New Republic, Nov. 26 The cover story follows Northern Alliance soldiers into Kabul. At the Taliban’s Ministry for the Suppression of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, an edict reads, “Three cooks didn’t pray in the evening and were given seven hundred whacks with the cable.” The author finds a dead Arab whose mouth has been stuffed with cigarettes and neck collared with cassette tape. … An article chides the Bushies for not embracing the Northern Alliance sooner. This week’s alliance gains show no sign of destabilizing Pakistan or touching off a war between the country’s ethnic tribes. Moreover, the Bushies don’t have a viable fighting or governing alternative. … A piece finds an unintended beneficiary of anti-Arab sentiment: Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., once the GOP’s most endangered incumbent. Since Sept. 11, Smith has ratcheted up the pro-Israel rhetoric and blasted his primary opponent, John Sununu, an ethnic Palestinian. He now leads by six points in one poll.—B.C.
Economist, Nov. 17 The cover story cites two potential risks following the Northern Alliance’s recent victories. 1) The alliance will alienate local and foreign opinion by engaging in score settling, murder, rape, and all sorts of other nefarious activities for which they’re infamous. 2) The alliance will simply give up and decide that it’s not worth fighting the Taliban in their southern stronghold when the alliance could just as easily partition the country and rule the North on their own. … The magazine offers the following odd and unexpected correction: “In the issues of December 16th 2000 to November 10th 2001, we may have given the impression that George Bush had been legally and duly elected president of the United States. We now understand that this may have been incorrect, and that the election result is still too close to call. The Economist apologises for any inconvenience.”— J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Nov. 18 The cover story assesses Al Jazeera television. The network’s reporting from Afghanistan and access to Osama Bin Laden attracted the attention of Bush officials, who now appear on Al Jazeera to get their message out. They’re wasting their time. The correspondents are unabashedly anti-American; they “mimic Western norms of journalistic fairness while pandering to pan-Arab sentiments.” Why not grant the access, the author asks, to less hostile Arab networks? … A piece shows how refugee camps, which have swelled since the war began, change Afghan societies. Upon arrival at the camps, families with small children turn to businesses such as weaving where the kids can be put to work. A small-town aristocrat now patrols the camp as a mediator. The biggest loser: the bourgeois professional, who find his business skills or advanced degrees useless.—B.C.
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Time, Nov. 19 A Thanksgiving-inspired cover story says we are all pilgrims now, finding “something sweet to celebrate” after “a bitter harvest.” A holiday about faith and family is much more important post-Sept. 11, as suddenly insecure Americans reach out for something they can count on. … A piece claims that the fall of Mazar-i-Sharif gives the Northern Alliance control of northwestern Afghanistan. An American strategy in which the alliance supplies manpower while the United States provides bombing cover and tactical advice seems to be coming together. However, the Taliban will put up a better fight for Kabul, and alliance commanders are starting to bicker among themselves. … An article argues that pop culture started its own family values revolution before Sept. 11. TV shows such as Ed and Providence bring high-powered professionals back to small hometowns; the hit movie Cast Away rips Tom Hanks from his FedEx frenzy and deposits him on a desert island to reflect; and Oprah-hater Jonathan Franzen’s novel The Corrections explores a reuniting family.— J.D.
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Newsweek, Nov. 19 The cover story, the first in a news mag not primarily about Sept. 11, analyzes Republican media mogul Michael Bloomberg’s New York mayoral victory. He outspent opponent Mark Green 5-to-1, benefited from a Rudy Giuliani TV spot that will go down as the “most powerful political-endorsement ad ever made,” and won an unprecedented Hispanic majority because Green alienated voters during his primary battle with Fernando Ferrer. … A piece reports that American drivers can keep their SUVs and still achieve oil independence from Saudi Arabia. Detroit will market hybrids, trucks that combine gas engines and electric motors and get roughly 40 miles per gallon, by 2003.— J.D.
U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 19 The cover story says “this economy might be better analyzed by Dr. Freud than Mr. Greenspan.” Before Sept. 11, most economists thought the impending recession would be mild, but the wild card of consumer psychology has rendered their statistical predictions useless. Worst case scenario: Economic stimulus packages and interest-rate cuts pump money into the economy, but still-scared consumers hold it instead of spending it. … An article revisits the debate over missile defense, which its supporters are still winning. They say Sept. 11 proves America needs to defend itself, but critics say the use of hijacked airplanes and anthrax shows that stopping missile attacks cannot keep the country safe. … A piece wonders if America could quarantine its sick in the event of a bioterror attack. In the last few decades, states concentrating on civil liberties have made quarantine more difficult, but in October the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a Model State Emergency Health Powers Act that allows health officials to conscript private doctors into public health efforts and seize hospitals and other private property.— J.D.
The New Yorker, Nov. 19
An article by history professor Bernard Lewis provides background on thousand-year-old conflict between the Islamic and Christian worlds. A millennium ago, when the Islamic world dominated, it viewed Christianity, also monotheistic, as its chief competitor. America is now the main representative of the Christian world, and its ties to modern Arab states represent the latest corruption of Islam. The author also suggests that Israel is mostly a red herring, a proxy for other grievances. (This week Slate’s “Book Club”reads several of Lewis’ books on Islam.)… A piece reports on the bizarre universe of network TV censorship. Those on the entertainment side say viewers will leave in droves for HBO if characters can’t curse or show nudity. The Standards editors say advertisers will pull out if shows get too risqué. So an elaborate dance ensues, where editors over-censor for bargaining power and writers use ” ‘censor bait,’ knowing they’ll have to cut it, but hoping to keep two ‘bitches’ and a ‘balls’ in return.”— J.D.
The Nation, Nov. 26 The fall books issue … The “Press Watch” column excoriates the Washington Post’s op-ed page for becoming a sounding board for war hawks. While the page’s liberal voices, like Slate’s Michael Kinsley, have focused more on domestic issues, the “Stentorian Seven” (Will, Krauthammer, Novak, et al.) “compete to offer the toughest, manliest views on the conflict.”… An article reports that the U.S. government has purchased all the time that a commercial imaging satellite is over Afghanistan. According to the author, this amounts to “government takeover of an information source” or “censorship-by-contract.” Satellite photos could make it easier for humanitarian aid groups to assist displaced Afghans and for the American press to assess whether it’s being fed the truth by the Pentagon. Of course, the Pentagon believes the photos could also make it easier for the Taliban to know what American troops are up to.— J.F.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 19 The cover story documents the bizarre and inexplicable flip in former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter’s stance on Iraq. Once “arguably Public Enemy No. 1 of Saddam Hussein,” Ritter is now practically the dictator’s No. 1 American apologist. Three years ago, he was scolding the United States for its non-confrontational approach to dealing with Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Today he maintains that the nation “represents a threat to no one.” Last year, Hussein invited him back to film a documentary chronicling the weapons-inspection process that will “de-demonize” Iraq. … An article sees no possible way to wean America off Saudi oil. Even if we increase domestic drilling, diversify supply, and do everything we can to conserve, we’re still going to be dependent for years to come. Which means that, should the Saudi monarchy fall to fundamentalists, the United States ought to be prepared to take over and run the kingdom’s oil fields.— J.F.