Sports Illustrated, Jan. 21 Alexander Wolff’s cover story assesses the fabled Sports Illustrated cover jinx: that athletes or teams appearing on S.I.’s cover lose an important game, blow out a knee, or, in a few cases, even die. So, is it real? The magazine’s study—admittedly unscientific—concludes that over S.I.’s 47-year history, cover subjects suffered a “measurable and relatively immediate” disaster 37.2 percent of the time. In 1990, for example, BYU’s Ty Detmer graced the cover. In his next game, a 65-14 loss, he separated both shoulders. Two days after figure skater Laurence Owen made the cover in 1961, she and her teammates died in a plane crash. In 1955, horseman Bill Woodward Jr. was shot and killed by his wife in a hunting accident after he posed for the cover. And so it goes. The jinx actually migrated to S.I. from its sister magazine, Time, where disaster befell two cover athletes. It was first described by Walter Winchell.— B.C.
New Republic, Jan. 28 The cover story argues that Enron is a political scandal because Republicans, including a number of Bush appointees, resisted various plans that would have saved Enron’s employees. GOP-defeated initiatives include: a bill to limit the amount of their 401(k) employees can invest in their own company; a crackdown on offshore tax shelters; and a plan to prohibit accounting firms like Arthur Andersen from soliciting additional business from their audit clients. “Enron isn’t considered a political scandal because it hasn’t impugned Bush’s character,” the editors write. “But far more damning, it has impugned his ideology.”… A piece points out that the two parties have split on Iraq the same way they split during the Gulf War: The GOP, almost unanimously, supports invasion; Democrats, almost unanimously, don’t. Why? Well, for one thing, congressional Democrats are being tutored by Bill Clinton’s foreign policy team, which resisted invasion and doesn’t want to see its legacy tarred.—B.C.
Economist, Jan. 19 The cover story gleans several lessons from the wreckage of Enron. In the future, government should better regulate auditing firms and enforce stricter accounting standards. To avoid the massive conflicts of interest that plagued Enron auditor Arthur Andersen, accounting firms should be barred from consulting companies they audit. … A piece admires Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s reform-minded internationalism. Despite recent events, Musharraf says he still intends to go through with the country’s planned October partial restoration of democracy. … An article looks at China’s growing middle class (or as the class-leery government calls it, “those with high incomes”). For now, it seems all the middle class wants is social status, not social change. Hoping those sentiments will hold, the Communists have allowed businessmen to join the party. But it may just be a matter of time before “middle-class rage” against the regime kicks in.— J.F.
New York Times Magazine, Jan. 20 Blaine Harden’s cover story breaks down the Milosevic family’s legacy of crime. Slobodan, of course, sits in The Hague and awaits his war-crimes trial; his wife, Markovic, faces prosecution in Serbia for tax fraud and abuse of power; their son fled the country after threatening to cut up an enemy with a saw; their daughter shot and killed a boyfriend’s dog. Though the world focuses on Slobo’s trial, the other three must also face justice and, ultimately, be ejected from Serbia’s power structures. “Only then will the Milosevic regime truly be a thing of the past.”… A piece profiles Glenn Loury, a prominent black conservative who has drifted leftward. The author wonders why: Did his intellectual convictions change, or did he simply want to end his exile from other prominent black intellectuals?— B.C.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Jan. 21
Just when you were getting sick of the war on terrorism, the newsweeklies return to normalcy with cover fluff. Time leads with a special report on preventative health care, which is “remaking medicine just as profoundly as any discovery of the last 100 years.” We can stop worrying about cures if we never get sick in the first place. The package includes helpful hints about raising a thin and emotionally centered child and a top-10 list of preventative foods (oats, blueberries, spinach, etc.).… With the economy apparently humming along again, the U.S. News cover story says it’s time to get back into biotech stocks. They took a beating after the post-genome speculative run-up in 2000, but with so many new drugs in the pipeline, profits are “not far behind.” Of course, the sector remains volatile, so “limit your exposure!”… A more substantive Newsweek article previews the upcoming Enron blood bath in Washington. Republicans are struggling to distance themselves from a company that handed out political cash like candy and had easy access to GOP bigwigs. Democrats will investigate the largest bankruptcy in history to the hilt because they think it exposes Bush’s filthy-rich-Texas-energy-racket cronyism.
A Time piece reports on Israel’s seizure of a 50-ton arms shipment to the Palestinian Authority. The problem: Iran appears to have supplied the weapons, and a partnership between Iranians and Palestinians means even fainter hopes for peace. Palestinians wonder why Israel’s so shocked about the smuggling. After all, it’s a war. … A U.S. News article laments the decline and fall of the grand old movie houses with beautiful atmospherics and wide screens. Unable to compete with cutthroat chains, single-screen theaters turn to gimmicks—showing classics or serving alcohol. Only 50 historic theaters nationwide still show new releases. … Newsweek, which got an interview with Mullah Mohammad Omar’s personal driver, depicts the still-at-large Taliban leader as a well-loved populist who cared about just plain Afghan folks. According to his driver, Omar tried to distance himself from Osama Bin Laden but ultimately failed because Afghanistan needed his money and power.—J.D.
The New Yorker, Jan. 21 An article anticipating the Winter Olympics profiles Mormonism. Founder Joseph Smith was a liar and a plain-old adulterer. His successor, Brigham Young, probably ordered the slaughter of 120 migrants headed for California in 1857. But, warts and all, Mormonism is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Question: Why do believers, who tend to be “outgoing and capable,” accept the extremely circumscribed lifestyle imposed by the church?… A Hendrik Hertzberg “Talk of the Town” piece says an organized Republican campaign against Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle won’t work. The GOP, now casting Daschle as America’s Tax Enemy No. 1, wants to destroy him like the Dems destroyed Newt Gingrich in 1994. But Daschle’s politics are more in step with the country’s, and personally, he’s much more unassuming than the insufferable Gingrich.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, Jan. 21 The cover story once again makes the case for going after Saddam—and soon. … A piece suggests that Democrats may come out of the Enron scandal more disgraced than Republicans. Even though the Dems took less Enron money than their counterparts, they delivered more favors when they were in charge. Clinton’s Cabinet allegedly gave the company preferential treatment and helped it score several major international contracts. … A piece deems President Bush a big government conservative. You can see it in his new education bill, in his downplaying of Social Security reform, and his embrace of deficit spending for the sake of large government programs. He operates on the principle that when hard data shows that programs work, they should receive increased funding. As a result, he has proposed significantly higher spending on some surprising initiatives including one for poor pregnant women that Reagan once tried to kill.— J.F.
The Nation, Jan. 28 The cover story pays tribute to Huey Freeman, the dissident protagonist of Aaron McGruder’s comic strip Boondocks. A young black kid with a keen eye for social injustice, Huey has been President Bush’s most outspoken—and practically only—critic on the funny pages. One October cartoon has him calling the FBI’s anti-terrorist hotline to report on Americans who trained and financed Osama Bin Laden. “All right, let’s see, the first one is Reagan. That’s R-E-A-G….”… An article suggests a whole new approach to resolving the conflict in the Middle East: an “externally directed separation” of Israel and Palestine. The U.N. Security Council would force an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and not take no for an answer. In return, the new Palestinian state would have to make major concessions including recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and monitoring by international inspectors.— J.F.