Weekly Review — November 23, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

After seven years of litigation, more than 10,000 firefighters, police officers, and other workers who sued New York City over health damages they suffered during the September 11 recovery efforts approved a settlement worth at least $625 million, with individual payouts ranging from $3,250 to $1.8 million, depending on the severity of the illness.New York TimesSalvatore Giunta, an army sergeant who ran into enemy fire to aid fellow soldiers during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2007, became the first living service member to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. The honor was questioned by Bryan Fischer, a conservative columnist, who lamented that the famed prize has been “feminized” by celebrating acts of rescue instead of fighting: “When are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?”ReutersWashington PostPolitics DailyPresident Obama announced plans for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014, though NATO representatives predicted the country would still be facing “eye-watering” levels of violence, and Target, a dog rescued from Afghanistan after she alerted troops to a suicide bomber and saved dozens of soldiers, was accidentally euthanized at an Arizona shelter.AP via MSNBCThe GuardianCNNIn Inspire, its online magazine, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula declared its commitment to a strategy “of a thousand cuts,” in which it would continue to force the U.S. to spend billions of dollars to guard against inexpensive, small-scale attacks such as the mailing of parcel bombs from Yemen to America last month. “It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks.”ReutersAhmed Khalfan Ghailani, the first former Guantanamo Bay detainee to be tried in a civilian court, was acquitted of all but one of 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Tanzania.New York Times

A Chinese woman was seized by police on her wedding day and sentenced to a year in a labor camp for retweeting a post that mocked Chinese protesters who smashed Japanese products during a recent demonstration, and in Egypt, Abdel Kareem Nabil, a 26-year-old blogger, was released after serving four years in prison on charges of insulting Islam.ReutersCNNReutersPope Benedict XVI conceded that in exceptional circumstances, such as when a male prostitute is infected with HIV, condom use can be acceptable. Reuters via Yahoo NewsU.S. Roman Catholic bishops held an emergency workshop to train clerics to perform exorcisms.ReutersBill Clinton filmed a cameo for the movie “The Hangover 2,” and scientists warned that wild tigers, of which only 3,200 remain, could become extinct in a dozen years if protective measures were not taken.The Baltimore SunReutersAP via MSNBCNorth Korea revealed a new, sophisticated nuclear facility capable of enriching uranium to a visiting American scientist, and an international team of physicists announced that for the first time they were able to trap antimatter, 38 anti-hydrogen atoms, for one-tenth of a second.AP via Fox NewsAPAlaska Senator Lisa Murkowski won re-election, becoming the first write-in candidate to win a Senate seat since Strom Thurmond’s victory in 1954.Washington PostNancy Pelosi was elected House minority leader, pointing out that incoming Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner “is known to cry.”The GuardianCBS NewsFox NewsBritish scientists discovered that, like gangsters running a protection racket, drongo birds in the Kalahari Desert act as lookouts for other birds in order to steal a cut of their food catch. Instead of keeping a low profile, though, drongos advertise their presence by issuing a call known as a “twank” every 4 or 5 seconds.Science DailySarah Palin’s 16-year-old daughter, Willow, admonished a Facebook friend who criticized her mother’s new reality show: “Haha your so gay. What I’ve seen pictures of, your disgusting . . . stfu. Your such a faggot.”TMZMark Twain’s 760-page autobiography was released 100 years after his death, per his instructions, and immediately became a bestseller.New York Times

A British gamer who took out a mortgage in 2005 to buy virtual real estate in Entropia, a massive multiplayer game, sold his make-believe nightclub for $635,000, and Oxford University researchers discovered that the game Tetris can help prevent the flashbacks associated with the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder, calling it a “cognitive vaccine” if played soon after exposure to trauma.The Daily MailLos Angeles TimesIn Haiti, relief workers were seeking donations of soap to curb the current outbreak of cholera; a bar of soap costs about 50 cents, but because most Haitians live on less than $1.25 a day, they often choose to buy food instead. ReutersWashington PostFor only the second time, the U.S. government approved a test on human subjects of a treatment using embryonic stem cells, in this case to combat a disease that causes vision loss. AP via Yahoo NewsNearly 2,000 fetuses were found at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, where they were buried in plastic bags after having been illegally aborted over the past year, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reflected that the best age for girls to get married is between 16 and 18.MSNBCReutersA Minnesota couple were asking visitors to their website to vote on whether they should keep or abort the wife’s fetus; 80 percent of the 75,000 respondents wanted Alisha Arnold to give birth to the 17-week-old male fetus she calls “Wiggles.”Reuters via Los Angeles 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.

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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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