Economist, Feb. 16 The cover story sheds a tear for Japan, nation of perennial stagnation. Despite years of economic misfortune, the Japanese people have an unshakable ability to not be disappointed. But disappointment is exactly what it will take for the country to gain the will to push through painful but necessary reforms. … An article responds to critiques of energy deregulation in the wake of Enron’s collapse. In fact it was the very flexibility of energy markets that ensured power was not disrupted by the demise of the largest energy trader. … A piece dubs British teens the bad boys of Europe. They’re kleptomaniac pot-fiends having lots more unprotected sex than their continental peers. But delinquency might just be an undesirable side effect of economic progress. The educational system puts teens into the adult world later than it used to, prolonging adolescence and all the juvenile behavior that comes along with it.— J.F.
Details, March 2002 A series of articles takes an even-more-disaffected look back at the concept of Generation X, only to conclude that it never really existed: We all turned into our parents after all. It finds the notion of identifiable generations meaningless: “The current metaphor is tribal.”… A piece profiles Canadian Hell’s Angel chief Maurice “Mom” Boucher, also known as “the John Gotti of bikers.” Boucher has been in charge of a massive web of French-speaking biker mafia crime, which an FBI agent worriedly describes as “a growth industry.”… An article explains the Five Percenters, “Nation of Islam castoffs” who put veiled threat messages into rap lyrics. Among the most famous members of the loose organization (whose motto is “the Black man is God”): Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, and Busta Rhymes.— S.G.
New Republic, Feb. 25
The cover stories assess the options in Iraq. Lawrence Kaplan worries about the risks of demanding weapons inspections when we really want regime change. What if Saddam calls our bluff and gives us what we’re asking for? Gregg Easterbrook says the new smart bombs make it possible to wipe out Iraq’s weapons facilities with limited casualties. “The target should be weapons facilities, not the country as a whole. The means should be the new technology and tactics of air war. And the time should be before it is too late.” A piece reveals that Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., as chairman of Goldman Sachs in the late 1990s got his hands dirty with the very accounting schemes that led to Enron’s fall. Today, Corzine calls Enron’s corruption an anomaly in the business world, but, as the author notes, “as the former head of a company that profited from one of the biggest accounting scandals in history, he’s not exactly in a position to be offering absolution.”— K.T.
New York Times Magazine, Feb. 17
The cover story describes how nature and war have ravaged a remote region in northern Afghanistan. The inhabitants of Abdulgan were trapped for months last year in their mountain villages, while starvation and disease killed over a hundred people a week. Forty families tried to escape. After walking for 20 days, they had to turn back, because they couldn’t pay to be smuggled over the Iranian border. … A piece questions why Gary Condit, with few supporters and dismal poll numbers, is running at all. The Condits’ children have moved back in with them to run their father’s campaign, and they’re proud that Dad refuses to back down. … A piece explains why airlines can’t turn profits. Because they can’t afford strikes, they’re at the mercy of unions. In 1990, United tried to solve the problem with an employee stock buyout, but “there was one devastating oversight: yes, you could turn employees into owners, but could you get them to act that way?”— K.T.
Time, Feb. 18
The detailed cover story reports that diagnostic technology has outstripped available breast cancer treatments. With mammography, doctors can now detect tiny cancerous growths called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), but they don’t know what to tell patients who have it. In a majority of cases, DCIS will never pose health risks, so is the standard prescription of surgery and radiation worse than the disease? … A piece pokes fun at new Drug Enforcement Agency rules that ban non-intoxicating hemp food products, including granola and waffles. The DEA says that allowing people to consume even sub-psychoactive levels of THC will send a pro marijuana message, but farmers think hemp might be the crop of the future. … A piece claims that al-Qaida and Taliban fighters were ordered to abduct women during battle for use as sex slaves (600 disappeared during a 1999 campaign).— J.D. N ewsweek, Feb. 18
Another soft tribute to the Olympic Games profiles figure-skater Michelle Kwan. The author of the piece calls her the “least self-involved superstar athlete you’ve ever met.” Kwan says she has always “wanted to be the Michael Jordan of my sport.”… A withering group profile of “the Enron Three”—chairman Ken Lay, CEO Jeff Skilling, and CFO Andy Fastow—details how each is a slime-ball in his own special way. The best scoop: a few quotes from Skilling’s 77-year-old mother suggesting her stonewalling son is fundamentally dishonest. … An article follows the trail of an estimated $75 million worth of random stuff (dog food, used clothes, axes, and bottled water, for instance) donated after Sept. 11. Though rescue workers tried to discourage non-monetary gifts, they flooded in anyway, and now most of them have been sent to homeless shelters and other general charities.— J.D. U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 18 The cover story identifies the new American dream job: civil service. With the dot-coms and now Enron, nobody trusts a high flier, and after Sept. 11, everybody craves meaning beyond dollars. Government employment is stable and seems important, and contrary to popular belief, it’s more than just bureaucratic paper-pushing. … A preview of President Bush’s Far East trip reports he may have trouble with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Kim staked his legacy on reconciliation with North Korea, but in the wake of American “axis of evil” rhetoric, the North has cut off negotiations. … An article describes the medical revolution in pain management. Pain, judged on a 10-point scale, is now considered a fifth vital sign along with temperature, blood pressure, breathing, and pulse. Studies show that patients who hurt less are recovering more quickly (and therefore cost less to treat).— J.D.
The New Yorker, Feb. 18 and 25
An article sorts through Iran’s befuddling political culture. On the axis of evil side of the ledger, religious conservatives maintain control over the government, and they think America is Satan and assassinate liberals. But the elected president is a reformer and rank-and-file Iranians dress more and more like Westerners, and students support real democracy. … A Henry Louis Gates piece describes how he bought a probable slave narrative (partially fictionalized) at auction for $8,500. With all sorts of dating technology, historical documentation, and intuition, he has traced the document’s provenance to one of several real people. … An excellent piece about the movement to change North Dakota’s name to just plain Dakota includes the following quotation from a beleaguered resident: “I liken it to Bill Cosby’s character Fat Albert. Sure he was overweight, but why rub his face in it by calling him fat?”—J.D.
Weekly Standard, Feb. 18 The cover piece says it’s about time America got tough on Iran. The nation’s supposed “pro-American drift” during the Afghan war was all smoke and mirrors. In fact, Iran is still seeking nuclear weapons, funding terrorism, and brutalizing its citizens. Rather than attempt a dialogue with the politically irrelevant reformist President Mohammad Khatami, the United States should go after the clerical regime with force. … An article by John DiIulio says the agenda he helped craft as Bush’s faith-based guru is far from dead. … The editorial points out that not one member of the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey squad has ever played on a team that owed its existence to Title IX. The law has actually contributed little to the growth of women’s sports. What it has done is drain money from men’s teams.— J.F.
The Nation, Feb. 25 The cover story claims that secrecy isn’t just a political expedient for the Bush administration; it’s a guiding philosophy. The Bush team is keeping Reagan’s presidential records under lock and key, stonewalling the GAO on Cheney’s links to Enron, and withholding DOJ information requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The administration’s record on secrecy makes Richard Nixon “look like a boy scout.”… A piece says that the Enron scandal has paved the way for a Ralph Nader revival. Now that the value of a constant anti-corporate nag has become abundantly clear, Nader is once again making the rounds on the talk show circuit and winning press coverage. The question now is: Will Nader use Enron as a jumping off point for another White House bid?— J.F.