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Reduced Sugar

The Economist urges Bush to ignore the sugar lobby and push CAFTA.

Economist, June 18
A piece urges President Bush to ignore the displeasure of the “molly-coddled” American sugar industry and push through the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The article admits that the agreement won’t have very much economic impact upon the United States, which charges no tariffs on about 80 percent of imports from the other countries who are party to the agreement (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, plus the Dominican Republic). However, the agreement has great symbolic weight, because the Doha conference on global trade is coming up: “If Congress rejects a small trade deal in its own back garden, what confidence can other countries have that American lawmakers will agree to a far more ambitious global deal?” Another piece looks at Ukraine six months after the Orange Revolution and insists that “[President] Yushchenko must be steelier if he is to overcome the corrupt, fractious pathologies of Ukrainian politics.”—B.B.

New York, June 20
Randall Patterson profiles Isabel Kallman, co-founder of the recently launched parenting channel, Alpha Mom. The channel targets “the new breed of ‘go to’ moms” who want to be on top of ‘the newest innovations, hippest trends and research breakthroughs.’ ” The article focuses on Kallman’s own life as a parent. She’s an Ivy League-educated overachiever who’d had great success on Wall Street and then “really dedicated time” in her schedule for a baby. But when he arrived, she felt completely unprepared: “The more Isabel’s child demanded of her, the more she went out to learn. And the more she learned, the more she was told to stay close—and the more people she hired who could do that for her.” Patterson points out that while Kallman’s husband worries about spoiling their son, Kallman thinks “spoiling” is an antiquated concept: “Isabel wants [her son] to be happy, and he can’t be happy unless he’s in control. Thus, when he wants a cookie, she gives it to him. Thus, when in the car he wants his shoes off three blocks from the destination, she takes them off.”—B.B.

Metropolis, July 2005
An article recommends visiting a haunting portrait exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery that honors the 1,300 U.S. servicemen and women who died in Iraq and Afghanistan before Nov. 11, 2004. Curator Annette Polan took care to avoid partisan overtones, but the message is overt: “You walk in and see row after row after row of these beautiful young men and women—some of them not so young—and they are all dead.” Back in 2002, Boeing found itself unable to meet demand for its popular 737 airplane. An article reveals how Boeing, with the help of the NBBJ design team, was able to streamline its manufacturing process and speed up production by dabbling in socioeconomic engineering. The company moved its white-collar “design guys” and those “who do the work” into the same digs: a 760,000-square-foot airline hanger located in Renton, Wash. The most pressing obstacle was “making a factory home to white collar office workers.”—Z.K.

The Nation, July 4
A piece uncovers “a twist worthy of le Carré” from formerly confidential FBI documents: During the Watergate scandal, “Deep Throat was assigned the mission of unearthing—and stopping—Deep Throat.” Tasked with finding Woodward and Bernstein’s source, Felt was able to direct FBI investigators off his own trail while he masterminded the end of Nixon’s presidency. Christian Parenti reports on a radical Bolivian social movement struggling to nationalize the country’s natural-gas supply. According to miner Miguel Sureta, “The Congress is dominated by the transnational corporations. We are fighting to recover our natural resources. It is our right.” Major oil companies threaten to leave if the industry is changed, and there has been talk of a military coup. William Greider considers Citibank’s settlements with Enron and WorldCom, calling the financier’s practices criminal and “so far-flung and ambidextrous it seems to be part of the profit structure.” Citi’s affinity for “predatory lending” to low-income borrowers drives Greider to dub it the “largest and most flagrant of Wall Street offenders.”—M.O.

Reason, July 2005
Extremists on either end of the political spectrum warn that the United States is slouching toward a “court-o-cracy,” accusing the Supreme Court of nefariously charting the course of American society. An interview with author and Georgetown University professor Mark Tushnet explains why they are wrong. Tushnet notes that culture and politics influence the court, not vice versa. Although it may have some sway on the periphery, “10 years down the line, the society’s going to be pretty much where it would have been even if the courts hadn’t said a word.” These aren’t your older brother’s blogs. The latest generation of Web logs has significant investment capital backing it up, notes columnist Matt Welch. Ariana Huffington’s celebrity-bloated blog, the Huffington Post, is just the latest addition to this alpha club. Big media companies, such as CNN and CNBC, are jumping on the blog bandwagon, too. Why? Blogs are “history’s cheapest publishing system in the world’s cheapest distribution system.”—Z.K.

New York Times Magazine, June 19 In an interview, Surgeon General Richard Carmona tells Deborah Solomon that his most important task is to “protect the dignity” of his office. She challenges him to take a stronger position on public-health policy and asks, “How can the office have any dignity if you have no sway over public-health issues?” He responds, “I can speak up. I just don’t necessarily affect policy.” Rob Walker examines Gwen Stefani’s limited-edition design for a Hewlett-Packard digital camera; it gives props to Harajuku, the Tokyo neighborhood where the hippest kids hang out. Walker points out, “what is unusual is that Stefani … seems drawn solely to the group’s apparent skill as shoppers. … If Stefani is a fan of these consumers, and you are a fan of Stefani’s, then you should buy her product/tribute to them. It is the commodification of commodification.” Another piece focuses on krumping, a South Central Los Angeles dance phenomenon that evolved out of clowning and “equal parts break dance, pantomimed battle and demonic possession.”—B.B.

Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, June 20
Time presents excerpts from a top-secret log log documenting the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called “20th hijacker,” at Guantanamo Bay. When interrogators told al-Qahtani “he was less than human and that animals had more freedom and love than he does,” and then took him to see a a family of rats, he started crying. When he tried refusing water, they force-fed him fluids intravenously. And when he fell asleep, they woke him “by dropping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.” The article concludes that al-Qahtani, who has named about 20 other Gitmo detainees as Bin Laden affiliates, tended to provide the most information not “as a result of any particular technique” but when it became clear to him that top al-Qaida members had talked. Suggesting that al-Qahtani seems like he’s “almost from another era,” the piece notes, “He asks whether the sun revolves around the earth. He wonders about dinosaurs and is told of their history and demise. He confides that he would like to marry someday—apparently not realizing how unlikely that goal now is.”

War on terror:Newsweek follows the recent arrest of Pakistani-Americans Hamid Hayat and his father Umer; both allegedly lied to authorities about their involvement with al-Qaida-affiliated training camps in Pakistan. Noting that “the FBI clearly hopes the Hayat case will help reassure the public that things at the bureau have changed,” the piece suggests that the case against Hamid may be far from airtight. …  Time suggests that terrorists could easily attack the nation’s nuclear power plants. The article points out that many security plans focus on keeping intruders away, but don’t include a “fail-safe mechanism that would prevent a saboteur from engineering a catastrophe.” An anonymous anti-terrorism official says that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the group that regulates privately run reactors, “and the nuclear power industry are today where the FAA and airlines were on Sept. 10, 2001.”

Odds and ends:U.S. News focuses on a poorly received bill that would have made it possible for “foreign-born children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at North Carolina colleges.” It notes that North Carolina’s “Latino population, mostly undocumented immigrants, has surged 400 percent in 15 years.” Time has a piece about scientists who are applying the same techniques they used to pin down the human genome to decode the genes of microbes that live in air and water. An expert anticipates the development of a “superbug” that could make ethanol within the next 10 years. And Newsweek interviews Adam Lipowski, a Polish physicist, whose computer model of evolution suggests that “genetic mutations, accumulating over millennia, regularly produce ‘superpredators’—killers so powerful that they destroy the entire food chain, including themselves.” Lipowski suggests that the superpredator could be as simple as a bacterium.—B.B.

Weekly Standard, June 20 A piece argues that Republicans are “winning in Washington,” regardless of President Bush’s failure to garner public support for his Social Security plan. The GOP’s biggest victory is the confirmation of several conservative judges to the federal appeals courts. Fred Barnes writes Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid misread the compromise that led to those confirmations. “He mischaracterized the upshot of the Gang of 14 deal because he actually believed it was a triumph for Democrats,” he writes. “Reid has scarcely any influence over the Senate Democratic caucus.” … Stephen Schwartz assesses the condition of Bosnia, arguing that “European humanitarian colonialism has burdened the country with staggering unemployment … severely retarded privatization and reconstruction, and perpetuated the partition between a Serbian-occupied zone and a shaky Muslim-Croat federation.” Schwartz predicts that Europe will not help Bosnian Muslims resist the “ultraradical” Wahhabi cult that plagues Bosnia’s traditionally moderate Muslim faction urges the United States to consider the country’s moderate Muslim clerics, who could be a help in the fight against Balkan terrorists.—M.O.