Weekly Review — November 29, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

The congressional supercommittee assigned to devise a plan for reining in the federal deficit failed to reach an agreement, triggering $1.2 trillion in budget cuts that will take effect in 2013, including cuts to defense spending and Medicare. Senate Democrats planned to follow up the failed talks by introducing $400 billion in new spending legislation over the coming weeks, while Republicans indicated that they would try to reconfigure the automatic cuts in order to spare defense programs. “The knives,” said Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), “are over our heads.”Los Angeles TimesThe HillReuters via NBCPoliticoProtesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement ate donated Thanksgiving dinners in encampments across the country, while occupations in Philadelphia and Los Angeles faced eviction deadlines. “Weâ??ve been sitting around, drinking coffee,” said a Philadelphia occupier. “This is bringing us back together.”CNNRaw StoryNew York TimesIn the course of Black Friday sales across the United States, police knocked a grandfather unconscious at a Walmart in Arizona and tasered a man at a Walmart in Alabama; an off-duty police officer pepper-sprayed unruly shoppers at a Walmart in North Carolina; a woman pepper-sprayed fellow shoppers to get to a discounted Xbox 360 at a Walmart in California; and customers rioted over $2 waffle irons at a Walmart in Arkansas.CNNWAFFBBCCBSWBTVAndrea True, singer of the disco song “More, More, More,” died.BBCI.B.M. noted a downward trend in the height of high-heeled shoes.New York Times

Egypt’s military installed a Mubarak-era prime minister to head the countryâ??s interim government, fueling protests that have seen thousands of people wounded and at least 40 killed.Associated PressCNNCNNNew York TimesYemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, agreed to step down after 33 years in power, and Swazi officials denied that Queen Nothando Dube, the twelfth wife of King Mswati, was kicked out of the royal palace by the Queen Mother for pepper-spraying a guard.Associated PressBBCAn Australian hospital aborted the wrong fetal twin, and a Connecticut town accidentally elected the wrong man because of a ballot typo.BBCCBSThe FBI arrested seven Amish men for a series of beard attacks on other Amish men.Fox NewsThe bodies of 50 men were found in western Mexico, some naked and some marked with the names of drug gangs. Raw StoryThe mayor of a Peruvian coastal town said the drinking water was turning residents gay, and a Pakistani woman attempted to cook and eat her husband. “There could be two factors behind her intention to cook the husband,” explained the local police chief. “One is to destroy the evidence and the other could be her immense hatred against him.”Wisconsin GazetteAFP via Raw StoryScientists discovered a 150,000-year-old skull bearing signs of head trauma from a projectile, which would make it the earliest known evidence of violence between humans.BBC

Psychopaths were found to have uniquely structured brains.Science DailyAn English woman was found guilty of microwaving a kitten.BBCEngineers unveiled plans to create cyborg insects, and South Korean researchers were building a prison-guard robot. “We are now working on refining its details,” explained one of the scientists, “to make it look more friendly to inmates.”BBCBBCA self-proclaimed doctor was under arrest in Florida for injecting a mixture of cement, superglue, and flat-tire sealant into a womanâ??s buttock as part of an augmentation procedure.Miami HeraldFifteen Indian eunuchs died when a fire broke out at an annual eunuch convention in New Delhi.AFP via Express TribuneAudience members were experiencing seizures during the film “Twilight: Breaking Dawn.”CBSTwo Illinois lawmakers proposed that Chicago become a state, and Scottish students who burned Barack Obama in effigy apologized to the president.WAND TVDaily MailMitt Romneyâ??s barber, Leon de Magistris, revealed that Romney does not use gel or dye in his hair. “I will tell him to mess it up a little bit,” said de Magistris. “He wants a look that is very controlled. He is a very controlled man.”New York TimesThe Vatican’s chief exorcist warned Catholics about the dangers of yoga. “You think you are doing it for stretching,” said Father Gabriele Amorth, “but it leads to Hinduism.”Daily Mail

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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.

Illustration by Darrel Rees. Source photographs: Kim Jong-un © ITAR-TASS Photo Agency/Alamy Stock Photo; Donald Trump © Yuri Gripas/Reuters/Newscom
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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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Moore’s wife published a letter of support signed by more than 50 pastors, and four of those pastors said they either had never seen the letter or had seen it before Moore was accused of sexual assault and asked to have their names removed.

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