The Economist on challenges to Turkey's secularism.
Updated Friday, May 4, 2007, at 12:21 PM
Economist, May 5 The cover article addresses the growing tension over Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's nomination of Abdullah Gul for his country's presidency. Angry secularists "especially dislike Mr. Gul and Mr. Erdogan because their wives sport the Muslim headscarf." The army, in its "self-appointed role as the guardian of Kemel Ataturk's secular republic," has threatened a coup if Gul becomes president. But the Economist concludes that Turkey's secularism "cannot come at the expense of overriding the normal process of democracy—even if that process produces bad, ineffective, corrupt or mildly Islamist governments."… A piece analyzes the growing threat from al-Qaida in Britain. The government has stepped up its anti-terrorism efforts, but "the number of suspected terrorist networks is growing exponentially, roughly doubling every year since the invasion of Iraq in 2003." While intelligence services rely primarily on foreign governments and eavesdropping, the key to preventing attacks will be Muslims themselves, and "unless the code of silence is broken, more bombers will inevitably get through."—P.F.
Time, May 14 The annual "Time 100" issue profiles"the World's Most Influential People." Newt Gingrich writes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, "[Republicans] have to come to grips with what Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats have learned to do right." Melinda Gates says Warren Buffett is "never afraid to admit what he doesn't know, and he loves to learn." Michael J. Fox praises Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director Douglas Melton for "the … vision and compassion to know that true humanity lies in relieving human suffering. …"… An article examines the motives of Palestinian women enlisting as suicide bombers. The militant wing of Hamas ramped up recruitment efforts for men and women after ending the cease-fire with Israel April 25. But unlike their mostly uneducated male counterparts, more than one-third of female martyrs are college graduates. Coercion could be at hand: "It is doubtful that all—or even most—of those Palestinian women who sign up to become martyrs do so voluntarily."— P.G.
New Republic, May 7 The cover piece argues that the "netroots" movement borrows heavily from the conservative movement it seeks to unseat. Many liberal bloggers trace their conversion back to the 2000 Florida recount—a moment when Republican discipline trumped Democratic paeans to fairness. These Democrats, like the Goldwater fans of the 1960s, have contempt for the moderates they say control their party. The most strident of them—the author singles out Markos Moulitsas of the site Daily Kos—value loyalty over inquiry and action over discussion: "In the netroots … the measure of an idea is its rhetorical effectiveness, not its truth."… French philosopher-journalist Bernard-Henri Lévy embeds with the Sudan Liberation Army in Darfur. After visiting a village razed by Janjaweed, he cites evidence that the "horsemen" receive military support from Khartoum: "When they came back … for the school, they were not on horses or camels, but brought a cannon mounted on a troop-carrier to shell the classrooms."— C.B.
New York Times Magazine, May 6 In a cover package on the science of aging, a piece highlights the development of research on wisdom. One scientist concluded that "wise" people excel at acquiring knowledge, analyzing known information, and emotionally channeling the analysis. When another researcher crafted a 3-D wisdom scale to measure these components, it became clear that emotion played a stronger part than scientists had thought. One study on emotional intensity found that wiser people "rely on a complex and nuanced emotional thermostat that allows them to bounce back quickly from adverse moments."… An article profiles TV Land's efforts to attract baby boomers. Television networks began to cater to the 18-to-49-year-old demographic in the '60s, when ABC surmised that the first generation to grow up with television would "reshape American culture and its buying habits"—and the gambit worked. Today, networks continue to value that "demo," but today's 18-to-49-year-olds are no longer boomers. Now, TV Land is revising its kitschy image to please boomers, who make more and spend more than any other demographic.— P.G.
New York, May 7
The cover story explores the future of the High Line, an abandoned railroad in far West Chelsea, Manhattan. Almost two decades after the railway closed, a pair of entrepreneurs envisioned creating a 30-foot-high elevated park instead of just demolishing the line. But the "intangible downtown sexiness" of the park scheme prompted developers to snatch up railside property, guaranteeing that the High Line "will be a public space that just happens to be surrounded by some of the most expensive real estate in the world."… An article chronicles the early years of NEST+m, a NYC public school with lofty aspirations. NEST+m's highly ambitious principal sought to avoid low test scores with a stringent admissions process and rigorous, traditional pedagogy. But the demographics of the rejected applicants stirred controversy: In the end, only one-quarter of the students at "the Stuyvesant of the East" came from the school's home district. To keep test scores up, the principal allegedly changed students' answers and had a teacher help special-needs kids cheat. NEST+m now has a new principal.— P.G.
The New Yorker, May 7 An article explores the "CSI effect." The popular TV series has given criminal forensics "an air of glamour, and its practitioners an aura of infallibility." But some critics question the authority placed in DNA evidence. Forensic tests can still allow room for reasonable doubt. One judge admits, "My great worry is that there are a lot of people going to jail on bad information." Regardless, the show has inspired a new breed of aspiring criminalist. One scientist notes: "It's not the nerdy-looking people anymore." she says. "They don't realize that there is nothing cool or funky about this job."… A profile of Barack Obama describes a "serene man" who, according to one friend, is "almost freakishly self-possessed and centered." Obama brings a sense of steadiness to the campaign trial, where his approach is unique for being "less professorial than medical—like that of a doctor who, by listening to a patient's story without emotional reaction, reassures the patient that the symptoms are familiar to him."— P.F.
Weekly Standard, May 7
The cover story assesses the first round of France's presidential elections. Nicolas Sarkozy, former interior minister and champion of a new department of "immigration and national identity," garnered the plurality. Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal, whose tough-on-crime attitude was unconventional for her party, came in second. But Royal made a slew of late-season gaffes, turning off voters and drawing "an opportunistic alternative candidate into the race: François Bayrou, a marginal politician of the center right, with no platform and no program." While Bayrou didn't make it into the next round of elections, his close margin to Royal gives him credibility as a power broker. … An article profiles Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty advocates a populist-bent "Sam's Club Republicanism," pumping funds into alternative energy sources and implementing tougher education standards while advocating waiting periods for abortions, supporting concealed weapons permits, and endorsing John McCain in the 2008 presidential race. The author sees Pawlenty as representative of a new wave of GOP governors who "like their conservatism à la carte."— P.G.
Newsweek, May 7 The cover story highlights the challenges to faith that soldiers and chaplains in Iraq face. The military staffs one chaplain for every 518 service members, creating strain as the United States wrestles with two wars. Nearly one-third of "chaplains and their assistants in the field reported burnout levels that were 'high' or 'very high,' " and some chaplains end up doubting their spirituality. But the carnage often has a converse effect. For one chaplain, "It is the trials of life that ultimately help us to grow in our faith."… An article examines the fragmented and increasingly dangerous state of Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi army in Iraq. Sadr advised his forces to lie low in response to the surge of American troops to Baghdad. But some of his followers have simply gone it alone—and these "freelancers add a new dimension to Iraq's already brutal kaleidoscope of violence." U.S. officials worry that stray Mahdi army members may upset tenuous agreements between otherwise competing Shiite groups, sparking a Shiite-Shiite civil war.— P.G.
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Paige Ferrari is a freelance writer and former Slate intern.
Paul Gottschling is a Slate intern.