COVER: "Splitsville" (p. 46). Senior Editor David J. Jefferson writes about the ways divorce changed the lives of his classmates from Ulysses S. Grant High School, class of '82 as part of "Divorce Generation." In a series of intimate interviews with former classmates, Jefferson tells the stories of those who lived through the explosion of the myth of the nuclear family, the first for which divorce was just another part of growing up. "Although I grew up a few blocks from the 'Brady Bunch' house, the similarity between that TV-family's tract-rancher and the ones where my friends and I lived pretty much ended at the front door," Jefferson writes. "In the real Valley of the 1970s, families weren't coming together. They were coming apart ... Our parents couldn't seem to make marriage stick, and neither could our pop icons: Sonny and Cher, Farrah Fawcett and Lee Majors, the saccharine Swedes from Abba, all splitsville."
THE MONEY CULTURE: "Silver Linings in the Sky?" (p. 16). Senior Editor and Columnist Daniel Gross writes that the only thing that will really improve the experience of flying in America is a recession. "Despite all the obstacles -- foolish security measures, rising delays, fuel surcharges and airlines that made passengers pay for everything but oxygen -- air travel grew steadily during the just-concluded economic expansion ... In recent months, the insanely high price of jet fuel ($3.22 per gallon last week), the credit crunch and ... the slowing economy have done what regulators and politicians were unable to do: persuade airlines to give up valued landing slots," he writes. "When the economy goes south, as it is doing now ... travel frequently leads the list of discretionary items sacrificed on the altar of frugality."
CAMPAIGN 2008: "A Man at Home in the World" (p. 22). Senior White House Correspondent Richard Wolffe and Senior Editor Michael Hirsh report that Barack Obama's foreign-policy experience is not like Hillary Clinton or John McCain's because the kind of experience he talks about so confidently is not what one typically associates with a presidential resume. Instead, it is the kind of bottom-up experience that comes from growing up in the muddy lanes of Jakarta in a plain concrete house. That experience, aides say, turned Obama into someone who identifies with those less fortunate abroad-and a true-blue patriot.
POLITICS: "It's So Nice to Be Here" (p. 28). Investigative Correspondents Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball report that since leaving office, Bill Clinton has circled the globe raising money for his charitable foundation, giving speeches to private corporations and foundations, but has also created potentially difficult conflicts for his wife. In recent weeks, Sen. Hillary Clinton has taken a hard line against the Chinese government's human-rights record and its crackdown in Tibet. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton has cultivated his own personal ties to China. Between 2001 and 2006, he gave seven speeches there that netted him $1.3 million. His 2002 speech in Sydney, Australia, was staged by an organization that Western intelligence officials believe is closely tied to the Beijing government.
"The States of Play" (p. 29). Chief Political Correspondent Howard Fineman reports that the new strategies and math in this election are producing some unusual sights as campaigns test foreign ground, such as John McCain campaigning in Brooklyn and Barack Obama reaching out to the hunters and anglers of Appalachia. Candidates are depending on about 10 states -- most moving into, but a few moving out of, the "swing" category.
IRAQ: "A Gun in One Hand, A Pen in the Other" (p. 34). Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Dan Ephron and Special Correspondent Silvia Spring report on the Pentagon's Human Terrain System, a program that recruits academics whose area expertise and language skills can help the military wage a smarter counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. These specialists, among other things, are meant to map the population of towns and villages, identify the clans that matter and the fault lines within them, then advise U.S. commanders on the right approach for leveraging local support. The problem is, of 19 Human-Terrain members operating in five teams in Iraq, less than a handful can be described loosely as Middle East experts, and only three speak Arabic. The rest are social scientists or former GIs who are transposing research skills from their unrelated fields at home.
JONATHAN ALTER: "Boycott Opening Ceremonies" (p. 36). Senior Editor Jonathan Alter writes that the half a dozen European leaders and the Democratic presidential candidates urging a mini-boycott of Beijing's opening ceremonies are right to do so. "After promising Jacques Rogge and the International Olympic Committee that it would respect human rights ... the regime moved in the opposite direction," he writes. "While showing some important signs of maturity in joining regional efforts to deal with North Korean nukes, the government has found it hard to break bad habits: it took the bait in Tibet, indulging in stale denunciations of the Dalai Lama after cracking heads in the worst violence there in 20 years."
RELIGION: "Why This Pope Doesn't Connect" (p. 41). Senior Editor Lisa Miller writes that Pope Benedict XVI has done little to appeal to Americans in need of serious spiritual catharsis. "It's not just that Benedict pales in comparison to his predecessor John Paul II in almost every respect," Miller writes. "It's that Benedict himself has done very little to win the hearts of his American flock at what may be the most critical moment in their history."
SHARON BEGLEY: "A New Reason to Frown" (p. 45). Senior Editor Sharon Begley writes that researchers at Italy's Institute of Neuroscience found that the botulinum in Botox can reach nerve cells in the brain and spine. Researchers injected rats and mice with botulinum neurotoxin A in doses comparable to those used in people. "Neurons at the injection site -- the whisker muscles -- absorbed some of the toxin and passed it along to other neurons they connected to ... Within three days, the toxin had migrated from the whisker muscles to the brainstem, where it disrupted neuronal activity," she writes.
MUSIC: "Where Have You Been?" (p. 57). Assistant Editor Joshua Alston reviews British band Portishead's long awaited third album called "Third," and interviews band members on the 11-year gap between this and the previous album. Portishead fans know that the time elapsed between albums was almost inevitable. But when asked about it, instrumentalist Adrian Utley told Alston, "We have to operate this way to make it work. I don't even understand the criticism of perfectionism, really. It's just about wanting things to be correct."
TIP SHEET: "Spring Clean Your Air" (p. 60). Correspondent Joan Raymond reports on the various ways of improving air quality both outdoors and inside your home. Tips include checking the Air Quality Index, avoiding jack-rabbit starts and long idling while driving, choosing air-friendly alternatives for home improvements and banning smoking in your home. Strategies like keeping air conditioners and furnaces maintained and running ceiling and attic fans can help, too.
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