"It was utterly bizarre," says Cato Institute senior fellow Doug Bandow ("Cutting the Tripwire," page 34), recalling his trip 10 years ago to North Korea. "It's a Potemkin country. Roads without cars and streets without street signs." Bandow, who has previously worked as a special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and as editor of the defunct political magazine Inquiry, is the author of Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World (Cato). He's also a frequent world traveler. As this issue went to press, Bandow had just left for Kuwait to "see what's going on and what they see for the future."
Though his memories of his childhood in Iran are vivid, Iraj Isaac Rahmim ("Where the Shah Went Alone," page 40) hasn't returned since he and his family came to the United States in 1978, when he was 16. "I would like to go back," he says, "if there was the sense that I wouldn't get myself thrown in jail." A resident of Houston, Rahmim has had his writing published in the Houston Chronicle and broadcast on Pacifica radio, and he is close to completing a book-length collection of essays. An engineer and consultant by day, he holds degrees in chemical engineering from the University of California and a doctorate in the same field from Columbia University.
Contributing Editor Charles Oliver is watching the world come to him. The forces of globalization he discusses in his review of two new books on free trade ("Tear Down These Walls," page 59) have hit his home town of Dalton, Georgia, the self-proclaimed "Carpet Capital of the World." "No one seems to realize this," says Oliver, "but this county is officially 25 percent Hispanic, of which about 90 percent are from Mexico and have moved here in the last decade or so." Oliver, who has been working as a journalist for 20 years, writes a weekly education column for Dalton's The Daily Citizen. He has also been a staffer at Investor's Business Daily and reason. He comments on national issues via the Shoutin' Across the Pacific weblog (expats.blogspot.com).