What's new in New York, the Weekly Standard, and Portfolio.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Jan. 13 2009 3:20 PM

Mission Accomplished

Newsweek on Cheney's successful vice presidency.

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Newsweek, Jan. 19 The cover story offers a glowing post-mortem of Dick Cheney's vice presidency, concluding that "the issue of torture is more complicated than it seems." The article cautions that Obama should not summarily reject Cheney's expansion of executive powers in the past eight years at the risk of "enfeebling" the presidency. Bush and Cheney should be faulted not for the national security decisions they made but the secrecy with which they executed them. "National security is an unavoidably murky world. But it doesn't have to be quite so dark as Cheney et al. made it, loosing the dogs of war from some 'undisclosed location.' " The war in Gaza, spearheaded by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, may have the paradoxical effect of boosting both Barak's dovish Labor Party and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's leftist Kadima Party, an article finds. "With more than 800 dead in Gaza, including many civilians, there's something vaguely Orwellian about referring to Barak and Livni as 'doves.' "

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New Yorker, Jan. 19 Samantha Power profiles Gary Haugen, the man behind the International Justice Mission, an organization that promotes a Christian philosophy of justice in countries with crumbling legal systems. By bringing sex trafficking and slavery to the attention of Third World governments, Haugen hopes to "establish protocols of justice that can become official state practice." Haugen's conservative Christian base keeps the organization flush with cash, with a $22 million budget in 2008, but secular human rights activists are troubled that Haugen will hire only Christians. An article details how breast-feeding has fallen in and out of vogue since the 1700s. Today, the trend seems to be leaning toward using electric pumps to produce and bottle "expressed human milk." Experts have touted breast milk as treatment for a range of illnesses, but the author wonders if all the focus on bottling milk has been misplaced. "[M]any of breast-feeding's benefits to the baby, and all of its social and emotional benefits, come not from the liquid itself but the smiling and the cuddling."

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New York, Jan. 19 The "All New Issue" sheds no tears on the passing of the old era, instead examining the "initial stirrings of what's next" in a series of articles. "This feels like one of those rare moments when, just for a minute, everything is plastic." The New York Times, dubbed a dead-tree dinosaur by its critics, is going through an evolution on the Web, thanks to a squad of young geeklings. These "developers-slash-journalists" craft the new "peculiar wings and gills [that] poke up" on the Old Gray Lady's Web site every day—360-degree panoramas, "Word Trains," and interactive timelines. "It may be the only happy story in journalism," the author writes. Meat grown in a Petri dish instead of on a chicken is already a reality in the lab and could hit shelves within five years. "You could have a hamburger with the fat profile of salmon or an avocado," one doctoral student said. The feds haven't allowed anyone to taste it yet, but some researchers, when plied with alcohol, will admit to eating it.

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Weekly Standard, Jan. 19 Fred Barnes declares that "defiantly doing the right thing" characterized George W. Bush's presidency and denounces liberal assessments of his administration as "twaddle." "Time and time again, Bush did what other presidents, even Ronald Reagan, would not have done and for which he was vilified and abused," Barnes writes. Among Bush's accomplishments, he counts "enhanced" interrogation methods, not signing off on the Kyoto Protocol, unwavering support for Israel, and expanding executive powers. An article announces it is never too soon to start talking about a "failed Obama presidency" and uncorks anti-Hillary vitriol of 1992 vintage. The author wouldn't wish for anyone to have to deal with Clinton—not even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "I think about the next four years of Hillary's dutiful efforts at global peacemaking, and I hear a chorus of voices echoing around the world—from Israelis and Palestinians, Iraqis and al Qaeda … Hutus and Tutsis—all saying, 'Thanks but we'd rather be killed by each other than nagged to death by you.' "

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Portfolio, February 2009 Even octogenarian media mogul Sumner Redstone is not immune to the Great Recession—he may have to sell off part of his floundering empire and may have even lost his billionaire status. Despite seeing Viacom lose 70 percent of its trading value in 2008, Redstone remains feisty, hoping to re-enter the dating market once he is divorced from his 47-year-old second wife. "If it were anyone else, the spectacle of an elderly man flailing in the face of such a public shaming might inspire a sense of pathos. But Redstone's peers and competitors—even some of those he claims as friends—haven't exactly been rooting for him. He is widely derided as a megalomaniac who takes credit for everything and blame for nothing." A reporter sits down with a post-election Katie Couric whose popularity has been buoyed by her skilled interviews with Sarah Palin. Of her YouTube channel, Couric says, "[I]t's just loopier and more relaxed [than network TV]. We can make jokes. I can say to Hillary, 'Why do you have a nutcracker and Sarah Palin has an action figure?' "

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.

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