Weekly Review — January 31, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich released their most recent tax returns. Romney’s showed that he made $21.6 million in 2010, paid taxes at a rate of 14 percent, and gave $4 million to the Mormon church over two years. Gingrich’s return showed that he earned $3.1 million last year and may have cheated on his taxes. Washington PostChristian Science MonitorForbesLos Angeles TimesPresident Barack Obama made increasing the tax rate on the super-rich a theme of his State of the Union address, saying, “Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary,” whom experts calculated earns between $200,000 and $500,000 a year.Daily MailA Wall Street Journal reporter compared the practice, begun in 2011, of having Republicans and Democrats sit next to each other during the State of the Union to date rape, and a Chrysler 300C once leased by President Obama was listed on eBay with a starting bid of $1 million. “It’s all about the money for me,” said the car’s owner, a self-described Reagan conservative. Raw StoryCNN Money via WGALThe Republican candidates faced off in their nineteenth primary debate, and former presidential candidate Herman Cain, jailed former congressman Duke Cunningham, and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin threw their support behind Gingrich. “Both party machines… are trying to crucify Newt Gingrich for bucking the tide,” explained Palin. “Rage against the machine, vote for Newt. Annoy a liberal, vote Newt.”CNNRaw StoryHuffington PostWashington PostPETA was offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who killed an Arkansas Democratic campaign manager’s cat and left it on his doorstep with the word “liberal” written across its body, and a penguin named Paula defecated in the chamber of the Kentucky Senate.CBSRaw Story

Outside the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, protesters built igloos to stay warm, while inside, software company Tibco announced a new social-networking site that would allow the planet’s 200 richest people to friend world leaders.New York TimesDaily MailTwitter announced that it would selectively censor tweets at the request of governments, and clashes in Syria between government troops and armed militias escalated following the Arab League’s suspension of its monitoring mission there.CNNChristian Science MonitorA suicide bombing of a funeral procession in Baghdad killed 32 people, and the government of North Korea declared it a war crime to use a cell phone during the country’s 100-day mourning period for Kim Jong-Il.Las Angeles TimesThe TelegraphThe French senate voted to jail anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces amounted to genocide.Raw StoryA German court blocked the release of an annotated version of “Mein Kampf,” and an online auction house in Slovakia sold for $42,300 a painting of a full moon over a shimmering ocean by Adolf Hitler.New York TimesRaw StoryA U.S. military-court judge ruled that a Marine sergeant who oversaw the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians in 2005 should serve no time in prison.Raw StoryU.N. security staff revealed that they had received a duffel bag filled with $2 million worth of cocaine from Mexico at U.N. headquarters in New York.Raw StoryA welfare office in Dublin banned claimants from wearing pajamas to interviews.BBC

Scientists discovered 11 new planetary systems with 26 orbiting planets, and a solar storm of high-energy particles pummeled the earth. DiscoveryBBCPeople worldwide celebrated the Chinese New Year, marking the beginning of the year of the dragon, the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac, while the Pennsylvania state assembly passed a resolution declaring 2012 the year of the Bible.Raw StoryFour police officers in East Haven, Connecticut, were arrested by the FBI for harassing and beating Hispanic residents. Asked by a reporter how he would make amends with the Latin American community, the town’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, said, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet.” Two days later, activists sent 500 tacos to the mayor’s office.New York TimesCNNThe city of Los Angeles passed a bill requiring porn actors to wear condoms.ReutersAn Oklahoma state legislator introduced a bill to ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food.Las Angeles TimesOccupy Oakland protesters broke into City Hall, where they smashed display cases, cut electrical wires, and burned an American flag.Los Angeles TimesA school in suburban Philadelphia banned Uggs because students were hiding cell phones in the boots’ tall, furry cuffs, and 76 high school seniors were erroneously told they’d been accepted to Vassar College, only to have the acceptances rescinded a few hours later. “My mom called, like, my entire family,” said one of the rejected students. “It was just a big letdown.”ReutersNew York 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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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.

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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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