What's new in the New Republic.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
April 5 2002 12:02 PM

Hazardous Cargo

Economist

Economist, April 6 The cover package defends Israel's right to self-defense, but comes down hard on Ariel Sharon for lacking a coherent plan to resolve the conflict. An article says Sharon gets around the difficulties of a coalition government by acting over the heads of his Cabinet. Two days after the Cabinet vetoed Arafat's expulsion, Sharon told army officers he was "not ruling out" the option. A special report calls the shipping container—that humble metal box which carries 90 percent of the world's cargo—a huge security liability. An al-Qaida operative has already tried to slip into Canada as a cargo stowaway, and fears are growing that shipping containers might be used to sneak in nuclear-bomb components. Only 2 percent of shipments are ever inspected, and any closer oversight could cripple global supply chains. A piece feels the need to offer up the old denial that the Jewish lobby drives American foreign policy. In fact, evangelical Christians are almost as zealously pro-Israel as the Jews.— J.F.

New Republic

New Republic, April 15 The "TRB"column says Israel and America can't demand that Yasser Arafat stop terrorism while he's imprisoned in a room with no electricity and no water. If you believe Arafat wants to stop terrorism, you give him the means to do so. If you believe he doesn't want to, you have to kill or exile him. A piece tries to understand why Palestinian kids want to blow themselves up. Is it a deadly mixture of nationalism and teen angst? "For children and teenagers suffering the normal psychological problems of adolescence, martyrdom is … an instant way to gain love and respect." A piece says the Bush administration is a house divided when it comes to Middle East policy: Powell and the State Department offer hope to the Palestinians, while Cheney and his staff take a line hardly distinguishable from Sharon's. Will greater U.S. involvement lead "not to greater coherence, but to louder incoherence"?—K.T.

New York Times Magazine
Washington Monthly

New York Times Magazine, April 7
The cover piece describes how school testing stirs protests from suburban parents, who hate to see teachers forgo Shakespeare to "teach to the test." In poorer districts, the testing movement seems to work, although some educators say it's a "cynical ploy" to distract from what these schools really need: more money. A piece explains how a new baby could buy freedom for Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi. Trevi and her manager have been imprisoned in Brazil for two years, accused of kidnapping minors and running a sex ring. Now that she's had a baby in prison—making it a Brazilian baby—Trevi may never be extradited to stand trial in Mexico. A piece wonders how a tree-hugger becomes an eco-terrorist and whether eco-tactics will get increasingly dire. So far, eco-terrorists have avoided endangering human life, but how long will it be until they cross that line?— K.T. Washington Monthly, April 2002
The cover story claims the Bush administration leans on polling data much more than it likes to admit. Unlike the Clinton administration, which "used polling to craft popular policies, Bush uses polling to spin unpopular ones—arguably a much more cynical undertaking." An article trumpets the rise of the "nobody" memoir. Following in the footsteps of Frank McCourt, previously unheard of authors are putting out book after book of self-indulgent, psychotherapeutic personal histories. Publishers pay the memoirists small advances for books that generally sell well. It's a profitable business. A piece profiles Royce Lamberth, the hard-nosed and independent U.S. district court judge who ferociously prosecuted the Clinton administration's Filegate scandal. Now, Lamberth, who was a Reagan appointee, has turned his ire on the Bush administration, fiercely going after Gale Norton and the Department of the Interior for mismanaging Native American trust funds.— J.F.

Atlantic Monthly

Atlantic Monthly, April 2002 A review of a dozen Churchill biographies predicts that revisionists will deepen the picture but leave the hero's essence intact. Granted, Churchill early on supported Europe's fascists and failed to recognize the threat of Japan. But while the Tories still wanted to appease Hitler, some intuition "prompted Churchill to recognize, and to name out loud, the pornographic and catastrophically destructive nature of the foe. … This redeeming x factor justifies all the rest." Never-before-published transcripts show how Nixon dealt with the revelation, in 1971, that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been spying on the White House. By keeping on the traitorous Thomas Moorer as chairman, now cowed and under his influence, Nixon turned potential scandal into strategic advantage—and locked in the culture of secrecy that would persist until Watergate.—K.T.

Vogue

Vogue, April 2002
"The Shape Issue." Thin, athletic, tall, short, curvy, and pregnant bodies are summed up, illustrated, and issued enthusiastic fashion advice. (Read Slate's take on Vogue's slim definition of "shape" in this"Culturebox.") An exciting article hails the advent of a microbicide "super-birth-control" method called Savvy. Delivered as gel, cream, film, or suppository, it prevents not only pregnancy but also HIV, gonorrhea, herpes, and any number of other sexually transmitted diseases. Microbicides can revolutionize sex as nothing has since the Pill, only on a vastly grander scale, saving untold numbers of lives. The challenge now: making that notion appealing to big pharma, which is still too nervous about "profit margins" to manufacture it.— S.G.

Legal Affairs

Legal Affairs, May-June 2002 The premiere issue. An article explains how Israel's Supreme Court got the power to deem laws unconstitutional in a country without a written constitution. How? In 1992, the Knesset passed the Basic Laws, the first broad guarantee of human rights. In 1995, chief justice Aharon Barak argued that the Basic Laws had become constitutional rights that the court must defend. Since then, the high court has challenged the Knesset on several issues, including the legality of police torture, but not everyone supports Barak's interpretation. A piece says the FBI sting operation that nabbed two Russian hackers has raised questions about whether U.S. courts can try cybercriminals who hack into American sites from abroad. Prosecutors say they can, for the same reason that they can try a man who stands in Canada and shoots someone in Washington state.— K.T.

Time and U.S. News & World Report

Time and U.S. News & World Report, April 8
The cover story about the Israeli attack on Yasser Arafat's compound strikes a predictably hopeless note. The only reason Ariel Sharon did not order Arafat's assassination was to placate the Bush administration. But Bush's foreign policy advisers are ready to give up. No matter what happens to Arafat, the violence won't end. U.S. News adds that Sharon told interviewers he wished he hadn't pledged not to kill Arafat and that he should have gotten rid of him 20 years ago in Lebanon. It also includes a statistic to prove that Israeli violence only encourages Palestinian terrorism: Throughout the intifada, the Israeli kill ratio has stayed put at 3-1, which means that when Israeli troops kill more people, so do Palestinian suicide bombers. (Full disclosure: This piece was written by Jeremy Derfner's uncle, Larry Derfner.)

Newsweek
The New Yorker

The U.S. News cover story profiles the Crusades, the world's 500-year introduction to violent East-West encounters. Europe usually lost, but in the process, it broadened its provincial, Dark Ages horizons. Muslims mostly forgot about the Crusades until World War I, when they became symbolically powerful as the West re-established itself as a colonial power in the region. A U.S. News article says that as many as 75 percent of kids' sports injuries happen because they practice too much. Forget about sprains and breaks, now it's sore heels from excessive cleat wearing or tendinitis from hitting too many serves. A Time piece reports that 82 cities have adopted the living wage, which means that companies with municipal contracts have to pay above the poverty level. Businesses say the laws will force them to cut jobs, but recent studies don't bear out their warnings.— J.D. Newsweek, April 8 The cover story checks in on Bill Clinton and finds him much the same: arrogant, bitter, brilliant, charming, peripatetic. He travels all over the world raking in speaking fees (an estimated $10 million), works on his memoirs ($12 million), and makes sure he is seen with famous people. He wishes Sept. 11 had happened on his watch, because he would relish the challenge. In a companion interview, Clinton is chatty and relatively candid, but he doesn't really give up the goods. In an article about the largest female cast (five members) in Saturday Night Live history, it is impossible to tell who's joking. Executive producer Lorne Michaels says he needs more men than women because there are more men in the news that require parodying. Cast member Tina Fey claims that while women prefer "character-based, subtle observations," men go for "fighting bears, sharks and robots." Definitely not funny: SNL has 19 men writers compared to three women.— J.D. The New Yorker, April 8 An anti-globalization piece reports on the fresh-water crisis in Bolivia. Practically run by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the poor and dry country leased (for 40 years) its water utility to a private international consortium for $2.5 billion. Prices went up, and Bolivians took to the streets and kicked the privatizers out of the country. Except now the state is back in control, corruption is rampant, and poor people still don't have clean water to drink.... An article attacks spinal surgeons for performing lower-lumbar spinal fusions to treat chronic back pain, even though the procedure probably doesn't help. The surgery costs a fortune, and doctors make out, but perhaps only one in six patients actually feels better. Intense exercise gets better results and leads to fewer emotional and physical complications.— J.D.

The Nation

The Nation, April 15 The cover story explains how renewable energy can actually be cheaper than fossil fuels when environmental and social costs are factored in. Still, Republicans insist on subsidizing the old-guard energy sector over newer, better renewable sources like wind and solar power. A piece makes Dick Cheney out to be a puppet of Enron. The company's full-service man in the White House, Cheney held exclusive meetings with Ken Lay and shaped energy policy to meet Enron demands. Now Cheney is refusing to cooperate with congressional investigators, and Democrats are too lily-livered to launch a full-scale inquiry. An article contrasts the Oscar-night deportment of Halle Berry and Denzel Washington. Denzel was "political in the way that only black cool can be when the stakes are high and its temperature must remain low." Berry's candor was courageous and "depressingly rare among famed blacks with a lot on the line."— J.F.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, April 8 The cover package is critical of how the Bush administration, the United Nations, and the European Union have handled the escalating violence in the Middle East. The editorial says that the Bushies—that is, every one of them except Bush himself—are enveloped in "a fog of moral confusion" on Israel. Bush needs to stop being so deferential to foreign policy experts and trust his own simple commitment to core principles. An article denounces the United Nations for long being a bastion of anti-Semitism. Caving to Arab and European anti-Zionism, the organization has betrayed its mandate and "become the spearhead of attempts to destroy" Israel. A piece damns the EU for failing to freeze the assets of anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. An article says that just as the Democrats were wrong to blame the recession on Bush's tax cuts, the Republicans are wrong to credit them for the quick rebound.— 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.

Siân Gibby assists in editing the Faith-Based column. She copy-edits for Slate.

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