TIME

In The Latest Issue

Mary Barra’s Bumpy Ride at the Wheel of GM
The General Motors CEO has already faced a devastating recall. Now she must reinvent the company—and its cars

The 3% Economy
Yes, 3% growth is better than 2%. But, for most Americans, it’s actually more worrisome

After the Revolution: Sitting Down With Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
In one of his first interviews with the U.S. press, Egypt’s President pushes for a wider war on terror in the Middle East

Syria’s Jihadis Should Be Confronted, Not Feared
We are far from being the country we were on 9/11. The dangers we face are more modest and our ability to respond to them are improved

White House’s Weak Security
A deranged intruder exposes shows risks facing nation’s most exclusive address

Meet Alibaba’s Jack Ma
The man leading China’s online shopping giant to America

Police ‘Body Cams’ Shine New Spotlight
What will new police video surveillance show us?

Why the Anti-Vaccine Crowd Won’t Fade Away
People who are reluctant to vaccinate their kids often think they know better than the doctors

The Politics of Nothing
Both conservatives and Liberals have accomplished much of what they set out to do a generation or more ago. So, now what?

A Virtual Cycle
Nobody wins when voters only experience politics second hand

The Culture

Lena Dunham: A Generation’s Gutsy, Ambitious Voice
The Girls star takes on Hollywood, friendship, rape culture, and more—with humor and tenderness—in her new memoir

Gillian Flynn’s Marriage Plot
How the author of ‘Gone Girl’ changed the way you look at your spouse

David Fincher’s Subtle and Wild Gone Girl
Amazing Amy and slick Nick survive the transition from print to film

Stromae’s Lost Generation
The Belgian pop star comes to the U.S.

André Benjamin’s Next Act
‘Hey Ya!’s most outlandish half looks to the future

Denzel Goes Old Testament
A sick city gets its ‘Equalizer’

Stalkers Cheap Thrills
Avert your eyes from this voyeur cop show

10 Questions With Sylvia Earle
The oceanographer on why she keeps diving, being granted a wish, and why the ocean needs parks

Kenny Loggins and Joel Stein’s Greatest Hit
This is what I learned when I collaborated on the best song ever written

World

Pop Chart

Briefing

In Need of Repairs

Shining Bright

TIME Economy

The 3% Economy

Yes, 3% growth is better than 2%. But, for most Americans, it’s actually more worrisome

A little over three years ago, I wrote a column titled “The 2% Economy,” explaining how a recovery with only 2% GDP growth, no new middle-class jobs and stagnant wages wasn’t really a recovery after all. Like everyone, I hoped that once growth kicked up to about 3%, middle-class jobs and wages would finally revive.

But we’re now in a 3% economy, and I’m writing the same column. Only this time, the message is more disturbing. Growth is back. Unemployment is down. But only a fraction of the jobs lost during the Great Recession that pay more than $15 per hour have been found. And wage growth is still hovering near zero, where it’s been for the past decade. Something is very, very broken in our economy.

It’s a change that’s been coming for 20 years. From World War II to the 1980s, according to data from the McKinsey Global Institute, it took roughly six months after GDP rebounded from a recession for employment to recovery fully. But in the 1990–91 recession and recovery, it took 15 months, and in 2001 it took 39 months. This time around, it’s taken 41 months–more than three years–to replace the jobs lost in the Great Recession. And while the quantity has come back, the quality hasn’t. The job market, as everyone knows, is extremely bifurcated: there are jobs for Ph.D.s and burger flippers but not enough in between. That’s a problem in an economy that’s made up chiefly of consumer spending. When the majority of people don’t have more money, they can’t spend more, and companies can’t create more jobs higher up the food chain. This backstory is laid out in an interim Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report cautioning that poor job creation and flat wages are “holding back a stronger recovery in consumer spending.” If this trend is left unchecked, we are looking at a generation that will be permanently less well off than their parents.

There are so many signs of this around us already. The decline in August home sales–a result of wealthy cash buyers and investors stepping back from the market–shows how what little recovery in housing we’ve seen so far has been driven by the rich; anyone who actually needs a mortgage has been slower to jump in. The real estate recovery too is very bifurcated, with much of the gains concentrated in a few more affluent, fast-growing cities. (Plenty of places in the Rust and Sun Belts are still underwater.) While overall consumer debt is down, it is still high by international standards, and student debt is off the charts. When I asked one smart investor where he expected the next financial crisis to come from, he said, “Student debt.” Interest rates on tuition loans are high and fixed, and the loans can’t be refinanced, meaning they’re a trap that’s hard to escape. And student debt continues to grow fast. History shows that the speed of increase in debt, more than the sheer amount, is a predictor of bubbles. By that measure, student debt is blinking red: it has tripled over the past decade and now outstrips credit-card debt and auto loans.

It’s easy to understand why. Much of the population is desperately trying to educate its way out of a terrifying cycle of downward mobility. But students are fighting strong structural shifts in the economy. While technology-driven productivity used to be what economists said would save us from jobless recoveries, technology these days removes jobs from the economy. Just think of companies like Facebook and Twitter, which create a fraction of the jobs the last generation of big tech firms like Apple or Microsoft did, not to mention the multitude of middle-class positions created by the industrial giants of old.

And we’re just getting started: consider the outcry in certain cities over companies like Zillow, Uber and Airbnb, which are fostering “creative destruction” in new sectors like real estate, transportation and hotels. McKinsey estimates that new technologies will put up to 140 million service jobs at risk in the next decade. Critics of this estimate say we’re underestimating the opportunities that will come with everyone having a smartphone. All I can say is, I hope so. What’s clear is that development isn’t yet reflected in stronger consumption or official economic statistics.

What I do see is growing discontent with the economic status quo. In my 2011 column I wrote, “It’s clear that the 2% economy heralds an era of even more divisive, populist politics–at home and abroad.” Ditto the 3% economy. Witness outrage over displaced lower-income workers in the Bay Area, or the fact that the Fed is keeping interest rates low in part because gridlock has prevented Washington from doing more to stimulate the real economy, or the Treasury Department’s new rules limiting American companies’ ability to move outside U.S. tax jurisdiction. Whatever number you put on growth, a recovery that doesn’t feel like a recovery is, yet again, no recovery at all.

TIME Egypt

After the Revolution: Sitting Down With Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi

Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt in New York City on Sept. 23, 2014 Peter Hapak for TIME

In one of his first interviews with the U.S. press, Egypt's President pushes for a wider war on terror in the Middle East

A shorter version of this interview appeared in the Oct. 6 edition of TIME magazine:

Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi won an election in May — but the former army chief has been essentially in charge of the country since ousting Egypt’s first democratically elected President, Mohamed Morsi, last summer. Al-Sisi remains mostly popular at home, where he is pushing reforms to jump-start Egypt’s moribund economy. But he’s been criticized for his crackdowns on Morsi’s Islamist supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and on journalists and free speech in Egypt.

In one of his first interviews in the U.S., al-Sisi spoke with TIME on Sept. 23 about the America’s war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Egypt’s economy and the influence of Islam in his life.

On U.S. action against ISIS: Imagine what would happen if you leave it without action. We still need more effort — it should not be limited to Iraq and ISIS. This is a threat not just to the Middle East but to the whole world … I want to be clear with you that this ideology constitutes a problem. There’s a fine line between extremism and killing. If we hadn’t saved Egypt, there would have been a major problem created. The U.S. did not pay attention to that.

On ousting Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood: You dealt with the developments in Egypt as a movement by the military. But the military was not thinking of making a coup. It was the Egyptian people who demanded that change of identity … A country like Egypt caught in a vicious cycle of extremism would be a threat to the whole world. The U.S. would have felt the need to destroy Egypt.

We have been fighting terrorism in the Sinai [Peninsula] for a year and four months. If the Muslim Brotherhood had been in office for another year, Sinai would have become something like Tora Bora [in Afghanistan]. It would have been civil war in Egypt. Egyptians wouldn’t have stood still, [and] on the other side, the supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood were ready to fight.

On Egypt’s domestic challenges: Egypt has not faced problems of this scale for over 40 years. [We have] striking poverty, unemployment, idleness of the young people. This is fertile soil for problems. Our population growth is 2.6 million people a year. In 10 years time, we expect to have 30 million people more. This is a reason for the revolution in Egypt. They want change and to move forward to a brighter future. Unfortunately, Morsi did not deal with the magnitude of the problems. The government alone in Egypt won’t be able to tackle all of the problems, [but] Egypt cannot afford to fail. Two revolutions is more than enough.

On the future of the Muslim Brotherhood: Our first elections were free and fair. The result of that free choice was the Muslim Brotherhood and the Muslim Brotherhood was accepted. But I say that in any election to be held [in the future] the Muslim Brotherhood will not be fortunate to have a share.

On the risks of foreign jihadists in the battle against terrorism: Watch out for your citizens who join jihad. When they come back to their communities, they will pursue the same practices. This is why we can’t just limit the effort to the military. The actions taken over the past year are not enough to terminate this … No one country is immune to this ideology. The foreign fighters will come back to your country. I’m afraid it will be disastrous.

On the role of Islam in his life: I simply represent moderate Islam. I’m concerned about the challenges of poverty and ignorance in the Muslim world. I can’t be against Islam — I consider myself a devout Muslim — but the reality poses a challenge.

TIME

Syria’s Jihadis Should Be Confronted, Not Feared

We are far from being the country we were on 9/11. The dangers we face are more modest and our ability to respond to them are improved

Not all terrorists are an imminent threat. We use that label for all kinds of enemies, but the progeny of violent jihadism are different in important ways. A close look at the two groups the U.S. attacked in Syria shows why that matters and why we need to temper our fears.

Until those strikes, the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL) was all anyone could talk about. In June the group captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and not long after it threatened Erbil, capital of the Kurdish region. The least subservient of the al-Qaeda branches, ISIS had early disagreements over strategy with Osama bin Laden. Both Sunni extremist groups were rooted in the hate-filled dawah—religious doctrine, curricular materials and money—that Saudi Arabia pumped out to the wider Muslim world to counter its Shi‘ite rival, postrevolutionary Iran. In that widely propagated vision, Shi‘ites, Christians and Jews are all anathema.

But ISIS’s founder, Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, who emerged from al-Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan to exploit the chaos created by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, tacked away from bin Laden’s emphasis on Western targets. Instead he embraced a strategy of conquering and holding territory and killing Shi‘ites. Bin Laden disapproved of that approach because it resulted in too many Muslim deaths, alienating potential supporters. Early this year, ISIS and al-Qaeda split for good.

For many members of Congress and the commentariat, and even a couple of Cabinet members who mislaid their talking points, the distinction between the two groups didn’t matter. ISIS’s summer breakthrough meant a new, more technologically sophisticated version of al-Qaeda was coming. As one Senator declared, the President had to act “before we all get killed back here at home.”

The fear was exaggerated. ISIS represents a serious threat to Iraq and its region—which is reason enough for the Obama Administration to rally Sunni nations and others to combat it. But it is above all an insurgency, and the tools it knows are those of irregular combat, not al-Qaeda-style terrorism. It appears never to have plotted—and certainly never carried out—a long-distance, covert terrorist operation. As Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in a little-noted speech, “We have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the U.S.”

That can change. ISIS’s ability to win and hold ground has generated real excitement among extremists worldwide, fueling unprecedented recruitment. Some sympathizers will feel impelled to show they too are part of the fight, as the plot to carry out beheadings in Australia demonstrates. The immense safe haven ISIS has carved out from Fallujah to Aleppo; the large sums of money it reaps from illicit oil sales, bank robberies and ransom payments; and the growing cadre of recruits from Europe and the U.S. add up to a possible future threat. No one should be misled: U.S. air strikes will likely hasten that possibility.

The other U.S. target, the Khorasan group, is a danger right now. The group is more al-Qaeda 1.0 than ISIS. Its name refers to the land beyond Persia, the farthest reaches of Islam. Bin Laden announced from Afghanistan in 1996 in his first declaration of war against the U.S. that he had been hunted but had found that “a safe base is now available in the high Hindu Kush mountains in Khorasan.” The group has al-Qaeda 1.0 personnel in its ranks, and like al-Qaeda 1.0, it has the West in its sights. Amid the anarchy in Syria, the cell appears to have plotted to use bomb technology developed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to target airliners. The bombs are variants of the hard-to-detect models that the Nigerian underwear bomber failed to detonate on a Northwest flight during Christmas 2009 and that an assassin blew himself up with in an attempt against the Saudi counterterrorism chief.

So how great a threat do these two groups actually pose to Americans at home? Though roughly half the public, spun up by beheading videos and congressional declarations of impending doom, believes we are more at risk than at any other time since 9/11, the dangers are more modest. The fact that the U.S. could gather the intelligence necessary to uncover the plot and carry out the strikes should provide some reassurance, even if a perfect defense is out of reach. And while it will be some time before the damage done by the air strikes is known, Khorasan and ISIS operatives are likely wondering what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Syria is going to remain a chaotic, dangerous safe haven for a long time to come, and Iraq will not be much better. Air strikes in both countries are just beginning. But after hundreds of billions of dollars spent on intelligence and homeland security, we are far from being the country we were on 9/11. Knowing that is the first requirement of a successful strategy.

Benjamin was the State Department’s Coordinator for Counter-terrorism from 2009 to 2012 and directs Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding

TIME China

Meet Alibaba’s Jack Ma

The man leading China’s online shopping giant to America

Ma’s Alibaba, China’s online-shopping giant, completed the largest initial public offering in history–$25 billion–on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares started trading on Sept. 19, and the value of the company exceeded that of Facebook, Coca-Cola or IBM.

• CLAIMS TO FAME

Fifteen years ago, Ma, a former English teacher, started Alibaba in an apartment in the Chinese city of Hangzhou. Today Alibaba is the undisputed champion of online retailing, handling twice as much merchandise as Amazon. An indifferent student, Ma built his empire without the top diploma or political connections usually needed to succeed in China.

• BIGGEST CHALLENGES

Ma will be under pressure from his new investors to deliver ever larger profits. He must expand outside his home market while also fighting off opponents at home. Chinese Internet giants Baidu and Tencent and property group Wanda recently joined forces to start a rival e-commerce firm.

• BIGGEST THREAT

China’s authoritarian rulers still wield tremendous control over business. A big wild card in Alibaba’s future will be Ma’s ability to stay in the good graces of the Communist Party while building trust with consumers in the West.

• BIGGEST CRITIC

The investor Peter Thiel passed on Alibaba’s IPO, arguing that a bet on the company was ultimately a bet on Beijing–with the political uncertainty that implied.

• CAN HE DO IT?

Ma has a proven track record of competing with global e-commerce titans–and winning. He’s shoved aside eBay and Amazon in China. And with his post-IPO war chest, Ma has the financial muscle to invest heavily and acquire other firms. The question is, Will he shop wisely?

–MICHAEL SCHUMAN

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