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

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Feb. 17 2009 2:46 PM

The Joy of Stress

Newsweek on how anxiety can be good.

Newsweek, Feb. 23

Newsweek, Feb. 23 The cover story argues that stress is not always detrimental to our health. Small amounts of stress "can motivate us to do better at jobs we care about" and eventually make us "more resilient." In fact, "some psychologists are starting to define a phenomenon called posttraumatic growth." However, constant stress and the feeling that we lack control of our circumstances cause neurons to "shrivel and stop communicating with each other, and brain tissue shrinks in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which play roles in learning, memory and rational thought." Another article reveals unrest in Russia's "monotowns," or places "dominated by a single industry." Founded by Soviet-era autocrats, the towns were supposed to guarantee prosperity through local jobs. Now their residents "are protesting job losses," and the Kremlin "fears that all its troops and rescue funds won't be enough to control angry people who believed in their leaders' promises of wealth, national greatness and political stability."

New Republic, March 4

New Republic, March 4 The cover story warns that the collapse of newspapers does not bode well for democracy because "the lower the free circulation of newspapers in a country, the higher it stands on the corruption index." Economically, "the Internet has undermined the newspaper's role as market intermediary" between advertisers and consumers. However, online media have not yet replaced newspapers' "original coverage of public affairs," which serves a crucial function in American democracy. A feature considers the work under way at the new State Department, where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "is clearly lured by the possibility of proactively shaping U.S. foreign policy rather than frantically rushing from continent to continent wielding a diplomatic fire extinguisher." To that end, she has already begun dispatching envoys to deal with "hotspots like the Middle East and Central Asia." At home in Washington, though, "the outsized personalities" in the State Department risk clashes of their own.

Weekly Standard, Feb. 23

Weekly Standard, Feb. 23 The cover story argues that the stimulus package should increase funding to law enforcement. The proposed $1 billion would add 10,000 to 15,000 police officers to the nation's total of 650,000 for one year: "a drop in the bucket—and too short-term." In Iraq, it took a surge in the number of visible troops "to reassure local residents that they can walk the streets in peace." The author favors a similar approach in the U.S. Despite the drop in crime in the 1990s, violent crime has multiplied several times since the 1950s and has become more concentrated in the poorest urban areas. An article looks into "entertainment shopping" company Swoopo, a Web site on which users pay a small fee each time they place a bid. Swoopo makes a killing on the fees, and bidders can score huge discounts, but the author questions the legality of "enticing lots of people to pay a little money for the chance to win" something.

New York, Feb. 23
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New York, Feb. 23 To coincide with New York's Fashion Week, the Spring Fashion issue profiles a 17-year-old " serial shoplifter." After easily lifting clothes from a Macy's in Queens, N.Y., at age 16, Kevahn Thorpe started hitting Manhattan's upscale department stores to outfit himself in trendy designer clothing, until his stealing sprees in Barney's and Bergdorf Goodman forced him to spend "more time on Rikers than at school, which didn't quite jibe with his new image." Despite multiple stints in jail, the teenager, now in state prison, does not intend to give up dressing well and remains unrepentant about stealing. "[T]he stores are religious shrines for him." An author accompanies a 20-year-old male model around town during fall Fashion Week. The article follows the Nashville native from backstage at the fashion shows, "where the female models are avoiding the male models like at recess in elementary school," to models' apartments "filled with a new crop of pretty faces" each season.

The New Yorker, Feb. 23

The New Yorker, Feb. 23 A profile of Ian McEwan probes the British novelist's "empirical temperament." He "is wary of relying too much on intuition" and often turns to scientific research to determine the psychological reasons for his characters' behavior. "McEwan is a connoisseur of dread," stretching suspenseful moments across dozens of pages, and his plots often "hinge on a single, transformative event." His own life seems to be marked by "transformative" moments, too, including his discovery as an adult that his older brother was given up for adoption. Jane Mayer reports on Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, "an alleged Al Qaeda sleeper agent" and "the last 'enemy combatant' being detained in America." Marri has been held without trial in the naval brig in Charleston, S.C., for over five years, at the order of President George W. Bush. His case in the Supreme Court this April will likely raise "a host of complicated questions about [the Obama administration's] approach to fighting terrorism."