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The three young boys and the older man are standing around, looking awkward but fierce at the same time–their eyes  tough as nails. “Who are those men,” I ask as we head into the main building at the Mutobo Demobilization Center. “They have just been brought in today from the jungle,” said the head of the center, which is located  near Rwanda’s border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s a strange surreal thing to come face to face with men–and a few women–who have been living in the jungle for 15 years, eeking out a living as members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and fighting against the Congolese army, the UN peacekeepers and theCongolese Tutsi rebels. Read more

oscars press room 10 220209

If ever there was a question whether vintage was the rage for 2009 Penelope Cruz answered it at last year’s Oscars ceremony. Wearing a stunning 60 year-old white sequence Balmain gown with a fluted lace trim, the Spanish beauty practically floated up the aisle to accept a Best Supporting Actress statuette for her role in “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Cruz, who has been known to have a keen eye for fashion and helps design collections for Spanish chain Mango along with her sister Monica, says she bought the dress eight years ago but had never worn it. “I was saving it for something very special,” she told reporters on the red carpet about her strapless sparkling gown resplendent with intricate black stitching detail. Though the fashion jury was on the fence about her choice—the Chicago Tribune dubbed her dress a “frothy ivory confection” while the Liverpool’s Daily Post called her creation “exquisite”—Cruz helped prove that vintage fashion has become hip, relevant and essential to every fashionista’s wardrobe. Read more

U2

Invariably the first question people ask when they find out I’m a journalist is who is the most famous person I’ve ever interviewed. When I give them an answer—George Clooney, Tony Blair and Beyonce usually elicit the biggest “oohs”—the follow up is, “Were you nervous?” And the answer is pretty much always, not really. Why? Well I tell people it’s because I am a professional and interviewing people is an integral part of the job description. But honestly it’s because over the years I have developed a strategy to control my nerves when interviewing war criminals, politicians, celebrities and everyone in between; just as the butterflies start flying I remind myself, “Yeah, but s/he isn’t Bono.”

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sarajevo

When Aida, my Bosnian translator, and I climb into the back of the patrol car, officers Emir Lakota and Radaslic Sabahudin say that because it’s Ramadan and also a Monday, things will hopefully be quiet. As we speed off in their Volkswagen, swinging passed parks, dimly lit alleys and through the hopping bar district, they tell disheartening tale after tale of how the security and judicial systems in Bosnia have broken down 14 years after the war ended here.Though crime statistics in the Bosnian capital appear down this year,  these two Sarajevan cops—who have both been on the force for over 15 years—say they are frustrated more than ever. Read more