Weekly Review — October 8, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

The U.S. government shuts down, African migrants capsize in the Mediterranean, and miscellaneous global crushings

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

On Tuesday, American state governments opened online health-care marketplaces for uninsured citizens in accordance with the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Nearly 5 million people visited healthcare.gov in its first 24 hours, causing most of the 36 exchanges being administered by the federal government to crash. On the same day, a U.S. government shutdown went into effect after the Senate rejected a spending bill passed by House Republicans that would have delayed by a year the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that citizens obtain health coverage. An estimated 800,000 federal workers were furloughed, and 1.3 million others were asked to work without compensation. The National Zoo’s giant-panda cam was shut down, the Ku Klux Klan was forced to cancel a rally at Gettysburg, a National Weather Service employee issued a forecast containing the acrostic PLEASEPAYUS, and Curiosity went into protective mode on Mars. “It’s very hard from a distance to figure out who has lost their minds,” said Senator Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.). “Lemmings with suicide vests,” said Congressman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) of his party colleagues.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R., Tx.), who said he would help shut down the government for “as long as it takes” to halt the funding of the Affordable Care Act, berated a newly unpaid National Parks Service ranger who had been forced to deny U.S. military veterans access to the World War II memorial in Washington D.C., and the New York Times traced the Republicans’ defunding strategy to a blueprint drafted by conservative groups shortly after President Barack Obama began his second term. “Obamacare is a train wreck,” read a social-media talking point provided to Republican lawmakers. “#trainwreck,” tweeted Speaker of the House John Boehner, thrice.[11][12][13][14][15][16]

The Pentagon was revealed to have awarded 94 contracts worth $5 billion on the eve of the shutdown, purchasing such goods as cots, Finnish hand grenades, and robot submarines.[17] Military-thriller author Tom Clancy died at 66, and General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the North Vietnamese resistance against France and the United States, died at 102. “Any forces that wish to impose their will on other nations,” Vo once told reporters, “will certainly face failure.”[18][19] In the Somali town of Barawe, Navy SEALs staged an unsuccessful raid to capture an Al Shabab coordinator, and in Tripoli, Delta Force commandos captured a militant under indictment for participating in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.[20][21] At least 211 people died when a boat containing Eritrean, Ghanaian, and Somali migrants capsized off the Italian island of Lampedusa. “The Mediterranean cannot remain a huge cemetery under the open skies,” said French foreign minister Laurent Fabius.[22][23] At least 53 people were killed during protests against Egypt’s ruling military junta.[24] International inspectors began destroying Syria’s chemical weapons, and the country’s deputy prime minister told the United Nations that his government’s enemies supported “sexual jihad.”[25][26] The Palestinian Authority’s supreme fatwa council consented to online dating.[27] The Olympic flame died in Russia, and a woman was killed and a man lost his legs after they were run over while having sex on railroad tracks in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. “We wanted,” said the man, “to experience an extreme sensation.”[28][29]

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Canada opened its medical-marijuana market to large-scale producers, and the FBI shut down the online drug marketplace Silk Road, arrested its alleged operator, Dread Pirate Roberts, and seized 26,000 of his bitcoins.[30][31] A Brazilian smuggler was crushed by a half-ton of marijuana, a Swedish man was crushed by a half-ton of bacon, and a Spanish man was crushed by five and a half tons of grapes.[32][33][34] Conor P. Fudge was charged for a burglary at Iowa City’s Cold Stone Creamery.[35] In the United Kingdom, where an appellate court ended Cadbury’s monopoly on the color purple, Lord Sugar was investigated for racism.[36][37] Consumer-genomics company 23andMe received a patent for a calculator that could allow people to select the genetic traits of their future children, Canadian researchers developed a fecal-transplant pill that cures C. difficile infections, and three American researchers were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for discovering that the cargo-transport systems of living cells are similar in organisms as diverse as man and yeast.[38][39][40] Norwegian politicians agreed to legalize Segways and professional boxing, and a Norwegian health charity installed birdhouses stuffed with condoms in Oslo’s Ekeberg Forest. “The hole is plugged,” said a spokesman, “so that no birds can come inside.”[41][42] The Gambia withdrew from the Commonwealth, and two tourists and a local man were burned to death by a mob on the isle of Nosy Be in Madagascar. “We’ve got nothing against foreigners; you can come visit,” said a Malagasy man from Hell-Ville.[43][44]


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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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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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Tostão, No. 9, and Pelé, No. 10, celebrate Carlos Alberto’s final goal for Brazil in the World Cup final against Italy on June 21, 1970, Mexico City © Heidtmann/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Factor by which single Americans who use emoji are more likely than other single Americans to be sexually active:

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Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.

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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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