What's new in TheNew Yorker, Wired, and the Weekly Standard.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Oct. 28 2008 4:24 PM

Dear Mr. President

Newsweek gives unsolicited advice to the next commander in chief.

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Newsweek, Nov. 3 Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, pens a memo to the future occupant of the White House on the uncomfortable geopolitical realities he will face starting Jan. 20. "The challenges of this era have no single national origin and no national solution. Multilateralism is the only realistic way ahead. The operative term is 'integration.' We need to bring other major powers into the design and operation of the world—before the century is overwhelmed by the forces globalization has unleashed," he writes. Haass also suggests rehabilitating the office of the vice president, post-Cheney: Take away the V.P.'s policy portfolio, and return him or her to the realm of trusted counselor. Republican donors are none too pleased that their campaign cash went to clothing the Palin family in Valentino. The decision to raid Neiman Marcus for clothes was made after the campaign realized "she didn't have the fancy pantsuits that Hillary Clinton has," one staffer said.

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Weekly Standard, Nov. 3 With the cover depicting Barack Obama driving a tank about to mow down John McCain, Fred Barnes, one of the original Sarah Palin boosters, writes off all those conservatives who endorsed Obama in the last weeks. Katherine Parker, Peggy Noonan, and David Brooks dislike Palin simply because they have not met her. If they had, Barnes maintains, they would know she is "dazzlingly likeable and enormously persuasive." William Kristol's editorial dubs those conservatives who jumped ship "pathetically opportunistic." A dispatch from Reykjavík captures what life is like for Icelanders since their prime minister declared "national bankruptcy" on Oct. 6. Shopping malls are almost empty due to high inflation—the krona has lost 64 percent of its value against the euro this year. Even a woman selling hand-knit Icelandic sweaters is hard up—resources are plentiful, but no one on the island can afford the finished product.

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The New Yorker, Nov. 3
Margaret Talbot unpacks how Bristol Palin's pregnancy, which further endeared the family to the evangelical base, illustrates that American culture is divided into two camps: social liberals who are deeply troubled by teen pregnancy and conservatives who seem to embrace it, as long as no one has an abortion. Evangelical teens are more likely to say they will wait till marriage, but surveys show they end up having sex earlier than other groups and without contraception. As for moderates, Talbot writes of a new "middle-class morality," in which teens recognize that the abstinence-until-marriage paradigm is unrealistic but are cautious about having sex. "They might have loved Ellen Page in 'Juno,' but in real life they'd see having a baby at the wrong time as a tragic derailment of their life plans," Talbot writes. Tom Bissell profiles Cliff Bleszinski, the flamboyant 33-year-old wunderkind game designer behind Epic Games' wildly successful Gears of War. Bleszinski's attention to his image over the years—white snakeskin boots, fur coats, thoughtfully coiffed hair—makes him "exceptional in an industry that is … widely assumed to be a preserve inhabited by pale, withdrawn, molelike creatures."

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New York, Nov. 3
An article finds that Barack Obama's team, wary of the challenges Obama would face as president, has been plotting its White House transition for months. Advisers are reading books about FDR and aiming to avoid the chaos that characterized Clinton's first 100 days in power. The team is "[a]ll too aware that, should he win, these cascading crises will leave Obama with no time to gain his sea legs and terrifyingly little margin for error." An article goes behind the scenes at the Broadway staging of Billy Elliot, delving into the day-to-day lives of the three young teens who share the title role and the limelight while puberty remains at bay. "To some parents, this would no doubt be a terrible picture: overworked, overdriven kids living adult lives in an artificial world. But as the Billy parents see it, their sons are experiencing the pleasure and utility of their gifts to the fullest extent; they are never bored or idle but, rather, devoted and fulfilled."

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Wired, November A piece examines a Facebook-powered Egyptian youth movement that Hosni Mubarak's government has struggled to curb. Harnessing the power of the social networking site, two young Egyptians started a group for the "April 6" youth movement, which now contains 70,000 members. The group eventually garnered the unwanted attention of the security services and led to the arrest of one of the leaders. While online activism is sometimes called "slactivism" in the West, it matters in places where the freedom of assembly is curtailed. "Although freedom of speech and freedom of religion may be democracy's headliners, it's the less sexy-sounding freedom of assembly that, when prohibited, can effectively asphyxiate political organization." An interactive slide show showcases how a "green revolution" could transform agriculture and food consumption. From the collection of charts, one learns that supermarket items travel an average of 1,500 miles to reach Iowa, a steer requires six tons of food and 18 months to become hamburger, and that six years of drought have cut Australia's grain exports by more than 50 percent.

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.

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