Weekly Review — March 7, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker]

More than 100 people were killed in fighting in Iraq. “I think,” said the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, “the country came to the brink of civil war. But Iraqis decided that they didn’t want to go down that path.”The New York TimesThe New York TimesIn the Baghdad area, Sunni militants were evicting Shiites from their homes. “We want you out of here by 8 p.m. tomorrow,” one man was told. “If we find you here, we will kill you.”The Washington PostPresident George W. Bush said that Iraq’s choice was between “chaos or unity,”The New York Timesand it was reported that the White House had ignored repeated warnings about the growing capabilities of the Iraqi insurgency. “This was stuff,” said a former high-ranking intelligence official, “the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear.”The U.S. State Department asked for $100 million for the reconstruction of Iraqiprisons.Democracy Now!Saddam Hussein told a court that, after a 1982 attempt to assassinate him failed in Dujail, north of Baghdad, he ordered trials for 148 Iraqis and had the local orchards razed. Hussein insisted that his actions were lawful; all of those tried were later executed or tortured to death.The Washington PostOnly 75 psychiatrists remained in Iraq.Democracy Now!In Pakistan, four people, including a U.S. diplomat, were killed in a suicide bombing.The New York TimesThe European Union approved a $140 million aid package for Palestine.BBC NewsIn France far-right groups were criticized for serving pork soup to the poor with the intent of discriminating against observant Muslims and Jews. “We are all pig eaters!” chanted a crowd of soup activists. “We are all pig eaters!”The New York TimesAn Italian commission found that the Soviet Union organized the shooting of Pope John Paul II in 1981.A videotape emerged showing President Bush being warned that Hurricane Katrina could flood New Orleans,AP via Yahoo! Newsand it was revealed that the Bush Administration had lowered the fines for mine safety violations and failed to collect nearly one half of the fines levied.The New York TimesPresident Bush’s approval rating fell to 34 percent,CBS Newsand Vice President Dick Cheney’s approval rating fell to 18 percent.CBS NewsBush proposed legislation to give the President a line-item veto, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that a line-item veto was unconstitutional, The New York Timesand it was rumored that Cheney would retire in 2007.Insight on the News

A physicist at Mahatma Gandhi University in Kottayam, India, speculated that the “red rain” that fell in the Kerala district of western India in 2001 was filled with extraterrestrial, bacteria-like material from a passing comet.The GuardianPresident Bush, after a brief stop in Afghanistan, visited India, where he was met by 100,000 protesters in New Delhi; he promised to provide India with nuclear fuel and expertise.Democracy Now!CNN.comAt least 65 dogs in the President’s security detail were put up at a five-star hotel in New Delhi; hotel staff were told to address the dogs as “sergeant” or “major.”New KeralaLaura Bush counted to five on Indian children’s TV. “She loved Boombah,” said an official from a television studio, “the giant, cuddly, Punjabi-rapping lion.”Express IndiaCondoleezza Rice appeared on television lifting weights and stretching at the gym. “You’d be surprised,” she said, “how many places around the world have gyms or exercise machines.”NBC News via WonketteIt was reported that U.S. prisons often shackle women prisoners during childbirth,The New York Daily Newsand a study found that laws requiring minors to obtain parental consent before receiving an abortion have had almost no effect on the number of abortions performed. “I would have told my mother anyway,” said a 16-year-old abortionee in Pennsylvania.The New York TimesWal-Mart announced that it would begin to sell the morning-after pill, but would not require pharmacists to fill prescriptions if the pill offends them.The New York TimesIn Vietnam musician Paul Gadd, also known as Gary Glitter, was found guilty of sexually abusing two preteen girls. He will be jailed for three years and must pay the girls’ families 5 million dong.BBC News

AT&T announced that it would purchase Bell South for $67 billion and eliminate 10,000 jobs.The New York TimesA cat died of bird flu in Germany. The New York TimesScientists, some funded by the U.S. military, continued their research into controlling the brains of monkeys and sharks. “We believe,” said a researcher at the University of Washington, Seattle, “we are the first to record neural activity from a monkey doing a somersault.”New ScientistResearchers in Chicago verified that a quantum computer does not have to perform any calculations in order to arrive at results. Science NewsA Rhode Island man who attempted to pay down a large balance on his JCPenney charge card was told that the payment would be delayed because it first had to be approved by Homeland Security.The Providence JournalThe Senate renewed the Patriot Act and sent it to the House; the House is expected to pass the legislation soon.MSNBCFormer U.S. Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham was sentenced to eight years, four months in federal prison for accepting bribes,CNN.comand the Pentagon released the names of the inmates at Guantánamo Bay as part of 5,000 pages of hearing transcripts; one man, Abdur Sayed Rahman, a Pakistani chicken farmer, was apparently held because his name was similar to that of Taliban deputy minister Abdur Zahid Rahman.ABC NewsThe Kenyan government raided a newspaper that had been critical of government corruption, along with an affiliated TV station. “If you rattle a snake,” said Internal Security Minister John Michuki, “you must be prepared to be bitten by it.”BBC NewsIn Columbus, Ohio, a 54-year-old man was in jail after being caught hiding in bathrooms to collect the urine of adolescent boys. “I’m drinking their youth,” he explained.WJACTV.comThe White House announced that it would step up its efforts to control leaks.The Washington PostAuthor Octavia Butler died,The Los Angeles Timesand a Britishastronomer named Gerry Gilmore predicted that ground-based telescopes would be useless within 40 years because of climate change and jet contrails. “You either give up your cheap trips to Majorca,” he said, “or you give up astronomy.”BBC NewsIn Nassau County, New York, a newborn baby was run over by several different vehicles; its sex and race could not be determined.The New York TimesGlobal warming forced the organizers of Alaska’s Iditarod dogsledrace to move the race 30 miles north,Reutersand investigators found that termites had survived the flooding of New Orleans.Reuters via Yahoo! News

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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.

— Karl Marx

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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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