Weekly Review — January 24, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

In Iraq 30 people were killed at makeshift checkpoints, 22 people died in suicide bombings, 9 people were killed in an ambush, 5 bodies were found in the Qaid River, 4 children were killed by rocket-propelled grenades, and 2 American civilians were killed in a roadside bombing. Suicide bombings killed at least 22 people in Afghanistan and injured 30 people in Tel Aviv.Democracy Now!The Boston GlobeCRI OnlineSign On San Diego.comOsama bin Laden released a tape in which he warned of new attacks on the United States and offered a truce. “Your president,” said bin Laden, “is misinterpreting public opinion polls which show that the vast majority of you support the withdrawal of your forces from Iraq.” Bin Laden also encouraged Americans to read the book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower by William Blum. Bin Laden’s deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri released his own tape and recited a poem called “Tears in the Eyes of Time.”BBC NewsThe ScotsmanCNN.comIt was reported that Iraqi militants had developed an “Aerial Improvised Explosive Device” that could blow up helicopters.Al JazeeraThe U.S. Army raised its maximum enlistment age to 39,Democracy Now!and the U.S. State Department said that there was a very high chance that terrorists would attack the United States with weapons of mass destruction.CNN.comAmerica celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Al Gore compared the FBI’s spying on King to the Bush Administration’s authorizing spying on American citizens,The Raw Story.and New YorkSenatorHillary Clinton said that Republicans were running the House of Representatives “like a plantation.” Republicans disagreed with Clinton, and Al Sharpton complained that she was stealing his material.The Duluth News TribuneNew Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said that the rebuilt New Orleans “will be chocolate at the end of the day.” He clarified: “You take dark chocolate, you mix it with white milk, and it becomes a delicious drink. That is the chocolate I am talking about.” One New Orleans resident said that Nagin “used the wrong dairy product.”CNN.comThree thousand two hundred people were still missing in New Orleans.Democracy Now!Google refused to comply with a Bush Administration subpoena demanding the records for a week’s worth of search queries. Yahoo! and Microsoft, however, complied fully, while America Online said it had complied partially.The New York TimesThe White House refused to provide any details of meetings between Bush Administration staff and lobbyist Jack Abramoff. “We are not,” said White House spokesman Scott McLellan, “going to engage in a fishing expedition.”Democracy Now!

Two more miners died in West Virginia.Democracy Now!Japan blocked imports of American beef after a spine was discovered in a shipment from a U.S. meatpacker.IHT.comRussia accused the U.K. of spying in Moscow, and offered a data-transmitting fake spy rock as evidence.BBC NewsCaliforniaexecuted 76-year-old, blind, wheelchair-bound, mostly deaf, diabetic Clarence Ray Allen. “It’s a good day to die,” said Allen via a statement.APIn Chile socialist and former political prisoner Michelle Bachelet was elected president; she will be the first woman to lead Chile.CBC.caBolivia swore in Evo Morales as its first indigenous president. “From 500 years of resistance,” said Morales, “we pass to another 500 years in power.”Democracy Now!In Mombasa, Kenya, a young hippo named Owen and a 130-year-old tortoise named Mzee celebrated a year of friendship,Yahoo! Newsand in Tokyo a hamster named Gohan (“snack”) and a rat snake were still friends after two years.BBC NewsNigeria planned to make it a crime, punishable by five years in jail, to participate in or officiate at a same-sex marriage.BBC NewsA two-year, $939,233 study commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department found that inmates who claim to have been raped in prison are usually lying. In prison, the study explained, sexual pressure is not seen as coercion; rather, “sexual pressure ushers, guides, or shepherds the process of sexual awakening.”Chron.comA man in Australia escaped from prison by losing enough weight to slip through a hole.BBC NewsThere was a shortage of women in India, possibly due to endemic female feticide; as a result, women can cost up to $136 each or more.The Toronto Star

It was cold in Russia. People were smearing goose fat on their bodies to stop frostbite, and near Moscow zookeepers fed an Indian elephant a bucket of vodka to keep it warm; the elephant then went on a rampage, tore radiators from a wall, and calmed down only after it was given a hot shower.HindustanTimes.comThe Toronto StarScientists in London found more evidence of a link between the parasite Toxoplasma gondii in cat feces and the development of schizophrenia in rats.Imperial College LondonIn San Jose, California, Anna Ayala, who planted a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy’s chili, was sentenced to nine years in prison. Her husband, Jaime Plascencia, who obtained the finger from a co-worker, was given more than twelve years.Wendy’s chili-finger couple sentenced to prisonIt was reported that several of the Guantánamo Bay hunger strikers had started to eat again, while other reports indicated that 30 of the hunger strikers were close to death.ReutersAfterDowningStreet.orgThe U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Oregon law allowing for physician-assisted suicide.CBC.caGreenpeace dumped a 55-foot fin whale in front of the Japanese Embassy in Berlin,Fox Newsand in London a northern bottlenosed whale swam up the Thames, sparking a massive rescue effort before the whale died.BBC NewsIn El Paso, Texas, a mechanic was sucked into a jet engine. “It doesn’t happen very often,” said a Boeing spokeswoman.CNN.comAstronomers in West Virginia discovered a superbubble,SFGate.coma man in Sweden was in trouble for eating his foster sisters,BBC Newsand the Frenchface-transplant patient was smoking through her recently grafted-on lips.MSNBC

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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.)

Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Factor by which single Americans who use emoji are more likely than other single Americans to be sexually active:

1.85

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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