Weekly Review — January 27, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States.NY TimesIn his inaugural remarks, President Obama attributed many of the nation’s problems to a “collective failure to make hard choices.” “Starting today,” he said, “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” NY TimesFormer vice president Dick Cheney attended the inauguration in a wheelchair,NY TimesSenator Edward Kennedy had a seizure,CNNAretha Franklin’s voice cracked,CNNand Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill performed with the aid of a backing track.MSNBC.comBoxing promoter Don King said that of all biblical figures, Barack Obama reminded him most of Joshua. “I would say that he would be Joshua going across to the Promised Land,” said King. “Martin Luther King Jr. went to the mountaintop like Moses, and he said, ‘I might not get there with you, but I can see the Promised Land.’ …Joshua carried them across. Martin Luther King, Jr. was prevented from going into the Promised Land.”CNS News via DrudgeIranian newspaper Jam-e-Jam said that the American people had shown “their true feelings” by electing Barack Obama,LA Timesand in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez said Obama smelled like George W. Bush, who, according to his press secretary, Dana Perino, began the day of the inauguration in a good mood. “He gave me a big kiss on the forehead,” she said. Washington PostNY TimesBush Administration loyalists were struggling to find jobs. Washington Post

Upon taking office, Obama ordered all secret U.S. prisons closed immediately, and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay closed within a year; he stopped the torture of American prisoners; granted access to all U.S. detainees to the International Red Cross; ended the practice by which detainees could be sent to countries where they might be tortured; froze the salaries of all White House officials making more than $100,000; ordered all government agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” regarding Freedom of Information Act requests; ordered all administration appointees to take an ethics pledge; ended a government ban on funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad; and revoked Executive Order 13233, which placed limits on public access to the records of former presidents.Whitehouse.gov and NY TimesHamas declared victory in its war with Israel,BBC Newsand Israel reserved the right to blow up Palestinian smuggling tunnels.Hurriyet Daily NewsIn Algeria, the Black Death swept through a suspected Al Qaeda training camp, killing at least forty people,The Suncholera spread to the Zimbabwean countryside,BBC Newsand Vietnam’s news, television, and film industries were suffering from “brain drain.”Vietnam NewsTwo men were sentenced to death in Shijiazhuang, China, for their role in the production of tainted milk that killed six babies,International Herald Tribuneand five Americans died from eating salmonella-tainted peanut butter,WSJ via google newsthough sales remained strong. “Had it this morning,” said a Minneapolis man.Miinneapolis Star-TribuneMexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought seventeen percent of the New York Times,Yahoo News via Drudgea former KGB agent bought Britain’sEvening Standard,Reuters via Google Newsand Courtney Love accused “a handful of Jew loan officers” and “Jew private banks” of stealing from Kurt Cobain.The Superficial via NerveIn Thailand, more than 100 Burmese asylum seekers were missing and presumed dead after being put to sea by the Thai military in boats with no motors and with little food and water.BBC NewsThe year of the Water Buffalo began.Amcham Vietnam

Highly aggressive supersquirrels were menacing gray squirrels in England,Daily Mailresearchers in Rome demonstrated that bearded capuchin monkeys are efficient nut crackers,NY Timesand biologists in Michigan were testing a “chemical sex smell” to determine if it could be used to lure parasitic vampire fish to their deaths.BBC NewsPortland mayor Sam Adams refuted accusations that he had sex with a 17-year-old boy named Beau Breedlove,CNNand researchers in Scotland were testing sperm quality.BBC NewsBrazilian Miss World contestant Mariana Bridi da Costa had her hands and feet amputated and then died after contracting a urinary infection, The Sun via DrudgeThe Australianand Kelli McCarty, Miss USA 1991, starred in the pornographic film “Faithless: From Beauty Queen to Porn Queen.” “I enjoy acting, and I really like sex,” Ms. McCarty said. “So this was the perfect opportunity to combine two of my passions.”TMZ via NerveThe Supreme Court concluded that American children had a right to view pornography on the Internet.NY 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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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

Minimum square footage of San Francisco apartments allowed under new regulations:

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A Disney behavioral ecologist announced that elephants’ long-range low-frequency vocal rumblings draw elephant friends together and drive elephant enemies apart.

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