Economist, Aug. 3
The cover package leader endorses American plans to invade Iraq. With a track record of murdering his opposition, invading and bombing his neighbors, and using weapons of mass destruction against civilians, Saddam Hussein “may very well be the worst” in “a world full of bad men.” While trying weapons inspections one last time would be prudent, the article says, if and when they fail, the U.N. Security Council members’ arguments against invasion are “not particularly gripping,” and that “painful as it is, our vote is for war.”… A parody supports the addition of cocaine to American fast food in order to fund a sin tax on McDonald’s and enable Burger King buffs to feel legitimately duped. A disclaimer at the end informs the reader that “this leader contains irony” but reassures us that “ironical Economist leaders” are not addictive.— D.R.
New York Times Magazine, Aug. 4 The hilarious cover story is an inside look at the molding of a new pop star. Amanda Latona’s handlers want her first single to be a big hit (“Yay!” says Amanda), but what will be hot in seven months? Should Amanda be teen-pop like Britney, country crossover like Shania Twain, or rock like Pink? Amanda’s very accommodating; she’ll trust her stylists and do whatever image sells. Yay! … Corporations aren’t the only ones going global: A piece explains how an international team of eco-spies is training local rangers in Thailand, Cambodia, Russia, and elsewhere to hunt down poachers and middlemen in the illegal wildlife market. … A piece (by Slatewriter Emily Yoffe) describes how survivors and bereaved relatives have coped in the two decades since an Air Florida jet plunged into the Potomac River. The pain is never over, they say, and they hope relatives of Sept. 11 victims won’t be pressured to move on and forget.—K.T. O, August 2002
A body-issues issue … A self-described fat lady talks about the rough treatment the obese get. Stopped at traffic lights, drivers in neighboring cars shout at her, “Get out and walk, fat-ass!” Why do fat people stay fat? They don’t lack will power; they’re just tired of dieting. … A writer examines the science and biological history of why losing weight is so hard. Our bodies are “back in the Stone Age” in the way they metabolize food. Medical experts have determined that healthy weight maintenance is better than weight loss.—S.G.
Time and Newsweek, Aug. 5
Both cover stories reveal that great artists are really great. Time’s, about Bruce Springsteen’s new Sept. 11 record The Rising, says he strikes the perfect chord of tragedy tempered by optimism. … Newsweek argues that M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie Signs is more The Sixth Sense than Unbreakable. In an age of crappy movie franchises, Shyamalan, who’s only 31, has learned the nearly impossible skill of making serious films that resonate with moviegoers and do well at the box office. He knows how talented he is and wants to turn himself into a brand, like Alfred Hitchcock or Steven Spielberg.
Time suggests that President Bush, wary of an oil crisis, has been coddling Saudi Arabia even as it plunges deeper into Islamic fundamentalism. The royal family won’t crack down on terrorists within its borders and won’t let U.S. troops launch attacks on Iraq from Saudi soil, but still Bush treats the country with kid gloves. In truth, America doesn’t need Saudi oil or military bases. The royal family has more to lose, including economic help and military protection. …Newsweek, which has pounded Bush for his handling of the corporate scandals scandal, claims he’s finally turning it around. Congress passed corporate-reform legislation, and though it’s tougher than what he said he wanted, he’ll likely claim credit. Meanwhile, the administration orchestrated the arrest of Adelphia Communication’s John Rigas and promises more greedy boardroomers will be hauled off to jail. … Newsweek’s entry in the Atkins diet controversy rejects last week’s pro-fat New York Times Magazine piece and assures us that fat is a scourge. First, fatty American-style diets have introduced obesity to countries such as India. Second, fats and sugars screw up the brain by making it think you’re still hungry when you’re full. Third, they may be addictive.—J.D.
U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 5 The cover story demonstrates why economists and big investors don’t know what they hell they’re talking about when it comes to the stock market and the economy in general. According to some, we have nothing to worry about and we’re all going to be rich again if we just chill out. Others say America is going down the toilet. Then there’re those in the middle. In the end, the piece casts a cautious vote for optimism. … A very disturbing investigative piece reports that zoos give away old and sick animals to circuses, roadside zoos, and exotic pet auctions where they are often tortured. The venerable San Diego and Bronx zoos are among the perpetrators. At one roadside zoo, the female in a pair of starving tigers killed and ate the male for sustenance. … An article offers two theories about why more women are choosing Caesarean section deliveries. First, they don’t want to deal with the excruciating pain of vaginal birth. Second, their doctors don’t want to deal with the demand unpredictable births place on their free time.—J.D.
The New Yorker, Aug. 5 An article explores the remarkable science of facial expressions. It turns out that hunches may be nothing more than the skillful reading of unchanging, evolutionarily determined facial “action units.” Researchers have studied every possible facial permutation and concluded that roughly 3,000 expressions mean something. Some people are just born knowing how to read faces, but the rest of us can learn. After looking at videotaped faces of tribespeople in Papua New Guinea, one expert asserted, correctly, that they were a hostile people who practiced homosexual rites of passage. Interesting fact, we can actually make ourselves happy by making a “happy” face.… A piece profiles Dawud Salahuddin, aka David Theodore Belfield, a Long Island, N.Y., kid who converted to Islam in the 1960s, killed an Iranian counterrevolutionary in 1980, and has lived in exile in Iran ever since (he starred in the recent Iranian movie Kandahar). Though he still considers himself Muslim, he wants out of an increasingly repressive Iran, and American intelligence agents want him back because he probably has good information on terrorists. Problem is, if he returns to the United States, he’ll go on trial for murder.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, Aug. 5 Former American spy Reuel Marc Gerecht writes in a feature that democratic currents are churning among the Iranian public and that President Bush has made America’s position in the Middle East stronger after Sept. 11 than it has been in decades. As long as Bush continues to emphasize Iranian citizens’ rights to political liberty, the ruling mullahs will be pushed ever further on the defensive. … A piece argues that the Dow’s woes are due not so much to the corporate scandals but to Congress’ overreaction to them. The regulations and penalties racing through the Hill will put the squeeze on the vast majority of corporations who do play by the rules and make economic recovery more difficult.— D.R.