Washington Post Magazine,June 18
After learning of his son’s death in Iraq in 2003, Brian Hart began pressuring Congress to provide soldiers with the armor that might have saved the young man’s life, according to the cover story. The Pentagon’s wish for “a short war,” its obsession with high-tech weaponry rather than “boots, bullets and beans,” and a sluggish bureaucracy have produced numerous supply delays. “And not one general has been fired over it,” Hart said. … A formerly deaf writer tells how surgery reintroduced him to the world of sound and, more important, to American Idol. Hearing only deepened his obsession with the show: “[Simon Cowell’s] descriptions painted verbal pictures that I wanted to understand, sort of like a blind man who asks a trusted friend to describe a photograph,” he writes.—C.B.
New Republic, June 26 An article reports on YearlyKos, where presidential hopeful Mark Warner wooed bloggers with ice-sculptures, thrill rides, and Blues Brothers impersonators. The author paints younger bloggers as extremely partisan and skeptical of Democratic Party special interests. The absence of Armando Llorens-Sar, a corporate lawyer whose DailyKos postings did not sit well with his firm, was keenly felt. Many of the bloggers in attendance chatted nervously about the “outing of Armando,” wondering could it happen to them. Read Slate’ s take on YearlyKos here. … Steven Pinker reviews a paper proposing that centuries as economic middlemen have genetically predisposed Ashkenazi Jews to higher intelligence and some congenital diseases. Pinker questions many of the premises but concedes that the hypothesis is plausible and testable. He fears that the study “could lower people’s resistance to more invidious comparisons” between ethnic groups but urges research to continue for the sake of genealogical insight, freedom of thought, and better medicine.—N.R.
Economist, June 17
The cover package focuses on America’s wealth disparity. Though polls suggest general national dissatisfaction with the economy, the article contends that Americans don’t blame the rich, whose incomes are ballooning, or the politicians who aren’t effecting change. While the rich get richer and the poor make small gains, “the broad middle of the middle class will see their incomes churned,” the piece finds. Americans see wealth inequality as a natural by-product of the American dream, the writer says, but that view might change if middle-income citizens don’t begin making strides. … A piece reports that a spike in the value of Zambia’s kwacha currency (due to upsurges in the copper trade, foreign investment, tourism, farming, and outside aid) has caused inflation to dip under 10 percent. Though President Levy Mwanawasa has contributed significantly to the economic turnaround, according to the writer, accusations of cronyism, political power grabs, and tribal disagreements threaten to upend the progress.—M.M.
Atlantic, July/August The cover story turned out to be an unintentional obituary of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that questions the legend surrounding the face of the Iraqi insurgency: “He has developed a mythic aura of invulnerability. But he is not the terrorist mastermind that he is often claimed to be.” After failing to distinguish himself in Afghanistan and serving six years in a Jordanian prison, Zarqawi met Osama Bin Laden. According to a former Israeli intelligence official, “it was loathing at first sight.”… A piece chronicles the rise, reign, and fall of “Irhabi 007,” the Islamist hacker who helped turn a network of jihadist chat rooms into a virtual terrorist training camp that earned the admiration of al-Qaida brass. The article also charts the work of an Illinois-based computer programmer whose Web site helped law enforcement agencies track down Irhabi, who now awaits trial in London.—C.B.
New York Times Magazine, June 18 Altria (formerly Philip Morris) is calling its product addictive, throwing cash at anti-smoking campaigns, and begging the FDA for regulation, according to the cover piece. Behind this bizarre behavior is exec Steve Parrish, who has shifted the company away from denying smoking’s dangers. Some activists admire Parrish’s openness but are leery of his motives, one of which is earning “legitimacy” through regulation in order to up stock prices. … An emotionally or physically absent father can create daddy issues for women, according to an article, “from an inability to flirt to a general failure in knowing how to read the male animal.” The writer wonders why our culture stresses father figures for boys, but not for girls. “Perhaps there is something unaddressable about the very feeling of father hunger precisely because we tend to associate men, beginning with our fathers, with less emotional receptivity, so that the very notion of articulating our need for them seems futile.”— M.M.
New York, June 18 An article reveals the drama behind Charles Gibson’s ascension to ABC evening news anchor. After Peter Jennings’ death, Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were tapped as co-anchors by executives who hoped they would draw in viewers from outside the denture demographic. Woodruff’s near-fatal injury in Iraq and Vargas’ pregnancy left ABC’s old war horses Gibson and Diane Sawyer campaigning for the seat. Charlie’s trump card? Threats of quitting. … It’s good to be Damon Dash, reveals a profile of the rapper-cum-clothing impresario-cum-media mogul. He’s got homes in California and New York, a $400,000 car, a cook, and a full-time photographer on staff. But he still has to deal with the little things in life that can wear a person down, such as broken friendships and, of course, Mondays, which are, according to Dash, “a motherf****r.” The cover is dedicated to ranking the city’s top 1,358 physicians. Read Slate’s take on the list here.—Z.K.
Time and Newsweek, June 19 The newsweeklies explore the shadowy past of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the implications his death will have on Iraq and on the allied military presence there. Newsweek details the Jordanian’s journey from uneducated prisoner to the pied piper of terror, replete with his own strange mythology. “He was said to move about dressed as a woman. … He was Palestinian; no, Jordanian. He was one-legged; no, two.” In his absence, loyalists promise to carry on his mission. Time talks to an al-Qaida commander in Iraq who vows revenge and a continued al-Qaida presence. “If a mujahid dies, hundreds will replace him,” promises a follower. The articles wonder if the foundation of sectarian violence laid by Zarqawi is so solid that civil war is now inevitable. Meanwhile, Newsweek details the Bush administration’s efforts to “exploit” Zarqawi to justify the invasion of Iraq. And Time calls Zarqawi’s death a temporary boon to the Republican cause, because the public’s response to the war mirrors support for the GOP. Democrats such as John Kerry, however, are still calling for withdrawal.
Odds and ends: The United States is under greater pressure to close the detention camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after three inmates committed suicide over the weekend, the newsweeklies report. Time suggests that the deaths could have been strategic. “It was equally in the prisoners’ interests for one of their number to die. In a global jihad in which suicide bombers are cheered as heroes, suicide at Guantanamo could be seen as an act of passive resistance.” … A Newsweek piece explores how boomers are finding new careers after being shown the door at their old jobs. Some find work out of necessity to supplement a pension; others choose more fulfilling jobs in their second career act. But experts caution that work is not necessarily the place to seek your bliss.—M.M.
The New Yorker, June 19 This week, a story examines the security risks at New York Harbor, where the Mob remains an active presence. Today, that translates into a potentially huge security risk, writes William Finnegan. The government has established a “green lane” of trusted shippers who are expedited through Customs, and officials fear that port workers could be corrupted into allowing illegal cargo in. More ominous, Finnegan writes, is the fact that “such inside operators, not all of them traditional Mafiosi, may or may not know what they are expediting.”… D.T. Max writes that James Joyce’s grandson Stephen has taken protection of his grandfather’s legacy to an extreme. Stephen Joyce has rejected most requests to access the writer’s unpublished work or to quote extensively from his published works: “Most prickly literary estates are interested in suppressing unflattering or intrusive information, but no one combines tolltaker, brand enforcer, and arbiter of taste as relentlessly as Stephen does, and certainly not in such a personal way.”— D.S.
Weekly Standard, June 19 The cover story checks in with the 101st Airborne “Band of Brothers” (the division whose World War II exploits were made famous in Stephen Ambrose’s book and later in an HBO miniseries) serving in Iraq. These men, concludes the article, “would have made their famous World War II forerunners proud.”… William Kristol uses the snuffing out of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as an occasion to continue prodding the Bush administration to come up with a workable plan for Iraq: “[N]ow is the time to take our best shot at really improving the situation on the ground in Iraq. If this requires 90 percent of the president’s time, if it requires stressing the Pentagon and shaking up business as usual elsewhere in the administration—so be it.” For Stephen Hayes, Zarqawi’s demise provides an opportunity to underline the underreported fact that Saddam indeed had terrorist ties.— Z.K.