New Republic, June 12 The cover story by Slate contributor Lee Siegel analyzes the phenomenon that is Oprah Winfrey and finds that she embodies America's strengths and flaws. Oprah has made a career of allowing people to air their baggage publicly, with the rapt audience kindly emphathizing. "Winfreyism is the expression of an immensely reassuring and inspiring message that has, without doubt, helped millions of people carry on with their lives. And it is also an empty, cynical, icily selfish outlook on life that undercuts its own positive energy at every turn," he writes. … Kelly McEvers details her unsavory three-day interrogation in Russia's North Caucasian republic of Dagestan. While she was never formally charged with anything nor physically harmed, McEvers believes her experience was part of President Vladimir Putin's developing strategy of intimidating journalists and demonizing the West. This policy "allows Putin to cast his nation's problems—including the violence in Chechnya and Dagestan—as products of outside intervention, rather than admit that they result from his own failed policies," she writes.—S.S.
Economist, May 27 A special report examines why the European Union is at a standstill after France and the Netherlands refused to ratify the EU's constitutional treaty a year ago. At fault, according to the piece, are weak leaders, globalization fears, and a stubborn refusal to scrap the constitution and consider new directions. The writer contends that the constitution holds no solution to Europe's biggest problem: unemployment. "So the question left by the failed constitution should not be: how can we resurrect it? It should be: what changes are needed to ensure that the EU continues to benefit from its single market, to help promote economic reform and to keep the club open to new members?"… Puerto Rico is facing its own unemployment crisis, largely because of the combined "largesse" of its local government and the United States, an article claims. A burgeoning welfare state, subsidized building, and tax laws that favor high-tech businesses over "medium-tech" outfits that can employ more workers have generated less work, more leisure, and a stagnant economy, according to the piece.— M.M.
New York, May 29 An article surveys the many layers that supposedly comprise Hillary Clinton—screaming liberal, closet conservative, the vast right wing conspiracy's cash cow, Manchurian candidate. The verdict? "We've known her a long time—but who is she now? That we still don't know makes everybody nuts."… On the eve of the debut of his film, An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore is the subject of a profile. Since losing in 2000, Gore has kept busy by teaching at two universities, launching a cable network, sitting on a corporate board, starting up an equity fund, and growing a beard. While he has proclaimed that "politics is behind me," he continues the flirtation: "I am a recovering politician. … But you always have to worry about a relapse."… An article looks at recent cases of female teachers becoming involved with students and examines the often underreported emotional damage suffered by the victims.— Z.K.
New York Times Magazine, May 28 A piece chronicles the impact of the Iraq war on the "weekend warriors" of a National Guard unit from Pennsylvania that was unexpectedly dropped into the heart of the war zone. As part-time soldiers, the men didn't anticipate gruesome action, the author writes, and they're now experiencing the stress disorders, guilt, and displacement that other soldiers face. The guardsmen don't have access to all of the support resources of full-time soldiers, but they are unable to escape the emotional consequences of war. … An article describes how video series made for cell phones are a growing market. Though the technology for producing "mobisodes"—a term created by Fox—is still developing, MTV already has 11 series in the works, while gonzo Web sites like Heavy.com also want a piece of the pie. With the 18-24 male demographic constantly jumping at new technology, media outlets are clamoring to give them something to latch onto, the author writes.— M.M.
The New Yorker, May 29 The cover piece asks how Democrats can win back the White House.They can start by getting off their high horses and embracing patriotism, Jeffrey Goldberg finds. Preaching lefty agrarian alternatives puts off middle America, and it didn't get John Kerry or Michael Dukakis very far, he writes. Tougher talk on national security could help candidates seeking midterm congressional seats take states that sit on the verge between red and blue. "Even the most liberal Democratic officeholders recognize the need to speak to security-conscious voters in ways that will separate them from Republicans," Goldberg observes. … A piece unveils an ornithology scandal that smacks vaguely of the Da Vinci Code plot. Ornithologist Pamela Rasmussen uncovers fraud allegations involving a coveted collection of "study skins" or preserved birds that aid in the classification of avian species. Heroic birdman Col. Richard Meinertzhagen gets knocked off his perch and international intrigue ensues … well, among bird-watchers.— M.M.
Weekly Standard, May 29 According to an editorial by Fred Barnes, one surefire way for congressional Republicans to flub the midterm elections is to fail to pass an immigration bill. Passage would not only improve their lot, but the president would surely get a bounce in the polls too: "It would help revive Bush and improve Republican prospects in the fall election."… An article by a transplant recipient lambastes medical ethicists and physicians who refuse to conduct organ transplants on patients who circumvent waiting lists by using Web sites or the media to meet a match. "The message is clear: A slowly dying patient must not take any initiative to save his own life, even though the status quo … is pitifully inadequate," writes the author. … Even as some conservatives rap the administration over the use of wiretaps and prisoner interrogation in the war on terror, an article takes the contrarian view and posits that last year's July 7 London bombings wouldn't have happened if British authorities had been more zealous in employing these two tactics.—Z.K.
Time, May 29 With hurricane season fast approaching, an article details how New Orleans is scrambling to plan for the next disaster even as it rebuilds. The Army Corps of Engineers is behind schedule in reconstructing 200 miles of levees, police and 911 dispatchers are working out of trailers, communications systems are badly compromised, and there are doubts about the strength of the city's water pumps. Residents have learned that self-reliance is key to survival, the article finds. Preparations include evacuation schemes, home modifications, and informal notification matrices. … An article finds that soaring medical bills are leading patients to seek treatment outside the United States. "Medical tourism" used to be the domain of elective procedures such as plastic surgery, but now, employers are considering sending their employees abroad for procedures such as heart bypass and offering them a cut of the savings. With a $90,000 spinal surgery to be had for $10,000 in Thailand, U.S. hospitals have major competition, writes the author.— M.M.
Newsweek, May 29 A long piece explores Mary Magdalene, Jesus' mysterious disciple and a central figure in the ubiquitous Da Vinci Code franchise. Mary's role in history may have been downplayed because she was a woman, and her reputation as a prostitute might be undeserved, the writer asserts. "Even if she were the sinful woman, there is no evidence in any Gospels that her sins were those of the flesh—in the first century, a woman could be considered 'sinful' for talking to men other than her husband or going to the marketplace alone."… Israel struggles with the question of asylum for Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in the Darfur region and other areas of the troubled country, says an article. Some who escape to Israel are jailed under the "enemy infiltration" law, others are placed in farm collectives or kibbutzim. But imprisoning refugees from genocide is weighing heavily on the conscience and legal system of "a state founded partly as a refuge for Holocaust survivors," the piece explains.— M.M.