Weekly Review — April 16, 2012, 9:29 pm

Weekly Review

saluting_the_town_350x278 North Korea commemorated the hundredth anniversary of Great Leader Kim Il Sung’s birth by unveiling a new portrait of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, formally naming new leader Kim Jong Un as head of the National Defense Commission, and launching a long-range rocket bearing a satellite called Bright Shining Star. The rocket, which was estimated to have cost the equivalent of six years’ worth of food for North Korea’s 24 million citizens, flew for one minute before disintegrating over the Yellow Sea. “This stuff is really hard to do,” said a theoretical physicist not involved with the launch. Hours after the rocket’s failure, Kim Jong Un laughed with commanders at his first public speech, where he unveiled another, possibly fake, missile and called the strengthening of the military his “first, second, and third” priorities. A tour guide inadvertently drove a busload of foreign reporters, invited for the centenary celebrations, into a Pyongyang slum. “I hope that the journalists present here report only the absolute truth,” said one chaperone.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8] It was reported that more than 150,000 North Koreans were being held in secret government labor camps; that Ukraine had refused to permit the release of a movie depicting Ukrainians as Nazi collaborators; and that a Gori, Georgia, museum honoring Joseph Stalin was being remodeled to focus on his atrocities. “Stalin was a great man,” said one Gori resident. “As to the purges, they did take place, but there were significantly fewer victims than the number we hear today.”[9][10][11] Cuban “Harlistas” participated in hot-dog-catching and no-feet motorcycle-riding competitions at the country’s first nationwide Harley-Davidson rally, and Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins suspended manager Ozzie Guillen after he was quoted saying “I love Fidel Castro” in an interview. “I was thinking in Spanish and said it wrong in English,” said Guillen. “It was misinterpreted. I said I cannot believe someone who has hurt so many people is still alive.”[12][13]

George Zimmerman, whose lawyers quit after he stopped responding to their calls and text messages, emerged from hiding in Florida to plead not guilty to the murder of Trayvon Martin.[14][15][16] The executive director of the NRA expressed his support for Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, arguing that it could “literally save your life,” while Ben Crump, the Martin family’s lawyer, said he would call for its repeal. “We’re not the wild, wild West,” he said.[17] Rick Santorum suspended his presidential candidacy, while Newt Gingrich vowed to stay in the race.[18] Former Republican candidate Herman Cain released an anti-tax video in which a farmer is eaten alive by chickens.[19] Politicians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu offered a reward of $2,000 for the capture of vampires accused by townspeople of sucking blood from cattle, and police in Brazil arrested a three-person sect for luring women with offers of lucrative babysitting jobs, then turning them into human empanadas and selling them to neighbors.[20][21] Crematoria in Germany were found to be melting under the strain of increasingly obese corpses; ten protesters deposited on the doorstep of the German embassy in Athens a pile of fake human feces covered in gold paper and topped with a photo of a busty Angela Merkel–headed eagle; and in Los Angeles, a man stood up and shouted “Heil Hitler!” in the middle of a city-council meeting. “This city’s going to hell in a handbasket,” he said. “So I guess I’ll just salute you.”[22][23][24]

Eleven U.S. Secret Service agents had their security clearances revoked following allegations they’d entertained prostitutes at a hotel in Cartagena. A ten-year-old Colombian gave birth to a baby girl.[25][26][27] El Salvador celebrated its first murder-free day in nearly three years.[28] Charles Manson, who recently bragged to a prison psychologist that he was “a very dangerous man,” was denied parole for the twelfth time, at a hearing he refused to attend.[29] One of a group of marauding black bears charged Vermont governor Peter Shumlin after he ran naked from his house to save his birdfeeders from them. “You almost lost the governor,” he said. “I was within three feet of getting ‘Arrrh.’”[30][31] Newark mayor Cory Booker suffered smoke inhalation and burns after he rushed into a neighbor’s burning apartment building and “whipped her out of bed.”[32] A San Francisco man fashioned a replica of the Titanic from a single toothpick, French police seized 13 tons of tiny contraband Eiffel Towers from a Paris souvenir shop, and 2 World Financial Center in New York was evacuated after UPS delivered a novelty grenade ordered by a Japanese investment-bank employee.[33][34][35] A British army bomb squad exploded a World War II–era hand grenade that a Somerset woman had mistaken for an egg after she found her son standing on it during an Easter egg hunt. “Everyone keeps saying how stupid I was to try to pick it up,” she said. “But it was such a natural reaction.”[36]?

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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.

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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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