5 Best Sunday Columns

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  • Nicholas Kristof on Another Revolutionary Pill  The New York Times columnist celebrates the discovery of a cheaper, safer, and potentially more effective abortion method that could "revolutionize abortion around the world, especially in poor countries." The method in question is a drug called misoprostol (originally used to treat ulcers) which is 80 to 85 percent effective at inducing miscarriages. Because the drug is widely available, and the abortion it induces is indistinguishable from a natural one, Kristof anticipates that word will spread "among women worldwide," possibly saving thousands of women's lives and resulting in "a tad more acceptance" for abortion.

  • Thomas Philipson and Richard Posner on Saving Fat America  Posner and Philipson, respectively a lecturer and professor at the University of Chicago, lament America's "obesity plague" and highlight some ideas from health economics to combat it. Since changes in technology--increased television consumption, computer use, etc.--helped drive the rise in obesity, technology may be the way to correct it. This doesn't simply mean making America less fat; rather, "if most of the adverse health consequences of obesity were eliminated, obesity would cease to be an issue, except perhaps from an aesthetic or emotional standpoint." Bariatric surgery and other technological innovations may ultimately be "more successful [at] reducing obesity than attempts to change people's eating and exercise habits have been.
  • Steven Simon and Ray Takeyh on Responding to Iran's Bomb  Writing in the Washington Post, these two senior fellows at the Council on Foreign Relations try to imagine Obama's response to a radical, if perhaps not far-fetched scenario: "Imagine that diplomacy has run its course, after prolonged and inconclusive negotiations; that surging international oil prices have undercut the power of economic sanctions against Tehran; and that reliable intelligence says the Islamic republic's weapons program is very close to reaching its goal [of a nuclear weapon]. Facing such conditions, would Obama use force against Iran?" They note that Obama's "impulse to multilateralize the use of force" would mean that any attack would need Security Council backing, which they see as unlikely, and would run against European resistance. It would also depend on hard-to-gauge domestic support for force. While we may hope it doesn't come to this, they warn that "the world imagined here may not constitute destiny -- but it will be hard to escape."
  • Maureen Dowd on Holly Golightly vs. Betty Draper   Dowd compares female characters from "two Manhattan fantasies" that depict "escapes from the prim, airless Eisenhower era." One is Holly Golightly, a call girl played by Audrey Hepburn who "was supported by men, yet ... seemed free," the other is Betty Draper, who "is supported by men, and she seems trapped." Dowd touches on many similarities between them, citing their alcohol-swilling streaks and "luminescent looks overlaying dark psyches." Ultimately she focuses on Hepburn, whose beloved call-girl character served as a "fairy godmother, not only to feminism but to the prevailing ethos that style and cool trump all."
  • Thomas Friedman on the Double Game in Afghanistan  "If you are in a poker game and you don’t know who the sucker is, it’s probably you," writes the mustachioed New York Times columnist. "In the case of the Great Game of Central Asia, that’s us." This is the lesson he takes away from the massive cache of WikiLeaks documents on the war, which show Pakistan's "two faced" relationship with the U.S. At the same time, the U.S. is playing a double game of its own with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, trying to "impact them by indirection" by nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan. Friedman is hardly optimistic about how this effort is going, concluding that "we don’t have the money, manpower or time required to fully transform the most troubled states of this region," but that we can accomplish a great deal by "developing alternatives to oil. It is time we started that surge. I am tired of being the sucker in this game."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.