Economist, July 19 A piece on Barack Obama’s upcoming world tour warns his Europeans fans of “some disquieting signs of a tendency … to tailor his message to whichever audience he is talking to.” The Democratic candidate has shifted his message on free trade and his plans to withdraw from Iraq; he also “backtracked” from his statement to the “main pro-Israel group in Washington that Jerusalem must never be divided.”… An article argues that copyright infringement can sometimes help a company maintain a larger market share or spur industry innovation. Microsoft recognizes that pirated copies of its programs “will boost revenues in the long term, because users stick with [their] products when they go legit.” If they worked too hard to ban pirated software, it could prompt “people to switch to free, open-source alternatives.”… A piece on more traditional pirates describes the “most dangerous seas in the world”—those in the Indian Ocean along the Somali coast. There, raiders operate “with powerful speedboats, mother ships in the high seas, heavy weapons, satellite equipment, and negotiators aboard who handle ransoms.”
Washington Monthly, May/June/July 2008
The cover story unravels the strange defense adopted by four black Baltimore drug dealers at their federal trial for, among other charges, five counts of first-degree murder. The so-called “flesh and blood defense” used by the accused denies the federal court’s jurisdiction over a defendant and has no legal standing. The defense comes from a conspiracy theory spread by an anti-civil rights crusader and “self-styled minister of racist Christian Identity theology and raving anti-Semite.” William Gale cited a 1878 law intended to keep the government from marshaling troops to protect blacks as evidence that the Constitution anointed county sheriffs “the supreme legal law enforcement officers in the land.”… A piece advises the next president on how to woo alienated Muslims. Recent research suggests that “[i]f there is a difference between those who sympathize with bin Laden and those who do not, it is that bin Laden supporters feel their resentment more intensely”—resentment driven by a “pervasive perception that the United States and the West are hostile towards Islam.”
New York Times Magazine, July 20 The cover story is a jarring excerpt from journalist David Carr’s memoir about his years of drug use. The piece navigates between his memory of events and how they actually happened, which he discovered after re-reporting them for his book. Carr notes that writing the memoir “felt less like journalism than archeology, a job that required shovels and axes, hacking my way into dark, little-used passages and feeling my way around.”… An article by Slate’s Emily Bazelon examines the aftermath of last year’s Supreme Court decision rejecting solely race-based integration in public schools. The court’s decision has prompted some school districts “to think about a new kind of integration and what it might accomplish”—that is, mixing students not only along racial divisions, “but also on the barriers of class, of advantage and disadvantage.” Should this new approach prove successful, the decision may “come to seem less like a cause for regret and more like an unexpected opportunity.”
Heeb, Summer 2008 The issue is guest-edited by X-men: The Last Stand director Brett Ratner and includes what is billed as “the first ever Jewish swimsuit calendar.”… An article revisits the murder case of Rob Rosenkrantz, who just completed 17 years in prison. When he was a teenager in the late ‘80s, Rosenkrantz used an Uzi to murder a Calabasas, Calif., classmate who accused him of homosexuality. … A writer reflects on James Brown’s “fondness for the Jews.” James was hostile during one interview until he discovered that his questioner was Jewish—and instantly became warmer. Brown said, “Jewish people … taught blacks about their rights. The Anglo-Saxon, or whatever you call them, didn’t teach the blacks no rights.”… A piece on Israeli singer Yael Naim (of MacBook Air commercial fame) reveals that she learned “how to handle any kind of audience” after singing for the Israeli army.
Time, July 28 The cover story reports from Afghanistan, where “narcotics, corruption and the absence of law and order are rotting the heart of the government and crippling the economy.” It argues that many of the country’s problems “cannot be solved by the West, however many billions we spend or thousands of troops we deploy.” Instead, the piece suggests, the United States should concentrate on “more effective aid and a more limited military objective” as a solution. … A piece probes the phenomenon of father-daughter purity balls, during which girls of all ages pledge to their fathers to remain virgins until marriage. Leaving aside “the critics who recoil at the symbols, the patriarchy, the very use of the term purity, with its shadow of stains and stigma,” the piece concludes that “whatever guests came looking for, they are likely to come away with something unexpected. The goal seems less about making judgments than about making memories.”
Washington Monthly’s cover storyinvestigates the “flesh and blood defense,” which stems from a white supremacist conspiracy theory—and is currently being used by four black drug dealers in a federal trial.
Newsweek’s cover story on the “uniquely American tale” of Obama’s Christian journey is stale almost six months after the Rev. Wright explosion.
Best Politics Piece
In the Weekly Standard, an article tweaks both presidential candidates for calling on Americans to commit themselves to “a life of service.” The piece concludes that each, in running for president, thinks “their self-interest is a cause greater than their self-interest.”
Best Culture Piece
In TheNew Yorker, an essay follows the quest of Anne Carroll Moore, an early children’s literature advocate and librarian, to stop the publication of Stuart Little.
Most Bizarre Photospread
In Heeb’s “Jewish swimsuit calendar,” for the summer of ‘69 (it’s the year 5769 in the Hebrew calendar), one model poses amongst some surfboards with an open Philip Roth novel. Portnoy’s Complaint: a great beach read!