Weekly Review — May 12, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

After much bargaining with the largest banks in the United States,Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner announced the results of the Treasury’s “stress tests,” studies that estimate how the banks will fare if the economic crisis deepens. Ten banks, said Geithner, including Bank of America, Citibank, and Wells Fargo, must collectively raise $75 billion in extra capital by November; the rest, however, are fine. Analysts questioned Geithner’s conclusions, which assume a worst-case unemployment rate of 10.3 percent when the current rate is 8.9 percent, and which, after banks complained, ended up measuring bank-capital levels with standards more forgiving than expected; Bank of America’s potential capital deficit, for example, was finally pegged at merely $33.9 billion instead of the $50 billion initially projected.The Wall Street JournalNew York TimesNew York TimesPresident Barack Obama said that his staff went “line by line” through the $3.4 trillion federal budget and found 121 programs that could be cut to save taxpayers $17 billion, or half a percent of the budget’s total. Democratic lawmakers immediately protested the cuts, and Representative Maurice Hinchey (D., N.Y.) vowed to force the White House to accept delivery of a new presidential helicopter even though Obama says he doesn’t need or want it.Washington PostWashington PostThe U.S. Navy reported that 12 crewmembers aboard the amphibious transport ship USS Dubuque had been diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), bringing the total number of U.S. cases of the flu to 1,600, with 2,500 cases reported worldwide in 25 countries. Afghanistan, despite having no cases of swine flu, took its only known pig, a gift from China named Khanzir (which means “pig”), away from the friendly goats and deer with which it grazed at Kabul Zoo and placed it in solitary confinement.CNNBBC

Maine recognized same-sex marriage, as did Washington, D.C., where the city council approved a bill by a 12 to 1 vote, with only former mayor Marion Barry dissenting. “All hell is going to break loose,” said Barry, who was once arrested for using crack cocaine. “We may have a civil war. The black community is just adamant against this.”Fox NewsWashington PostThe Simon Wiesenthal Center presented its 2009 Humanitarian Award to actor Will Smith,Haaretzand President Obama appeared at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. “I must confess,” he told the crowd, which included Robert De Niro, Natalie Portman, Sting, and Ludacris, “I really didn’t want to be here tonight. But I had to come. That’s one more problem I inherited from George Bush.” Obama also pointed out that Michelle Obama, by wearing a sleeveless dress, supported the “right to bare arms.”Washington PostSenator John Kerry attended a Senate subcommittee hearing on the future of journalism. “I see cacophony without standards,” he said. “I see more and more people operating in public life with snippets.”Washington PostPete Seeger turned 90.Open LeftPope Benedict XVI visited Israel, where he spoke of his support for a Palestinian state and Israeli president Shimon Peres presented him with an Old Testament that fits on the head of a pin.New York TimesNanowerkThe wife of Kenyan Prime Minister Ralia Odinga agreed to forgo sex with her husband as part of a national sex boycott intended to force government leaders to stop feuding, and Kenyan James Kimondo, denied conjugal rights by his boycotting wife, sued women’s rights groups for “stress, mental anguish, backaches, and lack of sleep.”Foreign PolicyCNN

Congolese government soldiers sodomized pygmies to gain supernatural powers,The Herald Sunand Marilyn French, author of the novel The Women’s Room, died. “All men are rapists,” she wrote, “and that’s all they are. They rape us with their eyes, their laws, and their codes.”The New York TimesThe price of oral sex from a prostitute in Russia had fallen to that of a sandwich and soda, and many Russian men were hiring hookers just for conversation.Washington PostMoscow schoolgirl Katya Kazakova, struck by stage fright, was unable to sing a patriotic song, “The Dug Out,” for Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, until Putin joined in. “The fire is pulsing in a cramped stove,” they sang together, Putin’s voice soft and melodious. “The resin on the firewood is like a tear.”BreitbartScientists in North Carolina announced a tiny medieval “rack,” or robotic bioreactor, that can stretch slivers of foreskin to twice their original size and may some day be used for skin grafts.The New ScientistJeff Kepner, a 57-year-old Georgian man who lost both his hands to a bacterial infection ten years ago, received the nation’s first double hand transplant,New York Timesand five months after her operation, Connie Culp, who was the first American to receive a full facial transplant, unveiled her new face, which–while squarish and floppy–is a drastic improvement over the old one after her husband blew it off with a shotgun in 2004.Washington PostA two-nosed Wisconsin cow named Lucy gave birth to a normal calf,WSAW.comand a New York Citycow named Molly broke free of her handlers on the way to the slaughterhouse and ran free through the streets of Queens. Molly’s owners, responding to public outcry, agreed to spare her and move her to Long Island, where she will live with a steer named Wexley. “He’s been neutered,” said Wexley’s owner, “so they are just going to have to be good friends.”New York Post

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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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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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