New Republic, April 9 and 16 The cover story says Hillary Clinton is a bust as a senator. She was supposed to take the upper chamber by storm, but in the aftermath of the furniture and pardon scandals, she has stifled her ambition. Instead of offering a bold new vision on the issues of the moment, she earnestly keeps up with policy minutiae and proposes pointless, slam-dunk legislation. … A piece argues that campaign-finance reform is good for Democrats, contrary to the emerging consensus. Pundits claim that Democrats need soft money because it’s the only kind of contribution they raise as well as Republicans. But if Dems force Bush to veto McCain-Feingold, they can reclaim their populist appeal and replace Bush’s image as a Texas outsider with one as a shill for big business. … An article accounts for political rookie John Edwards’ remarkable ascendancy in the Democratic Party. He’s viewed as a comer not because he has the right ideology—all Dems are centrists these days—but because he has the right personality. Edwards connects with audiences like Bill Clinton did, and as a true North Carolinian, he can pick up the Southern states Gore lost for seeming like a Northeastern stuffed shirt.— J.D.
Economist, March 31 An article tells you everything you ever wanted to know about foot-and-mouth disease. It’s extremely difficult to control because it flies (a 1981 outbreak wafted its way across the English Channel), and though it’s not deadly in adult livestock, it is permanently disabling. Countries with large agricultural sectors (Ireland) don’t want to vaccinate because it hurts their ability to export meat. Countries with smaller farm populations but lots of tourism (England) want to vaccinate because it will encourage visitors. … The cover editorial urges wealthy nations to accept more refugees from poor countries. First, there are compelling moral arguments for allowing freer movement of people. Second, poor immigrants actually fuel economic growth in rich countries because they do work others won’t do and create their own markets.— J.D.
New York Times Magazine, April 1 The cover story details the difficult relocation of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who journeyed from the killing fields of Sudan, to a refugee camp in Kenya, and finally to cities and towns throughout America. Three Lost Boys recently moved to Fargo, N.D., chasing the American dream, but so far have found mostly alienation, financial struggle, and rich American food that gives them diarrhea. … A piece asks if teen opera sensation Charlotte Church is classical music’s redemption or its ruin. She sells millions of records and brings new listeners into the fold, but her voice is not fully mature, she keeps moving further into the murky netherworld where true opera and popular music meet, and part of her appeal is physical (à la Britney Spears). … An article describes a man’s search to prove that his father’s death was a CIA plot, not a suicide. The official CIA story: Frank Olson took LSD as part of a brainwashing experiment in 1953, freaked out, and jumped out a window. But Eric Olson believes the CIA dropped his father out the window because he had doubts about the morality of the experiments and therefore posed a security risk.— J.D.
Details, April 2000 An interview with Mario Cuomo prompts him to say of his 12-year stint as governor, “I hung around too long.” Still, he’s optimistic that New York voters will put another Cuomo, his son Andrew, in the governor’s manse: “He’s much more talented than me, in every way.”… An article explores the fading glory of the cool-hunter. The people with their fingers on the pulse of what is hip have not demonstrated that they can make it pay off for the companies that hire them. And the so-called trend-setters they look to for inspiration aren’t always reliable; frequently they are “just freaky people.”… A piece takes us inside, deep inside, the Trojan factory. The world’s largest producer of condoms runs a tight, if surreal, ship, from the Vulcanization Room to the Dipping Line through to the thrusting mandrels (known affectionately as the Iron Penises). The newest craze: condoms with desensitizing cream on the inside. … A profile of Rep. Patrick Kennedy (called the Democrats’ answer to W.) ponders the scion’s future. He wants to be speaker of the House, but a friend says of Teddy’s son, “He parties it up, you know? And has hissy fits.”— S.G.
The New Yorker, April 2 An article tells the harrowing story of Jim Thompson, the longest-held American POW during the Vietnam War. After surviving nine years of torture (four of them in solitary confinement) and six failed escape attempts, he returned home to discover that his wife had taken up with another man. They reconciled but soon divorced. Since then, he has married and divorced again, been estranged from his four children, suffered a debilitating stroke, and struggled endlessly with alcoholism. Now he lives alone in Florida, and his only hero’s recognition is as the occasional marshal of the local Veteran’s Day parade. … A piece calls HBO’s The Sopranos the last gangster movie. Every conceivable Mafia story has been told already, and the real-life Five Families are nothing like the grandiose Corleones of The Godfather. Now the government has clamped down, the Cosa Nostra struggles to get by on embarrassingly small-time schemes, and the last generation of gangster movies are more about suburban disaffection and postmodern existential stress than the esprit de corps of the underworld.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, April 2 The cover profile of Jesse Jackson calls him “a talented extortionist.” Although he masquerades as a civil rights leader, his job actually consists of shaking down big corporations to win contracts for his rich friends and donations for himself. Businesses that refuse to indulge Jackson run the risk of being boycotted or labeled racist, so they gladly bend to his will. … A piece argues in favor of nuclear energy. It’s the cheapest form of energy you can buy, and it’s the safest: The high-profile nuclear accidents of the 1980s won’t happen now that most reactors are privately owned. Background radiation doesn’t cause cancer, and while nuclear waste is difficult to get rid of, it’s still better than, say, coal, which spews pollution into the air.— J.D.
The Nation, April 9 The cover story, by novelist John le Carré, paints Big Pharma as the scourge of decent people everywhere. The pharmaceutical companies have spread enough money around to corrupt governments, research universities, and scientific journals—all the supposedly impartial institutions. Now, “enlightened nations” speak “as the hired mouthpieces of multibillion-dollar multinational corporations that view the exploitation of the world’s sick and dying as a sacred duty to their shareholders.”… The guy who tried unsuccessfully (but, thanks to e-mail forwards, famously) to get Nike to make him custom shoes emblazoned with “sweatshop”recounts his 15 minutes of fame. The takeaway: While Nike has unlimited access to the mass market, his use of micromedia (e-mail) provided his cause with as much exposure as Nike buys with its unfathomable marketing budget.— J.D.
Newsweek, April 2 Newsweek’s cover package on HBO’s The Sopranos reports that creator David Chase shoots a “sanitized” version of each episode in case a network syndication deal pops up. Why didn’t the networks say bada-bing when they had the chance? It wasn’t the f-words, claims Chase: “They are afraid to trust the audience.”… An article advises NATO to urge the Macedonian government to think before granting power to one community. Ethnic Albanians make up a third of Macedonia, and 60 percent are unemployed (compared to 30 percent of the Slavs, who dominate the army and the police top brass). … A piece on an upcoming PBS documentary describes possibilities for transplantable pig organs. Some predict patients with pig hearts within five years.—A.F.
Time, April 2 Time’s cover package features an A to Z of phobias, from fear of otters (lutraphobia) to fear of opinions (allodoxaphobia). As many as 40 percent of phobics have at least one phobic parent, suggesting that fears can be learned. Bonus: a quiz to determine if your fear is a phobia. … A piece lauds 44-year-old “bad boy” choreographer Mark Morris—with a new $6 million Brooklyn studio and a 20-year-old troupe—as the potentate of the modern dance world. “I guess I’m the Establishment now,” he says. … An article reports that 160,000 kids skip school every day because of bullies. One Los Angeles elementary school requires parents and kids to sign a no-insult contract.—A.F.
U.S. News & World Report, April 2 The U.S. News cover package on stuttering says despite evidence of its biological origins, the stigmas persist: A third of speech pathologists polled felt that stutterers have psychological problems. … An article reports that thousands of illegal immigrants are rushing to take advantage of a federal law allowing those who marry U.S. citizens or legal aliens before April 30 to stay in the United States and apply for permanent residency. Los Angeles County issued 5,473 marriage licenses from March 1-16, compared to 2,833 in the same period last year. … A piece alleges that some Mexicans feel Traffic was more Tinseltown than reality, while others say it’s increasing awareness. Said one moviegoer: “This whole country is built on the basis of narcopolitics and narcodollars.”—A.F.