The New Yorker, Aug. 24 Ben McGrath evaluates Michael Bloomberg's re-election bid for mayor of New York and finds that he is today so powerful he "seems more a Medici than a mayor." Bloomberg, "unusually adept at governing the ungovernable city," has decided again to throw enormous amounts of money at his re-election bid, after the problem of term limits was pushed aside. Running unopposed so far, Bloomberg is likely to win. Polls show that "a majority of the city's voters would prefer a new mayor but also believe the current one is the best available man for the job," McGrath writes. … Tad Friend profiles Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley startup that is developing a $50,000 highway-ready electric car. Determined to bring electric cars to the masses, Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, hopes the next vehicle will cost only $25,000. He also wants to spur larger auto manufacturers into action: "Our success will make Toyota worry about what BMW will do, and G.M. worry about Honda—will create a concern about being late for the party."
New York, Aug. 24 In the magazine's fall fashion issue, a profile of Annie Leibovitz illustrates why the master photographer, 59, * is teetering on the edge of financial ruin. Her disregard for budgetary restrictions on the set seems to have spilled over into her personal life, and she owes more than $24 million to various creditors and may have lost the rights to her body of work. … The "haute-Wasp fairy tale" that was Tinsley and Topper Mortimer's marriage seems to have come to an unhappy end—"Tinz" has filed for divorce and found a new suitor in a German prince. In April, the couple was going to make another stab at it and attend a Florida society wedding together, but at the last minute, Tinsley stood Topper up, choosing a weekend in Europe with her new beau instead. Tinsley's mother takes some time to express her distress over the dissolution of her daughter's union.
Newsweek, Aug. 31 A profile of LeRoy Carhart, one of America's only remaining late-term abortion providers, explains how he came to the specialty "not necessarily as a career choice, but as a job he had to take since few others would." Prior to George Tiller's death, Carhart performed late-term abortions only in Tiller's Kansas clinic. Now, he performs them in his own Nebraska clinic and is training other doctors to perform abortions. Training more doctors "makes [the anti-abortion activist's] job 10 times harder because there are now 10 times more of us," he said. … A story attempts to unpack the emotions surrounding the health care debate. Opponents of reform pander to the public's fears and "push the always-reliable hot buttons of sex, homophobia, nativism, and I've-got-mine-so-screw-you." But the public's worst fear—that reform will make it harder to get an appointment—is at least partly true, as having more insured people would mean a larger demand for appointments.
Weekly Standard, Aug. 17
An article declares that the role of Twitter in the recent post-election protests in Iran was overblown by the West. Despite the 220,000 tweets an hour from Iran at the height of the protests—and the accompanying praise from American media—the political status quo held. "As the Iranian protests unfolded, PC magazine asked, 'How did we have revolutions before Twitter?' … However impolite the comparison, the Iranian radicals of 1979 had none of those advantages, yet managed to bring down the shah. It is worth contemplating what they had that Twitter doesn't." … An editorial faults the Democrats for repeating Clinton's mistake of trying to overhaul health care at once instead of "pursuing discrete solutions to particular problems in manageable steps." Republicans should use Obamacare's unpopularity to their advantage and push their own "market-oriented reform ideas." Tax penalties for buying health insurance outside of work should be done away with, and coverage should be portable across state lines, the editorial says.
Wired, September 2009 The cover story offers new rules for the modern age, billing itself a "scientific approach to 21st century predicaments." Brad Pitt weighs in with advice ranging from the bad— advocating bringing old porn magazines to work—to the more prudent suggestion that it is rude to talk on the phone at the urinal. Other advice includes uploading a Facebook profile picture that actually looks like you, haggling on Craigslist, and keeping your wireless network open. … An article describes how, at the invitation of State Department "diplo-nerd" Jared Cohen, nine tech execs recently went on a junket to Iraq in hopes of answering the question "Can Iraq be saved by meetups, Web searches, tweets, blogs, and YouTube videos?" Motivated to go to Baghdad by a "mix of curiosity and Obama-inspired patriotism," they returned from the trip with a list of "modest, plausible projects" that could inch the country toward the "transformational, bottom-up power that the Internet offers."
Correction, Aug. 19, 2009: This article originally misstated Annie Leibovitz's age. (Return to the corrected sentence.)
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Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?