Weekly Review — August 5, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Alternating shelter bombings and ceasefires in Gaza; a do-nothing Congress whimpers feebly into recess; and India hires a troupe of black-faced-langur imitators

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Before dawn on Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces bombarded a United Nations school at the Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza that was sheltering 3,220 Palestinians, killing 21. Israeli officials speaking anonymously told journalists that the attack had targeted a group of Hamas militants who were firing on IDF soldiers as they destroyed a nearby tunnel, and U.N. officials said they had notified the IDF 17 times that the school was occupied, the final time hours before the strike. “Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[1][2][3][4] On Friday, the IDF reported that 90 minutes after the start of a 72-hour ceasefire announced by the United Nations and the United States, a suicide bomber and other Hamas fighters had attacked Israeli troops who were clearing a tunnel in Rafah, killing two soldiers and abducting Lieutenant Hadar Goldin. Israel then began retaliatory bombardment of Rafah, killing 52 people. “[Don’t] ever second-guess me again,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. officials.[5][6] On Sunday, the IDF reported that Goldin had died in battle, began withdrawing ground forces from Gaza as it neared completion of its tunnel-clearing mission, and launched an air strike targeting three militants on a motorcycle in Rafah that struck a food lineup outside the gates of a U.N. school where about 3,000 Palestinians were sheltered, killing 10.[7][8][9] On Monday morning, a Palestinian man killed a pedestrian in Jerusalem after driving an excavator into a bus, and on Monday night, Israel and Hamas agreed to a new 72-hour ceasefire.[10][11] Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took over three towns in northern Iraq, and fighters from the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries gained control of Benghazi, Libya.[12][13] In Liège, Belgium, world leaders gathered to mark the centennial of World War I, the war to end all wars.[14]

At least 398 people were killed in an earthquake in China’s Yunnan province.[15] A woman named Kicki Karlén discovered the remains of 80 people stored inside large blue Ikea bags at Kläckeberga church near Kalmar, Sweden.[16] Liberia temporarily banned soccer and ordered that the bodies of all Ebola casualties be cremated; Sierra Leone’s leading Ebola doctor, Sheik Umar Khan, died of the virus; and Nigeria confirmed that the second person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the country was the doctor who had treated the first.[17][18][19] Kent Brantly, an American doctor who became infected with Ebola in Liberia, received a transfusion from a 14-year-old patient to whom he had tended, then was airlifted to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment. “We’ve already got smallpox and all that other crap at the CDC,” said an employee at a bookstore near the hospital.[20][21] Prior to the start of a five-week congressional recess, the House of Representatives passed, by large majorities, bills to replenish Israel’s missile-defense system and to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs, and voted, by narrow margins, to sue President Barack Obama for overstepping the powers of his office and to spend $694 million to deal with an influx of child migrants from Central and South America. “They’re not even trying to solve the problem,” said Obama, who had requested $3.7 billion for the immigration crisis.[22][23][24][25] The CIA acknowledged that its officials had hacked into computers used by Senate Intelligence Committee members investigating the agency’s detention and interrogation practices.[26] Obama told reporters that after 9/11 “we tortured some folks,” and George W. Bush revealed that he has written a biography of his father.[27][28]

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Uganda’s constitutional court struck down a law that made gay sex punishable with long prison terms, and a Utah language-school employee was reported to have been fired for blogging about homophones.[29][30] A Scottish woman who had thrown her prosthetic leg at crew members on board a flight from Enfidah, Tunisia, to Edinburgh was questioned at Crawley police station.[31] An Englishman pushed a brussels sprout up Snowdon with his nose, and an Irish veteran received delivery of a ten-foot coffin replicating a Jack Daniel’s bottle. “It was strange getting into it,” he said.[32][33] A French hospital announced that it was opening a wine bar in its palliative-care center, Parisian gendarmes misplaced 51 kilograms of cocaine, and a veteran from Citronelle, Alabama, accused burglars of trying to smoke his dead wife’s ashes.[34][35][36] Astronomers in California explained why the moon is lemon-shaped, and physicists in Vienna created a quantum Cheshire Cat.[37][38] India hired 40 men to imitate black-faced langurs outside of government buildings in order to scare away rhesus macaques.[39] Marine biologists reported that a deep-sea octopus had brooded for 53 months, then died, and one of two giraffes being transported in an open trailer on a South African highway banged its head against an overpass and died. Said an SPCA official of the other giraffe, “We have already nicknamed it Lucky.” [40][41][42]


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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.

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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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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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