Weekly Review — January 10, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

More than 170 people died in attacks in Iraq. They were: blown up at a Shiite shrine in Karbala; killed at a police recruiting center in Ramadi; and attacked with mortar, automatic weapons, and finally by a suicide bomber at a funeral near Baquba.BBC NewsBBC NewsTwelve U.S. soldiers were believed to have been killed when an Army helicopter crashed in northern Iraq,The New York Timesand a U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad, intended to destroy a shelter for insurgents, killed a civilian family of 12.Washington PostThe FAA took steps to lower the risk of spaceterrorism.BBC NewsA suicide bombing in Afghanistan killed ten people,Reutersa landslide in Java killed at least 14 people,BBC Newsand the 12 men trapped in a mine in West Virginia were reported alive; all but one of them, however, were actually found dead.ABC NewsLobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy and fraud charges. The offices of thirty-six U.S. lawmakers, including Tom DeLay, Roy Blunt, Eric Cantor, and President George W. Bush announced that they would return money linked to Abramoff. “You can’t have a corrupt lobbyist,” explained Newt Gingrich, “unless you have a corrupt member.” DeLay also insisted that he was an ethical person and announced that he would permanently step down as House Majority Leader.CNN.com11Alive.comIt was reported that Ariel Sharon’s family had been given $3 million in bribes,BBC Newsand British MP George Galloway announced that he would be appearing on the reality TV show “Big Brother.”ReutersA policeman in Florida tasered a bear.SFGate.com

In Oklahoma City an anti-gay activist Baptist pastor and member of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee was arrested after he propositioned a male undercover policeman for sex.Newsday.comThree Christian ministers claimed that they had sneaked into a Senate hearing room to anoint with oil the chairs used during Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court confirmation.Salon.comLou Rawls died,The New York Timesas did Yao Wenyuan, the final surviving member of the Gang of Four,BBC Newsand Hugh Thompson Jr., who rescued Vietnamese civilians from U.S. G.I.s during the My Lai massacre.APIn San Francisco an air passenger was arrested for having the words “suicide bomber” in his journal; it turned out that the words referred to the name of a band or a song.ReutersPetobesity was on the rise in Britain,Reutersand it was reported that street vendors in Shanghai were secretly replacing mutton with cat meat.ReutersA man in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, caught a mouse and threw it into a pile of burning leaves; the mouse, on fire, ran back into the man’s house, which then burned down.BBC NewsA woman in Vancouver, British Columbia, pleaded guilty to poisoning the trees in front of her condominium to improve her view of the ocean.Reuters

A 76-year-old performance artist was in trouble for chipping Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” a urinal valued at $3.6 million, with a hammer. In 1993 the same performance artist was arrested for urinating into the artwork.APThirty-eight thousand people were dying each month in Congo, mostly from treatable diseases,News 24and Nigeria decided to halve its prison population by freeing prisoners with terminal illnesses.The Jamaica ObserverA building collapsed in Mecca, killing 76 people.Forbes.comThe Hajj began,CNN.comand Ariel Sharon had another stroke. Pat Robertson blamed Sharon’s poor health on God. Sharon later began to move his right hand,YNetNews.comCNN.comABC Newsand oil rose to $64 a barrel.ReutersAn earthquake struck Greece.CNN.comAn Australian woman died after three sharks attacked her,BBC Newsand a fuel truck in Boise, Idaho, ran into a jet.SeattlePI.comIt was reported that author James Frey’s best-selling memoir was heavily fictionalized, and that author J.T. Leroy was being played in public by a woman named Savannah Knoop.The Smoking GunNY TimesAn artist in California went to an abandoned mine shaft in a desert and bound his feet together with a long chain and a lock in order to sketch a self-portrait. He lost the key, however, and was forced to hop for 12 hours to get help.Boston.comThe New Orleanspuppy population was out of control.IndyStar.comTwo teenagers in Turkey died of bird flu,BBC NewsDick Cheney was retaining fluids,BBC Newsand a 2,300-year-old Irish corpse was found to be wearing hair gel imported from France.Reuters

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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.

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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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