Weekly Review — April 9, 2012, 7:02 pm

Weekly Review

whatthoughiamobligated350 In Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré resigned as president, and the leaders of the military coup that deposed him three weeks ago agreed to restore constitutional rule. The junta’s announcement came hours after Tuareg rebels declared the independent nation of Azawad in the north, following a ten-week military offensive by the Tuareg NMLA and the Islamist Ansar Dine. “I heard the declaration but I’m telling you the situation on the ground,” said a Malian man in the de facto Azawadian capital of Gao. “We barely see the NMLA. The people we see are the Salafis…. We know they are the Islamists because of their beards.”[1][2][3] Pope Benedict appealed during his Easter homily for peace in Mali and Syria, where the Assad regime agreed to adopt a UN-backed peace plan by April 10 and activists reported that government forces had killed hundreds of people in rebel-held Syrian towns and across the Turkish and Lebanese borders.[4][5][6][7] The United States and Afghanistan signed a deal giving Afghan authorities an effective veto on nighttime home raids by NATO special-operations forces, and a New York court sentenced Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to 25 years in prison for conspiring to kill American citizens.[8][9] Former nursing student One Goh was charged with seven counts of murder after he opened fire with a .45-caliber handgun at Oikos University in Oakland, and police in Oklahoma arrested Jake England and Alvin Watts in conjunction with the murders of three African Americans who were among five shot in the course of seven hours in Tulsa. The day before the shootings, England posted on his Facebook page that it was the second anniversary of his father’s murder “at the hands of a fucking nigger.” “It’s hard not to go off between that and sheran I’m gone in the head,” he wrote, referring also to his girlfriend, who had recently committed suicide. “It is way too early to call this a hate crime,” said FBI agent James Finch.[10][11][12][13][14]

President Barack Obama hosted a White House screening of To Kill a Mockingbird, Thailand banned a film adaptation of Macbeth, and Israel declared Nobel Literature Laureate Günter Grass persona non grata and barred him from the country following publication of “What Must Be Said,” a poem critical of the Israeli nuclear program.[15][16][17] DEA and IRS agents seized files and cannabis plants during a raid on Oaksterdam University in Oakland, and the World Trade Organization found a U.S. ban on Indonesian clove cigarettes to be in contravention of its rules.[18][19] Edinburgh Zoo officials declared attempts to breed giant pandas Yang Guang and Tian Tian “close but no cigar” after Yang Guang mounted Tian Tian several times during her annual 36-hour ovulation period, but failed to achieve coitus. “They are both still relatively inexperienced,” said the zoo’s research director, Iain Valentine.[20][21] Eighteen Madagascar pochar chicks were born at an incubation center in Antsohihy, nearly doubling the population of earth’s rarest duck species.[22] Siberian tusk hunters were reported to have discovered the perfectly preserved ten-thousand-year-old carcass of a mammoth, and fossil collectors in China were reported to have unearthed three skeletons of a feathered tyrannosaur.[23][24] Scientists announced that this March was the warmest on record in the United States, and the governor of Tennessee said he would sign into law a bill preventing school administrators from censuring teachers who discuss such concepts as climate change denial and creationism in their classrooms.[25][26][27] An Australian cargo pilot made an emergency landing after a snake burst from his dashboard and slithered across his leg during a solo flight. “I’m going to have to return to Darwin,” radioed pilot Braden Blennerhassett.[28] Catalan researchers reported the invention of the world’s most sensitive scales, capable of weighing a xenon atom to the nearest yoctogram.[29] The finance industry tracked the market-skewing investments of a credit-derivative-index trader known as the London Whale, and University of British Columbia researchers identified a balsam-fir gene that promises to reduce the fragrance industry’s reliance on sperm-whale vomit.[30][31][32]

A man named An was convicted in South Korea of plotting to kill with a poison-tipped needle an activist known for sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets via balloon across the North Korean border.[33] A builder named Dennis Hennis survived his accidental piercing of his own heart with a nail in Vineland, New Jersey, and a man reportedly killed his wife and ate her flesh in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.[34][35] An Indianapolis man told police he was walking naked down the street because it was Opposite Day. “You are not going to jail,” replied one officer, “for public indecency.”[36] Beer was found not to cause beer bellies, and water was observed floating on oil.[37][38] In Turkmenistan, where alcohol was banned in observance of Happiness Week, President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov won the country’s first-ever auto race.[39][40] An 11-year-old Dutch boy won special mention in a contest seeking the best plan for a country to leave the Eurozone by suggesting that Greeks exchange their euros for drachmas, creating a euro “pizza” that Greece could divide among its creditors. “You see,” the boy wrote of a drawing he’d included, “the Greek guy does not look happy!!”[41][42] A 77-year-old pensioner shot himself in the head in a central Athens square. “I see no other solution than a decent ending,” wrote Dimitris Christoulas in his suicide note, “before I start looking in the garbage to feed myself.”[43][44][45] Five Egyptian Copts were crushed to death when mourners rushed the tomb of Pope Shenouda III, who had died the week before.[46] “Painter of light” Thomas Kinkade died at 54, Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi and Porsche 911 designer Ferdinand A. Porsche died at 76, Malawian president Bingu wa Mutharika died at 78, Marshall Amplification founder Jim Marshall died at 88, and journalist Mike Wallace died at 93.[47][48][49][50][51][52] Psychologists in New Zealand found that atheists asked to consider their own deaths expressed even greater religious skepticism, but unconsciously grew more open to belief, and a Charleston woman observed the face of Jesus on the back of a stingray. “I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man,” said the woman. “But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, ‘That’s Jesus.’ And I was like, ‘Oh my God! You’re right!’”[53][54]

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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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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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