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99 Ways to Be Naughty in Kazakhstan, by Edith Zimmerman. New York Times Magazine.
How Cosmo, with 64 international editions and a readership that would make it the world's 16th largest country, conquered the globe.
The repetition can be a little numbing, but it may help explain how Cosmo, which is the best-selling monthly magazine in the United States, has morphed into such a global juggernaut. ("If all the Cosmo readers from around the world came together," read a recent piece in Cosmo South Africa, "this group would form the 16th-largest country in the world.") Through those 64 editions, the magazine now spreads wild sex stories to 100 million teens and young women (making it closer to the 12th-largest country, actually) in more than 100 nations -- including quite a few where any discussion of sex is taboo. And plenty of others where reading a glossy magazine still carries cachet. ("Many girls consider a hard copy of Cosmo to be an important accessory," says Maya Akisheva, the editor of Cosmo Kazakhstan.) As the brand proudly points out, in 2011 alone, these readers spent $1.4 billion on shoes, $400 million on cars, $2.5 billion on beauty products and $1.5 billion on fragrance and bought 24 million pairs of jeans.
Aaron Tam/AFP/Getty Images
The underground routes by which drugs enter the U.S. from Mexico, and the officials who've found it almost impossible to curb their construction.
Although quantification is impossible, the underground shipment routes represent a significant economic investment, one that far exceeds the time and money spent on the homemade submarines, ultralight aircraft, and catapults used to move narcotics elsewhere. Some tunnels cost at least a million dollars to build and require architects, engineers, and teams of miners to work for months at a stretch. A few include spectacular feats of engineering, running as much as 100 feet deep, with electric rail systems, elevators, and hydraulic doors. But the economies of scale are extraordinary. Tunnels like these can be used to move several tons of narcotics in a single night.
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Plasenzuela's Dirty Secrets, by Guillermo Abril. El País.
Welcome to Plasenzuela, Spain, whose 500 inhabitants enjoyed no-show jobs, spent millions on phantom projects and defrauded Social Security.
"That's pretty heavy isn't it?" he asks, sitting in his living room. He says that the village is split over his decision to uncover the corruption. He doesn't go out much. He says that his children are asking awkward questions. He no longer sees his general practitioner, preferring to use a medical center in a neighboring village. Piles of press cuttings and other documents lie on the table, figures and calculations. In January 2010, the village owed the Social Security 2.9 million. "From 1997 to 2007, the period when Villegas was mayor, not a cent was paid in Social Security," he says. González claims that around 70 or so people each month were given bogus contracts and signed up to the Social Security. The mayor even signed up some 50 Moroccan laborers that never set foot in Plasenzuela. The aim was to have enough employees to be able to apply for subsidies. But the town hall kept the Social Security contributions. There is no record of the money to be found, and neither is there any record of what happened to the subsidies and funding for dozens of projects that never existed. The important thing during Villegas' decade-long boom is that the village had zero unemployment, even if there were no jobs.