In business and politics, as in nature, only the strong survive. There’ve been some great stories of survival this week, beginning with a quirky piece in the NYT about a culinary expert who’s hoping to save rare species by putting them on the menu. New York‘s cover story this week carefully dissected the controversial firing of Zoe Cruz, one of Wall Street’s most powerful women, and former heir-apparent to the CEO slot at Morgan Stanley. Perhaps Cruz couldn’t cut it in the competitive world of Wall Street, but some are crying foul, claiming the episode is blatant sexism. Meanwhile, there’s another brand of prejudice being perpetuated around the world: biobigotry. Do you swoon over charismatic megafauna — the big, furry zoo animals — and ignore — or worse, revile — the less cuddly organisms of equal ecological importance? You’re a biobigot, according to another curious science piece from the Times — or maybe you’re just a human with a healthy imagination.
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Along with subsidized farmers, economist Jeffrey Sachs is one of the few people benefiting from the worldwide food crisis. He’s made a host of media stops for his ludicrously timely book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, including one on Talk of the Nation yesterday that featured vivid description of Haitian squalor from photographer Tyler Hicks. But between authoring two pieces in Time magazine and appearing on a stinker segment on The Daily Show, his spiel can get repetitive (even if it’s the most important argument ever labeled “spiel”). We recommend Sachs’ interview with Charlie Rose, where the economist gets down to specific solutions like affordable fertilizer for third-world farmers. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an on-the-ground view of the food crisis, Bruce Wallace penned an excellent report from the Manila slums for the Los Angeles Times.
It’s finally spring, and here in DC, that means we have a few precious weeks before it becomes infernally hot and humid. It also means we’re trapped inside our offices, wishing we were frolicking outside. But there are worse places to be stuck — take the poor guy who was trapped in a NYC elevator for nearly two days. The security camera footage on YouTube is enough to make you carry around a stack of good reading, some snacks, and a chamber pot, just in case.
Actually, though, elevator-guy didn’t have it so bad, if you compare his tale to Marie Claire‘s story about the formerly subordinated Teressa Wall, whose testimony against Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint church leader Warren Jeffs has led to attacks from the church — and shaky custody of her children. Nor does it really compare to another harrowing story from the same mag, about “long-neck women” in Thailand who are forced to wear coils around their necks, trapped in the role of silent tourist attractions.
Maybe it’s time to head to the beach, so we can heed Adam Sternbergh’s surprisingly fun-to-read advice to un-trap our poor feet from their shoe-prisons — a lifestyle change we’re not likely to make if the ground is anything but sand.
The calls are mounting for world leaders to use Olympic leverage to pry China from its support for genocide in Darfur and human rights violations in Tibet. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter and the Economist posted almost the same argument: countries should simply boycott the opening ceremonies, focus only on Darfur. There’s no reason to deny athletes their moment, the reasoning goes, and China is unlikely to budge on Tibet. Even our man, the ubiquitous Cloonster, would support that, while XM Radio host Joe Madison (aka The Black Eagle) is pushing for an out-and-out Olympics boycott.
Time tackles the Why? of the situation, noting that even if President Hu Jintao was willing to effect change (don’t worry, he’s not), the red-tape molasses of the Communist Party would hold him up. But the most creative shaming of the Olympics had nothing to do with genocide — Slate did some quick math to calculate that the Olympic torch’s 50,000-mile tour will burn a quarter-million gallons of jet fuel and spew six million pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. Oh, and the whole torch relay thing was started by Hitler. Think on that.
Pope Benedict XVI is making his first visit to the US next week, and the nation’s media seem happy to be distracted from the endgame of the Democratic presidential nomination process. Time‘s excellent cover story this week takes a look at the Pope’s relationship with America, while The New Republic examines the Pope’s stance on immigration (and, of course, what his visit might mean for the presidential race). Still, not everyone is excited about the Pope’s visit — for example, the Rev. John Hagee, a prominent McCain supporter, has called the Catholic Church “the whore of Babylon” (a controversy The New York Times looked into this week). And for the curious, Time also recently had a rundown of what, exactly, will get you sent to hell these days.
Still, the most amusing Pope-related news comes from the Washington Post, which relates the tale of a YouTube video, a Pope bobblehead, a funny hat — and one unhappy Catholic spokeswoman.
As Dana Priest reported in January in the Washington Post, some 2,100 American soldiers attempted suicide or inflicted injuries on themselves last year, about six times the number in 2002. Since then, post-traumatic stress disorder has been getting increasing attention in the media, from The Nation’s investigation of psychological pressure in the Marine Corps to Rolling Stone’s recent profile of the immortalized “Marlboro Marine.” Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, one of the 500,000 veterans suffering from PTSD, puts a sobering face on the illness, likening his life upon returning home to being “locked inside a hell you can’t escape.” Meanwhile, the New Yorker’s review of Kimberley Peirce’s Stop-Loss — about a soldier who must return for a second tour in Iraq — pegs the film as possibly the definitive film representation of the Iraq War.