The Skinny on Saddam
Updated Friday, Dec. 13, 2002, at 12:06 PM
Economist, Dec. 14 The cover story speculates on when the United States will release a dossier of evidence proving Iraqi weapons violations. Since the CIA surely has the hard dope on Iraq, it could be very soon. Now that Saddam Hussein has passed up an opportunity to come clean, the next logical step is for the United States to show the world that he's lying. … An article explains why South African President Thabo Mbeki won't return phone calls from his predecessor Nelson Mandela. Mandela publicly accuses Mbeki of burying his head in the sand on AIDS. Mbeki, who says he'd rather focus on "diseases of poverty," charges Mandela with trying to be a back-seat driver. … An article argues that calls for more corporate social responsibility are overblown. Companies do tend to do good—more than they're given credit for—because it's often in their own best interest. But improving social welfare should be government's job, not the private sector's.— J.F.
New Republic, Dec. 23 The cover piece asks how well Iraqi exiles can judge Iraq's prospects for democracy. They don't know how much their country has changed: Saddam ruined the schools. The literacy rate is now the lowest in the gulf. And while Sunnis and Shiites once lived in peace, they may not find it easy to do so again. … A piece describes the last-minute attack ad that saved Mary Landrieu. A report in a Mexican newspaper that the Bush administration had agreed to increase sugar imports allowed Landrieu to accuse the GOP of selling out sugar farmers. Her victory didn't prove the strength of the Dems, just the advantage of going for the jugular. …"TRB" begs Lieberman to run against Gore: "What the [Democratic Party] desperately needs in the 2004 primaries is a credible, unapologetic hawk willing to challenge the party's drift toward Pelosiism. And, right now, Joe Lieberman is the only person auditioning for the job."—K.T.
Vanity Fair, January 2003
An article examines Israel's use of "targeted killings" to pre-empt suicide bombings. Although meticulously choreographed, sometimes these operations go awry, resulting in many civilian deaths. Some Israelis and Palestinians believe that the assassinations exacerbate the situation, provoking more bombings. One Israeli spokesman says the solution is negotiation, not "killing back." ... A profile of Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi looks at the possible future Iraqi leader's troubled relationship with the CIA: They've labeled him "ineffectual" and have all but abandoned hopes of Iraqi democracy. The result: The United States could be losing valuable information about how to overthrow Saddam. … An article detailing Steve Case's miserable reputation as chairman of AOL Time Warner asks: What will it take to get rid of the arrogant SOB? Virtually everyone dislikes him, but many figure the wretched company can only go up from rock-bottom and so are sitting on their hands. Vague ideas of undoing the ruinous merger are fading.—S.G.
American Lawyer, December 2002 The cover story trashes the three-judge panel charged with doling out lawyers' fees in the tobacco settlement. More than $13 billion has been awarded so far, much of it arbitrarily. Some firms have been paid twice for the same work; others were rewarded for the efforts of their state attorneys general. Many lawyers are walking away with upward of $13,000 per hour of work. … An article explains the deteriorating collegiality between state attorneys general. After state AGs orchestrated the 1998 tobacco settlement, both parties realized their political importance and began pouring money into campaigns that were once considered trivial. Will newfound partisan rivalry hinder interstate enforcement?— J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Dec. 15
The second annual "Year in Ideas" issue features 97 trends and inventions that captured the Zeitgeist in 2002. Among them: Botox parties; coming-of-age-in-Eastern-Europe novels; a soon-to-be-marketed device that tells you what your baby's cry means (options are "hungry," "sleepy," "uncomfortable," "stressed," or "bored"); endurance condoms (they employ a mild anesthetic to prolong sex); "creative" cities (San Francisco, Austin, Seattle); online personals; blue soda; the pop-cultural hegemony of Japan. And of course there are all the new tools, and threats, of the war on terrorism: "material support," "enemy combatant," Total Information Awareness, smallpox martyrs, bunker busters (bombs that burrow underground before exploding), and the granddaddy of 2002's embattled ideas, pre-emption.—K.T.
Weekly Standard, Dec. 16
The cover story looks at the return of Al Gore and his "scarred psyche." Gore says he's "well over" the outcome of the 2000 election, but you'd never know it from his public appearances. As he considers another run in 2004, Gore's speeches have turned into therapy sessions, and he plays up his role as the victim nonstop—maybe to get votes. … An article says the recent hiring of Elliott Abrams to head up Middle East policy for the National Security Council is to make sure Colin Powell doesn't dumb down President Bush's policy on Israel and Palestine. Abrams is more pro-Israel and less solicitous of the Palestinians than Powell. … An article examines the rise of Christianity in the marketplace. Jesus dolls, candy sealed in wrappers covered in Bible Scriptures, and other religion-themed goodies are now a $4 billion a year business—but is it doing anything to woo new followers?—H.B.
The New Yorker, Dec. 16 A 17-page piece by Ken Auletta profiles Harvey Weinstein, the tempestuous chairman of Miramax Films. He's on track to go down in history as one of Hollywood's greats, but Weinstein's nasty temper has also earned him plenty of enemies—perhaps too many. … An article by Jeffrey Toobin profiles Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who "wants badly to be President" but is too nice to challenge former running mate Al Gore. Voters like Lieberman's values, but some believe America isn't ready for a Jewish White House. "A President who doesn't celebrate Christmas? Forget it," an unnamed political professional says. … An article marks the 500th anniversary of vodka and examines its mixed effects on Russia. While it has been a major source of revenue for the country, vodka also has "inflicted more suffering on the country than any war has."—H.B.
U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 16
The cover story looks at corruption within the military justice system. A six-month investigation finds cases of unequal justice where the odds often are stacked against defendants from the get-go and legal practices that would be illegal in civilian courts are the norm. … A piece tracks prewar military maneuvers along the Iraqi border in Kuwait. Right now, there are more machines than men, but military units are expected to begin arriving en masse in coming weeks to be ready for attack by mid-January. … An article examines the long tumultuous relationship between France and the United States. Franco-American relations have been on the outs for at least two centuries, a new book says. Meanwhile, a debate rages among the French over whether they have a problem with anti-Americanism.—H.B.
Time, Dec. 16 The cover story by Donald Bartlett and James Steele looks at the rise of Indian gaming in the United States. Congress approved casino gambling on reservations to help tribes become self-sufficient, yet a majority of Native Americans aren't benefiting. The wealth is centered among a few tribes, while many non-Indian investors are walking away with hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. … A piece says Iraqi officials believe U.N. inspectors searched one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces so that the United States could confirm that Saddam was in the area. … An article says Janet Rehnquist, the daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, is under investigation for mismanaging her office at the Health and Human Services Department. She's accused of forcing out several staff members, keeping a gun in her office, and running up questionable travel bills. Now, it turns out records crucial to the investigation have been shredded.—H.B.
Newsweek, Dec. 16 The cover story profiles National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice—"the most important woman in wartime Washington." She is the "anti-Kissinger" who has Bush's complete confidence, but how much does she influence his thinking and decisions? … An article says Democrats hope to rebound against Republicans by recruiting centrist African-American candidates in the South. The move not only could lock up the black vote, but looks to influence the party's platform and possibly its 2004 presidential nominee. … A piece checks in with actor Jack Nicholson. Now 65, Nicholson says old age has mellowed him—and sucked away his libido. "I spend a lot of time sleeping alone these days," he says. "That's different. And very liberating."— H.B.
Holly Bailey is a writer in Washington, D.C.
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.