- The Washington Times - Friday, September 30, 2005

National Geographic is setting a precedent for the quick turn-around of its special Hurricane Katrina edition, published at the most accelerated pace in the magazine’s 117-year-old history.

Thanks to an exclusive media partnership with news outlets — the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, the Dallas Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman, the New York Times, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Reuters news agency, Getty Images and Knight Ridder — the magazine has produced a singularly insightful story with spectacular photographs.

With the Katrina edition — its first-ever, single-topic issue based on breaking news events — the magazine reveals the reasons for the sudden increase in the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes this season. National Geographic’s scientists and staff have also explored what needs to be done, both in preparedness and in policymaking, to anticipate nature and protect people and their homes, according to a statement released by the magazine. On its Web site, the magazine also invites readers to share their views on the government’s response to the disaster.

In earlier issues, National Geographic had predicted the impact of a storm like Katrina on New Orleans in “The Big Uneasy,” by Joel K. Bourne in October 2004. Just two months ago, it featured a report on the increasing intensity of hurricanes with “In Hot Water,” its August cover story, by Chris Carroll.

Proceeds from the special Katrina edition, priced at $4.95 and available only on newsstands, will go toward aid for Katrina’s victims.

• • •

By now we’re all familiar (thanks to recent in-depth coverage) with the wretched condition of the Dinkas in the Sudan because of an ongoing civil war.

Now, through David Chanoff’s story “Education Is My Mother and My Father,” in the autumn issue of the American Scholar, we learn what happened to those Dinkas — more commonly known as “the Lost Boys of Sudan.”

They were orphaned youngsters who trekked by themselves across East Africa. Eventually, some 3,500 were later admitted to the United States. In 2001, nearly 80 Lost Boys became part of the University of New Hampshire’s Dairy Management Program. The program enabled each young man to become an expert on cattle, the main source of life in their region (Most are taught to care for the cattle at age 5 or 6).

The children got their first taste of education while living far from their homeland in Kenya and Ethiopia, gaining knowledge and skills they never needed in their simple, cattle-oriented existence.

Coming from an oral culture, the youngers had quicker, more expansive memories than those from literate communities. One professor interviewed for the article observed, “For these youngsters being in college is a 24-hour-a-day job. It’s 2 a.m. in the morning, and they are still at it. Usually college kids take breaks; it’s party time, it’s social time. These guys don’t.”

Mr. Chanoff’s article is truly inspiring.

• • •

Making a leap to lighter fare, we turn our attention to Elle.

Now celebrating its 21st anniversary in America, the fashion and lifestyle magazine — published by Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. Inc., the New York-headquartered subsidiary of Hachette Filipacchi Medias, one of the world’s largest magazine publishers — has been a staple in France for nearly half a century.

The anniversary issue features a very pregnant Britney Spears, who has since given birth to a baby boy, on its cover. Inside, the pop princess is positive and optimistic when sharing her thoughts on motherhood.

Also in celebration of its 21 years, Elle is introducing a new sister publication, Elle Accessories with 320 plus ideas for the fall’s best shoes, bags, jewelry and more.

A small tidbit about Elle: Years ago its parent company, then known in Paris simply as Hachette, was the book publishing house that gave famed French novelist, Emile Zola, his first job as a shipping clerk. Zola (1840-1902) rapidly rose through the ranks to become the firm’s director of publicity — before leaving to become one of literature’s most influential and bestselling novelists.

• • •

A few quick notes:

• The monthly Port of Harlem has opened “Our Children, Our World,” an exhibit of more than 70 images taken by children from Ghana, Cuba, the District and Gary, Ind.

The photographs will remain on display at the Children’s National Medical Center (111 Michigan Ave. NW) through Jan. 7.

The District-based publication also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibit’s development in its current edition.

• Just for fun, pick up a copy of the October issue of Wired, which devotes its cover and a good many pages to “Return of the King,” writer Jonathan Bing’s story about the remake of “King Kong.” The $175 million film, directed by Oscar-winner Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings”), hits theaters in December.

mFor an outright guffaw, check out pages 313, 318 and 319 of the October W cqeaturing styles by Donna Karan and Nina Ricci that women will likely avoid rather than emulate.

Beneath the haute couture, the models’ rear ends appear stuffed — thereby producing very,very ample derrieres.

So much for what the reigning fashionistas decree.

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