Weekly Review — February 24, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, 1853]

More than 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel prize winners and 19 winners of the National Medal of Science, denounced the Bush Administration for its systematic distortion of scientific facts for political gain; John H. Marburger III, the administration’s head of science and technology policy, dismissed the report and said that it was politically motivated.Chemical and Environmental NewsPresident Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors decided to move the official start date of the last recession from the generally accepted March 2001 to the fourth quarter of 2000, when Bill Clinton was still president.Business WeekHealth and Human Services officials admitted that a report on racial and ethnic disparities in health care was altered to make it seem more upbeat. “There was a mistake made,” said Secretary Tommy Thompson.New York TimesThe Bush Administration began to back away from its predictions that the national economy, which has lost 2.5 million jobs since Bush took office, would add 2.6 million jobs this year.New York TimesIt was noted, not for the first time, that George W. Bush could be the first president since Herbert Hoover to end a term with fewer American jobs than when he started, and theNew York Timespresident’s chief economic advisor suggested that fast-food jobs might need to be reclassified. “When a fast-food restaurant sells a hamburger, for example, is it providing a ‘service‘ or is it combining inputs to ‘manufacture’ a product?”NewsdayScientists found that people are more likely to tell lies when using the telephone.Cornell UniversityColin Powell said that the conquest of Iraq was justified because Saddam Hussein would have used weapons of mass destruction if only he had had some.Associated PressHeads should roll,” said Richard Perle, of the Defense Policy Board, “not in a punitive or vindictive way. But when you discover you have an organization that doesn’t get it right time after time, you change the organization, including the people . . . . I would start with the head.”Christian Science Monitor

An internal Pentagon report warned that global climate change will soon lead to drought, famine, and widespread warfare as countries begin to fight over scarce water, food, and energy supplies. Climate change, the report argues, “should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.”ObserverHalliburton, the former employer of Vice President Dick Cheney, was running television commercials pleading that its lucrative government contracts in Iraq were granted “because of what we know, not who we know.”New York TimesHaitian rebels took over the city of Cap Haitien.New York TimesIraqi guerrillas were killing sidewalk alcohol vendors, and tenNew York Timespeople died in a suicide attack on an Iraqi police station in Kirkuk.ReutersPakistan was preparing for a spring offensive against the Taliban, whichNew York Timeswas handing out fliers in Afghanistan warning people that they will be killed if they register to vote.New York TimesSeven women signed up for the new Afghan national police force.ReutersRwanda’s prosecutor general said that thousands of genocide suspects would be released from prison if they simply confessed their crimes and begged forgiveness.ReutersThe International Court of Justice began hearing a case against Israel’sWest Bank wall, and aTimes of LondonPalestiniansuicide bomber blew up a bus in Jerusalem, killing 8 people, including two high school seniors.New York TimesPresident Bush appeared on Al Hurra (“the Free One”), his new Middle East Television Network, and said that he is “the first American president to have articulated a Palestinian state.”New York Times

Homosexuals were lining up to get married in San Francisco;New York TimesGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered the California attorney general to put a stop to it, and declared that the city was becoming a “risk to civil order.”San Francisco ChronicleAttorney General Bill Lockyer dismissed the governor’s demand as “a statement designed for consumption at the Republican convention” and said that it was “preposterous,” the kind of exaggerated rhetoric that inspires hate crimes.San Francisco ChronicleA federal judge declined to ban the ceremonies because opponents had failed to show that the weddings were causing “immediate harm,” andNew York TimesKing Norodom Sihanouk said that Cambodianhomosexuals should be permitted to marry.Associated PressGovernor Schwarzenegger said that he would support a constitutional amendment to permit immigrants to become president. “Look at the contribution that people like Henry Kissinger have made, Madeleine Albright.”BBCItalian scientists discovered a new form of mad cow disease that could be the cause of some cases of “sporadic” Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.New York TimesA red-bellied piranha was found dead in a boat moored on the Thames River in England, andNew York TimesHoward Dean ended his presidential candidacy.Associated PressPresident Bush’s dog Spot was put down, andAssociated PressJeffrey K. Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, was indicted for fraud.New York TimesIt was reported that 4,450 Roman Catholic priests have been accused of sexually abusingchildren since 1950.New York TimesThe Lord’s Resistance Army massacred almost 200 people in Uganda.BBCRalph Nader announced that he will run for president as an independent.MSNBCA black hole was observed eating a star, and astronomersSpace.comfound a crystal the size of our moon in the heart of a dying white dwarf.New Scientist

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In February 1947, Harper’s Magazine published Henry L. Stimson’s “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As secretary of war, Stimson had served as the chief military adviser to President Truman, and recommended the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The terms of his unrepentant apologia, an excerpt of which appears on page 35, are now familiar to us: the risk of a dud made a demonstration too risky; the human cost of a land invasion would be too high; nothing short of the bomb’s awesome lethality would compel Japan to surrender. The bomb was the only option. Seventy years later, we find his reasoning unconvincing. Entirely aside from the destruction of the blasts themselves, the decision thrust the world irrevocably into a high-stakes arms race — in which, as Stimson took care to warn, the technology would proliferate, evolve, and quite possibly lead to the end of modern civilization. The first half of that forecast has long since come to pass, and the second feels as plausible as ever. Increasingly, the atmosphere seems to reflect the anxious days of the Cold War, albeit with more juvenile insults and more colorful threats. Terms once consigned to the history books — “madman theory,” “brinkmanship” — have returned to the news cycle with frightening regularity. In the pages that follow, seven writers and experts survey the current nuclear landscape. Our hope is to call attention to the bomb’s ever-present menace and point our way toward a world in which it finally ceases to exist.

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But the exercise of labor is the worker’s own life-activity, the manifestation of his own life. . . . He works in order to live. He does not even reckon labor as part of his life, it is rather a sacrifice of his life.

— Karl Marx

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To look at him, Sweet Macho was a beautiful horse, lean and strong with muscles that twitched beneath his shining black coat. A former racehorse, he carried himself with ceremony, prancing the field behind our house as though it were the winner’s circle. When he approached us that day at the edge of the yard, his eyes shone with what might’ve looked like intelligence but was actually a form of insanity. Not that there was any telling our mother’s boyfriend this — he fancied himself a cowboy.

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What We Think About When We Think About Soccer, by Simon Critchley. Penguin Books. 224 pages. $20.

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