Weekly Review — February 24, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

President Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and unveiled a $275 billion plan to help some of the 6 million homeowners facing foreclosure in the next three years. Some Republican governors said they would refuse stimulus aid that required their states to expand unemployment insurance. “If Republican governors do not want this money,” said Nathan Daschle, executive director of the Democratic Governors Association, “Democratic governors will put it to good use.” LATCNNCNNBloombergCBS via CQ EconomistChicago TribuneThe Washington PostThe New York TimesThe New York TimesThe New York TimesRepublican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele announced an “off the hook” Republican publicity campaign, targeting “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” “We need to uptick our image with everyone,” he said, “including one-armed midgets.” Washington TimesCredit-card defaults neared a record high,Bloombergand the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to its lowest level since 1997. AP via LATWSJBloombergThe federal government eased the rules governing the preferred stock that American taxpayers now own in more than 350 financial institutions, allowing ailing banks to convert that stock to common stock if necessary. BloombergThe Washington PostOn her first Asian trip as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton urged China to keep buying U.S. debt and told the audience of “Awesome,” an Indonesian music show, that her favorite bands were the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. She was later asked by Fox News if she preferred the Beatles’ early “hand-clapping” phase or the “drug-fueled existentialism” of their later music. “The hand-clapping mode was what I first was captured by,” she said. “But then, as I went through my angst period and struggled with the challenges of living in the real world, the more existential message struck home.”CSMThe Washington PostFoxBloombergPolitico

Descendants of Geronimo sued a Yale University secret society rumored to have stolen the Apache warrior’s skull and bones,Hartford Courantand leakers close to Dick Cheney said he was angry at George W. Bush for his failure to pardon Scooter Libby for leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. NY Daily NewsA man dressed as a clown in Redwood City, California, was arrested for impersonating a federal agent,SF Chronand eight bald eagles in Enumclaw, Washington, got sick after eating the carcass of a euthanized horse. Seattle P-IA chimpanzee who previously starred in ads for Coca-Cola was stabbed by its owner and then shot to death by police in Stamford, Connecticut, after mauling a guest to its home, MSNBCand thousands of cows died in Argentina, where ranchers have lost an estimated 1.5 million head of cattle so far in the worst drought in 50 years.The New York TimesWorkers digging in a Los Angeles garage found the largest known cache of Ice Age fossils, including 80 percent of a mammoth and bones from a North American lion.LATA raid on J.B. Precious Puppies, a dog-breeding facility in Seneca, Missouri, found 170 abused chihuahuas and other small dogs, and a starving Bengal tiger in a cage full of puppy parts.St. Lewis Post-DispatchWalt Disney took control of the Ice Lantern Festival in Harbin, China, replacing dragons and other Chinese-themed ice scuptures with Disney characters. “This is beautiful,” said Li Jing, a 22-year-old visitor wearing cat ears in imitation of Tigger. “It brings my childhood memories back.”The New York Times

Expanding the CIA-led covert war in Pakistan, the United States launched two missile attacks on training camps linked to Baitullah Mehsud, who is thought to have orchestrated the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “These strikes are counterproductive,” said Owais Ahmed Ghani, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. “All it will do is attract more jihadis.” The New York TimesThe New York TimesA suicide bomber attacked the funeral of an assassinated local Shia leader in the Pakistani village of Dera Ismail Khan, killing 30 people.WPObama announced that 17,000 more troops would be sent to Afghanistan, an increase of 50 percent, partly to help secure the border with Pakistan. General David D. McKiernan said he would like yet another 10,000 troops, adding that it was “very unhealthy” to compare the current war to British and Russian debacles in Afghanistan. “You can’t look like the likely loser of the war,” explained Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. “No warlord is going to change sides to join the loser.”LATThe New York TimesThe New York TimesThe New York TimesAFP via GoogleThe recently repainted Abu Ghraib prison, decorated with flowers and renamed “Baghdad Central Prison,” was opened to the press. “It was damp,” said Saad Sultan of the Human Rights Ministry as he toured the facility. “You really felt the horror. Now there is more light.” “I hate this place,” said a jailer who requested anonymity. “It is depressing.”IHTDrummer Louie Bellson, whom Duke Ellington called “the world’s greatest musician,” died. Bellson once recalled the advice of tenor-saxophone legend Lester Young, who helped him learn to play bebop: “Lou, just play titty-bop, titty-bop, and don’t drop no bombs.'” LAT

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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.

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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.

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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