Economist, June 10 A piece overviews the outcome of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Tuesday meeting on African poverty. Bush pledged $674 million in aid and agreed to Blair’s proposition of debt relief to sub-Saharan countries. Blair hopes that other countries will follow suit and accept a broad-based resolution for forgiveness at the upcoming G8 meeting. France, Germany, and Japan, however, endorse debt relief for only five nations, and Blair is still trying to obtain Bush’s support on a plan to double the total outflow of aid to Africa. … An article questions the feasibility of an economically united Europe, suggesting that the euro may reach the same end as the recently rejected constitution. Europe’s biggest economies, including France, Italy, and Germany, blame the euro for their struggles. The article explains how a single currency functions best when it belongs to a culturally homogenous, mobile population.—M.O.
New Republic, June 20 The cover package probes the corruption charges dogging House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and his former friend, lobbyist Jack Abramoff. John Judis examines DeLay’s involvement with the K Street Project, “a plan to force lobbyists to hire only Republicans and raise money only for Republican candidates.” DeLay soon placed former staff members into key lobbying positions, where they continued to answer to him as well as to their clients. … An accompanying piece claims that, “[B]eneath the story of Abramoff’s influence-peddling lies the phenomenon that fueled his spectacular rise and ultimate downfall: America’s new class of Native American millionaires.” The story focuses on Louisiana’s Coushatta tribe, which owns a casino that is now facing stiff competition from another casino. Although the tribe indulged Abramoff’s fanciful financial dealings in order to protect its livelihood, “ironically, this was just the sort of thing Abramoff was paid to prevent.”—B.B.
Atlantic, July/August 2005 Benjamin Friedman makes a case study of America’s economic depression of the late 1800s. He argues that declining incomes sparked scapegoating, racial segregation, and xenophobia. An economic downturn in the future, he warns, could lead to the same intolerance: “Economic growth is not merely the enabler of higher consumption; it is in many ways the wellspring from which democracy and civil society flow. We should be fully cognizant of the risks to our values and liberties if that nourishing source runs dry.”… A piece chronicles a war game focused on how to neutralize the North Korean nuclear threat. The players agreed that North Korea’s potential for selling WMD to terrorists is the most significant threat to national security. Game coordinator Col. Sam Gardiner commented, “I left the game with a firm conviction that the United States is focusing on the wrong problem. Iran is down the road. Korea is now, and growing.”—M.O.
The Nation, June 20 An article predicts that rapidly aging baby boomers will not go quietly into that good night. These go-go seniors are an “enormous and undeveloped asset,” not an economic and societal yoke. Given the right financial security the boomers “will doubtless alter the contours of society again … [b]y taking up caregiving and mentoring roles that (will) inspire another wave of humanistic social values.” Unsurprisingly, the “right financial security” translates into “a vast distribution of financial wealth from top to bottom, to ensure equitable pensions for all.”… A recently released report by Rep. John Conyers accuses Ohio’s Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, also a Bush campaign operative, of engineering a coup in a state many predicted would go to Kerry. In the end, the state put Bush back in the White House. Conyers’ report discovered cases of monumental and unprecedented voter irregularity that he says “were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior,” by Blackwell.—Z.K.
Military History, June 2005 An article examines music’s essential role in warfare. Its purpose “has always been twofold as a means of communication and as a psychological weapon.” During the Crusades, military bands were used as intimidation tactics, and Machiavelli advised that orders should be transmitted via trumpet since it could be heard above combat’s din. While 20th-century technological advances have lessened music’s importance in communication, it’s now possible to, “manipulate the morale, energies and attitudes of armies and indeed entire populations.” In a Web-only interview, George McKeil, a POW at the German camp Stalag Luft III, recalls his participation in a now infamous escape attempt. Nearly one million Germans were sent out to search for the 76 officers who escaped. All but three were recaptured and 50 were executed. When asked if it was worth it, McKiel replied, “Well part of our mission was to divert the Germans, and we did that. But we paid a dear price, too.”—Z.K.
Rolling Stone, June 16 An article argues that President Bush’s global AIDS initiative is a failure and a front for the religious right’s abstinence-only agenda. In 2003 the administration pledged $15 billion to fight AIDS. Two years later the plan has distributed only a fifth of the total, and the administration is trying to promote abstinence and monogamy in countries where women are “often infected by wandering husbands or forced to have sex in exchange for food or shelter.” … Another piece profiles Marla Ruzicka, founder of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict and “perhaps the most famous American aid worker to die in any conflict of the past ten or twenty years.” Eulogizing Ruzicka on the Senate floor, Patrick Leahy called her “as close to a living saint as they come.” The article refreshingly reveals, however, that the “girl who tried to save the world” was someone who indulged in salsa dancing, cigarettes, liquor, and romances with the wrong men.—Z.K.
New York Times Magazine, June 12 Joseph Lelyveld investigates “torture lite,” loosely defined as interrogation methods that do not inflict permanent physical or psychological harm. Little is known about the kinds of interrogation practices that are authorized and who is the one authorizing them, but Lelyveld does an admirable job interpreting the policy of “an administration that says it abhors torture but prefers not to be pinned down on what it now considers torture to be.” He contrasts Americans’ willingness to accept these vagaries with Israel’s prohibition of “violence directed at a suspect’s body or spirit.”… A piece covers a new cigarette filter that more effectively blocks cancer-causing toxins. A cigarette containing the filter will be released in several states later this month under the brand name Fact. Its success will depend on overcoming brand loyalty and ensuring that Fact does not have a negative effect on smokers’ health. The paradox is that the same product that could reduce the health risks of smoking could also convince smokers that there’s no need to quit, ultimately increasing cigarette consumption.—M.O.
New Jersey Monthly, June 5 While hundreds of falsely accused spies were persecuted during the 1950s, newly released government reports show that a man who left the McCarthy hearings unscathed and went onto make millions may have been guilty of espionage. A piece chronicles the life of Lud Ullman, from his indictment by the FBI to a secret confession given under immunity, to a second career as an entrepreneur and beloved landlord. While evidence suggests that his camera skills were put to use documenting stolen government information for the Soviets, he is still fondly remembered in Long Beach Island for the free photographs he took of his tenants’ children. … A piece traces the artistic ascent of Cynthia Dawley, daughter of painter Joseph Dawley, the only living artist whose work hangs in the White House. Her rise in the art world has coincided with her father’s decline due to Parkinson’s.—M.O.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, June 13 Deep Throat: Weighing in on last week’s revelation that former FBI honcho Mark Felt is Deep Throat, Newsweek explores how presidential authority eroded in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate and the adverse affect that had on risk-taking through various administrations. The article asserts that President Bush wants to restore the presidency to its pre-Watergate status, but Bob Woodward cautions that Nixonesque crimes could birth a new Deep Throat. … Pointing out that Felt is no longer alert enough to be able to tell his side of the story, Time chimes in: “[T]o look at [Felt’s] record is to realize a deeper truth about Watergate: it was less about one character than about the process working the way it should.” … And U.S. News contends, “Felt’s disclosure illustrates that twinning a knowledgeable, reliable anonymous source with dogged, responsible reporters can serve as a journalistic gold standard.”
Youth culture: Iranian-American journalist Azadeh Moaveni writes in Time about drinking and driving in front of policemen, and mixing ecstasy and pomegranate juice with her young friends in Tehran. She claims, “Today young Iranians despair of political change. Resigned to the rule of autocratic mullahs, they have turned inward, settling for the opportunity to make a little more money and have a little more fun.” Moaveni explains that although Iranian clerics initially cracked down after President Bush gave his “axis of evil” speech, eventually, “the system turned its sights back to its angry young people and essentially decided to stanch their discontent by buying them off.” …Newsweek reports on soldier-rappers stationed in Iraq: “[N]ew electronic gear is giving today’s troops the ability to create a soundtrack of their own rather than having a mass-produced version flown in from home.” (Listen here.)
Odds and ends: Time’s cover focuses on the real-estate market and points out that renting might be the smartest option in cities with skyrocketing housing prices. …U.S. News’ cover features new advancements in treating breast cancer. Noting that “the term ‘breast cancer’ has actually become somewhat quaint,” the piece explains that doctors have formulated different ways to treat the different forms of the disease. Moreover, doctors have concluded that exercise and a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables help stave off recurrences. … Newsweek’s Web edition features Nigerian pharmacist Dora Akunyili, whose fight against corruption has led to an 80 percent decline in the number of fake medicines being sold in the country. Akunyili, the head of Nigeria’s FDA, exclusively chooses women to serve in significant posts because, like Nigeria’s president, who has taken similar measures, she believes that women are more honest than men. “Our men have failed us,” one of Akunyili’s employees says.—B.B.
Weekly Standard, June 13 A piece argues that British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s success as president of the European Union and chairman of the G-8 hinges on whether he receives “payback” from the Bush administration for his support on Iraq. Blair thinks that America’s cooperation with his plans for climate control and the elimination of African poverty will not only appease the straying left wing of his Labor Party but will bolster America’s image in “new Europe.”… A Web-only article says that the media unjustly portrayed the army’s treatment of detainees’ religious rights at Guantanamo Bay. Newsweek retracted its story about a guard flushing a Quran down the toilet, but the magazine notes that little press coverage was given to the retraction by the detainee who made the allegation. John Hinderaker writes that the media were equally misleading in representing a military report regarding Quran treatment at Guantanamo. The press led with headlines such as “Pentagon: Koran Defiled,” even though excerpts from the report show “an exquisite concern for the religious sensibilities” of the detainees.—M.O.
The New Yorker, June 13 and 20
After carving it into six sections with a butcher knife, Janet Malcolm is finally able to read Gertrude Stein’s unwieldy masterpiece, The Making of Americans. Widely held as brilliant but nearly impossible to read, Malcolm calls the book a “dark, death-ridden work” and likens it to Modernist paintings by Picasso and Cézanne in how it sacrifices its characters for sharper focus on its creator. Malcolm concludes that The Making of Americans is “a work that Stein evidently had to get out of her system—almost like a person having to vomit—before she could become Gertrude Stein as we know her.” … A personal history by Edmund White chronicles the women he has loved. “I’ve wished I could do more to ease the pain of the women in my life,” he says. “If I were straight, I could have married one of them.”—M.O.