Weekly Review — October 14, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The world economy continued its collapse. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 22 percent over eight days, Wall Street lost $2.4 trillion in market value, and Iceland went bankrupt.CNNBusiness WeekThe head of the International Monetary Fund warned that the world was on the “brink of systemic meltdown,”BBCand Democrats in Congress called for a $150 billion economic stimulus plan to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.Yahoo! NewsBarack Obama called for firms that create jobs to be rewarded with tax credits and for a moratorium on foreclosures;AFPJohn McCain refused to answer questions about his economic plan, but was reportedly considering a cut in the capital gains tax.AP“I’m not sure anyone is FDR this time,” said one historian of Wall Street. “I don’t think either candidate has a clue what they’re dealing with here.”BloombergGeneral Motors was talking to Chrysler about a merger,The New York Timesand a yachtmaker in Snohomish, Washington, announced it would lay off 780 employees and close its doors.Komonews.comThe Britishfuneral-services industry faced a backlog of hundreds of corpses as undertakers, unable to obtain credit, refused to perform burials for the poor until the government guarantees reimbursements.The Daily MailBritain,France, Germany, and other European nations agreed to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to guarantee loans and to prop up banks, leading to a 936-point rally in the Dow,Europe Pledges Billions for Banks and the big counter in New York City that tracks the national debt ran out of digits.AP

A draft U.S. National Intelligence Estimate reported that the government of Afghanistan, plagued by corruption and at war with a resurgent Taliban, is in a “downward spiral.”The New York TimesU.S. National Park officials in Arizona, hoping to track poachers, planned to embed security microchips into saguaro cacti,The Scotsmanand Australian police tasered a ram that was blocking traffic.News.com.auAlaskan lawmakers issued a report concluding that Governor Sarah Palin broke state ethics laws when she sought to have her ex-brother-in law, a state trooper, fired from his post. Palin announced that the report cleared her of any “legal wrongdoing or unethical activity,” even though it did not.CBS NewsMost Alaskanglaciers were retreating,Science Dailyand in Nova Scotia a moose fell to its death from a helicopter sling.CBCAbsentee ballots in Rensselaer County, New York, listed “Barack Osama” as a presidential candidate,Albany Times Unionand researchers in Ohio, where polls show Obama with a seven-point lead over McCain, said that narcissists are more likely to seek–and to be granted–authority over others. “They are usually charming and extroverted,” explained a psychologist. “But the problem is, they don’t necessarily make better leaders.”Science DailyBloomberg News via Yahoo!People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a statement to protest the annual Festival Gastronomico del Gato in Canete, Peru, during which people eat catburgers to ward off bronchial disease,The Sunand bathers along India’s Great Kali River were being eaten by giant goonches.The Sun

The United States removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after the nation agreed to provide UN inspectors full access to its nuclear program.BBC NewsConnecticut legalized gay marriage,The Washington PostAustrian politician Joerg Haider (who once praised the Third Reich for its “orderly employment policy”) died in a car crash,CNNand a Kansas man who attained notoriety because his girlfriend lived in their bathroom for two years and became stuck to a toilet seat won $20,000 in the state lottery for the second time.AP via SFGate.comMatani, a three-year-old Nepalese girl with thighs like a deer and a neck like a conch shell, a member of the Shakya goldsmith caste, was named as the “kumari,” or incarnation of the goddess Taleju, after spending a night alone with the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes. She will wear red, and pin up her hair, and devotees will touch her feet with their foreheads, and upon menarche she will retire and then likely be spurned by all potential suitors, for the man who marries a former kumari dies young. “I feel a bit sad,” said her father, “but since my child has become a living goddess, I feel proud.”CNNThe number of dead zones in the oceans was rising by 5 percent each year,Reutersand California farmers facing severe drought were increasingly dependent on dowsers, or “water witches,” to identify the best spots for drilling wells.The New York TimesJoey Chestnut ate 45 slices of pizza in ten minutes in Times Square,CNNPaddington Bear turned 50,The Independentand Nobel Prizes were awarded to former president of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, and American economist Paul Krugman. “To be absolutely, totally honest,” said Krugman, “I thought this day might come someday.”CNNThe New York TimesThe New York Times

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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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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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