, and nowhere is that more obvious than in the India operations of the giant Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies. Against the backdrop of deeply rooted suspicion about a Chinese company making inroads in a politically sensitive area like telecom, Chinese employees of Huawei have hit upon a new strategy to win over their subcontinental customers: doing in India as the Indians do.

Will Greece's silent majority break its silence?

ATHENS, Greece — Fotini was not surprised when a riot police unit stopped her and a friend for an ID check on Thursday. She showed her national identification card and opened her bag for inspection. But her indignation mounted as she was ordered into a patrol car before plainclothes policemen transferred her into an unmarked van and drove her to a detention facility.

Opinion: Germans resist naked swaps

BOSTON — The “D” word — derivatives — achieved pariah status again this week on both sides of the Atlantic as governments continued their epic battles to rein in an unwieldy financial system. In an effort to curb speculation, Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority banned the purchase of credit default swaps on government debt unless investors own the underlying bonds. The U.S. Senate Senate Thursday passed a sweeping financial reform bill that requires most derivatives to be traded on exchanges and prevents banks from trading them.

Debt crisis: In Japan, Greece is the word

TOKYO, Japan — The ongoing crisis in Greece has focused global attention on sovereign debt, with many eyes inevitably drawn to Japan, the public finances of which — at least on paper — make those of Athens look almost healthy.
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