New York Times Magazine, Feb. 24
The cover story is an unnerving and riveting embed piece with the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan’s desolate Korengal Valley. There soldiers must “play killer, cultural anthropologist, hearts-and-minds winner and then killer again” among an ambivalent-at-best populace while fighting a mostly homegrown insurgency that uses civilians as shields. The company’s 26-year-old captain confides, “I’ve got too many geeking out, wanting to go off the deep end and kill people,” saying he “wished he could buy 20 goats and let the boys beat and burn them and let loose their rage.” … Mimi Swartz profiles Anita Renfroe, aka the “William Tell Mom,” a suburban Christian comedian. Renfroe, whose repertoire includes jokes about menopause, purses, mammograms, and motherhood, shot to stardom after millions watched a YouTube video of her condensing “everything a mom would say in a 24-hour period” into under three minutes, set to the “William Tell Overture.” (Watch her performance here.)
Economist, Feb. 23
In the wake of Fidel Castro’s transfer of power, the cover story urges the United States to lift the embargo against “a sad, dysfunctional island.” Raúl Castro, Fidel’s probable successor, has cautiously promised economic reform but “lacks his brother’s charisma” and a clear plan of action. If the United States continues with its economic pressure, it risks leaving the island to Hugo Chávez’s influence—or driving it to messy violence. … A piece predicts Mormons in the swing state of Nevada, disappointed by Republicans’ unenthusiastic reception of Mitt Romney, could stay home during the general election. … A briefing follows the plight of refugee Iraqis, whom many affluent countries are reluctant to naturalize. Sweden is an exception; it took in nearly 19,000 Iraqis last year (the United States agreed to take 12,000 this year) and has settled a total of 90,000.
Time, March 3
In an opinion piece, Managing Editor Rick Stengel questions the newspaper practice of endorsing presidential candidates. According to Stengel, young readers particularly resent endorsements, and such displays of partiality are “a recipe for having less influence, not more.” … Peter Beinart visits the problem of Barack Obama’s lack of support among the so-called “beer Democrats.” It might not matter in the general election that the candidate’s supporters are primarily wine drinkers—educated, wealthy professionals—because “for the first time in memory, blue-collar whites may not constitute a majority at the polls.” … An article assesses Americans’ addiction to buying on credit, which has led some politicians to work to curb the credit-card industry. Chief among proposed reforms would be a limit on extreme rate increases that can cripple consumers.
Atlantic, March 2008
An article from the cover package on religion reports from Nigeria and provides a thorough history of the region’s conflicts between Islam and Christianity. Tensions between believers are rapidly growing more violent, with militias on both sides torturing and burning villages. … A piece investigates how the housing crisis has affected suburban developments, where homes are increasingly emptying. Across the country, crime has surged in cul-de-sac neighborhoods as the homeless, gangs, and drug users move into the vacant houses. Meanwhile, urban neighborhoods increasingly draw the well-off, who are attracted by “the convenience and culture of walkable urban neighborhoods across the country.” By 2025, analysts predict a 22 million large-lot home surplus (which is about 40 percent of the homes existent today). Unfilled suburban homes might then be converted to apartments and used to house lower-income families, who can no longer afford to live in gentrified inner cities.
The New York Times Magazine embeds in Afghanistan with the Battle Company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
Newsweek’s cover profile of Michelle Obama offers little more than what’s already been reported about the candidate’s wife.
An Atlantic article urges single women in their 30s “to just settle” on a man because “marriage ultimately isn’t about cosmic connection—it’s about how having a teammate, even if he’s not the love of your life, is better than not having one at all.”
Sports Illustrated’s 2008 swimsuit edition, with model Marisa Miller on the cover and NFL cheerleaders on the inside, features luscious on-location images of the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Israel, Russia, and Nicaragua. There’s also an entertaining interview with Will Ferrell, accompanied by a photo shoot with the actor and Heidi Klum (during which, Ferrell reports, Klum told him to “bite her.”)
Most Overtly Tense Interview
In the New York Times Magazine, Deborah Solomon questions Texas Gov. Rick Perry on why he thinks gays should be kept out of the Boy Scouts.
The Economist, on Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Obama: “The art of negative campaigning is, surely, to draw a contrast between yourself and your opponent. But Mrs Clinton has only managed to point out similarities—such as the fact that he has connections with lobbyists (just like her) or that he will not commit to public financing (unlike Mr McCain but just like her). This is tantamount to saying vote for me because we are both just as bad.”