What's new in the Economist, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Jan. 10 2003 1:12 PM

Do No Harm

Economist

Economist, Jan. 11 The cover story argues that America must not stoop to torturing suspects (or shipping them off to countries that will). Only by maintaining the moral high ground can the West win the war on terrorism. An article explains why President Bush's plan to ax the tax on dividends makes sense, even if the rest of his tax cut proposal is irresponsible. These days America encourages indebtedness by overtaxing savings and undertaxing consumption. Slashing the dividend tax will help rectify this serious imbalance. An article draws up a game plan for the 2004 Democratic presidential candidates. They should challenge Bush for not doing enough in the war on terrorism and stick him for kowtowing to the rich.— J.F.

New Republic

New Republic, Jan. 20 The cover story uses a new book on SUVs as an excuse to rehash the debate. The piece slams the regulatory loopholes that allow sport-utes to be less fuel-efficient and safe than regular cars and tells how they got classified as light trucks in the first place. Priceless quote from auto industry research: SUV drivers "tend to be people who are insecure and vain … frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood." A piece notes that hawks and doves in the Bush administration are fighting again, this time over who should control Iraq's oil after a war, the United Nations and upper-crust Iraqis or the United States. The story suggests that the United Nations will have a better shot at controlling the oil if it gets involved in the war. An editorial praises South African President Thabo Mbeki for his vision of African development but warns that he may undermine his credibility if he continues to support Zimbabwe's corrupt leader Robert Mugabe.— J.T.

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, Jan. 12
The cover story shows how a prison term can affect a man and his family by tracing 14 years in the lives of Lolli and Toney and their three daughters. The piece, a book excerpt, is rich on detail—such as the harried logistics of conjugal visits and that inmates call their letters to girlfriends "kites"—and leaves you thinking that the book (which the author spent 10 years reporting) will be even richer. A piece warns that popping Advil regularly could lead to chronic headaches. Citing a doctor and a number of scientific studies, the author argues that taking too many over-the-counter painkillers "can interfere with the brain's own pain-control system."... A profile of Venus Williams as she launches a second career as an interior decorator; now she only spends most of her time perfecting her serve and uses the rest of it to scrutinize paint chips.— J.T.

Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report

Newsweek, Time, and U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 13
Newsweek
and Time lead with the threat posed by North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-il. (U.S. News' cover story looks at what some are calling the new American Empire; a story that the New York Times Mag had last week.) Newsweek wonders whether Kim is as dangerous as Saddam Hussein and examines the Bush administration's inability to decide exactly how to handle the escalating situation. According to Time, U.S. intelligence officials believe that North Korea "wants to become the first rogue state capable of striking the U.S. homeland with a missile," which could be in the next few years. A companion piece gives Kim the mantle of the "most strange" world leader, noting his oddball personal style (he favors leisure suits, big hairdos, and platform shoes), his propensity to drink, and his ubiquitous film crew; while U.S. News says that despite appearances Kim is "a savvy dictator schooled in the art of brinkmanship."

U.S. News says the Bush administration rejects the notion that America has designs to build an empire, although critics from both the right and the left argue that—in both its rhetoric and actions—the administration has proved that it has "imperial ambition[s]." A Time story pegs incoming Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as the least-experienced senator to ever hold the leadership position. Frist has been bending the ears of former Majority Leaders Howard Baker and Bob Dole for tips. A U.S. News piece explains that the federal government is almost single-handedly propping up the ailing tech industry. Although businesses and consumers have curtailed their tech spending, the government shelled out at least $62 billion on tech-y projects last year and has plans to increase spending in that sector by 15 percent this year.—G.V.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, Jan. 13
A story recounts a Staten Island man's efforts to outfit amputees from Sierra Leone, victims of the 11-year civil war, with artificial limbs. Two and half years ago, Matthew Mirones brought over eight amputees to the states—all the while intending to send them back to Sierra Leone. But they didn't want to go home. Eventually, all received political asylum in the United States, though Mirones scaled back his involvement with his brainchild. An article details New York City's massive budget shortfall—$6.4 billion for the next fiscal year—and wonders how Mayor Michael Bloomberg will make ends meet. The straight-talking Bloomberg has said the budget must be balanced, "regardless of the pain." But a former investment banker who helped the city out of another fiscal crisis says the options facing the mayor are "pain or more pain." A "Talk of the Town" piece describes the Bush administration's Korea policy as a "fairly comprehensive botch."— G.V.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, Jan. 13 The cover story grumbles about Washington's growing "subterranean sprawl." Digging has begun on a massive underground Capitol Visitor Center, and plans are in the works to tear up the Mall for a Washington Monument tunnel and an underground White House museum. In our quest for security, we've lost sight of what makes monumental Washington magisterial. An article tells the story of Reda Hassaine, an Algerian who infiltrated the inner circle of London's Islamic extremists. His spy work on behalf of the British government helped put al-Qaida operative Abu Qatada in prison, but now that Hassaine's cover is blown, the British won't grant him asylum. A piece denounces several former American ambassadors to Saudi Arabia who are on the Saudi payroll as toadies for the monarchy. Against all the evidence, they play down the dangers of Wahhabism and pretend al-Qaida is as much at war with Saudi Arabia as with us.— J.F.

The Nation

The Nation, Jan. 13
The "Power of Music" issue asserts that the activist musician isn't dead. The magazine interviews five politically conscious musicians, including Eddie Vedder, Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein, and Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. An article lauds indie rocker Kathleen Hanna, whose group Le Tigre is at the vanguard of the Riot Grrrl movement. In "F.Y.R." (Fifty Years of Ridicule), Hanna sings, "Can we trade Title 9 for an end to hate crime?/ RU-486 if we suck your fuckin dick? ... Feminists we're calling you/ Please report to the front desk." A piece traces the history of politicized hip-hop from Grandmaster Flash through Run-DMC to its meager remains today. These days, to be a "political rapper" is "to be condemned to preach to a very small choir."— J.F.

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.

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast.

Geoff Van Dyke is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y.