What's new in the New Republic, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
March 15 2002 11:46 AM

Risk Takers

New Republic

New Republic, March 25 The cover story says that the battle in Gardez shows an Army once again willing to risk its troops in ground operations. "The evolution of the Army's involvement in Afghanistan … has closely mirrored the evolution of Army thinking over the past five years—from excessive caution, to embarrassment, to a more robust stance." Does Bush believe in religious freedom? "TRB"notes that Bush's and Ashcroft's religious statements uniformly embrace people of all faiths while ignoring nonbelievers—thus "implicitly writing atheists and agnostics out of America's moral community." A piece says we should stop poking fun at plastic surgery. Looking younger and more attractive gives a person an edge in competitive professions—a fact even men are starting to notice. The author wonders whether "the more guys have plastic surgery, the more society will view it as a rational response to the culture in which we live. Which, for better or worse, it is."—K.T.

Economist, March 16
The cover article calls for a more active American hand in the Middle East. Bush needs to strongly affirm the right to a Palestinian state and continue to push the peace plan laid out by Clinton. An article claims that the Bush administration's controversial review of nuclear weapons policy marks no serious departure from the philosophy of previous presidents. In 1991, Bush Sr. threatened nuclear retaliation against Iraq in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack. And five years ago Clinton began shifting America's nuclear preparedness to deal better with threats from China. An opinion piece argues that software ought to be held to the same product-liability standards as other goods. If a Windows security bug allows hackers to mutilate your system, you should have the right to sue. Making the software industry accountable for its products will increase competition and lead to better programs.—J.F.

99_020313_consumerreports

New York Times Magazine, March 17
A music issue. The cover story describes how pop artist Moby makes his hits by sampling vocals and instrumentals from everything from dance music to gospel. "I'm the composer and the musician and the engineer, but also a plagiarist and thief," Moby says. A piece remembers how the author met (and married) the late Charles Mingus. Called "jazz's angry man," Mingus was known for firing his musicians onstage and harassing the audience. Who says opera is boring? A piece explains why Jerry Springer: The Opera, now a hit in London, could be the form's renaissance. Harold Prince, who might produce Jerry Springer in the United States, says: "It's so nice to hear of a modern opera that isn't—to put it mildly—pretentious."— K.T. Consumer Reports, April 2002
The annual auto issue.... A selection of the finest picks: best family car, the VW Passat; best hybrid, the Toyota Prius; best minivan, the Honda Odyssey, and best car out there, the BMW 530i. CR asks how to get the best price on a car and finds it depends on the shopper's personality: If you're assertive and willing to gather price quotes, shopping the showrooms is the most likely way to land a bargain. Those who hate haggling do better shopping online or at discount clubs like Costco.— K.T.

Newsweek and Time

Newsweek and Time, March 18
Both cover stories report on the same deadly battle in Afghanistan (Newsweek calls it Operation Anaconda; Time favors the Battle of Shah-i-Kot), stressing the bravery of six U.S. troops who died trying to recover the body of a fellow soldier who had been ejected from a helicopter. Both argue that the war is entering a new phase in which Afghan mercenaries, who get a large share of the blame for letting Taliban and al-Qaida fighters escape Tora Bora, will take a more limited role. Operation Anaconda so far has resulted in 11 allied deaths (eight Americans), 88 allied casualties (70 Americans), and 700-800 Taliban/al-Qaida deaths. Newsweek suggests that spies may have tipped Afghan forces off about the American battle plan. Time claims that Americans have accepted the recent deaths with an even stronger sense of resolve about the mission against terrorism.

U.S. News & World Report

A Newsweek piece by Steven Brill applauds Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge and chides the media for reporting that his office has no power. Though he has a small staff of around 80 and no budget of his own, Ridge has President Bush's support and a desire—unique in Washington—to get things done without much fanfare. He comes up with fantastic ideas and then lets Cabinet departments handle the implementation and management, ensuring that administrative jealousy and jockeying don't get in the way of real progress. A Time article reveals the cynical calculations behind the rhetorical détente in the Middle East (after a week that left 113 Palestinians and 49 Israelis dead). The United States is sending a special envoy to the region because it wants regional leaders to focus on upcoming American efforts to oust Saddam Hussein. Yasser Arafat has castigated terrorist leaders because he wants to be relevant at the next Arab summit. Ariel Sharon has toned down because he is trying to fight off a political challenge from fellow Likkud leader Benjamin Netanyahu.— J.D.

U.S. News & World Report, March 18"In the tradition of U.S. News's Best Colleges and Best Graduate Schools issues," the cover story names an honor roll of the 20 best college athletic programs (based not just on wins or losses but on how they play the game—graduation rates, gender equity, variety of sports offered, etc.). Five of the eight Ivies, which don't give athletic scholarships, made the list, as did real powerhouses such as Duke, Maryland, Michigan, and Penn State.... A piece congratulates Harvard for maintaining a record 41 varsity teams without resorting to corporate sponsorships and the sale of naming rights. It mentions the university's $18 billion endowment only in passing. ... An article deplores the way colleges have implemented Title IX, which guarantees gender equity in higher education. Instead of simply adding women's teams to comply, many athletic departments have cut men's teams, including 171 wrestling teams and 84 tennis squads.— J.D.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, March 18 The style special.... A great piece reports on fashion designer Yeohlee's futile efforts to design chic uniforms for the nursing staff at New Jersey's Valley Hospital. Theorizing that nicer clothes would contribute to the authoritative aura of the hospital, executives hired Yeohlee to replace scrubs with traditional all-white gear. Yeohlee believed her outfits would revitalize the struggling vocation of nursing by engendering professional pride ("there's a moral need for this"), but it turns out the nurses liked the old scrubs much better.... An article calls for the United States to give out more foreign aid. The Bush administration argues that many countries that get money don't get any richer, but research shows that when coupled with serious economic reform, aid helps a lot. America currently spends 0.1 percent of its GDP on foreign aid, and most of that is disbursed according to political exigencies (Egypt, Israel), not on the basis of real need.— J.D.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, March 18 The cover story tries to make heads or tails of Bill Simon's surprising upset of Richard Riordan in the California Republican gubernatorial primary. Aided by Gray Davis ads attacking Riordan, Simon came from more than 30 points down a month ago to beat Riordan by 18 points. Davis thinks his opponent is a right-wing fringe candidate out of step with average Californians, but if Simon can stay focused on Davis' mediocre record, he might actually stand a chance to win in November—just as another conservative outsider, Ronald Reagan, did in 1966. An article describes the fascinating story that Daniel Pearl was pursuing at the time of his kidnapping. Pearl seems to have been tracking links between alleged shoe-bomber Richard Reid and radical Pakistani group Jamaat al-Fuqra, which has set up shop all over North America. During the 1980s, al-Fuqra was connected to several terrorist plots, but there is not yet any hard evidence linking the group to Sept. 11.— J.F.

The Nation

The Nation, March 25 The cover story pays tribute to liberal bulldog Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., on his 70th birthday. When he arrived in Washington 40 years ago as silver-spooned dynast, his fellow senators were slow to take him seriously. Today, he's evolved into "a joyous Job" and is "the best and most effective senator of the past hundred years." His success rests on his ability to form real friendships across the aisle with even the most rabid conservatives. A piece says that Enterprise, the latest incarnation of the Star Trek franchise, has turned reactionary in its politics. The intergalactic politics of the old Star Trek used to be subversively socialistic, anti-imperialistic, and progressive on race and gender issues. Enterprise, however, is "a frank vehicle for white male suprematism and resentment." Women are objectified, there's racism at every turn, and the Vulcans—poor Vulcans—just can't get a fair shake.— J.F.

Jeremy Derfner is a former Slate editorial assistant.

In addition to being the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, Joshua Foer is the author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, which grew out of a story he wrote for Slate.

Kate Taylor is the arts reporter at the New York Sun and the editor of an anthology of essays about anorexia, Going Hungry, which will be published next spring.