Give Me Property or Give Me Death!
Portfolio on whether property seizures by the Chinese government may lead to demands for more freedom.
Posted Friday, Jan. 11, 2008, at 4:21 PM
Today, Other Magazines reads the Economist, the New York Times Magazine, Time, Portfolio, Smithsonian, and the Atlantic to find out what's worth your time today—and what's not.
Portfolio reports on the changing face of protests in China and suggests that these demonstrations—led by educated, Internet-savvy urbanites outraged by the government's attempts to seize their property—may lead to revolution. Chinese citizens can often be forced off their property with little warning or compensation, and such seizures have become increasingly common as the Beijing Olympics approach. Says one researcher, "they are asking for more rights for their property, and they'll wind up asking for democratic management, democratic votes, due process."—E.G.
Best International Piece
The Economist finds inspiration in the Eastern Europe "color revolutions" of Georgia and Ukraine. (Georgia used the color pink to represent unity and change, while Ukraine used an orange hue.) Though imperfect, their moves toward democracy represent a Western-friendly counterpoint to Russia's turn to totalitarianism.—J.R.
Best Economics Article
In the Atlantic,James Fallows examines the mounting Chinese holdings in U.S. foreign currency. Fallows explores why the Asian economic juggernaut continues to park its earnings in the falling dollar. The piece also follows the voyage of a dollar spent in an American drug store to its final destination as a U.S. Treasury note held by the Chinese government.—A.J.
Best Business Feature
Portfolio investigates the role of former government agents in the business world, as corporate espionage becomes "almost as sophisticated as government spying." An estimated several hundred former intelligence operatives now work in the private sector. The agents, many of whom resigned from the CIA after 9/11, apply their old skills to new targets and are compensated handsomely in return.—E.G.
Best Campaign Piece
The Economist cover piece says that of course "change" is the core issue of the U.S. presidential campaign, "with the economy reeling, politics gridlocked, young people dying in Iraq and the Bush administration a global byword for callous incompetence. …" Unfortunately, Americans aren't sure what change means. Obama the "hope-monger," the "Bible-wielding" Huckabee, and Clinton the "Comeback Kid" all promise different remedies, and voters can't seem to make up their minds.—J.R.
The New York Times Magazine takes on Republican Party operative Stephen Marks, who was hired to trash Democrats. Watch him try to rationalize his dirty tricks. "The voter has the right to know the history of any candidate," he insists. "Negative politics have been going on since the beginnings of our democracy," he adds.—J.L.
Best Entertainment Piece
Time magazine draws an interesting comparison between the unpredictable nature of this year's presidential campaign and the return of late-night television sans writers. The piece examines the symbiotic nature of the politicians and late-night hosts and concludes that "TV's talkers—among others—learned that it's not always terrible to rip up the script."—A.J.
Most Unexpected Environmental Piece
Time reports that the introduction of more ergonomic cloth diapers, as well as the consumer trend of buying green, has led to an unexpected surge in sales of cloth diapers. According to the piece, "Cloth converts are a mix of environmentalists, earth mamas, cost conscious parents and those who argue that cloth diapering is healthier."—A.J.
A New York Times Magazine piece on discarded cell phones notes, "[I]n 2005 there were already more than half a billion old phones sitting in American drawers. That added up to more than $300 million worth of gold, palladium, silver, copper, and platinum."—J.L.
Elizabeth Gumport is a Slate intern.
Alex Joseph is a Slate intern.
Juliet Lapidos is a former Slate associate editor.
Jon Rubin is a Slate intern.