What's new in the New Republic, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
May 3 2002 12:05 PM

The New Old Economy

New Republic

New Republic, May 13 The cover piece explodes the myth of the New Economy. Low unemployment, price stability, and a booming stock market weren't "new": They were the end of a 40-year cycle and a return to conditions enjoyed in the '50s and early '60s, before the dismal "stagflation" of the '70s. It remains to be seen whether the Great Boom will inflict a Great Bust. A piece says Bush's domestic agenda has the same problem as his foreign policy: Two incompatible ideologies make the final message incoherent. Bush says "compassionate conservatism" defines his views on education, welfare, and foreign aid, but corporate interests drive his policy on the environment, energy, health care, and, well, just about everything else. A piece describes how colleges want to confine student protests to designated "free-speech zones"—usually in obscure places. Ironically, the administrators who push hardest for these zones were themselves heroes of the student movements of the '60s.—K.T.

Economist

Economist, May 4 The cover article asks, where have all the corporate heroes gone? A couple years ago, CEOs graced the covers of major magazines, and Jeff Bezos and Jack Welch were worshipped like rock stars. Now, post-Enron, post-Internet bubble burst, we put our CEOs in prison (Sotheby's Alfred Taubman), regard them as ageing philanderers (Welch), or simply don't trust them at all. A piece says some Americans—particularly the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer—have overblown the extent of Europe's anti-Semitism. Just because many Europeans are quick to criticize Ariel Sharon doesn't make them anti-Semites. After all, not all Israelis are so fond of Sharon either. (Robert Wright made a similar point in Slate.) A special report on NATO's future describes the tensions inherent in expansion. President Bush wants to open the floodgates to the Baltics, Bulgaria, and whoever else qualifies. But that's because he doesn't mind diluting NATO's power as a military force. Critics fear the alliance will become little more than "a security talking-shop."— J.F.

New York Times Magazine
Newsweek
Time
U.S. News & World Report

New York Times Magazine, May 5
The cover piece describes how a small town ignored a doctor's drinking problem until he botched a delivery and the baby died. Nationally, disciplinary action against docs is up 50 percent from a decade ago, with stricter enforcement often following tragic accidents like this one. In another piece, a young doctor tries to decide whether to give up 14-hour days for a more relaxed, and more lucrative, boutique practice. He'd have his life back and give better care to his two or three daily appointments, but what about the thousands of low- and middle-income patients he'd leave in the lurch? A profile of Pat Wexler shows how New York's best-known dermatologist talks socialites and celebrities into Botox injections, collagen shots, and liposuction. In Wexler's point of view, looking youthful isn't a matter of vanity or self-indulgence; it's a social demand.— K.T. Newsweek, May 6
The cover story urges the Catholic Church to accept sexuality as a healthy and normal part of its priests' lives. The rules against marriage, women, and homosexuals are not as firmly established in Scripture or religious tradition as church leaders would have us believe, and Catholic laypeople overwhelmingly support liberalization. Historically, the church has proved slow to enact reform, but it has also shown itself quite capable of surviving periods of doctrinal turnover. An article claims that while the Bush administration is leaning increasingly against an Iraqi invasion, Saddam Hussein has developed a three-part plan to prevent one: stall with U.N. arms inspectors, win European allies, and woo Arab leaders. A piece heralds the Caucasian comeback in the NBA. The post-Larry Bird decade has been one without great white hope, but Europeans such as Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol are bleaching the game as well as internationalizing it.— J.D. Time, May 6 The cover story reports that scientists cannot explain why cases of autism have risen so dramatically in recent years (California reports a 400 percent increase of kids seeking social services since 1987). They are, however, zeroing in on the genetic causes of the disorder: A new theory holds that autistic brains start growing too early or stop growing too late. A companion piece explains why so many kids with autism variant Asperger's syndrome (also known as "geek" or "little professor" syndrome) live in Silicon Valley. Asperger's sufferers, who demonstrate both an amazing ability to recall information and a lack of social skills, tend to congregate in R & D centers and university towns, marry each other, and have kids genetically predisposed to the disorder. But if doctors learned how to treat for Asperger's, would the intellectual creativity that characterizes Silicon Valley and places like it be lost?— J.D. U.S. News & World Report, May 6 The poll-based cover story says that while the United States is still the most religious Western nation (half of Americans attend services weekly and 80 percent believe they have felt God's presence), it is rapidly becoming one of the most diverse (almost 7 percent non-Christian) and tolerant. Though 37 percent of respondents view Islam unfavorably, Americans in general agree that all faiths contain some element of truth and think that Christians shouldn't proselytize. A piece argues that despite the end of President Bush's anti-terrorist honeymoon period, his grip on the GOP is stronger than ever. The Republican Party's image is softer, but conservatives remain in the fold. An article accuses the Canadian government of subsidizing seal clubbing. Fisheries officials allowed the cod population to dwindle 10 years ago, and they scapegoated cod-eating seals. To revitalize the codless economy and reduce the number of apparently predatory seals, Canada has paid seal hunters more than $20 million over seven years.— J.D.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, May 6 A John Edwards profile thinks the first-term North Carolina senator is the new face of liberalism. He has Bill Clinton's Southern charm and a political newcomer's ability to think outside Washington's box. More important, his former career as a trial lawyer gives him legitimate access to the populist tradition, which no longer dwells in the mythology of the small farmer or labor unions. Edwards can tap into the anti-establishment grievances of a suburban middle class.... An article reports on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by profiling Sari Nusseibeh, the highest-ranking Palestinian moderate. Nusseibeh, the PLO's representative in Jerusalem, thinks that Yasser Arafat shouldn't have turned down Ehud Barak's offer at Camp David and that suicide bombings are immoral. But rational and empathetic people on both sides are increasingly marginalized as the conflict deepens. A willingness to absorb violence, not a vision to end it, is coin of the realm in the Middle East.— J.D.

The Nation

The Nation, May 13 The cover story says the United States is dropping the ball in Afghanistan. America has provided the funding for a Marshall Plan cleanup of the country, but not the political and military will to back it up. By supporting warlord alumni of the Northern Alliance, America is creating the climate for an eventual Pashtun-Tajik civil war. The United States is also refusing to contribute troops to the international security force, "an essential condition for any reconstruction effort." A piece diagnoses California gubernatorial candidate Bill Simon with the most contagious—and apparently widespread—of all political diseases: Enron-itis. During the mid-1990s, Enron entered into a partnership with the oil-pump manufacturing company Simon founded. There was some shady accounting, some Cayman Islands tax sheltering, and Simon walked away with bags of money.— J.F.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, May 6 The cover article says that when it comes to French anti-Semitism, Jean-Marie Le Pen's high vote totals were a bit of a red herring. The synagogue-burning anti-Semitism that's been terrorizing French Jews is actually a phenomenon of the French left, not the reactionary right. It's radical Muslims who are throwing the firebombs, and anti-globalization sentinels like José Bové who are spouting some of the most virulent rhetoric. French politicians deny the problem because they still think anti-Semites have to wear swastikas. The lead editorial wants the United States to get tougher on Saudi Arabia. We should be holding our petroleum partner responsible for its citizens' involvement in Sept. 11, and we should start speaking out against the noxious influence of Wahhabism. But instead of the U.S. lecturing the Saudis, it always seems to be the Saudis who are making the demands of the U.S.— J.F.

Harper's

Harper's, May 2002
The cover piece claims that the integrity of the entire U.S. criminal justice system is at stake in the John Walker Lindh case. His confession, apparently made under duress, is symptomatic of larger problems with police conduct. Investigators wage psychological warfare on detainees, sometimes deceitfully teasing out false confessions from helpless suspects. An article tells the tragic story of Darius McCollum, a 37-year-old currently imprisoned for impersonating New York City transit employees. Darius is basically the Rain Man of the city's subway system. He knows every inch of every track and keeps obsessive logs of incidents he observes on trains. Since he was a teen-ager, he's been masquerading as a number of different transit officials, faithfully and competently carrying out the duties of a full-time employee. Likely afflicted with a mild variant of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, Darius should be receiving professional help, not sitting in a maximum security prison.— J.F.

Atlantic

Atlantic, May 2002 The cover story is a humanizing—and at times dehumanizing—portrait of Saddam Hussein. The brutal but savvy dictator is not driven so much by insanity or hedonism as by a vain obsession with how posterity will receive him. He's fixated on Stalin and his favorite movies are rather appropriately The Godfather and The Old Man and the Sea. He once had a copy of the Quran handwritten in his own blood. An article explains that it's just a matter of statistics to show that every European is descended from Charlemagne and every person in the world is a relative of Nefertiti. We're all royalty to some degree, and if we're lucky enough to have lineages that reproduce, each of us will some day prove to be an ancestor of all mankind.— 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.