Periscope

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Byline: Malcolm Beith, Melinda Liu and Rachel Makabi; Linda Stern; Mark Hosenball; Rebecca Hall; Malak Hamwi; Nisid Hajari

Washington: A Worried World

The Democrats' victory in last week's U.S. midterm elections thrilled many Europeans eager for George W. Bush to get his comeuppance. But not every nation is celebrating. Led by incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Dems are notoriously tough on human rights, trade and environmental issues. "Every one of our trading partners should be concerned," says Daniel Griswold, director of the Washington-based Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies.

China, in particular. During the last Democrat-dominated Congress, Pelosi was a vocal critic of Beijing's human-rights record; expect nothing less this time around. Then there's trade. New York Rep. Charles Rangel--likely to become the next chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees trade agreements--has already called for tougher measures against Beijing.

Russia will also come under the human-rights microscope. Even allies like India may have reason to worry. The country's burgeoning info-tech industry will likely be a target, as the outsourcing debate intensifies.

The list of potential losers goes on. Several incoming members of Congress blame the North American Free Trade Agreement for costing U.S. jobs and want to revisit the treaty--bad news for Mexico. Agricultural exporters like Brazil and Australia are likely to feel the pinch of new tariffs on products like cane sugar and wood and paper products. Colombia and Peru could lose their tariff-free status come January. But besides the Europeans, one unlikely nation does stand to gain from the Democrats' win: Cuba. Experts believe that even though the U.S. trade embargo won't be lifted entirely, the Democrats are more open to the idea of easing trade restrictions. Viva la revolucion?

-- Malcolm Beith, Melinda Liu and Rachel Makabi

Technology: Talking Fabrics

Here's a bright new idea for textiles: fabric that displays glowing, moving color images and text. Dutch tech firm Philips Research has developed Lumalive fabric, which is embedded with light-emitting diodes powered by a battery pack the size of a deck of cards and weighing 110 grams. The company has sewn them into shirts and jackets that can be laundered; unwashable parts, like the battery pack, detach. The diodes don't show up until they're lit up, says Philips, and then anything is possible: advertising displays on clothes, sports scores on couch cushions, recipes on kitchen curtains, weather reports on hotel drapes. Not to mention the fashion potential.

Philips has yet to reveal pricing, but it's talking to possible commercial distributors of the luminous fabric. Lumalive has been featured in European technology trade shows and was on fashion runways earlier this fall when German designer Anke Loh featured it in her "dressing light" collection. Her models wore black dresses with Lumalive panels on their chests displaying cartoon images. Can a new generation of Christmas sweaters be far behind?

-- Linda Stern

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United Nations: Blocking Bolton

The White House and the new Democratic majority in Congress are already tussling over John Bolton, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. President Bush gave Bolton a temporary "recess appointment" to the U. …