Weekly Review — February 8, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Twisted Creature]

George Bush delivered his State of the Union address.CNNHe said the country was “confident and strong,”CNNthen announced he would reduce or eliminate 150 government programs.The New York TimesHe called Social Security “a symbol of the trust between generations,” then discussed proposals for the reduction of its benefits and an increase in the retirement age.The New York TimesHe suggested that his tax cuts be enshrined in perpetuityThe New York Timesand that “the spending appetite” of the federal government should be restrained.CNNHe said he would “confront” Middle Eastern nations in the name of peace,CNNbut insisted the United States had “no right, no desire, and no intention to impose our form of government on anyone else.”BBC NewsBush described marriage as “a sacred institution and the foundation of society,”BBC Newsbut he failed to mention the mayor of New Paltz, New York, who stands accused of 27 counts of marrying gay people.NewsdayAlberto Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general, and Senator Arlen Specter described him as a man who had made it “up from the bootstraps without even boots.” Another senator dismissed accusations of Gonzales’s condoning torture as “exaggerated.”New York TimesThe King of Nepal said he was a proponent of multiparty democracy, then fired the government, sent troops to the house of the Prime Minister, and assumed direct ruling authority.The New York TimesCambodian opposition leaders were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and fled the country.BBC NewsJohn Kerry claimed that Osama bin Laden cost him the presidential election,The New York Timesand Howard Dean admitted that he hates Republicans.The Rush Limbaugh ShowThe New York TimesShiites claimed victory in the Iraqi election,The Los Angeles Timesthe Association of Sunni Scholars declared the vote illegitimate,The New York Timesand election officials confirmed that although Saddam Hussein was eligible to vote, he didn’t.Jerusalem PostIraq‘s president called the notion of a U.S. troop withdrawal “complete nonsense,”The Guardianand President Bush said that U.S. soldiers were “unrelenting in battle, unwavering in loyalty, unmatched in honor and decency, and every day they are making our nation more secure.”CNNHe also put the value of their death in combat at about $100,000.The Detroit Free Press

Condoleezza Rice insisted that attacking Iran was not on the U.S. agenda “at this point.”In ForumIsraeli and Palestinian leaders agreed to attend a peace summit in Egypt,CBC Newsand Hamas threatened “all-out martyrdom attacks” if raids and killings in the occupied territories did not stop.The GuardianDarfur’s violence and mass killings failed to qualify as genocide, according to a U.N. commission,The New York Timesand South Korea downgraded North Korea from “main enemy” to “military threat.”BBC NewsThe Irish Republican Army denied that it robbed banks, then said that it was no longer interested in disarming.SFGate.comSecretary of Homeland Security nominee Michael Chertoff said the government could not “protect everything, everywhere, every time,” and that he needed a staff member who “really understands computers.”Govexec.comScientists determined that sunlight helps fight cancer,The Australianthat barbecue causes it,SFGate.comthat overweight people have a stronger biological need to sit than others do, andRocklin And Roseville Todaythat rats are responsible beer drinkers.University of Florida NewsPicking up women was outlawed in Costa Rica.AnanovaThe telecommunications industry had merger fever,Forbesand the Pope caught the flu and was hospitalized.The New York TimesCable provider Adelphia entered the age of pornography,CNN Moneyand the Nashville police paid informants $120,000 to have sexual encounters with prostitutes.New York TimesConvicted murderer Michael Ross withdrew his offer to “volunteer” to allow Connecticut to execute him,Newsdayand a man and woman were arrested for beating, chaining, starving, and pulling out the fingernails of five children.ReutersLaura Bush explained that she likes fashion because it’s fun.The New York TimesSgt. Javal Davis, a former Abu Ghraib prison guard, pled guilty to charges of battery and dereliction of duty,The New York Timestwo Britishterrorism detainees chose to remain in prison rather than accept house arrest,The Guardianand a U.S. judge ruled that foreigners held in Guantnamo Bay had the right to challenge their detainment.The ScotsmanDonald Rumsfeld had a clear conscience.BBC News

Evolution was not being taught in many U.S. high schools,The New York Timesand teenagers in Texas were having more sex, a survey found.ReutersInvesting in Google was a good move.Newsfactor.comInvesting in Russian oil companies was not.The Financial TimesThirty-year-old actor Leonardo DiCaprio accepted a lifetime achievement award,Elitestv.comand rapper Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus was accused of sexual assault.Yahoo.comA Marine general described the pleasures of shooting Afghan men,NBC San Diegoand a gas leak killed the prime minister of Georgia.CBC NewsGood relations with Halliburton were more important to the U.S. Army than $2 billion in disputed bills.The New York TimesMalaysia’s Home Ministry gave illegal immigrants one last chance to leave the country before being whipped,BBC Newsand scientists learned that birds are not dumb.The International Herald TribuneSweden was considering raising taxes.The Financial TimesReporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward sold their Watergate reporting notes for $5 million,Reutersand a report showed that the former head of the New York Stock Exchange paid his personal assistant $240,000 a year.The Daily NewsThe founder of Habitat For Humanity was fired for sexual harassment,SFGate.comRichard “Kinky” Friedman announced he would run for governor of Texas,Local News Headlinesand the selection of a jury of Michael Jackson’s peers began.ReutersFrozen urine dropped from the sky in Scotland.The Daily Record

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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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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.

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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.

Begin, as Wallace Stevens didn’t quite say, with the idea of it. I so like the idea of Simon Critchley, whose books offer philosophical takes on a variety of subjects: Stevens, David Bowie, suicide, humor, and now football — or soccer, as the US edition has it. (As a matter of principle I shall refer to this sport throughout as football.) “All of us are mysteriously affected by our names,” decides one of Milan Kundera’s characters in Immortality, and I like Critchley because his name would seem to have put him at a vocational disadvantage compared with Martin Heidegger, Søren Kierkegaard, or even, in the Anglophone world, A. J. Ayer or Richard Rorty. (How different philosophy might look today if someone called Nobby Stiles had been appointed as the Wykeham Professor of Logic.)

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Chance that a teenager in a New York City jail has a history of traumatic brain injury:

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Altruistic children tend to be healthier but from poorer families.

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