Weekly Review — June 27, 2017, 11:56 am

Weekly Review

Senate Republicans release their health-care-reform bill, Steve Bannon says Sean Spicer “got fatter,” and geologists warn of a 92-year-old earthquake

Italy’s highest court ruled that keeping lobsters on ice before they are boiled alive inflicts unjustifiable suffering, and Republican senators released their secretly drafted health-care-reform bill, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cause 22 million Americans to lose their health insurance in the next decade and allow insurance companies to charge their oldest customers five times more than their youngest.[1][2] White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Department of Health and Human Services director Tom Price, and Republican senator Pat Toomey each said the bill would not affect Americans currently on Medicaid, and it was reported that the bill would cut Medicaid spending by almost $800 billion over ten years.[4][5][6] White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said that “able-bodied” adults should find jobs if they lose their coverage, and senior White House adviser Steve Bannon said Spicer, who was reported to be searching for candidates to take his job, “got fatter.”[7][8][9] President Donald Trump, who once sold multivitamins that he claimed were tailored to customers based on the chemical profile of their urine, said that Americans were “not standing on the rooftop screaming” over the health-care bill, and police pulled a disabled woman from her wheelchair outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office as she screamed, “No cuts to Medicaid!”[10][11][12] McConnell refused to meet about the health-care bill with the March of Dimes, a charity organization that once funded his own treatment for polio, and a woman in Australia bit a waiter whom she had failed to pay.[13][14] A poll found that 16 percent of Americans approve of the G.O.P. health-care bill passed by the House of Representatives, and a study found that seven percent of American adults think chocolate milk comes from brown cows.[15][16] It was estimated that farmers in Santa Barbara, California, plowed under $13 million in crops last year because of a shortage of laborers from Mexico; that a deal Trump had negotiated to save the jobs of workers at an Indiana air-conditioning plant would not prevent about 600 employees from being laid off; and that Trump was once sold an undeveloped quarter-acre plot of Florida swampland by a lingerie photographer.[17][18][19] A Czech nuclear power plant held a bikini contest in a cooling tower to select its next intern, and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, who when he was appointed by Trump to oversee the U.S. nuclear arsenal thought that his agency regulated the oil and gas industries, said that climate change was most likely caused by the ocean.[20][21][22] Fishermen in the Bering Sea reported that loud noises no longer scare away killer whales, which have begun hunting them; and Trump admitted that he did not have incriminating audio recordings of conversations with former FBI director James Comey, who had been investigating his administration’s ties to Russia.[23][24] Bill Clinton warned that drug use would “eat us all alive,” and a man in Australia was presumed dead after smoking meth and attempting sex with a crocodile.[25][26] The New Hampshire Senate accidentally passed a bill allowing pregnant women to commit murder, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that ethnic slurs can be trademarked, and Trump appointed as head of the Office of Indian Energy William Bradford, a lawyer who has previously said that former president Barack Obama is a “Kenyan creampuff,” that “it was necessary” for the United States to intern Japanese Americans during World War II, and that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a “self-hating Jew.”[27][28][29][30] A group of white nationalists waved Confederate flags during a rally at the Lincoln Memorial, and seismologists in California mistakenly sent out a warning for a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that occurred in 1925. “The quake,” said a geophysicist, “did happen.”[31][32]

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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.

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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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