Weekly Review — November 7, 2017, 4:12 pm

Weekly Review

Paradise lost

Millions of confidential files stolen from a Bermuda-based law firm detailed the offshore holdings and transactions of more than 120 politicians around the world, revealing that the Queen of England invested millions in a corporation in the Cayman Islands whose portfolio includes a retail company that has been accused of using hard-sell tactics on poor customers; that a former president of the UN General Assembly was the owner of a trust that held shares in a company in the Seychelles that he said he thought he could use to “avoid” but not evade taxes; that a former chancellor of Austria was a director of a company registered in Malta that held shares in another Maltese company whose shareholders included his campaign advisor, who was once arrested on charges of money laundering; that a former member of the Ukrainian parliament was the sole shareholder of a company registered in Malta that paid no taxes on assets valued at $6.6 million in 2014; that a former minister of energy and finance in Kazakhstan, who fled the country in 2009 after $10 billion was discovered missing from the bank he chaired, opened a trust in the Cayman Islands in 2007; that a former president of Costa Rica sat with an advisor to former US president Bill Clinton on the board of a renewable energy company incorporated in Bermuda that was bought by an Italian company for $73 million; that a former US commerce secretary transferred her shares in two Bermuda-based firms to a Delaware company owned by trusts for her children and then wrote on a federal ethics form that the shares had been sold; that the current US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross holds a stake in an offshore shipping company that is partnered with the son-in-law of Russian president Vladimir Putin; that a former prime minister of Canada served with a foreign policy advisor to former UK prime minister Margret Thatcher as directors of a Bermuda-based company which helped the United Kingdom trade arms to Saudi Arabia in exchange for oil; that another former prime minister of Canada owned shares in an oil-drilling company registered in Bermuda that went public in 2010 with a valuation of $284 million; and that a third former prime minister of Canada owned a Bermuda-registered business which held shares in two shipping companies based in Barbados, a country he had exempted from offshore tax reform while serving as finance minister. “We’ll take every appropriate action,” said current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, who campaigned on doing a “better job” going after “tax avoiders,” and whose chief fundraiser was shown to own an offshore trust in the Cayman Islands that he may have used to avoid taxes in Canada, Israel, and the United States.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

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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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