Weekly Review — June 2, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx-born, divorced, childless, diabetic, Hispanic federal judge on the U.S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, to replace Justice David Souter on the Supreme Court. Analysts studying Sotomayor’s decisions were unable to determine whether she would uphold Roe v. Wade, or whether she was distinctly pro- or anti-business, but much was made of a 2001 speech at the University of California at Berkeley in which she expressed hopes that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” During the speech she also expressed fondness for “platos de arroz, gandoles y pernil,” a dish made with rice, beans, and pork. “Her word choice in 2001 was poor,” offered White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but many Republicans were unconvinced. “The comments she made about the quality of her decisions being better than those of a white maleâ??I mean, we need to go further into her record to see whether this is a trend,” said Senator John Cornyn (R., Tex.), one of 98 non-Hispanic senators, who was considered for the Supreme Court in 2005 but not appointed. Newt Gingrich, who in 2007 spoke out against bilingual education by suggesting that students should “learn the language of prosperity, not the language of living in a ghetto,” criticized Sotomayor via Twitter. “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw,” tweeted Gingrich. “Latina woman racist should also withdraw.” The New York TimesThe New York TimesThe New York TimesThe GuardianThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostFox NewsThe White HouseThe Washington PostThe New York TimesFJC.govWikipedia.orgLeading the newsThe GuardianAbortionist George Tiller was shot dead in the lobby of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, where he was an usher,The Guardianand the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, thereby maintaining the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.California Supreme Court upholds gay marriage banGeneral Motors filed for bankruptcy, and President Obama unveiled his plan to save the former industrial giant by nationalizing it, closing plants, and firing workers.The New York TimesAmerican scientists promised to develop robotfarmers.New Scientist

A white tiger killed a zookeeper in New Zealand,White tiger kills New Zealand zoo keeperand a man in Munich received a two-year suspended sentence for beating another man with a swan.SpiegelSomeone was skinning Miami’scats.The GuardianOsel Hita Torres, 24, who as a toddler was enthroned by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of Lama Yeshe, had left his order and was studying film in Madrid. “They took me away from my family and stuck me in a medieval situation,” said Torres, who complained that the only movie he was shown was Eddie Murphy’s “The Golden Child.”The GuardianThe Tiananmen Square massacre would soon turn 20,The Wall Street Journaland Phil Spector was sentenced to at least 19 years in prison for murder.BBC NewsSix people were killed in the West Bank when Fatah raided a Hamas hideout.The New York TimesFairfax County, Virginia, sued Krispy Kreme for dumping massive quantities of “doughnut grease and other pollutants” into the sewer system,Washington Examinerand Bausch & Lomb reportedly had so far paid out $250 million to settle nearly 600 lawsuits over its contact-lens cleaner product ReNu with MoistureLoc, which prior to its recall caused hundreds of fungal infections, necessitating 60 corneal transplants and seven eye removals.The New York Times

The United Kingdom placed the cuckoo on its list of endangered birds but was culling gray squirrels, which taste good in a pie. “They are going to top restaurants, butchers, the working man,” said conservationist Paul Parker. “They don’t belong here.”Science DailyThe GuardianThe Archbishop of Canterbury called for Christians to chat less and take God seriously. “It’s like being on an ocean liner,” he said of the church, “where all the staff are talking brightly and smiling rather too cheerfullyâ?? you think ‘what’s wrong?’, as you feel the great swell underneath you.”The GuardianThe last survivor of the Titanic died at age 97.The GuardianAOL split from Time Warner,The Washington Timesand President Obama announced a new Pentagon command that will fight in cyberspace, led by a cyberczar; defense contractors were advertising for “cyberninjas”–hackers who will work for the government to protect the nation against foreign and domestic cyberweapons. “These attacks start in other countries,” explained one intelligence analyst, “but they know no borders. So how do you fight them if you can’t act both inside and outside the United States?”The New York TimesThe New York TimesRussia agreed to export uranium to the United States, a Russian firm bought nearly 2 percent of Facebook, and a five-year-old Russian girl was discovered who speaks in barks and hisses because she was raised as a pet.CNNThe New York TimesTelegraphBritish scientists found that cats, like babies, have a poor understanding of the relationship between cause and effect.New ScientistResearchers in Leipzig, Germany, inserted human language genes into a mouse, resulting in baby humanized mice that squeak at a lower ultrasonic range than normal.The New York TimesGeneticists in Kawasaki, Japan, announced that they had used an engineered virus to insert a jellyfish gene into marmoset embryos, producing monkeys that glow green in ultraviolet light and that can pass on the glow to their offspring. “It’s hard to put your finger on what is it about this research that is likely to stimulate ethical debate,” said a bioethicist in Kentucky, “besides the sort of gut feeling that this is not the right thing to do.”Washington 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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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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