The Week

The Week is one of my favorite reads--not only because it is the most objective publication out there for U.S and international news, but because it's got that great combination of snarky satire and serious commentary that only the Brits do best. This week, The Week takes on now ex-Supreme Court nominee Harrier Miers with a cover illustration of her dancing a vaudeville jig embraced by a giant red cane that is about to pull her off stage. I think the illustrator should have gone a step further, and attached strings to her puppet dance and shown President Bush cutting them.

You can scan The Week in about ten minutes and not only get the news of the world, but also four different perspectives on the news that straddle the entire political spectrum. Thus the tagline: "All You Need to Know About Everything that Matters." Frankly, I prefer this take to all the news that The New York Times feels "fit to print."

Here's what makes the magazine so good: The news section is devoted to "the main stories and how they were covered." This week, the editors explain what happened with the embattled Miers nomination, with editorial perspective from such major papers as The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and Next is "the controversy of the week," with perspective from five different newspapers. (This week: "Is Assad headed for a fall?") Then onto "The World at a glance" with a map and concise paragraphs explaining the latest squabble over ground zero in New York, the Brazilian proposed ban on gun sales, the suicide bombing in Baghdad, and Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi's tirade against comedians who have been mocking him on a new Italian TV show, along with events in London, Santiago, Warsaw, and Kashmir. Like The Economist, The Week doesn't have bylines. The platform is essentially Chairman Felix Dennis's hodgepodge of political opinions and interests. Word has it that he started the magazine so that he had more to talk about with his intelligentsia friends than Maxim T& A.

There is also a people section with tidbits of gossip about everyone from actress Cameron Diaz to Wal-Mart heiress Elizabeth Paige Laurie to author Anne Rice, who recently told Newsweek that all her future novels were going to be written in the voice of Jesus. In the Briefing section, the editors answer the question "What celebrities see in Kabbalah." The most striking answer is money. Apparently, Rabbi Philip Berg, the head of the Hollywood celeb-driven movement, now a celebrity himself, is now distributing a "Kabbalah Energy Drink."

This week The Week's "best columns of the week" include Nicholas Kristof's "The lives we choose not to save," about Bush's latest cuts to the UN Population Fund, and Stephen Moore's Wall Street Journal column about Ben & Jerry, who sold their "socially conscious" business to corporate giant Unilever years ago, but still offer factory tours that sell their hippy dippy image. "Amid the guide's pious talk about the environment, I noticed that Ben & Jerry's runs its huge, modern factory on electricity, with nary a solar panel or windmill in sight." There is also a Health and Science section with a story about a new study that shows that marijuana actually is a mind-expanding drug --and helps depression. A recent study on rats found that after being injected with synthetic cannabis for a certain period of time, the rats showed better moods and "a visible increase in the cells in the hippocampus--a region of the brain that's involved with emotions."

The only parts of the magazine I find weak are the arts and food sections. The choice of the books they review is a little fusty. The book of the week is "Mao: The Unknown Story." I personally would have chosen Maureen Dowd's "Are Men Necessary?" or Ron Power's "Mark Twain"--and who cares about glam whore author Michael Gross's best books list? Finally, venison stew with pumpkins is not exactly something I would put on the same page with cold artisanal sakes.

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