What's new in the Economist, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 8 2002 12:41 PM

Old Ideas

Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy, November/December 2002 The cover package looks at a handful of dominant 20th-century political ideas that have supposedly been relegated to history's dustbin. James Fallows says the military-industrial complex is just as threatening as it was when Eisenhower coined the term. Military brass is still too close to defense contractors, and useless equipment is still being purchased without careful consideration. An article offers high praise for President Bush's recent report on American national security strategy. Compared with the final NSS report of the Clinton administration, Bush's is surprisingly more multilateral, more Wilsonian, and more proactive. It's "the most important reformulation of U.S. grand strategy in over half a century." A survey of trans-Atlantic attitudes shows Americans and Europeans closer than you might expect on issues like the United Nations, globalization, and Iraq. But a very real trans-Atlantic gulf exists over Israel, defense spending, and the perceived severity of terrorist threats.— J.F.

Economist

Economist, Nov. 9 The cover story reminds that Bush Sr. also did well in his midterm elections. Though things may be looking good right now for Bush Jr. in 2004, he'll have to turn his attention to the economy and avoid the temptation of pushing an extremist agenda if he's to avoid his father's one-term fate. An article says the Microsoft antitrust case achieved more than meets the eye. Even though the government's settlement is toothless, the case helped keep Microsoft out of several growing areas of the technology industry, where it would have stifled innovation. A piece lauds President Bush's handling of the crisis in Iraq. Were it not for his forceful stand, there would be no new inspections. "If this is where cowboyism leads, long live the old West."— J.F.

New Republic

New Republic, Nov. 18 TNR post-games the election: One piece says there's nothing the Dems could have done to prevent Tuesday's debacle. The data shows that the GOP won in the suburbs, where the decisive factor was Bush's leadership in the war on terrorism. Another piece says Republicans won with more money and better TV ads. Republican ads blurred the parties' differences on health care and Social Security, and the mainstream media (which isn't as liberal as conservatives charge) refused to sort the issues out. "TRB" says the natural thing for the Democrats to do now is shift left, and that's dangerous. Instead, Dems need to stop pretending that the biggest challenge facing the country is prescription drugs and form their own war agenda—starting by challenging Bush's indifference to nation-building in Afghanistan and the security of nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.— K.T.

Daedalus

Daedalus, Fall 2002 The fall issue looks at beauty. Does the concept of "beauty" equate with "goodness"? Susan Sontag considers how the concept of "interesting" has supplanted beauty as a criterion for judging artistic value. Rochelle Gurstein examines the decline of the notion of "ideal beauty" exemplified by the Elgin Marbles—sculptures and architectural details removed from the Parthenon to the British Museum in the early 19th century and still a source of controversy (the Greek government continues to demand their return). And a piece by Kathy Peiss looks at the selling of American cosmetics abroad: "By linking aesthetic ideals and beauty rituals to the 'American way,' it has made cold creams and lipstick and skin lighteners into improbable emblems of women's modernization and independence."— S.D.

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, Nov. 10 The cover article questions the idea of "animal rights," as elaborated most recently in Dominion, by former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully. Animal rightists only acknowledge the rights of individuals, not species, so they are unconcerned that many species depend on predators to "cull the herd," killing the sick and slow. The author wonders if it makes sense to impose our moral standards on the animal world. A piece explains the controversy over whether mercury-containing vaccines can cause autism. Scientists don't know enough to rule it out, but they haven't been guilty of hushing up evidence, as angry parents now claim. A piece describes how special forces soldiers are trained to withstand the trauma of battle, to have "bulletproof minds," as one West Point psychology professor says. Is a population of men trained to kill reflexively a ticking time bomb?—K.T.

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs, November/December 2002 A look at the U.S. tariff system finds that poor single mothers buying cheap clothes and shoes pay tariff rates five to 10 times higher than rich families shopping in elite stores, and that poor countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia face tariffs 15 times those applied to rich nations and oil exporters. The solution: Scrap tariffs on consumer goods altogether—employment in high-tariff industries is already so low that eliminating all U.S. trade barriers would mean a net gain of jobs in this country. A piece wonders if Myanmar can reform. The nation formerly known as Burma is now the world's biggest opium producer, with the ruling junta funding its rising defense spending by money-laundering linked to the drug trade. With Russian help, the government is planning to build a nuclear reactor, which could lead to North Korea-style bargaining.— J.T.

U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 11
The cover story looks at the upcoming overhaul of the SAT. By 2005, students will be graded on academic preparedness instead of raw intelligence. The change looks to transform education standards at the nation's high schools, but critics worry the test will have too much influence over what is taught. An article considers the post-9/11 demands on members of the National Guard and Reserves. Being a part-time soldier has become a full-time job lately, but not because there are fewer American troops. The reserves were intentionally trained for key support jobs to make it impossible to go to war without them. A piece profiles Aftermath, a Chicago business that specializes in cleaning up bloody crime scenes. Considered a front-runner in the burgeoning bio-recovery industry, the firm made more than $2 million in profits last year.— H.B.

Newsweek
Time
The New Yorker

Newsweek, Nov. 11
The cover story says television isn't as bad for kids as it used to be. While critics still contend there is too much sex and violence on prime time, kid-friendly shows like Blues Clues are on the rise. The only problem is that kids still watch too much television—and usually, it's the bad stuff. An article says Saddam Hussein bypassed U.N. sanctions imposed on his regime after the Gulf War by taking kickbacks on the barrels of oil. The CIA believes the profits may have financed Saddam's weapons programs. A witness reported a blue Chevy Caprice leaving the scene of a liquor store shooting in suburban Washington, D.C., two weeks before the sniper shootings began, an article says. But the tip was overlooked or ignored.— H.B
Time, Nov. 11 The cover story goes inside the womb for an illustrated look at how human life begins. The story features groundbreaking images from a forthcoming book, From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds. Technical advances in tracking fetal development are changing the way people think about the prenatal world, not only in science but in the politics of abortion. A piece says it's unlikely that security chiefs sought or received the go-ahead from Russian President Vladimir Putin to gas Chechen rebels and their hostages in the Moscow theater. Observers say he would have deferred to their judgment either way. An article notes that investigators are testing saliva found on an envelope left at the scene of one of the sniper shootings, hoping to match the DNA of one of the men charged in the case.—H.B. The New Yorker, Nov. 4 The cartoon issue. A "Talk of the Town"piece by Joe Klein eulogizes Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., and American politics in general, noting that Wellstone's rambunctious memorial service brought life back to politics, albeit briefly. (Slate had a different take on the service.) An article looks at science's attempts to figure out why we laugh. How the body laughs is well understood, but how the brain processes humor remains a mystery. Seeking an explanation for humor "is like seeking the Fountain of Youth, or the Philosopher's Stone," author Tad Friend writes. "It is a quest not for a tangible goal but for a beguiling idea." A piece profiles Steve Spurrier, the new head coach of the Washington Redskins. He's an NFL rookie who came to the Redskins after 12 winning seasons at the University of Florida, yet he already has the cockiness of a seasoned pro with an unassailable confidence in his own eventual success.— H.B.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, Nov. 11
The cover story unpacks the Baathist ideology that drives Saddam Hussein. Baathists look toward the day when Arabs, the superior race, will reclaim their rightful place as rulers of the world. They believe that getting there will require perpetual bloodshed and revolution. To ignore these ideological motivations and treat Saddam like a simple rational actor would be like trying to confront Hitler without referencing Nazism. An article notes the inconsistency in the left's newfound enthusiasm for containment and deterrence. During the Cold War, leftists railed against the twin doctrines. Now, when it comes to Iraq, they're the centerpieces of the anti-war argument. The editorial says of the late Paul Wellstone, "We don't doubt that his struggle helped rescue the poor on occasion. But the help they got was incidental to his larger struggle, which was to rescue the consciences of his fellow professors."— J.F.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

Holly Bailey is a writer in Washington, D.C.

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

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.

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