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Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
June 30 2006 5:22 PM

The $60 Billion Men

Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and their joint philanthropy.

The Economist.

Economist, July 1 A special report on philanthropy outlines the challenges the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will face as it absorbs Warren Buffett's $30 billion donation. The foundation must be "willing to fail," according to Gates. The article notes the foundation's education projects are meeting with criticism and details the unusual problem the foundation could have meeting its obligation to give away 5 percent of its assets. The piece suggests that transparency and Buffett's continued involvement with the foundation might increase the likelihood of success. A piece previews the upcoming Mexican presidential election in light of widespread disappointment with Vicente Fox. Inefficiencies in energy production and the dominance of private monopolies have prompted both candidates to put economic reform atop their agendas. But many Mexicans remain skeptical that business in the country's vast informal sector, where corruption abounds and police turn a blind eye, will change.—C.B.

Washington Monthly.
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Washington Monthly, July/August 2006 The cover story argues that conservatives are poorly equipped to govern and inherently constitute "the party of opposition." Alan Wolfe cites the Iraq war, the Medicare prescription-drug plan, and FEMA's awful performance as evidence of conservatism's inevitable self-defeat. "Conservatives cannot govern well for the same reason that vegetarians cannot prepare a world-class boeuf bourguignon," he writes. "If you believe that what you are called upon to do is wrong, you are not likely to do it very well." A piece criticizes U.S. inaction when it comes to funding ACT drugs, the "silver bullet" of anti-malarial medication, to combat the disease in Africa. Even after the World Health Organization and malaria specialists argued for mass ACT production, USAID privately discouraged the drug. Meanwhile, drug companies won't produce ACT at affordable prices without guaranteed orders. The holding pattern will continue until President Bush fulfills his promise to move past "empty symbolism and discredited policies."—C.B.

Washington Post Magazine.

Washington Post Magazine, July 2 The cover story details a Washington woman's efforts—pounding on doors and dogging detectives—to solve the murders of her two sons. Valencia Mohammed's quest led her to co-found a support group for grieving mothers and publish a newspaper filled with images of the murdered, but her activism doesn't stem the tide of black-on-black crime plaguing the young men in her neighborhood. "Enough black boys over the years to fill so many school buses, so many classrooms, vanished like a vanishing tribe?" the author writes. Wannabe Hollywood types have a shot at being famous for 2,880 minutes during the 48 Hour Film Project, a contest that got its start in Washington but now draws amateur short filmmakers from around the world. The auteurs are given two days and a randomly chosen genre to pursue their masterpiece. An article follows an entrant's journey from costuming to "cut." But will he win the coveted best film prize?— M.M.

New Republic.

New Republic, July 3 The cover package on conservative culture includes a review of Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed!, a children's book featuring a Hillary Clinton look-alike who forces kids to eat broccoli. The book fails because much of the satire is too advanced for young children, according to the reviewer. These are "not conservative books for children so much as childish books for conservatives." An article endorses the right-wing politics of Otniel Schneller, a leader of Israeli settlers who advocates unilateral withdrawal from no more than 60 percent of the West Bank instead of the 90 percent suggested at Oslo, Camp David, and most recently by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Schneller's plan faces less resistance from settlers, leaves Israel with territorial bargaining chips for the future, and sends a message to Palestinians: Terrorism doesn't pay. For Schneller, peace is not "an end in itself but a means to ensuring Israel's Jewish majority and Jewish identity."—N.R.

New York Times Magazine.

New York Times Magazine, July 2 The Chinese are road-tripping in droves now that they can actually own cars, according to the cover article. The government lifted a 1949 ban on private automobile ownership in the mid-1990s, and an obsessive car culture ensued, leading to skyrocketing car sales, auto clubs, and group driving expeditions. The freedom to tool around means plans to lay more blacktop than America has, a manufacturing explosion that will drive down car prices internationally, and inevitable worries about fuel shortages and pollution. It's Groundhog Day every day for people who suffer from déjà vécu, the feeling of having "already lived through" a new experience, an article reports. Sometimes seen as a sign of dementia, the condition is like prolonged déjà vu and can lead sufferers to stop reading the newspaper, going on vacation, or playing a sport, because they can't shake the feeling that they already know the outcome of every article, trip, or game.— M.M.

Mother Jones.

Mother Jones, July and August 2006 A feature story by Slate contributor Liza Mundy focuses on the moral quandary confronting parents who have conceived successfully via in vitro fertilization: what to do with the extra embryos? "A world away from the exigencies, mitigating circumstances, and carefully honed ideologies that have grown up in and around U.S. abortion clinics," these parents are unsure of whether or not to keep, donate, or dispose of these leftover embryos "not because they don't want a family, but precisely because they do." Mundy suspects the uncertain fate of these frozen embryos will make them the culture war's next battleground. Also, liberal blogger Kevin Drum reviews new books by Geoffrey Nunberg and George Lakoff that detail how liberals have lost the battle against conservatives over the use of language, concluding that "fighting for economic justice is still important, but liberals need new ways of doing it, not just new language."—B.C.

The Nation.

The Nation, July 10 The cover story calls Russia the greatest threat to American national security because of the "proliferation of Russia's enormous stockpile of nuclear, chemical, and biological materials; ill-maintained nuclear reactors on land and on decommissioned submarines; an impaired early-warning system controlling missiles on hair-trigger alert …[and] the first ever civil war in a shattered superpower." The article suggests that the United States is worsening the situation by pursuing policies toward Russia that are "more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington's approach to Soviet Communist Russia." An article describes drug laws as legalized forms of racial discrimination: first in their application through racial profiling, and second in that convicts are often barred from voting but are still counted in determining congressional representation and electoral votes. "Drug prohibition has been a successor to Jim Crow laws in targeting blacks, removing them from civil society and then denying them the right to vote while using their bodies to enhance white political power."—B.C.

New York.

New York, July 3 and 10 As Sen. Hillary Clinton gears up for the fall congressional elections, an article chronicles her challengers' misadventures in securing the Republican nomination. John Spencer's résumé includes a stint as Yonkers mayor but also alcoholism, a checkered family history, and an incomplete college career. While Spencer sells his blue-collar roots, the author notes that his Chanel-clad opponent, K.T. McFarland, stands a better chance of stealing a bit of Hillary's thunder. An ex-Pentagon official, McFarland took a hiatus from public service to raise five children. But she is not without dirty laundry after disowning a gay, HIV-positive brother. The cover story profiles Woody Allen and Scarlett Johansson as they prepare to release their post-Match Point collaboration, Scoop. Mutual admiration fuels this platonic relationship, but Allen insists that Johansson's wit is superior.—N.R.

Time

Time, July 3 The special issue follows President Theodore Roosevelt from sickly childhood through swashbuckling presidency. Refusing to give in to weakness, he pursued "the strenuous life," alternately attempting to conquer, govern, and preserve American territories and overseas interests. Highlights of his tenure include the building of the Panama Canal and his fight for corporate transparency, articles recount. Roosevelt embodied the rugged idealism later admired by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. "Is it any surprise when more recent Presidents try to borrow a bit of his halo?" A piece notes that, while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the face of Iranian rule, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds ultimate sway over the country's direction, including its fight to develop nuclear energy. The "supreme religious leader" may have convinced Ahmadinejad to tone down his rhetoric against requests for Iran to stop enriching uranium. "Those who know Khamenei say he believes in Iran's right to nuclear power but also wants to avoid punishments that could cripple Iran and shake the theocratic regime's hold on power," the author writes.— M.M.  

Newsweek

Newsweek, July 3 and 10 The issue honors social, environmental, and business activists with "Giving Back Awards." Among the winners are two Yale graduates who promote business opportunities for artisans from Third World communities by selling their crafts in America. Also honored is a Colorado rancher who sold development rights to his land at a loss to a nonprofit organization that preserves open space from subdivision development. He is encouraging other ranchers to do the same because, "if you love the land, you want to keep it whole." And charity maven Angelina Jolie's squeeze, Brad Pitt, is lauded for shifting international attention by virtue of his twinkling celebritude to places and causes that don't get enough play. A blurb notes that the paparazzi was led around by its lenses on Pitt's trips to Davos, Switzerland, for the economic forum, to Haiti for charity work, and to the emerging nation of Namibia for the birth of his child.— M.M.

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