What's new in Vanity Fair, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
May 10 2002 12:35 PM

Weight Watcher

Consumer Reports

Consumer Reports, May 2002 The cover story investigates which diets actually work. After conducting "the largest survey ever undertaken on … weight loss,"CR concludes that the most effective strategy for taking off—and keeping off—the pounds requires regular, rigorous exercise (some type of aerobic activity plus weight-lifting); a diet that includes lean proteins, vegetables, and "healthful" fats like olive oil, nuts, and fish; and sheer persistence. What doesn't work: commercial programs (like Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig) and meal replacement products (like Slim-Fast). The verdict is still out on the Atkins diet, the fat-heavy regimen that allows unlimited steak, butter, and eggs but virtually no vegetables or whole-grain carbohydrates. It may be an effective way to drop weight, but its long-term health consequences are still unclear.— S.D.

Vanity Fair, May, 2002
An excerpt from the autobiography of Mary Wells Lawrence gives insight into the working life of a Madison Avenue pioneer; she was an adwoman when there existed only admen. She gave us, among other gems, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is." James Wolcott sees in the recent spate of pop-historian faux pas like plagiarism (Doris Kearns Goodwin) and lying (Joseph Ellis) evidence of the robust health of inquiry: "[C]ontroversy," he says, is better than "consensus." Christopher Hitchens and famed photographer Sebastiao Salgado team up to visit a polio clinic in Calcutta. The disease could be eradicated as early as 2005, but it remains a scourge in some parts of the world, "and this little patch of hell … is one of them."—S.G.

Economist

Economist, May 11
Political assassinations, raging anti-Semitism, the ascendancy of right-wing xenophobes: It's been a rough month for Europe. But the cover story says Europe isn't in as bad shape as recent events would suggest. Anti-Semitism exists only at the fringes of society, Jean-Marie Le Pen was crushed in France's runoff election, and hostility to immigrants is hardly just a European problem. A special report looks at the different responses of Southern African nations to HIV. South Africa is just now pulling its head out of the clouds and Mozambique is too poor to do much of anything, but wealthier Botswana has implemented several progressive policies. The 50-percent state-run mining company offers "peer education" classes on AIDS and covers 90 percent of the cost of anti-retroviral treatment for its uninsured employees.—J.F.

New Republic

New Republic, May 20 The cover piece opines that the PR firm handling our reputation in the Muslim world is too focused on daily sound bites and not enough on the long-term war of ideas. The Office of Strategic Influence would have done a better job, but it went up in flames after Pentagon spokeswoman Torie Clarke told reporters it was planning disinformation campaigns. An article reckons the debate on whether the recession is over comes down to an argument between the "new new economists," who think financial innovations made it easy to turn the economy around, and the hard realists, who think recessions are a necessary way of purging excess. At the moment, the numbers support the realists. A piece by Slate's Rob Walker skewers the networks' news programs, which it finds even trashier than cable's. At least the cable shows assume we can handle lengthy segments and complex discussions, whereas the network programs treat us "like angry, gullible ignoramuses."— –K.T.

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

New York Times Magazine, May 12
The cover piece follows a group of Israeli reservists in the early days of Operation Protective Shield. The reservists are older men with civilian careers, and this group includes both right-wing hawks and leftists opposed to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. But they agree on one thing: Talks must lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. A piece describes the very different fates of two brothers who were molested by a priest: One became an advocate for sexual abuse victims; the other became an abusive priest. A piece explains how black comedian Bernie Mac became the star of one of Fox's most popular sitcoms. A show about a dad who's always threatening to kill his kids might seem like an unlikely hit, but, hey, what parent doesn't feel that way sometimes?— K.T. Time, May 13
The mostly recycled cover story suggests that getting rid of Saddam Hussein won't be easy. With gobs of money and scary weapons, he still rules Iraq with absolute authority, and he has reluctant allies in the Middle East and parts of Europe. The entire regime is oriented toward Saddam's short-term survival and long-term legacy as redeemer of the Arab world. A detailed investigation into the controversial Israeli attack of the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin concludes that while the battle was bloody on both sides, it was no massacre. A tongue-in-cheek piece reports on détente in the Nixon daughters' feud over dad's library. Julie wants professional management. Tricia, who's humiliated because the gift shop sells tacky T-shirts, seeks tighter family control. One former Nixon adviser blames the library's director John Taylor for the lamentable squabble: "He's done what all the Nixon haters couldn't do—drive a wedge in the family."— J.D. Newsweek, May 13 The cover story profiles Botox, the anti-wrinkle treatment that has just been approved for cosmetic use by the FDA (though doctors have been injecting it "off-label" for years). In large doses, the botulinum toxin is deadly. In small doses, it paralyzes the forehead so it can't crease. Once a Beverly Hills thing, Botox is now being marketed to women in Middle America. An article warns against a national identification system. Smart cards linked to central databases can only slow terrorism, not stop it. And they would obliterate privacy rights and freedom of movement. A boilerplate profile of Barbara Bush lavishes praise on the former first lady for being so darn down to earth. She used to drive a TransAm, steals soap from hotels and gives it to homeless shelters, gives her granddaughters a stern talking-to for their notorious underage drinking, and, of course, hates the limelight.— J.D. U.S. News & World Report, May 13 The cover story doesn't live up to its splashy headline ("Profiteers of War"). The new military appropriations bill, which should be sacred after Sept. 11, is larded up with pork spending. The Air Force may spend $20 billion for 10-year leases on Boeing planes that it will eventually give back (after paying to have them reconverted for commercial use). John McCain calls the deal "one of the great rip-offs in the history of the United States of America." An article declares broadband a bust. Only 10 percent of households have high-speed Internet access, because monopolistic cable and DSL providers overcharge and the old dial-up modem suits most people just fine. A piece reports on the cushy sentences handed out to white-collar criminals. If you rat out a bigger fish, you'll get a small fine and house arrest. If you are the big fish, you're in for a short stay at a pleasant if Spartan prison camp where you can wander freely, exercise, and catch up on reading.— J.D.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, May 13 A piece delves into the petty, factionalized world of Shakespeare scholarship. Nobody knows which of three possible Hamlet texts (the Bad Quarto, the Good Quarto, or the Folio) to use. The old guard believes there is one true Lost Archetype, and they conflate the three existing versions in accordance with what they think the playwright's intensions were. The young Turks think the Folio was Shakespeare's revision of the Quarto, and they are publishing volumes that include all the texts so readers can follow the play's evolution.... An article profiles Alex Sanders, the Democratic nominee in the contest for Strom Thurmond's South Carolina Senate seat. A stereotype of the folksy, yarn-spinning, good ol' boy Southern pol, Sanders may have a chance in the GOP-dominated state because he acts more like Strom than the Republican nominee does.— J.D.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, May 13 An article rehashes the magazine's position on energy policy. Raising domestic oil production is impossible and consumption can't realistically be curtailed. So, since we're going to be dependent on foreign oil for years to come, we need a strong military to ensure that Taliban-types never take over Saudi Arabia. The editorial slams Senate Democrats for dragging their feet on the president's judicial nominees (only half of Bush's 100 bench nominations have been confirmed so far), and an article explains how Republicans can use the issue to bludgeon Democrats in November. The author believes it's just a matter of painting opponents to judicial nominees as extremists out to subvert moderating influences on the bench. " 'Women's rights' is code for unfettered abortion; 'civil rights' is code for quotas; and 'freedom of expression' means the most vulgar excesses of the entertainment industry. The case should not be hard to make."— J.F.

The Nation

The Nation, May 20 The spring books issue. A review of Samantha Power's book "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide moves from Power's critique of American non-interventionism in the face of genocide to a critique of American militarism and unilateralism. While hammering away at the United States for not stepping in to stop genocide everywhere it rears its ugly face, Power glosses over America's role in abetting genocide in places like Guatemala and East Timor. A piece comments on the apparent rise of partisan polemics to the top of best-seller lists. Actually, Michael Moore's, David Brock's, and Bernard Goldberg's hit books are part of a long tradition of exclusionary, one-sided best sellers. American pluralism "lifts our tolerance for one-sidedness into an appetite for edifying entertainment. Because we can order or click our way to the other side of almost any viewpoint, and can get it wholesale or retail, we forgive omissions."— J.F.

Susan Daniels is a former Slate staffer. She lives in Amsterdam.

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.

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

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