What's new in New York, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
May 24 2002 11:42 AM

Matters of the Mind

Economist

Economist, May 25 The cover story says neuroscience, not genetics, poses the greatest and most immediate threat to overturning our old notions of human nature. Mind control, behavioral modifiers, and neural implants are well within reach, but ethicists are hardly wasting any brain cells considering the possibilities. Even NIH doesn't budget a dime to study the ethics of neuroscience. A piece helps explain what's so scary about the India-Pakistan standoff. Neither side quite knows what actions would precipitate a nuclear response by the other. And they have neither a trusted line of communication nor any escalation controls to prevent a "limited" nuclear exchange from becoming a massive holocaust. An article reports that Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura is commissioning a video game that puts voters in his shoes and asks them to try running the government. It won't be the first time video games go political. A Web-based game called Kaboom! turns players into Palestinian suicide bombers headed for America.— J.F.

New Republic

New Republic, June 3 The cover piece asks whether Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry can make himself over in time to win the Democratic nomination in 2004. Kerry is fighting the image of being cold and aloof—and, worse, an unreconstructed liberal. A potent weapon in his campaign arsenal: his tour of duty in Vietnam. A piece argues that if the president thinks he's won the battle over 9/11, he'd better think again. Democrats have backed off from suggesting that Bush could have prevented the attacks, but they've made a good case for an independent investigation. For presidential hopefuls, the power to investigate the White House could be the first step toward getting inside it. A piece says that the Supreme Court's willingness to restrict porn on the Web is outdated and dangerous. The court believes there's still a national consensus about what qualifies as obscene, but widespread consumption of hard-core porn proves that that just isn't true.—K.T.

New York

New York, May 27
The cover story describes how New York City physicians are trading in their stethoscopes for Botox-filled syringes. Joining the "beauty gold rush" means more money and less stress for doctors. However, some—particularly those who are already established plastic surgeons—question the ethics of physicians operating outside their fields of expertise. An article does some comparison shopping for cosmetic dentistry. The author ends up spending just over 10-grand to have his gums trimmed, his teeth bleached, and six ceramic veneers glued over his top row of chompers. A piece cheers "the new face of Wall Street." Many of today's hottest rising brokers are foreign born. They're assiduous workers and great assets in a world of global banking. But they don't play golf.— J.F.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, May 27 A piece reports back from Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial in The Hague. Some of the most poignant moments have been when Milosevic, who is defending himself, has stoically cross-examined his Albanian victims and accused them of lying. He maintains the trial is a sham and paints himself as a victim. NATO, he says, is no less culpable than he is. An article investigates the recent flurry of claims that fingerprint evidence is unreliable. Earlier this year, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that fingerprint analysts don't have the data to show that their methods are scientifically rigorous. It's not that fingerprint testing is junk science; it's just that no one has done the studies to find out how accurate it really is. A piece describes how the hit British sandwich chain Pret a Manger is trying to gain a foothold in Manhattan. The sandwiches are "fresh but prepackaged, 'natural' but industrial, a little short on the fillings."— J.F.

New York Times Magazine
Vanity Fair

New York Times Magazine, May 26
The cover piece assesses the risk of a nuclear terrorist attack. Some experts worry about terrorists stealing one of Russia's 15,000 stored warheads; others worry about people buying radioactive materials on the black market and building their own "dirty" bombs. Flying a plane into a nuclear reactor would be even easier. But all the experts agree on this: A nuclear attack is not a matter of if, but when. Another piece describes a 13-year-old boy at a California middle school—who is actually a girl. With the help of supportive teachers, M. successfully cross-lives: He is popular and even has a girlfriend. But is it really his school's responsibility to help M. pass as a boy?—K.T. Vanity Fair, June 2002 An article catches up with Chelsea Clinton at Oxford. Even if the once media-shy first daughter doesn't quite fit in with the Oxford socialites, she's definitely blooming. She's in love with a Rhodes scholar (they're always "snogging" in public), and she spends her glamorous weekends consorting with the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna. A paean to Queen Elizabeth II depicts a sturdy, wise, and humorous monarch who has earned the love of her country and virtually every world leader with whom she's ever crossed paths. A piece chronicles the rise and fall of America's obsession with tabloids. Circulation dropped in the late '90s thanks to the proliferation of copycat supermarket zines and revulsion at the "boorish behavior" surrounding Princess Di's death. Today, the major tabloids are all owned by one company, which divvies up its juicy gossip for maximum coverage.— J.F.

Newsweek and Time

Newsweek and Time, May 27
Both covers ask if, given the recent revelations of ignored terrorism warnings last summer, Sept. 11 could have been prevented. Time lists four specific counterterrorism failures: 1) based on six-year-old intelligence, officials should have known that hijacked planes might be used as missiles, not just for hostage negotiations. 2) The FBI should not have ignored the so-called Phoenix memo, which in July warned that al-Qaida operatives were receiving flight training. 3) The Bush administration should have focused on domestic terrorism, not just possible attacks abroad. 4) The White House should have known about the arrest of Zacarias Moussaoui, the accused 20th hijacker. Newsweek gives the Bush administration the lion's share of the blame. True, the CIA and FBI don't communicate with each other, but the White House didn't even seem worried about terrorism. Attorney General John Ashcroft stressed traditional law-and-order programs over counterterrorism, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld opposed the Predator surveillance plane, which gathered key intelligence about al-Qaida. President Clinton's National Security Adviser Sandy Berger was obsessed with terrorism, but Condoleezza Rice never shared his zeal.

A Time piece explains the shifting politics of the Cuban trade embargo. Fidel Castro, who historically used the embargo to deflect criticism about his country's wrecked economy, now wants it lifted as he starts to think about his legacy. But President Bush owes allegiance to anti-Castro forces in Miami and wants to crack down on illegal U.S.-to-Cuba tourism. A Newsweek article criticizes Israel's policy of encouraging West Bank settlements. The government spends an estimated $300 million annually on tax incentives and other subsidies and even more on troops assigned to protect the settlements. But they exacerbate tensions with the Palestinians, and with Israel's economy in the tank, such spending is hard to defend.—J.D.

U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report, May 27 The cover story questions the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education. President Bush wants to disallow discussion of contraception, but some experts think that that approach has led to the recent explosion of herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and all sorts of nasty STDs. And kids have resorted to anal and oral sex to maintain what they view as their technical virginity. A piece says the good press Russia will get during Bush's visit is just hype. The country's economy depends on very shaky oil exports, and most Russians remain poor anyway. Judicial reform has faltered. One measure of Russian distress is a rapidly declining approval rating for the United States, from 70 percent last fall to under 50 percent. An article reports that nursing homes, not big muscle-bound jocks, provide the biggest market for exercise equipment. Lifting helps old people lower themselves onto toilet seats and wheelchairs and swallow without the aid of feeding tubes.— J.D.

The Nation

The Nation, June 3 An article says that police departments use Sept. 11 as an excuse to beef up their intelligence units, and the Justice Department urges police to keep tabs not just on potential terrorists but also on environmentalists and anti-globalization activists. Another story says the administration encourages ordinary citizens to be on the lookout for suspicious immigrants and possible visa violators. The problem is that these regulars aren't up to the INS's job. Case in point: the high-school guidance counselor who turned in a Moroccan student, even though he had a pending application to extend his visa, which made him perfectly legal. A piece asks whether the state-level anti-terrorism laws will make us any safer. Almost half the states are considering or have passed "God bills" to mandate moments of silence in schools, put "In God We Trust" posters in classrooms, or require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.—K.T.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, May 27 The cover story offers two reasons why crime has declined in the United States in recent years while it's exploded in Europe: local control of police departments and long prison sentences. "The combination of engaged, community-oriented police and ample investment in incarceration is turning the United States into the safest large Western country." A piece says that by signing a bill requiring insurers to reveal any slave policies they issue, California Gov. Gray Davis became the country's highest-ranking elected official to support slave reparations. The author thinks GOP challenger Bill Simon is crazy not to use this "ultimate wedge issue": To punish innocent people in the name of justice would be a travesty."–— K.T.

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