Rolling Stone, April 16 Ethan Hawke profiles Kris Kristofferson. The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter, actor, political activist, Rhodes scholar, and former U.S. Army captain is, at his core, "a poet who sometimes sings and acts extremely well." Kristofferson's acting career turned after he starred in the enormous failure Heaven's Gate in 1980. But he has faced drastic highs and lows throughout his adult life, including two failed marriages and alcohol abuse. "One of the remarkable things about Kris is that he lived so fast, burned so bright, crashed so hard, and survived."… An article details the challenges ahead for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in combating "the pervasive scandals and cronyism at the federal agency charged with managing one-fifth of America's land." Among other things, "he pledges a thorough review of Interior's royalty policies—for both onshore and offshore drilling," after billions of dollars went uncollected under President Bush.
Economist, April 11 The cover story wonders if nuclear disarmament among world powers is actually feasible, or just a sign of political idealism from President Obama. While Russia, China, the United States, and others "have been trimming their arsenals" recently, North Korea's recent missile test and the lack of cooperation from nuclear powers like India, Pakistan, and Israel suggest that "getting to zero" is a very long-term goal. "A treaty-backed ban on testing is in America's interests," the article argues, as is a ban on making more fissile material for bombs. … An article explains a recent psychological study that found "exposure to stress led participants to choose riskier decisions when trying to decide between taking a minor loss or a major one." Even seasoned stockbrokers could behave this way, since, in the "uncharted" market, "split-second decisions have to be taken that have never been encountered before."
Time, April 20 The cover story argues that the war in Afghanistan is "more deadly—and more muddled—than ever." Instead of scaling back the U.S. presence seven and a half years after the start of the war, "Obama has proposed a civilian surge—a phalanx of mentors for the Afghans." To win back the poor villagers who joined the Taliban for their livelihood, not because of their convictions, Afghanistan needs to create alternative jobs. The White House's goal now is "to counter terrorism and bring a degree of stability to Afghanistan—not to turn a poor and fractious nation into a flourishing democratic state."… An article predicts that zombies will be pop culture's next vampires. The "lowly zombie" is rearing its hideous face in a film from Diablo Cody and another starring Abigail Breslin and Woody Harrelson, a comic book series, and even a "zombified"Pride and Prejudice.
New York Times Magazine, April 12 A feature reveals the unorthodox relationships formed through the dating Web site SeekingArrangement.com, which connects "sugar daddies"—middle-aged, wealthy, sometimes-married men—with attractive young women, or "sugar babies," to whom they give a monthly allowance or luxurious gifts. Some of the women claim "those gifts make them feel valued, as if the money spent measures just how desirable they are." "Critics say the site is at best a convenience store for adulterers and at worst a virtual brothel," but users have varying perspectives. One "sugar daddy" employs "an explicit business plan, a set budget, measurable goals and quarterly reviews."… A profile of poet Frederick Seidel considers how his "qualities as a poet are in direct opposition to the poetry of many of his peers." Hailed by literary critics and novelists but little-known outside these circles, Seidel "embrace[s] the crassness at the heart of modern living" as well as its material luxuries.
The Nation, April 27 The cover story anticipates the coming legislative battle over reforming American health care. Trade groups are already balking at some of Obama's plans, especially the idea of "giving the American people the choice of a public insurance plan alongside a range of private ones." A more efficient public health care system would cut into profits across the industry because of competition from the government. Other reforms would raise costs, including "investing in health information technology and research into what treatments work best."… A column praises Michelle Obama for defying the stereotypical roles of black women. Most recently, in her half-embrace of the Queen of England, "Michelle Obama had somehow pulled off a superlatively graceful transgression—a symbolically charged moment of the kind that quietly turns a bit of the old world upside down, yet leaves us smiling at the new world glimpsed beyond."
Though gratuitously long with moments of cloying sentimentality, Ethan Hawke's Rolling Stone profile of Kris Kristofferson offers a multifaceted, compelling narrative of a Hollywood and Nashville legend while also revealing Hawke's artistic ambitions.
Vanity Fair's cover story profiling Gisele Bündchen is far less revealing than the accompanying Mario Testino photoshoot.
Best Politics Piece
The Nation's cover package on health care reform offers varied perspectives of the state of American health care, including the lead story on conflicts between government and industry and another on care offered to veterans.
Best Culture Piece
New York's cover story on Facebook balances a keen analysis of the Web site's changes with skeptical questions about how much privacy we're really willing to give up online.
Best Religion Reporting
Among a handful of articles on Christianity this week, the New York Times Magazine's Easter cover story is the only one that examines the future of the world's largest religion. It details the shift of Christianity from Europe and North America to the "global south"—particularly the expansion of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, a Pentecostal denomination trying to put down roots in the United States and beyond.
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The Actual World
“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.