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

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Senator Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, proposed eliminating the CIA, removing the National Security Agency from the Pentagon’s control, and creating three new spy agencies governed by a national intelligence director.New York TimesThe American Civil Liberties Union warned that the federal government has been using corporations to carry out surveillance of citizens because private firms are not subject to many privacy and civil-liberties laws.WiredSenator Ted Kennedy confirmed that he had been placed on the federal “no-fly” list designed to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.ReutersOil prices rose above $49.Agence France-PresseThe U.S. Army announced that it will withhold 15 percent of the fees billed by the Halliburton Company but almost immediately decided to “withhold” the decision pending further review.New York TimesPresident Bush was concerned about the “Soviet dinar,” andAgence France-PressePresident Silvio Berlusconi of Italy underwent a hair transplant.TelegraphGerman men were being admonished to pee sitting down by a gadget called the WC ghost; when the device detects a lifted toilet seat, it says, in German: “Hey, stand peeing (“Stehpinkeln”) is not allowed here and will be punished with fines, so if you don’t want any trouble, you’d best sit down.” It was reported that the term for a man who pees sitting down, “Sitzpinkler,” is a synonym for “wimp.”Telegraph

A bioethicist writing in The Lancet called for an investigation into the role of doctors and nurses in the torture program that was exposed at Abu Ghraib; he cited evidence that doctors or medics covered up the abuse by falsifying death certificates and actively participated by reviving unconscious prisoners.Associated PressTwenty-seven inmates of the county jail in Clearwater, Florida, who were released so that they could flee Hurricane Charley were still at large; 256 inmates were let out of jail but most returned in four days as instructed.WTSP TampaThere was a prison uprising in Olmito, Texas.Associated PressMoktada al-Sadr refused to disarm the Mahdi Army,Washington Postbombs went off at United Nations voter registration offices in Afghanistan, andAssociated PressKathmandu was being blockaded by Maoist rebels.Associated PressAn audit by international observers confirmed that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez fairly won the referendum on his rule.ReutersA 57-year-old partially deaf Texan veteran with skin cancer was called up to report for active duty.The MonitorThe Sierra Club released a report denouncing the Bush Administration for lying about the risks posed by the smoke and dust in lower Manhattan after 9/11; the EPA was aware of the risks, from asbestos, concrete dust, glass fibers, and other substances, by September 27 but continued to claim that the air was safe.NewsdayJohn Kerry’s war record continued to excite controversy.Washington PostPresident Bush said that he opposes “legacy” admissions to colleges and universities, andAssociated Pressan Australian drunk ate a cup of maggots, a pint of anchovies, drank a pint of mouthwash, and chewed off a mouse’s tail in a pub competition.BBCPeople were still starving in North Korea.BBC

A British scientist warned that a gigantic section of La Palma island in the Canaries is poised to fall into the ocean, an event that would trigger “mega-tsunamis” 50 to 100 meters high that will crash into Africa’s west coast, the Caribbean, and the eastern United States.GuardianTwenty people were stuck on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park after a power outage; eight people were stuck upside down.CBS 2 New YorkDemographers said that Japan’s population could decline 20 percent by 2050.CNNA 105-pound woman in Kennebunk, Maine, ate 38 lobsters (9.76 pounds of meat) in 12 minutes and won the World Lobster Eating Contest.Associated PressA new survey found that about 10 percent of the world’s food crops are irrigated with sewage.New ScientistChildren living next to gas stations, a French study found, are four times more likely to develop leukemia.New ScientistKorean researchers found that leukemia deaths are 70 percent higher among people who live near AM radio broadcasting towers.WiredA new report concluded that deaths from brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease have tripled in the last 20 years.GuardianEdvard Munch’s The Scream was stolen by armed robbers from a crowded museum in Oslo, Norway.ReutersThe European Environment Agency said that winters on the continent could disappear by 2080.ReutersScience labs were experiencing a monkey shortage.New ScientistHippos were dying in Uganda.Agence France-Presse

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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.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
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The Ambassador Bridge arcs over the Detroit River, connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, the southernmost city in Canada. Driving in from the Canadian side, where I grew up, is like viewing a panorama of the Motor City’s rise and fall, visible on either side of the bridge’s turquoise steel stanchions. On the right are the tubular glass towers of the Renaissance Center, headquarters of General Motors, and Michigan Central Station, the rail terminal that closed in 1988. On the left is a rusted industrial corridor — fuel tanks, docks, abandoned warehouses. I have taken this route all my life, but one morning this spring, I crossed for the first time in a truck.

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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

Photograph from the United Arab Emirates by the author. This page: Ruwais Mall
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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.

“Horse 1,” by Nine Francois. Courtesy the artist and AgavePrint, Austin, Texas
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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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7 in 10

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