In The Latest Issue

Manopause Testosterone Low-T Time Magazine Cover
Photograph by Phillip Toledano for TIME

Manopause?! Aging, Insecurity and the $2 Billion Testosterone Industry
These drugs promise to pump up men who feel deflated. But are they safe?

Why Big Mergers Are Bad for Consumers
When big companies merge, it’s good for the bankers—but not so good for the rest of us

Begging for Impeachment
To improve its standing with voters, the White House tries to drum up some trouble for itself

How Kentucky Got Obamacare Right
In the deep-red, Bluegrass state, the Affordable Care Act is an unlikely hit. Just don’t call it by that name

Honduras’s Desperate Voyagers
Children are leaving by the thousands and heading north. Fear of gangs and the promise of prosperity have created a refugee crisis for Barack Obama

Cracking The Girl Code
Tech giants bet on summer camps to close their gender gap

Big Data Tries to Shrink the Prison Population
Risk-assessment programs aim to make sentencing more efficient—but can they deliver equal justice?

This Election Season, Revenge of the Thirds
Extra-party politicians heat up the race for 2014

The Culture

Twitch.tv, the New Frontier of Online Video
The streaming service for gamers could be facing a billion-dollar acquisition by Google

Spoon Stirs Up New Album They Want My Soul
The band’s first album in four years drops Aug. 5

Guardians of the Galaxy: A Bratty Star Wars
No marvels in this quintet’s mythology

Review: In the Kingdom of Ice Brings Cold Comfort
Hampton Sides recounts a forgotten tragedy of American arctic exploration

Online Dating That Matches as You Do, Not as You Say
Zoosk and others try to bridge the gap between what you say you want and what you actually want

Double Dipping for America
Why do some political donors give equally to both candidates?

10 Questions With Maggie Gyllenhaal
The actor on how to be human, her issue with Obama and why she won’t talk about the Middle East

A Clippers Sale
NBA team is good to go

Pop Chart


Ebola Doctors
In a risky fight



That Old-Time Medicine

What You Said About …

TIME mergers

Why Big Mergers Are Bad for Consumers

When big companies merge, it’s good for the bankers — but not so good for the rest of us

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox wants to take over Time Warner. Comcast wants to buy Time Warner Cable. AT&T and DirecTV may hook up to compete against them. T-Mobile and Sprint are looking to connect, as are any number of other large communications firms, not to mention technology and pharma giants. We are in a new golden age of mergers and acquisitions–M&A activity was up sharply in 2014 and is already at pre-financial-crisis levels. Now bankers are salivating at the billions of dollars in fees such deals generate. The question is, Will the deals be any good for the rest of us?

Since the early 1980s, antitrust regulators like the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have tried to answer that question by asking another: Will a given merger bring down prices and improve services for consumers? If the answer was even remotely yes, then the merger–no matter how big–was likely to go through. But voices on all sides of the antitrust debate are beginning to question whether that rationale is actually working anymore.

Nobody would argue that the megamergers that have taken place over the past 30 years in pharmaceuticals, for example, have brought down drug prices. Or that the tie-ups between big airlines have made flying more enjoyable. Or that conglomerate banks have made our financial system more robust. “Merging companies always say that they’ll save money and bring down prices,” says Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, a think tank devoted to studying competition. “But the reality is that they often end up with monopoly power that allows them to exert incredible pressure in whatever way they like.” That can include squeezing not only customers but also smaller suppliers way down the food chain.

Take the book business, for example. Though publishing is minuscule as a percentage of the economy, it has recently become a focal point in the debate over how our antitrust system works (or doesn’t), mostly because it illustrates the incredible power of one corporation: Amazon. In 2012, the Department of Justice went after tech giant Apple and a group of five major book publishers for collusion, winning a case against them for attempting to fix the prices of e-books. The publishers argued their actions were a response to anticompetitive monopoly pricing by Amazon. Apple is appealing.

Did the verdict serve the public? Many people, including star trial attorney David Boies, say no. Boies, who’s been representing large firms on both sides of the antitrust issue as well as the DOJ over the past several decades, says the verdict is “a failure of common sense and analysis.” Regulators often bring collusion cases, for example, because they are relatively easy to prove. Yet in this case, argues Boies, it led to an outcome in which the entrenched market participant, Amazon, was strengthened, and new participants–Apple and the book publishers–that hoped to create a competing platform in the e-book industry were shot down. “The result is that Amazon gets bigger, and eventually regulators will have to go after them,” says Boies. “We really need a more realistic, commonsense view of antitrust enforcement.” Amazon declined to comment.

The “Bigger Is Better” ethos of the 1980s and 1990s grew not only out of conservative, markets-know-best thinking. It was also fueled by a belief on the left that antitrust enforcement was wasteful and that regulating big companies was preferable to trying to stop them from becoming too big in the first place. Neither side got it right. Big companies aren’t always concerned first about the welfare of their customers–or particularly easy to regulate. The idea of letting companies do whatever they want as long as they can prove that they are decreasing prices may be far too simplistic a logic to serve the public–or even the corporate–good. Amazon shares have tumbled as investors worry about the future of a company that has so successfully compressed prices that it generates as much as $20 billion in revenue a quarter but no profit.

How to fix things? We need a rethink of antitrust logic that takes into consideration a more complex, global landscape in which megamergers have unpredictable ripple effects. We also need a new definition of consumer good that encompasses not only price but choice and the kind of marketplace diversity that encourages innovation and growth. Tech and communications firms today are like the railroads of old: it will take a strong hand to rein them in. That’s a task not for regulators but for Congress and a new Administration. Until then, with corporate coffers full and markets flying high, the big are only likely to get bigger.


Begging for Impeachment

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama pauses, as he announces new economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy in the latest move by the U.S. to force Russian President Vladimir Putin to end his support for Ukrainian rebels, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

To improve its standing with voters, the White House tries to drum up some trouble for itself

At 10:02 on Friday evening, July 25, I received the following personal message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW A REAL POSSIBILITY.” The capital letters were in red. This was a blast email, of course, sent to everyone on the Democratic Party’s fundraising list, and also to political journalists. It referred to some very calculated remarks that White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer had made earlier that day about impeachment: “I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit [against the President], has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some point in the future.”

This was the beginning of a half-crazed weekend begathon by the Democrats. The next afternoon: “Sorry to email you early on a Saturday—but we’re on full RED ALERT at Democratic Head-quarters…According to our records, you haven’t chipped in since Republicans authorized a vote to sue President Obama.” (Or ever chipped in, for that matter.) And Sunday: “MAJOR UPDATE: House Republicans held a closed-door meeting to discuss impeaching President Obama.” On Monday I received a cranky email from Obama himself: “Joe Biden has emailed you. Michelle has emailed you. And now I’ve emailed you. We wouldn’t all be asking if it wasn’t so important. Right now, Republicans in Congress are trying to sue me for simply doing my job.” Later that day, the DCCC re-sent me that email: “Did you see this? President Obama emailed you this morning.”

Holy moley. There is cleverness to the onslaught, of course, a classic use of a political tactic known as jiu-jitsu: take your opponent’s feral vehemence and roll with it. No doubt, Pfeiffer is right. There is a chance that the Republicans will try to impeach the President, especially later in the summer, after he announces a major Executive Order that will affect a large number—millions, perhaps—of the illegal immigrants now in the country. There is speculation that it will be a further expansion of the legal status he conferred on children brought into the U.S. illegally by their parents; perhaps the parents will now be included. There is likely to be an explosion if he does this—the Central American refugee crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has made immigration the hottest of domestic issues. It is also the most toxic issue for Republicans, who hope to win the presidency someday—and the Senate this November.

House Speaker Boehner has said there will be no impeachment. That’s why he instituted a rather silly lawsuit against the President over—yet again—Obamacare, which aides say could be expanded if Obama goes for broke on the border. Boehner is trying to placate the GOP base. But he also promised that there would be no government shutdown in 2013 and got trampled by his troops. The Speaker knows there’s nothing the Democrats would rather have than impeachment and immigration as the dominant issues in the fall campaign. He also knows there’s nothing Rush Limbaugh would rather have; indeed, it would be a ratings bonanza—the base would go berserk. And on the other end of the Republican evolutionary spectrum, a leading conservative thinker, Yuval Levin, has said the Executive Order that Obama is contemplating would be “the most extreme act of executive overreach ever attempted by an American President in peacetime.” There might be no stopping the primal fury unleashed by what the Republicans are calling “executive amnesty.”

So, this is smart strategy on the part of the Obama political operation, right? Well, grudgingly, yes. But it’s also cynical as hell. The White House is playing with fire, raising the heat in a country that is already brain-fried by partisan frenzy. There is something unseemly, and unprecedented, about an administration saying “Bring it on” when it comes to impeachment. Clinton’s White House certainly never did publicly, even though it was clear from polling that the spectacle would be a disaster for Republicans. Of course, President Clinton had done something immoral, if not impeachable, and Obama has not. Another impeachment ordeal would be terrible for the country.

Also terrible for the country, if all too common, is the DCCC’s impeachment begging—and the President’s constant fat-cat fundraising in a summer of trouble. What if he simply said, “I’m done with fundraising. This is an important election, but there’s just too much going on in the world right now”? His political folks would hate it, but I suspect it might be more effective, and presidential, than sending out tin-cup emails.

TIME Education

Cracking The Girl Code: How to End the Tech Gender Gap

Girls Who Code Tech Camp
Members of Girls Who Code, ages 16 to 18, program together at AppNexis, an online-­advertising company in New York City Dina Litovsky for TIME

Engineering giants bet on summer camps to inspire more female engineers

Twenty high school girls sit hunched in front of laptops around a polished wooden table at AT&T’s midtown office in New York City. Riya Satara, 17, types a series of ones and zeros to adjust a paddleball game she’s designing so that the ball follows the right trajectory. It’s only her first week learning to code–writing the instructions that tell a computer what to do–but by the end of a seven-week summer stint with Girls Who Code, a national nonprofit that seeks to close the gender gap in the tech industry, Satara and her campmates will be designing algorithms that do everything from locate public restrooms to detect false positives in breast-cancer testing.

This camp is just one of a half-dozen similar programs around the country–many of which are supported by tech giants like Google, Facebook and AT&T–that offer coding classes developed specifically for girls like Satara who have shied away from the subject. “I’m about to be the president of my school,” says Satara, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon. “I can stand on a stage in front of 700 kids, but I was too scared to take a computer-science class where I would have been the only girl in a room of 19 guys.”

Changing that kind of mind-set is a national strategic challenge. By 2020, U.S. universities will not be able to fill even a third of the country’s 1.4 million computing positions with qualified graduates. The industry needs to tap the other 50% of the population if it hopes to find candidates for crucial jobs. At present, only 12% of computer-science degrees go to women. “Our motto,” says Reshma Saujani, who founded Girls Who Code, “is infiltrate, infiltrate, infiltrate.”

Since it launched in 2012, Saujani’s program has gone from 20 girls in one classroom to graduating 3,000 girls from clubs and camps across the country. Saujani says 95% of graduates want to major in computer science in college.

These future female developers are valuable to tech companies in ways beyond simply filling open spots. Most Internet purchases are made by women, and understanding their instincts is a key to business success. “We’re falling behind the rest of the world if we don’t teach our girls how to code,” says Megan Smith, VP of Google X, a semisecret facility at Google in California working on advanced technology. In June, after revealing that only 17% of its engineers were women, Google launched a site called Made With Code that features free programming projects for girls. The company pledged $50 million to programs like Girls Who Code.

Money is only part of the answer. Educators are trying to understand how to engage girls in computer science early and why so few of them stick with it–even though they outpace boys in most other subjects. “If a woman is taking an engineering course, she’s likely to drop out if her grade goes below a B-plus,” says Ashley Gavin, who creates the curriculum for Girls Who Code. “A guy won’t drop out unless his grade goes below a B-minus.”

That dynamic explains why some academics have made it their mission to change the tone of introductory computer-science classes so that young women don’t drop out. “At many institutions they are weed-out courses,” says Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, Calif. “Professors should be saying, ‘We’re thrilled to have you here and know you can succeed.'” Klawe has boosted the percentage of women graduating with computer-science majors at her college from 10% to about 40% in seven years.

Klawe implemented some of the strategies that Girls Who Code now emulates: both programs emphasize problem-solving real-world issues because girls tend to want to help their communities. The programs also assign group projects because research shows that girls flourish when they collaborate with others. Many high school programs have also opted for a single-sex approach to help girls build a network they can lean on as they enter a male-dominated workforce. But with so few high-profile female programmers as role models, many girls still have a hard time envisioning themselves in the field.

That’s why Google is touting female coders. At the June launch of Made With Code in New York City, alumni from Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code cheered on women like Miral Kotb, founder of iLuminate–a Broadway dance troupe that uses coding to choreograph the lights on their costumes–and Pixar’s Danielle Feinberg, who used code to animate Brave.

But gender parity won’t likely be reached until coding is better integrated into the classroom: currently 9 out of 10 schools in the U.S. don’t offer computer science. Code.org, a nonprofit backed by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Google, aims to change that by mimicking China, Vietnam and the U.K., where coding classes are offered as early as elementary school and the gender gap is negligible.

Some developers aren’t waiting for U.S. schools to catch up. Consider Hopscotch, an app that teaches children as young as 8 how to build their own games with code. Hopscotch CEO Jocelyn Leavitt says her male friends taught themselves programming when they were kids by playing sports- or war-themed video games and then re-creating them. “We wanted to tap into that desire to create something but make it more accessible to both boys and girls,” she says. So far it’s a hit: more than 1.5 million projects have been coded with Hopscotch in the past year, about half by girls.

Riya Satara says if she’d learned coding earlier, she wouldn’t have thought it was just for boys. Now she wants to spread the tech gospel by starting a Girls Who Code club at her school. And she’s finally enrolling in a computer-science class.

At the advanced level.


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