Other Magazines

The Gatekeeper

Newsweek on Defense Secretary Bob Gates.

Newsweek, March 19
The cover article discusses using DNA and neurology in the study of evolution. “Fossils never resolved when the lineages split. DNA might,” the article claims. DNA analysis reveals that the genetic split from chimps to humans occurred 5 to 6 million years ago. Paleoneurology—the study of the brain in evolutionary science—suggests that humans developed cognitive social skills, such as language, as a defense against being hunted. “That, more than aggression and warfare, is our evolutionary legacy,” the article says.  Another piece declares Defense Secretary Bob Gates a “results-oriented pragmatist.” Unlike others in the Bush administration, Gates is willing to hold high-level officials responsible for institutional blunders. Gates’ appointment, coupled with the United States’ new diplomacy toward North Korea and Iran, is indicative of the White House’s new, pragmatic approach to affairs. But Gates can’t reform the White House entirely: “Gates has a chance to help pull the Bush administration out of perpetual crisis mode, but, at least in Iraq, victory may be too much to ask.”—S.W.

Sports Illustrated, March 12
The cover article declares that “an eco-consciousness is leeching ever so slowly into the jockosphere.” Higher temperatures and poor air quality have cancelled ski races, hospitalized marathon runners, and endangered ash trees used to make baseball bats. In response, some venues have gone green. Massachusetts’ Gillette Stadium has a filtration system that recycles both “black” and “gray water … to make the most of all that beer and all those flushes.” Changes are also happening in sports not typically associated with conservation. Formula One is moving toward hybrid cars, and NASCAR is phasing out leaded gasoline. A piece  details last month’s raid on the Palm Beach Rejuvenation Center, where performance-enhancing drugs were allegedly provided to online customers, including many prominent athletes. It’s “chilling,” says the article, “how easily banned substances, including steroids and HGH, can be obtained by anyone, of any age, who possesses Internet access and a credit card.” One investigator wrote “I want to get high to fly” on a pharmaceutical site’s questionnaire. His drug order arrived with no questions asked.—P.F.

Economist, March 10 An editorial argues that China’s new property law is a “breakthrough” but that true reform is still distant. With farmers protesting expropriation of their lands and a growing middle class intent on passing on property to their children, it’s time for a property revolution in China, the editors argue. To be sure, the Communist Party has been taking small business-friendly steps. But, the editors point out, “the passage of laws is not the rule of law.” Tangible change requires an accountable executive branch that won’t block reform: “Property rights are a start; but only contested politics and relatively open media can ensure that they are enforceable.” A piece upbraids Japan’s fledgling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for questioning whether his nation coerced 200,000 Asian women into sexual servitude during World War II. By doubting the testimony of so many women, “Mr Abe has instead added modern insult to past injury” and hurt Japan’s standing among its neighbors, the piece claims.— C.B.

New York Review of Books, March 15
Former Ambassador Peter W. Galbraith * offers a harsh critique of President George Bush’s surge: “[A]t best, Bush’s new strategy will be a costly postponement of the day of reckoning with failure.” The move to add 21,500 additional troops cannot make a difference at this point in the conflict, and such escalation risks pushing Iraq’s civil war into Kurdish territories. Galbraith calls Bush’s reliance on neoconservatives, even when faced with the prospect of failure, “the triumph of hope over experience.” An article documents the deterioration of the health-care system in the Palestinian territories. Israel’s security restrictions get the lion’s share of the blame. The piece says “Israeli policies have harmed Palestinians suffering from life-threatening illnesses, including women who need twenty-four-hour access to hospital care.”* The Israeli Medical Association has stated publicly their commitment to providing Palestinians with quality, accessible health care, but “their public statements, official assurances and strongly promulgated arguments sadly count for very little alongside the horrific realities of daily life for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.”—P.F.

Time, March 19 The cover piece assesses Dick Cheney’s standing in the Oval Office. Before the 2000 election, Bush “didn’t want a Vice President who preened before the cameras.” But Cheney’s detachment from the public soon proved disadvantageous, and he became “convinced he was right … that critics of Administration policy were at best misguided and at worst traitorous.” Cheney’s influence has waned of late: Bush supported a deal with North Korea, signaling a shift to diplomacy, while intelligence officials “have emphasized more ambiguities and uncertainties in their conclusions about threats overseas.” An article profiles three generations of the Deh family, whose life in Ghana reflects the country’s development since it gained independence in 1957. Kwame yearned for freedom during the colonial years but lived to see Ghana fall prey to isolationist and dictatorial practices that ripped apart the economy and political infrastructure. The resulting situation left his daughter unable to afford college. Now, the family’s hopes lay with Delight, whose schooling demonstrates the weary optimism common in the new democracy.— P.G.

New York Times Magazine, March 11 The cover piece examines the growing role of neurology in the courtroom. Lawyers increasingly present brain scans to juries, and “[s]ome sort of organic brain defense has become de rigueur in any sort of capital defense.” Brain imaging could possibly revolutionize the legal world by verifying eyewitness testimony and screening jurors for racial bias. But the possibility of excusing otherwise-criminal acts because the accused has a damaged brain renews old debates about responsibility. Plus, brain scans could have a hocus-pocus effect, where “jurors might be unduly influenced by attention-grabbing pictures of brain scans.” An article probes “dark matter” and “dark energy,” which have long puzzled scientists. Observations of universe-expansion and galactic spinning don’t make sense without including dark energy (which propels the expansion) and dark matter (which stops galaxies from tearing themselves apart) in the equation. But the two concepts fall apart when scientists attempt to explain them with quantum mechanics. This failure demands either a radical “new physics” or a concession that “the universe isn’t simple enough for dummies like us humans.”— P.G.

The Nation, March 19 The cover story surveys Iraq’s current oil situation. Paul Wolfowitz predicted in March 2003 that Iraq’s oil reserves would “finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” But rampant sabotage has incapacitated northern oil fields, and the Shiite-led Oil Ministry faces “shoddy record keeping, limited accountability, little investment and endemic brain drain” after the U.S.-led invasion. A plan to create a central Iraqi National Oil Company is in the works, though experts are unsure how the law will affect multinational oil giants. An article analyzes prospects for peace in Sudan. The author argues that policymakers must acknowledge two truths if they want to avoid a repeat of the failed May accords between the capital city of Khartoum and the southern rebel groups. First, southern Sudanese are more likely to vote for independence from the north than for a coalition government. Second, any effort at peace must take into account the interests of President Omar al-Bashir, whose “security cabal and NCP operators are sufficiently powerful that they can thwart any plan.”— P.G.

New York, March 12
A piece highlights Time magazine’s editorial makeover. Shrinking ad revenue forced it to cut costs, portending “a leap to another business model altogether.”Time’s solution: devote more resources to the Web site and shift the magazine’s delivery date to weekends, when more people would read it. Former Nation section editor Richard Stengel, who became Time’s managing editor, wanted a “more serious magazine: sparer and less cluttered, with a smaller logo, heavier paper stock, and more use of black and white.” He also launched a throng of new columns. An article explores the art of the medical-malpractice lawsuit. A mother who gave birth prematurely, leaving one twin dead and the other suffering from cerebral palsy, sought legal counsel from a firm made ubiquitous by advertising. But she faced a system with its own set of rules: Sympathy for the plaintiff matters as much as expert testimony, and “a trial is ultimately not about getting to a satisfying conclusion … but about getting to a number that both sides can live with.”— P.G.

The New Yorker, March 12 A piece profiles the “AIDS dissident movement,” which denies the link between HIV and AIDS, the effectiveness of anti-retroviral drugs, or even the existence of an AIDS epidemic in South Africa. Since molecular biologist Peter Duesberg launched the movement in 1987, such views have prompted some world leaders to forgo AIDS treatment plans. South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang turned down the anti-retroviral drug nevirapine, which “dramatically reduced the risk of passing on the virus.” But Tshabalala-Msimang’s recent illness may give South African President Thabo Mbeki an opportunity to distance the government from HIV-AIDS skepticism. An article highlights the United States’ capability to detect radiation from nuclear weapons. Though the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office screens roughly 90 percent of imported cargo, current nuclear detectors “ring just as loudly if they locate nuclear-bomb material or … bananas, which emit radiation from the isotope potassium-40.” In spite of efforts to make screening technology more sensitive, Bush administration regulatory efforts have not followed suit, and official records of fissile materials within the United States are spotty.— P.G.

Weekly Standard, March 12 A piece elucidates compromise-making among social conservatives who support presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani. Past Republican candidates could not be taken seriously without an ardently pro-life platform. But politicians now face a constituency weary of extreme positions, and the emphasis has shifted to the political process: “A strict constructionist justice appointed by a president who is pro-choice is no different from a strict constructionist appointed by a pro-life president.” Plus, Giuliani’s pugnacious attitude toward “liberal orthodoxy” and his promise of single-minded toughness in the war on terror now trumps abortion for many social conservatives. A piece derides the Muslim Council of Britain’s new guidelines for responding “positively to meeting the needs of Muslim pupils” in state schools. The guidelines recommend all-but-face-and-hands coverage for girls and proscriptions against most dancing and music, reflecting the beliefs of Saudi Muslims more so than those of the Islamic world at large. For the author, these guidelines are dangerous, pushing “a manifesto for the penetration of the West by a dangerous form of Islamic fundamentalism.”— P.G.

Correction, March 10, 2007: This piece originally and incorrectly quoted the New York Review of Books as saying that “Israeli policies have harmed Palestinians suffering from life-threatening illnesses, including women who need twenty-four-four access to hospital care.” The correct quote is, “Israeli policies have harmed Palestinians suffering from life-threatening illnesses, including women who need twenty-four-hour access to hospital care.” ( Return to the corrected sentence.)

Correction, March 13, 2007: This piece mistakenly referred to a New York Review of Books contributor and former ambassador as Paul G. Galbraith. His name is Peter W. Galbraith. ( Return to the corrected sentence.)