What's new in The New Yorker, etc.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Sept. 2 2005 1:43 PM

Losing Momentum

How the Democrats are wasting Cindy Sheehan's vigil.

American Prospect

American Prospect, Sept. 10 An article names William Kristol, Thomas Friedman, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Davis Hanson, and Charles Krauthammer as this war's Goebbels. Rather than holding the administration's feet to the fire over such issues as Abu Ghraib and the insurgency, the writers have become shills for the administration, the article charges, blaming them for having "misrepresented supposition as fact, excused the misconduct of administration officials, and neglected to consider the predictable consequences of the war they promoted." What makes their crimes so egregious, according to Harold Myerson, is that the quintet sold this "war of choice" to the American public who felt validated sending their loved ones off, "halfway around the world to fight a nemesis that they didn't really know was a nemesis."— Z.K.

Nation
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Nation, Sept. 12 An editorial chastises Democrats for squandering the anti-war momentum Cindy Sheehan and her supporters have constructed with their haunting presence in Crawford, Texas. Rather than focusing on methods to ensure victory in Iraq, Democratic machers "should be following the example of those on both sides of the aisle who are calling for withdrawal." The piece reports that an "unofficial Congressional hearing" is being organized by California Rep. Lynn Woolsey, who believes, "Everything about his war has been a ruinous debacle … there is only one solution: Bring the troops home."... An article casts a critical eye toward the Army's recruitment methods post Sept. 11. Recruiters are told to volunteer for many activities at the high schools they're assigned to, and some have been caught helping recruits hide criminal records. Others are accused of lying about student-loan repayments; the article calls the Army "desperate."— Z.K.

New York Times Magazine

New York Times Magazine, Sept. 3 An article explores the best way for the administration to win the hearts and minds of Islamists and suggests Karen Hughes, the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, should not follow the model used with our former foes in the Soviet bloc. Those cultures, though wildly disparate, did possess some commonality of values, primarily the spirit of modernity. But the crux of "the conflict with jihadists is a contest between modernity and antimodernity," writes David Rieff. It is pertinent to realize that although some may lust for freedom, "Karen Hughes's idea of it and the Ayatollah al-Sistani's idea of it are very different." An article predicts that Dove's "real women" ad campaign could produce a backlash against America's obsession with self-improvement.—Z.K.

Texas Monthly

Texas Monthly, Sept. 2005 An article weaves drugs, sex, and claims of witchcraft into its tale of Bobbi Jo Smith and Jennifer Jones, two young women who tried to run from police after murdering an amateur pornographer who gave them a place to stay in their small Texas town. Jennifer claims that Bobbi Jo bewitched her into taking part in the murder. "She has this book of spells, and she'd burn candles all the time and make people fall in love with her," she says. Another article tells the story of a real Dr. Evil: Eric Scheffey, a Houston surgeon whose botched (and often unnecessary) operations left many patients in pain, disfigured, or dead. Despite numerous lawsuits and complaints, the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners allowed him to continue working with few safety precautions until his license was revoked in February of 2005 following the death of another patient and a more thorough investigation into his past.—T.B.

Weekly Standard

Weekly Standard, Sept. 12 The cover is dedicated to assessing the Bush presidency four years into the war on terror. Slate contributor and full-time contrarian Christopher Hitchens looks on the bright side of life and recounts the successes of the war.  Irwin Stelzer * questions the administration's commitment to the war and suggests "it is [time] to put up or to shut up."... Ex-Sen. Jesse Helms may be down, but he ain't out, reveals a profile. After retiring in 2003, Helms "was so glad to get home." Restlessness soon set in, and he was back to business as (somewhat) usual. Besides beating the bushes on behalf of Republican candidates and pet political causes, he also formed an unlikely alliance with humanitarian and rock star Bono. Bonding over AIDS devastation in Africa, Helms noted, "Bono and my wife have become friends." Helms has even attended a concert by this "remarkable young man."— Z.K.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker, Sept. 5 The food issue returns, full of characteristic offerings and several one-page essays on taboo foodstuff (tongue, peacock, caviar, dog). John Seabrook profiles Italian arboreal archeologist Isabella Dalla Ragione, who hunts down and clones long-forgotten varieties of fruit trees, aided by Renaissance still-life paintings from the Medici's collections. "It's not hard to imagine a day," Seabrook writes, "when there will be only one kind of apple for sale in the whole industrial world." He presents Dalla Ragione and her private orchard as insurance against that bleak eventuality. John Updike gives Salman Rushdie a hard time in his early review of Shalimar the Clown, a broad ensemble novel set mostly in Los Angeles and Kashmir. Rushdie's work is overrun with "verbal hyperactivity" and by an obsession with celebrity and violence, Updike writes. Updike does find the interwoven political history of Kashmir edifying, and adds that Rushdie's literary sympathy for the rage of Islamist extremists is important: "Rushdie in his Manhattan retreat is no longer a Third World writer but a bard of the grim one world we all, in a state of some dread, inhabit."—B.W.

Time and U.S. News and World Report

Time and U.S. News and World Report, Sept. 5 Iraq: Time names Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as a probable successor to Osama Bin Laden. Citing European intelligence reports, an article suggests that the influence of Zarqawi—the chief al-Qaida terrorist in Iraq—"is expanding far beyond Iraq and that he now rivals Osama bin Laden" among wannabe terrorists lurking in the Middle East and Europe. Although Zarqawi's on the lam, a French official concludes that "he doesn't even have to contact far-flung cells to influence them; he just has to inspire them from afar." U.S. News profiles an Army Reserve unit based in Massachusetts as it embarks on an 18-month tour of Iraq. As disenchantment with the war imbues the American conscience, many of the unit's loved ones must face their own apprehensions and fears about the safety of those nearest and dearest. Says one mother, reflecting on the remoteness of the war, "Now it's in my own backyard."

Health:U.S. News reports that insulin is not just for treating diabetes. Seems that those who suffer from conditions that may be caused by insulin imbalance, such as Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and polycystic ovary syndrome, can benefit from the hormone as well. According to one expert, "we're just beginning to understand that insulin throws a lot of big switches in the body. Is insulin the master control of the disease? I don't know, but it's certainly a candidate for that role." Time's cover looks at advances in non-invasive screening, which can help physicans prevent heart attacks. One drawback of scanning, as compared to catheterization, an invasive procedure, is that "it doesn't yet produce clear enough pictures of some of the smaller arteries of the heart." Still, as scanning technology advances, says a physician, "sticking probes into people is going to sound less and less like modern medicine—and more like voodoo."

Odds and ends:Time reports on a "a fast-growing movement that seeks to retool the 5,000-year-old practice of yoga to fit Christ's teachings." The movement's popularity has not only caused Hindus to voice their displeasure but has raised the eyebrows of some Christians and the pope, who, as Cardinal John Ratzinger, warned "Catholics against mistaking yoga's 'pleasing sensations' for 'spiritual well-being.' " Practitioners can rename poses to give them Christian names, but, as a professor of yoga philosophy and meditation says, "Yoga is Hinduism."  U.S. News' cover story   bares the truth behind the much-maligned Masonic fraternity. Long the target of conspiracy theorists, the article discovers that despite all the hysteria, the organization succeeded "in forming solid citizens, in forging social networks, in mending certain social divisions, in supporting philanthropic causes."—Z.K

Correction, Sept. 12: The article originally misidentified the author of the article as Irving Stelzer. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, the New America Foundation, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies. 

Zuzanna Kobrzynski is Slate's executive assistant.

Blake Wilson is a Slate contributor and former Slate editor.

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