Other Magazines

Georgia on Their Minds

Time and the Economist consider how Russia’s show of force will change its relationship with the West.

Time, Aug. 25 In the cover package on Russia’s invasion of Georgia, a piece compares the country’s use of force “to suborn, subdue and subordinate [the] tiny, independent democracy” to the Soviet Union’s attack on Finland in 1939. “[I]n both cases, Moscow engaged in an arbitrary, brutal and irresponsible use of force to impose domination over a weaker, democratic neighbor.” It argues that the “West needs to respond to Russia’s aggression in a clear and determined manner,” but “that doesn’t mean with force” or the instigation of a second Cold War. It’s too early to determine what specific approach should be adopted by the United States and EU, but “Russia must be made to understand that it is in danger of becoming ostracized internationally.” An article penetrates Mexico’s “Heart of Darkness”—the desert town of Culiacán, “sweltering cradle of [the country’s] $25 billion-a-year drug trade,” where the government fights the toughest battles of its drug war. 

Economist, Aug. 16 The cover story notes that Russia’s actions in Georgia represent a victory for Putin “not just over Georgia but also over the West, which has been trying to [pry] away countries on Russia’s western borders and turn them democratic, market-oriented and friendly.” As a consequence of the country’s aggression, “the West must make plain to Mr. Putin that Russia’s invasion of Georgia means an end to business as usual, even if it continues to work with him on issues such as Iran.” An article reviews the John Edwards affair and advises Republicans not to “crow over the scandal” because “[a]fter all their own presidential nominee, John McCain, was still married to his first wife when he took up with Cindy.” A piece considers the nascent satellite-TV business in sub-Saharan Africa, observing that a small-but-growing middle class there is inspiring companies to expand their services and offer cheaper packages.

New York Times Magazine, Aug. 17 The cover story examines how a post-Katrina New Orleans is setting the standard for urban school reform. As they rebuild the schools there, “hundreds of ambitious, idealistic young educators” are attempting to “prove to the rest of the country that an entire city of children in the demographic generally considered the hardest to educate—poor African-American kids—can achieve high levels of academic success.” An article details the legal conflict over Bordeaux classification in a small French town: “a village squabble with global implications” that is “a fight over who has the authority to declare quality in the wine world, a clash between 19th-century agrarian tradition and 21st-century administrative law and a sign of the growing rift between the handful of superelite vineyards in Bordeaux and the less prestigious vineyards just beneath them.” A piece surveys the history of humanitarian intervention and declares that the concept “is not the property of the United States or the generation of liberal hawks who championed Balkan interventions in the 1990s.”

Good, September/October 2008
In the cover package on public education, a piece profiles “indefatigable anti-affirmative-action crusader” Ward Connerly. Connerly, who is “widely credited with halving the black student population” at UC Berkeley, is the “most vilified conservative black man since Clarence Thomas.” A stomach-turning piece investigates the push to eliminate the Guinea worm from drinking water supplies in West Africa. The worm, which grows up to 3 feet long while inside the host’s body, lives in larvae form in water fleas. When humans drink flea-infested water, the larvae “tunnel through the body as they grow [into worms], producing an acid that ultimately forms a blister under the skin.” Then, “when the victim, in an effort to relieve the burning pain, enters a pond to cool the infected area, the worm bursts through the skin, releasing millions of new larvae.” Eradication efforts have been increasingly successful, but “another widespread outbreak is only as far away as … one child submerging her infected leg into a local pond.”

Reason, August/September 2008
The cover story ranks the “worst nanny-state cities in America” and warns that “city governments are using and abusing their authority to tell the rest of us how to live.” No. 1 is Chicago, which gets high marks for “moral prudery and public health fanaticism” because though its “aldermen are fond of legislating health, the city is also subject to laws passed by the more conservative Illinois legislature.” A column exposes the federal government’s double standard in its regulation of alcoholic-drink labeling. Products like perfume and nonalcoholic drinks can be affixed with suggestive names like “Bong Water”; “if you produce alcoholic beverages, however, puns, drug slang, and ghoulishly percussive monkeys may land you in trouble.” A piece reveals the afterlife of American second-hand clothing in developing countries. Known as pepe in Haiti, a top consumer of used attire, recycled garments live again not only as clothing but also can be “refashioned into tents or used as stuffing for upholstery.”

Must Read
New York Times Magazine’s cover story uncovers the challenges of rebuilding New Orleans’ public education system—and how successful changes in the schools there could apply to urban districts across the country.

Must Skip
Both the Economist (here) and Newsweek (here) chime in with belated comments on the Edwards affair.

Best Politics Piece
Two pieces—one in the New York Times Magazine and one in the New Republic—consider the status of humanitarian intervention in the age of Iraq and Darfur.

Best Culture Piece
An article in the New Republic reflects on how a future end of commercial air travel, due to increased fuel prices and a greater awareness of its environmental costs, could change the way Americans live.

Strangest Comparison
New York’s piece on Michelle Obama claims the voice of Democratic candidate’s wife “is pitched in the range of Tila Tequila.”