Weekly Review — July 6, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

In a furtive ceremony held two days ahead of schedule in order to pre-empt violence, the United States transferred “sovereignty” to Iraq. About 140,000 American troops remained in the country, with no mechanism in place between the two countries to govern the troops, and 150 Americans stayed on in Iraqi ministries as advisers.New York TimesOf the 2,300 construction projects promised by coalition forces, fewer than 140 were underway at the time of the transfer of power.New York TimesOutgoing proconsul L. Paul Bremer warned that Iraq’s path to democracy would be messy, and noted, “It wasn’t very pretty around here either between 1776 and 1787.”SalonIn response to a note from Condoleezza Rice announcing Iraq’s new status, President Bush wrote: “Let Freedom Reign!”New York TimesThree days later, insurgents fired rockets from a bus and a pickup truck that hit two central Baghdad hotels, and a mortar attack on a military base near the city’s airport wounded eleven U.S. soldiers.ReutersCourt proceedings began at “Camp Victory,” the American base near Baghdad, against Saddam Hussein, who identified himself as the current president of Iraq, and eleven members of his administration. “You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election,” Hussein observed. He was read criminal charges covering thirty years, including the 1988 gassing of Kurds in Halabja, which he recalled hearing about “on the radio.” The U.S. said that Hussein had not provided any useful information while in custody, though he explained that he had his army invade Kuwait in 1990 to keep them busy.New York TimesObserving that “a state of war is not a blank check for the president,” the Supreme Court ruled that both foreign prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay and so-called enemy combatants held in the United States can use the American legal system to challenge their detention.New York TimesFour American soldiers were charged with fatally pushing an Iraqi off a bridge in January for breaking a curfew.New York TimesScientists found that the sneakiest primates have the biggest brains.New ScientistPresident Bush’s approval rating fell to its lowest point, 42 percent.New York Times

In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters killed fourteen unarmed men for registering to vote.New York TimesPresident Hamid Karzai begged NATO to send security troops to the country, and to “please hurry” in advance of September elections, but his request was rejected.New York TimesMore than 2,100 Florida residents were found to be wrongly included on a list of ineligible voters.Miami HeraldNine members of the House of Representatives asked the United Nations to monitor the November elections, andAgence France Pressetwo conservative groups were caught illegally promoting Ralph Nader’s presidential candidacy in Oregon.CNNThe Bush-Cheney campaign asked church-going volunteers to provide church membership directories to state campaign committees, raising questions about whether the directive violates the separation between church and state.ReutersA Mexican farmer upset about not getting his party’s nomination to run for the state legislature put on a crown of thorns and nailed himself to a wooden cross outside the state’s electoral office.Local6news.comWhile in Turkey for the NATO summit, President Bush met with religious leaders and thanked them “for being so faithful to the Almighty God.”New York TimesThe pope expressed outrage over the sacking of Constantinople by Christian crusaders in 1204.BBCThe FDA approved the use of blood-sucking leeches for medicinal purposes.ReutersLonely people were buying robotic fireflies.Wireless Flash

Hillary Clinton promised that if John Kerry wins the election, Bush’s tax cuts will be eliminated: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”Associated PressThe Supreme Court ruled that a federal law designed to shield children from Internet porn cannot be enforced, because it likely violates the First Amendment.Associated PressAmerican military officers were worrying that promotional cans of Coca-Cola including cell phones and global positioning chips could be used to eavesdrop on classified meetings.YahooThe Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn and transmitted the first pictures of the icy rings circling the planet, andNew York Timesthe Hubble Space Telescope discovered a hundred new planets orbiting stars in the Milky Way.BBCChiquita was busy engineering bananas that taste like different fruits.BBCThe French government reported that the number of cows infected with mad cow disease in the past thirteen years is 300 times higher than previously suspected, with nearly 50,000 infected animals entering the food chain because the epidemic had gone undetected.TelegraphA 132-pound Japanese man ate 53 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. “I think he has proven, once again, that he is one of the finest athletes of any sport in the world,” concluded a spokesman.WNBC.comA dead woman was suing the late Dr. Robert Atkins for giving her inadequate cancer-treatment advice.New York Daily NewsLittle boys in Utah were selling lemonade for $250 a glass to offset a potential $14 million judgment against the Boy Scouts for starting a wildfire.Associated PressExperts warned that witches’ broom disease and frosty pod disease could devastate chocolate supplies in coming years, andNews.scotsman.comfemale rice farmers in Nepal were plowing their fields in the nude to please the rain god.Associated PressColin Powell sang and danced to “YMCA” for foreign ministers at a conference on Asian-Pacific security.Associated PressA Hindu ascetic was busy rolling his way 800 miles from India to Pakistan to promote world peace.Los Angeles Times

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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.

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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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