Economist, July 9 The cover article assesses the July 7 bombings in London, concluding that “such attacks should not, and will not, make any difference to the way Londoners live and work.” The piece predicts that there will be little public pressure to withdraw British troops from Iraq. “Far likelier, the attacks will reinforce the case for pressing on with the long-term task, as defined by Mr Blair: the establishment of a stable democracy in Iraq, peace between Israel and Palestine, and democratic reform elsewhere in the Middle East,” the article claims. … A piece examines the “martyrdom” of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter jailed for refusing to reveal her source in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. While special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has “gone after Mr Cooper and Ms Miller with a determination and ferocity” widely perceived as overzealous, recent cases of plagiarism and unreliable sourcing have made it “even harder to argue that the best journalists possess special skills and need special privileges.”—M.O.
Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8
A piece examines a Department of Defense database of information on high-school and college students intended to facilitate military recruiting. Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, expressed privacy concerns: “Most Americans would find it quite uncomfortable to know that their children are going to get plugged into a federal database open to virtually anyone on the federal payroll,” he said. David Chu, a deputy undersecretary of defense, countered, “If we don’t want conscription you have to give the Department of Defense, the military services, an avenue to contact young people to tell them what is being offered.” … An article chronicles Vietnamese biologist Ha Dinh Duc’s crusade to save a turtle he thinks is the last of its kind. Residing in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake, the turtle is several hundred years old and weighs more than 400 pounds. The animal’s mythological status keeps it safe from hunters, but Duc worries that increased water pollution may cause its untimely end.—M.O.
New Republic, July 11 Ilan Stavans slams Uncomfortable Death (What’s Missing is Missing), a new hard-boiled detective novel co-authored by Subcommandante Marcos, the Zapatista leader, and Paco Ignacio Taibo II. “Has [the Subcommandante] visited a bus station recently, an itinerant market, a housing project? Instead of engaging descriptions, he gives us a plethora of useless quotes from Angela Davis, Cervantes, Pablo Neruda, among others,” Stavans writes. … In a review of James J. O’Donnell’s new biography of St. Augustine, Paula Frederiksen credits O’Donnell for revealing key aspects of Augustine’s life that the Christian saint concealed in his 13-volume Confessions. For example, O’Donnell points out the importance of Augustine’s engagement with the Manichees, an outlawed early Christian group that questioned the significance of the Old Testament and emphasized rational, strictly textual readings of the scriptures. After Augustine fully embraced “the true church,” Frederiksen points out, he ruthlessly lashed out against people whom his younger self would have identified with, and became “a chief architect of the theology of religious coercion.”—B.B.
Foreign Policy, July/August 2005 Contrary to conventional navel-gazing, an article discovers that the rest of world does not hate us. The worldwide wave of pro-Americanism sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks has receded, but analysis reveals that it hasn’t been replaced with an overwhelming anti-American sentiment, either. For example, 88 percent of Filippinos have a “mainly positive” opinion of the United States, and in Poland, India, and South Africa more than half the population holds a similar view. Even in France and China, nearly 40 percent of the population feels warm and fuzzy toward us. … In order to counter the Middle Eastern stereotype of America as “a pro-Israel superpower that is occupying Iraq and imposing political and cultural change,” an article advises Karen Hughes, our new public diplomacy czarina, to re-brand America, Inc. Hughes should customize her message country by country, find a “local Oprah,” and trot out U.S. officials who have a Clintonesque ability to feel their audience’s pain.—Z.K.
National Review, July 18 Encumbered by a “growing Muslim minority that contains Islamists who hate Dutch society and are prepared to use violence against it” voters not only the rejected the leviathan EU Constitution but used the occasion to express their disillusionment with Holland’s failed immigration policy, an article reveals. Rather than forcing immigrants to assimilate through such measures as mandating Dutch as the country’s public language, the government chose the path of “cultural integration.” But the clannish nature of Muslim identity and Holland’s support of gay and women’s rights have triggered a clash of civilizations. … The distrust of American Catholics by Protestants can be traced back to colonial times, and as recently in 1960 JFK had to emphasize his independence from the pope. Is the Reformation Over? by Mark A. Noll and Carolyn Nystrom chronicles how this relationship has matured over the years. A review calls the volume a “lucid … account of the amazing distance Catholics and Protestant have traveled.” Such is the evolution of the faiths that, “Today’s Evangelicals and Southern Baptists are hoping the Vatican will tell Catholic politicians what to do.”—Z.K.
New York Times Magazine, July 10 Jim Holt discusses whether humans are becoming more decent, responding to guidelines released by two Dutch physicians that detail the requirements for infant euthanasia in cases of “hopeless and unbearable suffering.” Holt notes that while Western nations have outlawed infanticide, there is de facto flexibility in the prevailing sanctity-of-life doctrine: For example, U.S. laws allow for “passive” euthanasia by depriving life support to anencephalic babies. In certain cases, Holt argues, “a new moral duty would seem to be germane: the duty to prevent suffering, especially futile suffering.”… Four people died last summer after receiving organ transplants from a donor infected with rabies. Gretchen Reynolds describes the ethical and medical questions raised by the increased use of “marginal” organs, including those from drug addicts, smokers, the obese, and the elderly. As the number of Americans on transplant waiting lists has more than quadrupled in the last 15 years, doctors have had to become less picky about the organs they will accept. Doctors say that donors over 55 have become “standard” and organs from young crack users can be “perfect.”—L.W.
Reason, August/September 2005
A piece investigates the controversy over adoption by gay couples. Opponents argue that gay parenting endangers children. As Marjorie Heins, director of the Free Expression Policy Project, explains, “If you’re convinced that certain attitudes and values are wrong, then you consider exposing a child to those values a harm in itself.” Defenders of gay rights recommend asking children in foster care if they feel more threatened at the “thought of being raised by homosexuals, or the prospect of an indefinite number of years spent passing through an indefinite number of homes.”… An interview with Salman Rushdie explores the novelist’s thoughts on free speech, Sept. 11, and religion. Rushdie criticizes Americans’ eagerness to mix religion with politics: “Somebody who overtly professes not to have religion can’t get elected dog catcher in this country,” he says. “That’s a problem, because it creates a political discourse full of sanctimony. Hypocrisy sanctified by religion.”—M.O.
The New Yorker, July 11 and 18
An article investigates claims that a military program that trains at-risk Americans to withstand torture has inspired abuses at Guantanamo Bay. Psychologists familiar with SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) techniques have allegedly tried to “reverse-engineer” the program and have advised Guantanamo interrogators to inflict sexual embarrassment and religious defamation on detainees. Bioethicist Jonathan Moreno worries about the implications when doctors facilitate psychological torture: “The Hippocratic oath is the oldest ethical code we have,” Moreno said. “We might abandon our morality about other professions. But the medical profession is sort of the last gasp. If we give that up, we’ve given up our core values.” … Margaret Talbot asks why adults rail against Roald Dahl’s books, which have entranced children for five decades. She concludes that Dahl’s critics misguidedly fixate on the ways his stories undermine adult authority. They fail to recognize his work as modern fairy tales, which “don’t merely indulge a child’s fantasies—they replenish them.”—M.O.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, July 11 O’Connor: Both Time and Newsweek devote their covers to Sandra Day O’Connor’s resignation from the Supreme Court and emphasize how brutal the battle to determine her successor will be. Noting that O’Connor’s distaste for sweeping generalities and willingness to take a case-by-case approach “made her the deciding voter” on key social issues like abortion and affirmative action, Time commends her “utter lack of pretension” and points out that she donned a T-shirt saying “I’m Sandra, Not Ruth” to make fun of those who confused her with Justice Ginsburg. Newsweek calls her “an Annie Oakley of the Bench” and “a modern-day version of Plato’s Guardian” and insists, “She was profoundly out of place in the modern Washington of ‘Crossfire,’ of ideological posturing and filibusters, of the war between the Red States and Blue States. She was a deep believer in the sensible center, in humane compromise, in finding ways to defuse quarrels and sand down bitter edges.”
Cooper: An article in Time examines the fallout from the decision by its editor in chief, Norman Pearlstine, to hand over information to a special counsel investigating the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame. Time’s Matt Cooper and the New York Times’ Judith Miller have long been fighting not to reveal their sources on the story, but the Supreme Court refused to hear their case last week. Pearlstine said he didn’t want to make Time seem “above the law.” Cooper tells Bill Saporito that he wishes the magazine had kept up the fight, but that “there’s surely principle in both decisions.” The article points out that Time is being criticized for giving in to corporate priorities and endangering journalistic freedom. Although the piece mentions speculation that Karl Rove is the source Cooper was protecting, it does not confirm this. However, Newsweek gives more weight to this speculation, noting that an unidentified White House lawyer told the magazine “that there was growing ‘concern’ in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove.”
Odds and ends: In a piece pegged to the success of Tom Cruise’s War of the Worlds, Newsweek reports that the celebrity is arousing interest in his religion. Sales of Dianetics, one of the key Scientology texts, went up more than 300 percent last month in Barnes & Noble bookstores, and “Scientology” is one of the hottest search words being entered into Google and Lycos. …U.S. News singles out 20 “must-see vacation sites.” In addition to the predictable Mammoth Cave National Park, Yellowstone, Yosemite, New York City, and Chicago, the article suggests Washington’s Shi Shi beach and New Mexico’s Ghost Ranch. …Time writes about the increasing popularity of land giveaways in Midwestern towns with dwindling populations. The free land is far from top-notch—”the parcels range in value from $2,000 to $20,000,” but building a house ends up costing between $80,000 and $130,000. The piece explains that such programs have the best chance of succeeding when the town is located near a big city.—B.B.