Weekly Review — December 4, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

More than 80 French police officers were injured in clashes with youths firing shotguns in the Paris banlieues.77 Police Officers Hurt in Paris RiotsSarkozy flies back to tackle ‘urban warfare’ in ParisVoters in Venezuela narrowly defeated a referendum on changing their constitution to abolish presidential term limits and vastly increase President Hugo Chavez’s executive powers.Venezuela Votes on Whether to Give Chávez More PowerVenezuela Hands Narrow Defeat to Chávez PlanPresident Pervez Musharraf quit his role as chief of Pakistan’s army.Emotional Musharraf quits as Pakistan army chiefSenator Hillary Clinton praised her campaign staff for “their extraordinary courage and coolness under some very difficult pressures and dangerous situations,” after a man wearing a fake bomb made from road flares took several Clinton staffers hostage in New Hampshire. The hostage-taker, Leeland Eisenberg, had seen an ad spot in which a New Hampshire man said Clinton had helped him get health insurance. “He kept expressing he wanted to get help,” Eisenberg’s stepson explained. “He wasn’t able to get it because he didn’t have insurance, he didn’t have money.”Hostage Situation at Clinton Office in N.H.Family Calls Hostage-Taking an ‘Act of Desperation’The Department of Homeland Security was asking firefighters to look for signs of suspicious activity while putting out fires,Dept of Homeland Security wants Firefighters to look for terrorists while in the line of dutyand Pentagon officials announced that 5,000 U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraq next month.U.S. to reduce Iraq troop levels by 5,000Farmers in Afghanistan were growing fewer poppies and more pot,Afghans turn from growing poppies to potand the child stars of the movie “The Kite Runner” were sent from Kabul to a luxury hotel in the United Arab Emirates after threats were made to their safety. “The best possible outcome,” said a consultant to Paramount, “would be in 20 years to see a ‘Where Are They Now’ piece on VH1.”??Kite Runner?? Boys Are Sent to United Arab EmiratesKhaled Hosseini, the author of the novel on which the film is based and a resident of California, implored the United States not to abandon Afghanistan. Without U.S. support, he wrote, “Afghanistan is doomed.”‘Kite Runner’ author urges US to hang on in Afghanistan

In Khartoum, thousands of Sudanese protesters armed with clubs and knives called for the execution of Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam after she permitted her students to name their class teddy bear “Muhammad”; Gibbons, pardoned by the president of Sudan, was released from jail and fled to England.Thousands in Sudan Call for British Teddy Bear Teacher’s ExecutionA San Diego man was arrested for attempting to purchase black-bear gallbladders,Arrest in bear parts sting and fears of a bear market forced Bear Stearns to lay off 4 percent of its staff.Bear Stearns Announces New Round of Job CutsNorth of the Arctic Circle, the remote and entirely lightless town of Narvik, Norway, was further depressed by its loss of a $64 million investment in the American subprime-mortgage market. U.S. Credit Crisis Adds to Gloom in NorwayFears about the American economy had reportedly slowed sales of recreational vehicles, with the exception of the “biggest, baddest” models, which get seven miles to the gallon, cost up to $1.7 million, and include such amenities as Italian marble floors and a lock with an electronic palm reader.Housing Crisis? Try Mobile McMansionsA 3.3 pound truffle sold for $330,000 at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, London, and Florence. The winning bidder, Macau casino owner Stanley Ho, outbid the British artist Damien Hirst and Sheikh Bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi.Giant truffle sets record priceFood banks across the United States, facing critical shortages, were forced to distribute emergency rations intended for disaster relief,U.S. food banks, in a squeeze, tighten beltsand researchers reported that sophisticated neurological scans reveal anorexic brains to show high levels of activity in the caudate, the region of the brain concerned with outcome and planning.Anorexia visible with brain scans

In Angola, an outbreak of acute neurological syndrome was attributed to high levels of sodium bromide, an industrial chemical, in kitchen salt. Bromide Believed Behind Cacuaco Epidemic A physician and amateur historian from Palo Alto contended that Abraham Lincoln suffered from the rare genetic disease MEN 2B, which he believes was responsible for Lincoln’s great height, lumpy lips, and the early deaths of three of his four sons.Is Lincoln Earliest Recorded Case of Rare Disease?Evel Knievel died,Evel Knievel Dies at 69Rodney King bicycled home after being shot in the face,Rodney King Wounded in Shootingand Susan Bateman, a martial-arts instructor in Virginia, was arrested for kicking an 11-year-old student in the gut more than 200 times as the class counted. Bateman issued a challenge during class to see how many kicks her students could sustain; the boy suffered internal injuries and a broken rib.Martial arts teacher arrested for kicking student 200 timesRome’s traffic and parking chief was fired after he parked his red Alfa Romeo in a no-parking zone and displayed a handicapped permit belonging to an 86-year-old woman.Parking chief fired for illegal parkingA Chilean prostitute auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for a disabled children’s charity, saying that she wanted “to contribute with my work to a purpose that touches me deeply,”Prostitute auctions 27 hours of sex for charityand serial flasher Michael Carney of Fleetham Grove, England, pleaded unsuccessfully that because his penis was “so much smaller than average,” he could not have committed his crimes.Flasher’s ‘inadequacy’ plea failsAstronomers discovered a one-billion-light-year-wide pocket full of nothing in the sky.The Ice-Cream Scoop Taken Out of the Universe

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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.

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

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7 in 10

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Moore’s wife published a letter of support signed by more than 50 pastors, and four of those pastors said they either had never seen the letter or had seen it before Moore was accused of sexual assault and asked to have their names removed.

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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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