What's new in the Economist, Portfolio, and the New York Times Magazine.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 21 2008 12:38 PM

America's Checkup

Time on how to fix the health care system.

Time, Dec. 1

Time, Dec. 1 The cover story performs a "collective physical" of the American public and finds many in need of a salad. "By too many measures, America is a lot less healthy than a developed nation has any business being." The health care system needs to be retooled to focus on prevention, the author argues. When Barack Obama takes office, the time will finally be right for health care reform, an article argues. Fifteen years after Hillary Clinton's failed effort to overhaul the system, the issue is no longer "politically toxic." As rumors swirl about Obama picking Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, some are calling the move shrewd, while others grumble about the new administration being filled with too many Clintonites. "Would this move, if it happens, be just the first manifestation of that new kind of politics that Obama was promising in his presidential campaign? Or proof that he understands the oldest kind all too well?"

Economist, Nov. 22

Economist, Nov. 22 An editorial argues the world must deal with Somali pirates, who are currently holding about a dozen ships for ransom, by addressing the anarchy that has been strangling Somalia since 2006. "This includes establishing stability inside Somalia itself, depriving the pirates of a sanctuary, and preventing the jihad-tinted anarchy there from spilling over Somalia's borders." Where it had been the fashion for companies to keep as little cash on hand as possible, in the wake of the financial crisis, companies are scrambling for it, an editorial finds. "What was once seen as evidence of corporate fitness for the moment looks like anorexia." Local governments across America are taking steps to tamp down the predatory cash advances of payday lenders by capping interest rates and establishing zoning ordinances against them. Consumer advocates find the practices of payday lenders akin to "financially knee-capping their customers without providing a crutch."

New York Times Magazine, Nov. 23
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New York Times Magazine, Nov. 23 In a special "Screens" issue, A.O. Scott ponders how movies have fared in a world where everyone's a multitasker. Where movies once were a full-immersion experience, today people watch them on laptops and iPods, pausing periodically to check an e-mail or text message. Scott concludes that movies will prevail, as they did against the rise of television and home video. "While both of those developments appeared to threaten the uniqueness of film, they also extended the power and pervasiveness of the movies, which never surrendered their position as the highest common denominator of the popular culture." Clive Thompson looks into the "Napoleon Dynamite problem" of Netflix's "recommendation engine." Len Bertoni, one of the computer scientists competing to write a better algorithm, is frustrated by the different ratings people give to the film; the public can't figure out whether it's a "masterpiece or an annoying bit of hipster self-indulgence."

Portfolio, December

Portfolio, December In the cover story of what might be called Portfolio's "doom-and-gloom issue," Michael Lewis examines a Wall Street cluttered with fallen investment banks and tries to figure out how the collapse happened. He profiles Steve Eisman, a hedge-fund portfolio manager and one of the few people who understood how the "doomsday machine" of subprime mortgages turned into collateralized debt obligations. An article chronicles the woes of the Blackstone Group, which has seen its stock hit bottom after it acquired Hilton's 4,000-hotel empire for a pretty $26 billion in October 2007. "Blackstone-Hilton was the last big deal of this noisy bonanza, the collision point of leveraged-buyout fever and the hyperinflated real estate market." Mayor Michael Bloomberg's eponymous company is facing a class-action lawsuit claiming the company's managers discriminate against pregnant women. More than 70 women have signed up, claiming their salaries and responsibilities were slashed once they became pregnant.

Texas Monthly, December

Texas Monthly, December
A tale of a family torn apart during the fed's April raid on a meat-processing plant in Mount Pleasant, Texas, confronts the human costs of immigration policy. One woman, disheartened by the prospect of raising six kids alone on her $30,000 salary, may return to Mexico to rejoin her deported husband. "But just to think about it, my stomach hurts," she says. "My kids, they don't speak the Spanish they're supposed to speak in Mexico." Someone in a University of Texas cap lobbed a Molotov cocktail at the 152-year-old Texas governor's mansion when it was under renovation this summer, torching it. The arsonist has yet to be found, but authorities suspect he could be one of the anarchists from Austin arrested during the RNC.

Must Read
Michael Lewis provides critical insight into the irresponsible Wall Street wheeling and dealing that brought about the current crisis.

Must Skip
A Newsweek piece comparing Obama with Lincoln is meandering and unfulfilling.

Best Politics Piece
Elizabeth Kolbert's comment in The New Yorker is a bleak look at the federal regulations President Bush could push through in his last 60 days in office.

Best Culture Piece
The review of "Prospect 1," the first New Orleans Biennial, tempts you down to the 9th Ward to see it for yourself.

Late to the Party
A few weeks after other magazines did the same, Time comes out with prescriptions for the Republican Party to regroup in the wake of its Nov. 4 defeat.

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