Reporter's Notebook

Sage, Ink
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An ongoing collection of cartoons by Sage Stossel, a contributing editor for The Atlantic and an award-winning cartoonist for the Provincetown Banner, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere. She is the author/illustrator of the children’s books On the Loose in Boston, On the Loose in Washington, D.C., and On the Loose in Philadelphia, and of the graphic novel Starling, which is serialized at GoComics.com.

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This week, the federal government released a new set of dietary guidelines, recommending a significant reduction in the consumption of sugar and advising men and teen boys to cut back on meat. While the hope is that the recommendations will help Americans to eat better, some note that the government has been fine-tuning and updating its dietary advice for years, while obesity rates have escalated. (Meanwhile, some are already criticizing the new guidelines as too vague.)

The cartoon below originally appeared in 2004, when the USDA issued a call for improvements to the then-prevailing “Food Guide Pyramid.”

Hillary Clinton’s bathroom break during Saturday’s Democratic debate captured the attention of Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, this week. During a speech in Michigan, Trump said her trip to the bathroom was too “disgusting” to talk about and said she was “schlonged” by Barack Obama in the 2008 primary.

The Donald has been known to make controversial comments, so it’s only appropriate that the year would end with at least one more—this time targeted at the Democratic frontrunner.   

This week, the Department of Homeland Security announced changes to its terror alert system, adding a new category of general “bulletins” to its existing program of specific “alerts.”

How helpful Americans will find it remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely to be considered more confusing than the old color-calibrated system, which was discontinued in November 2010. The cartoon below ran in 2002, when the then-new color alert system got its first adjustment to orange from yellow.

Sage Stossel


This cartoon originally appeared as “Bitter Pill” the week after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Now, following the attacks of last week, France, too, must wrestle with these issues, as the United States—now facing newly issued threats, the growing challenges of encrypted communications, and the resettlement of a wave of Syrian refugees—also continues to do.

For another take from the Atlantic archives on the balancing of security and freedom, see “Just Asking,” David Foster Wallace’s thought experiment in the magazine’s 150th anniversary issue:

What if we chose to accept the fact that every few years, despite all reasonable precautions, some hundreds or thousands of us may die in the sort of ghastly terrorist attack that a democratic republic cannot 100-percent protect itself from without subverting the very principles that make it worth protecting?…