What's new in Time, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
July 3 2002 5:52 PM

Fat's Phat?

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

New York Times Magazine, July 7 The cover article says researchers are finally coming around to the idea that fat doesn't make you fat, and carbohydrates do. Experts ridiculed Robert Atkins for proposing that thesis in the 1970s; now it turns out the low-fat, high-carb diet pushed on us for 30 years by the government and medical establishment may have actually made us less healthy. A piece profiles Sam Mendes, the British stage-turned-film director whose first movie, American Beauty, is a hard act to follow. Will the $80 million Road to Perdition, starring Tom Hanks as a gangster on a heroic mission, have Beauty's magic? A piece describes the sad irony of Richard Wallace, the manic-depressive computer scientist whose artificial intelligence program, "Alice," can almost get along with people better than he does. Alice's intelligence is mainly in her wry, offbeat—but rather nonsensical—responses, which raises questions about just how complicated human interaction really is.—K.T. Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report, July 8
All three July Fourth cover stories search far and wide for the American essence and find it in a curious mix of places. Anticipating Lewis and Clark's bicentennial by six months, Time fawns over the expedition, labeling it the wellspring of American identity: two brave men, not knowing what they would find, forging ahead to discover their new country. After Sept. 11, we are again a nation of Lewises and Clarks inching our way into the unpredictable future. U.S. News, whose special music issue includes almost 20 articles about indigenous American music (from minstrel shows and Francis Scott Key to Duke Ellington and MTV), asserts, "The history of American music is the history of the nation, a long, strange trip of bravery and brutality, braggadocio and brilliance." Newsweek says last week's two church-and-state court decisions have forced Americans to grapple with the existential question of what it means to be a citizen. Most people (89 percent) want to keep the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, but apparently they also respect free speech, even the anti-religious kind.

The New Yorker

Employing the example of five imprisoned Kuwaitis, a Newsweek piece rips into the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay. Because the United States claims to be interrogating rather than investigating, it can detain people indefinitely and without hard evidence. The five Kuwaitis were probably just charity workers who got caught in Afghanistan, but despite vigorous protest, the military has done nothing to verify its suspicions. A Time article focused on WorldCom and referencing Qwest, Tyco, Enron, RiteAid, and Supervalu worries that the evidently newly revealed soullessness of corporate America could send the country into a double-dip recession. Consumer confidence is sinking fast as the economy's skeleton decays. Great statistic: 82 percent of CEOs admit to cheating at golf— J.D.

The New Yorker, July 8 A George Steinbrenner profile says he's less of a jerk than he used to be but suggests that his animating qualities—hypercompetitiveness and egomania—survive. Known for his two suspensions and his addiction to firing managers, he helped run the Yankees into the ground in the 1980s but is a major part of their success now. It takes more than money to run a baseball team (witness Disney's Anaheim Angels), and Steinbrenner has an indomitable if annoying winning spirit.... A super-sympathetic profile of a bank-robbing team, the "Trenchcoat Robbers," longs for the good old days when there was honor among thieves. Ray Bowman and Billy Kirkpatrick robbed 27 banks, the last one of $4.5 million, but Bowman especially took care to be reassuring, even buying a soda for a teen-ager he had kidnapped at gunpoint. The pair was caught while preparing to settle down with long-term girlfriends and live normal lives.— J.D.

The Nation

The Nation, July 15
The cover story rails against the "New Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive strikes against nations developing weapons of mass destruction. It dismisses the threat from states like Iraq because there is "no evidence to suggest that [they] cannot be deterred" and says Bush is advocating a new American imperialism for "postmodern geopolitics."... Rehashing arguments he made in the Jordan Times two weeks ago, Archbishop Desmond Tutu compares the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to South African apartheid. He expresses support for the current divestment movement against Israel.... A media column defends Cornel West against four conservative academics who refused to serve on a panel honoring Sidney Hook when they learned West was invited. The piece credits West for serious scholarship on pragmatism, Hook's school of philosophy, and scoffs at the would-be panelists' work on Hook. It compares their view that West was "not enough of a scholar" to merit their attendance to "a little league coach claiming Barry Bonds is 'not enough of a hitter' to play a game of sandlot ball."— D.R.

Mother Jones

Mother Jones, August 2002
The cover story explains why big players like General Electric and Shell are "scrambling to cash in on … the world's fastest-growing source" of electricity: wind power. Recent technological advances mean production costs are now comparable to that for conventional fuels, and with more state laws requiring power companies to get at least some of their energy from renewable sources, wind-power advocates look "less like Don Quixotes" and more like the wave of the future. A piece describes how pharmaceutical companies "squeeze millions in additional revenue" from drugs like Paxil and Prozac: Their PR firms pump up media awareness of an obscure condition (like "generalized anxiety disorder") and make you wonder if you might have it yourself. A favorite tactic: the use of "patient groups," which are intended to "put a human face" on the condition but are often simply divisions of the drug companies' own PR offices.— S.D.

New Republic

New Republic, July 8 and 15 The cover article says Israelis are feeling more diplomatically isolated than they have since the 1970s. Just as despair in the '70s fueled the settlement movement, today the sense that the world's against them makes Israelis less willing to make concessions for peace. The support of the United States, the article argues, is crucial to countering the isolationists. An article explains why the prescription-drug debate has failed to win older voters to the Democratic Party. With the help of an ad blitz by drug companies, Republicans succeeded in muddling the issue—and now the GOP's managing to pass their own $350 billion prescription-drug bill makes it that much harder for the Dems to claim the issue.... The "TRB" column argues that conservatives can't support racial profiling and oppose affirmative action. Color blindness has been the only persuasive argument against racial preferences—but it turns out conservatives only care about that principle when it's their rights at stake.—K.T.

Economist

Economist, June 28
A cover package on "America's role in the world" includes a scathing assessment of President Bush's speech on the Middle East, calling it a "disappointment" and a "puzzle." While slamming Yasser Arafat for reneging on his Oslo pledges, the piece says Bush failed to emphasize America's commitment to a two-state solution based on Israel's 1967 borders. A piece examines land reform in Russia. Although 91 percent of the country's formerly collectivized farms are now privately owned, the legal and bureaucratic infrastructure for the purchase and sale of land is weak, and the number of farmers has declined in recent years. The Russian parliament just passed legislation to formalize and regulate the market on land, but red tape may hold up its implementation for years.— D.R.

Jeremy Derfner is a former Slate editorial assistant.

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

Dan Rosenheck is the Economist's bureau chief for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

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.