Economist, July 23
The percentage of the female workforce in U.S. executive positions has barely increased since the Wall Street Journal coined the term “glass ceiling” 20 years ago; a piece blames maternity leave, unhelpful husbands, and top officials’ propensity to bond over strippers and whiskey shots. And yet, “Women are superior to men at multi-tasking, team-building and communicating, which have become the essential skills for running a 21st-century corporation,” said Chris Clarke, the American-based CEO of Boyden. … On July 21, China released its currency from an 11-year-old peg to the U.S. dollar and initiated a system it calls a “managed floating exchange-rate regime.” While economists are uncertain how far the yuan will be allowed to rise, an article predicts that the revaluation will help China rein in its booming economy.—M.O.
New Republic, July 25
An article examines Wal-Mart’s sudden entrance onto the political scene. Over the past year, the retail behemoth dramatically increased its lobbying base and laid out $1.67 million in campaign spending, more than triple its expenditure in 2000. Clay Risen predicts that Wal-Mart will be a pivotal element in upcoming elections: “They will be held up as bad guys in ‘06,” Jennifer Palmieri of the Center for American Progress says. “They’re Democrats’ best talking point on why we need more progressive policy.” … Ryan Lizza ponders John Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court. “Bush’s trademark, especially when it comes to his most high-profile personnel decisions, is to select hard-right nominees that spark polarizing debates and send Democrats into a spitting rage,” Lizza writes. He speculates that in the face of the Iraq war, the Karl Rove scandal, and a failed domestic agenda, Bush was reluctant to provoke a Senate battle by nominating a conservative ideologue.—M.O.
New York Times Magazine, July 24
Matt Steinglass focuses on the Womyn’s Agenda for Change, widely considered the most effective advocacy group for Cambodian sex workers. “By tacitly accepting the sex workers’ choice of livelihood, WAC stands on one side of a growing divide among aid groups.” Two years ago, WAC walked away from USAID funding after Congress insisted than any group getting USAID support should formally announce that it “does not promote, support or advocate the legalization or practice of prostitution.” … The cover story focuses on the increasing popularity of well-appointed retirement sanctuaries for chimpanzees used in labs, movies, and traveling zoos. Charles Siebert visits Chimp Haven in Louisiana, which is right next to a state prison. When asked whether the prisoners resent the deluxe chimp facility, the warden tells Siebert that the inmates have asked him what would happen if a chimp escaped. He says, “We both have our escape procedures. Theirs is a modern, up-to-date, first-class containment facility. They’re on top of it. Of course, they tranquilize. We don’t tranquilize.”—B.B.
New York, July 25 Vanessa Grigoriadis accompanies a Los Angeles paparazzo in hopes of diagnosing the apparent psychological disorders of A-list celebrities. The media and the stars may be in cahoots, she suggests, “getting everyone drunk on the celebrity-industrial complex, a shape-shifting behemoth that compensates for fewer ticket sales by producing more personality-driven lip glosses.” Grigoriadis asks whether the crazy are drawn to fame, or vice versa, and identifies the standard Hollywood hang-up, the result of isolation, narcissism, and a god complex: “Completely Out of Their Mind Personality Disorder With Multiple Insane Features, or, more succinctly, Beyond Diagnosis.”… Kurt Anderson joined the intellectuals and media celebrities at the Aspen Ideas Festival—it’s a little like a wonky summer camp—as they spoke on panels about Islamic terrorism, global warming, and the impotence of liberals. The dialogue was surprisingly centrist: Bill Clinton said the Iraq war “is not Vietnam” and that he agrees with President Bush on not setting a deadline for troop withdrawal; and conservative David Brooks explained that the public hates the “liberal” press “because people are idiots.”—L.W.
The New Yorker, July 25 Seymour Hersh investigates allegations that American officials poured millions into manipulating Iraq’s January elections. Though NGO’s had repeatedly urged that any assistance should be allocated without favoritism, a State Department official admits that covert funding was given to the slate of candidates controlled by acting Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. (His party did better than expected, but Allawi got no major post in the new government.) A U.N. official also agrees that the cheating happened, adding that the Shiites did the same in the south. “You’re right that it was rigged,” he said, “but you did not rig it well enough.”… Anthony Grafton charts Joseph Ratzinger’s career from high-school Latin student to his rise as a prominent theologian, censor, and pope. Despite Ratzinger’s “acrobatic” interpretation of texts, Grafton argues that his “emotional vision underpins and buttresses at every point the doctrinal structures that he has made as a scholar.”— L.W.
Weekly Standard, July 25
In an editorial, William Kristol gets in touch with his feminine side and supports, albeit tepidly, First Lady Laura Bush’s desire to have her husband name a woman to fill Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s vacancy on the Supreme Court. However, any ol’Fräulein law professor or appellate judge just won’t do. O’Connor’s replacement has to be a, “good woman.” In other words: She has to be a “capable, proven constitutionalist.”… A glowing profile paints Ken Mehlman, the current RNC chairman, as the ying to Howard Dean’s yang. Where Dean is “abrasive” and provokes Republican ire with zingers such as, “A lot of them never made an honest living in their lives,” Mehlman, sounding almost Gandhi-esque, attempts to collaborate with political adversaries because “politics ought to be about addition, not division.” Oh, and his political godfather is that notorious consensus builder and Lee Atwater protégé, Karl Rove.— Z.K.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report, July 25 The Rove leak: Time’s Matthew Cooper reveals what he told a Grand Jury investigating how CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity was leaked. Going through the details of his conversation with Karl Rove, Cooper says that Rove told him that Joseph Wilson’s wife (Plame) worked at “the agency,” although he didn’t use her name. He “never once indicated” that “she had any kind of covert status” and ended the call with, “I’ve already said too much.” Cooper also discusses the typos in his notes and explains that his description of their conversation as being on “double super secret background” was an homage to a line from the John Belushi movie Animal House. … A piece in Newsweek probes special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s motives, asserting that he has long mistrusted the media. A former boss claims that Fitzgerald’s strength lies in how he “exercises his power with a real recognition of how awesome it is… He has a strong sense of the nuance.”
The London puzzle: Time and Newsweek discuss the police investigation into the London bombings. Newsweek details the raids by London police into possible Islamist indoctrination sites, including an interfaith youth center. Some officials suspect training or even “brainwashing” from outside experts. A piece in Time explains why the police think that the four bombers (three of whom were born in Britain) may have ties to al-Qaeda: Their bombs were made of “TATP, an explosive popular with al-Qaeda because it can be cooked in a bathtub out of common chemicals.” … U.S. News quotes a “Democratic operative” who claims that the White House was worried enough about the controversy over whether Karl Rove leaked the covert status of Valerie Plame to “use the bombings in London to shift the story line back to terrorism and try to get a little boost in the polls.” After so much media heat on Karl Rove, the piece suggests, “the normally hypereffective White House spin machine threw a rod.”
Odds and ends: Infants with pulmonary hypertension are receiving an unlikely medication: Viagra. One mother expresses her surprise in Newsweek. “Viagra, for Pete’s sake—you wouldn’t think of that for a little girl for any amount of reasons,” she says. But doctors are saying that “it’s not as crazy as it sounds,” because “the same chemical messengers Viagra targets to improve blood flow in the penis are present in the heart and lungs.” Because the drug doesn’t stimulate erections directly, the young ones are in no danger of sexual side effects. … Best Buy is undertaking an ambitious experiment to combat overwork, through a method termed ROWE: results-oriented work environment. A piece in Time says that the new program allows workers to punch the clock themselves and to choose their own hours as long as they get the job done. So far, almost half the employees at company headquarters have switched to the new system, and both job satisfaction and productivity have increased.—L.W.