Too Many Elephants

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
April 14 2000 9:30 PM

Too Many Elephants

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Economist, April 21

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The cover editorial warns that, despite rosy global economic forecasts, Europe needs fiscal reform and the United States must reduce private debt. … A piece worries that Botswana and South Africa "have elephants coming out of their ears." They should be able to cull (that is "kill") the beasts and sell their tusks to ivory traders. Monitoring sales will ensure that traded tusks aren't from nations where elephants are rare, such as Kenya.

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Talk, May 2000

A piece tracks a DEA team's efforts to break up a Florida crack gang. Twelve-agent mobile units establish residence in small towns, recruit informants, cultivate relationships with dealers, and trap gang leaders. Agents notice that, despite regional differences, crack pushers have one thing in common: "They're stupid." A profile credits Prime Minister Tony Blair with eliminating class warfare from British politics.

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New York Times Magazine, April 16

The cover story applauds Bill Gates' unprecedented largess. He has already endowed his charitable foundation with $21.8 billion, seven times more in real terms than Andrew Carnegie gave away in his life. Gates is intent on redressing "inequities in global health" by funding projects such as free vaccinations for kids in developing countries. An article reveals that Saul Bellow pruned overt references to his main character's homosexuality from the final draft of his forthcoming novel, Ravelstein. The romanà clef concerns Bellow's friendship with cultural critic Allan Bloom. Bellow felt guilty about posthumously outing his deceased pal. (Read Slate 's " Book Club" on Ravelstein.) An essay calls for a truce in the cultural wars. There are lots of nice folks on the religious right. Pat Robertson might be "an agent of intolerance," but he does dispense medicine to the poor (just like Bill Gates!).

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Time and Newsweek, April 17

Both mags manufacture tear-tugging Elián covers. Newsweek depicts Elián clinging to a backyard jungle gym, as though for dear life. Time plasters Juan Miguel González across its marquee, tearfully looking down upon his American-flag-waving son. Time's cover story lovingly portrays the relationship between father and son. The Miami family is turning Elián against his dad. Fidel Castro will warp Elián into a dutiful Young Pioneer. A Time article attacks hard-line Miami exiles. They censure Cuban performers and intimidate Cuban-Americans who disagree with their tactics. Newsweek's cover story  reports that one of Juan Miguel's uncles urged him to fetch his son and that Fidel Castro allowed the trip after marathon negotiations with González's attorney.

A Newsweek article hypes Microsoft's decision to gamble on Web-based Windows services. Bill Gates hopes to dominate the Internet by selling subscriptions to Microsoft software. A piece reports that when Gates visited Capitol Hill, Republican congressmen pressured him to give more money to the GOP.

Time predicts that numerous e-tailers will soon go bankrupt. The value of companies such as CDNow has plummeted because they spend more to attract customers than customers spend on their sites. A gruesome photo essay illustrates the tragic prevalence of infant mortality in Rwanda: Ten percent of Rwandan infants die within a week; one in nine women dies in childbirth. A delivery room picture shows a distraught mother staring at her stillborn baby.

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U.S. News & World Report, April 17

The cover story celebrates Generation Y. Teen-age arrest, pregnancy, drug use, and school dropout rates are down. Most American teens are levelheaded; many are altruistic. An article worries that teenphobia is distorting our juvenile justice system. Though teen crime rates are declining, the treatment of juvenile offenders is growing harsher. An item reports more bad news for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani: Despite New York's zero-tolerance policing, the city's murder rate has climbed 12 percent so far this year.

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The New Yorker, April 17

A profile of Ehud Barak claims that his willingness to withdraw Israeli troops from Lebanon reveals that the Israeli prime minister remains a go-it-alone commando at heart. Barak's "autocratic style" is undermining his popular support. (David Plotz's " Strange Bedfellow" deflated Barak euphoria nine months ago.) A piece depicts Guggenheim director Thomas Krens as a Barnum-like huckster who is turning museum-going into the intellectual equivalent of a stroll through the mall. Krens' latest apostasy: a plan to build a Bilbao-like building along Wall Street's waterfront.

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Weekly Standard, April 17

The cover editorial claims that the Clinton administration cut a deal with Fidel Castro to return Elián in exchange for the repatriation to Cuba of eight Cuban nationalists who rioted in a Louisiana jail. (Slate's " Kausfiles"  wondered about the same linkage on Saturday.) The Standard also alleges that Elián's dad appears to be a Cuban secret policeman and Castro puppet. The cover feature denounces the National Council of Churches for obeisance to Fidel Castro. The organization that is financing efforts to return Elián to Cuba has a history of cheering Communist revolutions and defending Vietnamese re-education camps. An article condemns the media for libeling Cuban-Americans. The Miami exiles aren't wackos rioting for mob rule, they're anti-Communists fighting for the freedom of an innocent boy.

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The Nation, April 24

A special world-trade agitation issue pegged to next week's expected International Monetary Fund and World Bank protests. A cover story blames unregulated capital flows for international financial crises. We need a "new governing authority for global finance," composed of officials elected through worldwide referendums. In an interview, Noam Chomsky castigates international lending institutions such as the IMF for foisting punishing debts upon desperate developing countries. Third World arrears are illegitimate because they were "imposed by force."

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Business Week, April 17

The cover story  calms nervous New Economy bulls. The April 4 stock market plunge represented "a flight to quality across the entire equity spectrum." The deflation of the Nasdaq bubble was overdue, but the economy remains robust. Like Time, Business Week warns that e-commerce companies are in free fall. Sites such as drkoop.com don't have a profitable business models. For consumer Internet firms, the "inevitable shakeout will be bloody." A special report on executive compensation says that top-paid Computer Associates CEO Charles Wang earned $655.42 million last year. No. 5, AOL's Steve Case, made a mere $117.09 million.

Eve Gerber is a Slateeditorial assistant.

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