Weekly Review — March 26, 2012, 7:20 pm

Weekly Review

eye_350x382 The U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and the grand jury of Seminole County, Florida, announced investigations into the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American who was shot by neighborhood-watch captain George Zimmerman on February 26 in the city of Sanford. Local police had declined to arrest Zimmerman, on the basis of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which permits citizens to use deadly force if they feel threatened, but audio recordings of Zimmerman’s calls to 911 revealed that he chased the unarmed Martin when the teenager ran from him. “These assholes,” Zimmerman told the dispatcher. “They always get away.”[1][2] The New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman’s capture, and protesters donned hooded sweatshirts in response to comments by FOX News host Geraldo Rivera, who claimed that Martin’s hoodie was responsible for his death. “Don’t let your child provoke madness,” Rivera wrote in a Fox News Latino editorial. “Don’t let your child go out into the hard cruel world wearing a costume that is really a sign that says ‘shoot me.’” President Barack Obama said that if he had a son, the child would look like Trayvon Martin.[3][4][5] Obama selected Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim as the new leader of the World Bank, and a video circulated of Kim performing at a Dartmouth “Idol” contest in a studded leather jacket, fingerless gloves, and glow-stick bracelets. “I came up in here to rock,” Kim raps in the clip. “Light a fire/ Make it hot.”[6] Pope Benedict XVI traveled to Mexico, where he is far less popular than his predecessor, John Paul II. “He doesn’t have charm,” said a church parking valet. On Sunday, Benedict greeted crowds while wearing a large sombrero.[7][8] Former vice president Dick Cheney had his heart replaced, and filmmaker James Cameron became the first person in 50 years to descend to the world’s deepest seabed.[9][10]

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was charged with 17 counts of murder, six counts of attempted murder, and six counts of assault in connection with a shooting rampage in two villages in southern Afghanistan. The United States gave the victims’ families $50,000 for each of their slain relatives. “This cannot be counted as compensation for the deaths,” said a member of the Kandahar provincial council.[11][12] Rick Santorum won the Republican primary in Louisiana and was criticized by members of his party for suggesting that the country would be better off with Barack Obama than with Mitt Romney. “We might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk,” Santorum told a Texas audience. “Rick Santorum,” said a Romney spokesman, “is like a football team celebrating a field goal when they are losing by seven touchdowns with less than a minute left in the game.”[13][14] Three hundred people in Denmark were told that they had won between 1 billion kroner ($180 million) and 280 billion kroner ($50 billion) in the Danish lottery, then notified soon after that the actual amount was less than $70.[15][16][17][18] A man stabbed his friend during a fight on Pleasure Drive in Holiday, Florida.[19] A drunk Connecticut man who was apprehended for beating his wife with a six-pack claimed she had hit him first, with a coffee pot.[20] A Michigan man knocked out his wife with a pineapple.[21] A homeowner in Surprise, Arizona, was awakened by a burglar pointing his own gun, which the thief had picked up off the nightstand, at his head.[22]

A Bronx homeless-advocacy nonprofit led a course in how to break into vacant apartments, and New York City police sought a man they suspected of being the Vaseline Bandit, a thief so named because he smeared petroleum jelly on the peepholes of apartment residents to prevent them from identifying him.[23][24] Astronomers learned that planets orbiting stars ejected from the Milky Way may themselves be ejected, a New Jersey middle school banned hugging, and a couple on a gay cruise was taken into police custody in Dominica. “You’re being arrested for being gay,” the men were told. “We’re arresting you for the crime of buggery.”[25][26][27] New Age believers were inundating the Pyrenean village of Bugarach in preparation for December 21, 2012, when they claim aliens waiting inside a spacecraft beneath the upside-down Bugarach Mountain will transport them to the next era of humankind. “I suppose it’s up to each of us,” said Bugarach mayor Jean-Pierre Delord, “to find our own way.”[28]

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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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“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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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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