The Best of the Beast, August 18-24: Ruined Movies, Marked Journalists, and Wrongful Births

Are most magicians lazy hacks? How badly does the city of Ferguson screw its poor? And what is a ‘wrongful birth’? Find out in our best work from this week.

08.23.14 10:45 AM ET

Cheap Trick: Most Magicians Are Lazy Hacks
By Rick Lax

There’s nothing wrong with recycling the tried-and-testeds of magic. Most magicians do. But it’s time to shock and delight audiences anew.

Parents Sue for ‘Wrongful Birth’
By Elizabeth Picciuto

When a health-care worker misread test results, it left the Halls with a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. Now they’re suing.

Why ‘Boarding’ Is Ruining Movies: Padding Blockbusters With A-List Cameos
By Marlow Stern

Johnny Depp made $1 million for a week of Into the Woods. Meryl phoned in her turn in The Giver. Boarding, or flying in big actors to shoot for a few days, is bad for the big picture.

In the chamber where Officer Darren Wilson received a commendation six months before killing Michael Brown, a minor court generates major money from the city’s poor and working people.

Was U.S. Journalist Steven Sotloff a Marked Man?
By Ben Taub

Just before American journalist Steven Sotloff was abducted in Syria, his fixer’s identity may have been compromised.

Crimea: A Patriotic Russian Vacation From Hell
By Anna Nemtsova

Vladimir Putin snatched Crimea from Ukraine as a strategic, patriotic, and touristic prize. You can scratch that last one off the list.