Weekly Review — April 1, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered an offensive against the Mahdi Army, a large Shia militia allied with cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, in the oil-rich southern port city of Basra. Senator John McCain called the offensive “a sign of the strength of [Maliki’s] government,” President George W. Bush said it was “a positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation,” and a Pentagon spokesman called it “a by-product of the success of the surge.” The offensive, dubbed the Charge of the Knights, erupted into six days of heavy fighting that spread across southern Iraq and to Sadr City, a Baghdad slum where three million Shia live. After a stern ultimatum failed to bring peace, Maliki offered cash rewards to militiamen who turned in their weapons. Forty Iraqi policemen were reported to have given their weapons for free to Mahdi Army officers.New York Daily NewsTimes UKNYTCSMNYTLATLATWPNYTNYTIraqi officials went to Iran to negotiate directly with al-Sadr, who told his followers to stop fighting if the Iraqi government grants them amnesty. “Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr,” said Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashadani, “proved that he is a good politician.”McClatchyIt was revealed that a 2002 Iraq trip by three antiwar congressmen was paid for by Saddam Hussein’s intelligence agency,NYTWPand that a Miami Beach company supplied U.S. allies in Afghanistan with defective, 40-year-old, Chinese-made bullets; the president of the company, 22-year-old Efraim Diveroli of Miami Beach, has been a defense contractor since he was 18. “I’m basically just working,” Diveroli explained on his MySpace page, “and chilling with my boyz.” NYTMiami HeraldMySpace

American housing prices continued to fall, and financial institutions worldwide, which have lost $295 billion so far, were expected to lose hundreds of billions more.S&PDer SpiegelMcCain asked mortgage lenders to provide voluntary aid to homeowners, recalling that General Motors had offered no-interest car financing after September 11. Senator Hillary Clinton suggested consulting former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. While Clinton conceded that Greenspan helped cause the current crisis, she claimed that he has a “calming influence” on Wall Street. “Don’t ask me why,” she said, “because I never understand what he’s saying.” Senator Barack Obama gave a stirring speech, invoking the history of American finance from Hamilton and Jefferson to the present day, and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. proposed the largest reform of the American financial system since the Great Depression.LATLATNYTWPAttytoodNYTBoston GlobeWPWSJBusinessweek via Der SpiegelNYTWPThe cost of rice increased by 30 percent, raising fears of unrest in rice-eating countries, FTNYTBBCand the village of Roecken, Germany, debated moving Friedrich Nietzsche’s grave in order to extract the coal underneath his remains. Der Spiegel

Nine Americans sued their former employer, defense contractor KBR, for intentionally exposing them to carcinogens,Boston Globeand doctors at the University of Miami at Jackson announced that they had temporarily removed a patient’s stomach, pancreas, spleen, liver, and most of her intestines in order to get at a stubborn tumor. Miami HeraldEuthanasia advocate Jack Kevorkian announced that he was running for Congress,LATand the Pentagon announced that it had accidentally shipped four fuses for nuclear warheads to Taiwan.WPA stray bullet bounced off chef Paul Prudhomme as he set up a cooking tent in New Orleans,.NO Times-Picayune160 square miles of ice broke off the Wilkins Ice Shelf in western Antarctica,WPand thousands of bats in the northeastern United States were exhibiting a mysterious condition known as “white-nose syndrome.”BBCThe director of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, Ron Gillett, was charged with assaulting wolf advocate Lynne Stone.Idaho StatesmanA park in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Hillary Clinton once promised a group of children that a Catholic-Protestant playground would be built, remained windswept and empty. “She was in charge of christening this wee corner as some kind of peace playground,” said Belfast political analyst Brian Feeney. “It never made any sense then, and there’s nothing there today.” AP via Boston GlobeIsrael “Cachao” Lopez, one of the inventors of the mambo, died. At his funeral, as an orchestra performed his Afro-Cuban “Misa de Mambo,” a statue of Cuba’s patron saint appeared to be swaying to the beat. Miami Herald

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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.

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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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