I read The Sunday New York Times, so you don’t have to: May 16
1, The fascinating lead story of the day, “For Times Sq. Suspect, Long Roots of Discontent,” examines the man accused of leaving a bomb in Times Square. Faisal Shahzad was living a successful life in the United States, yet did not know how to resolve the moral, cultural, ideological and religious divide between Muslims and the West. George Bush invaded two Muslim countries, and Shahzad, like many Muslims, knows that one of those invasions – Iraq – was justified by a series of lies by the Bush administration. Shahzad saw the photos of Muslim men at Guantanamo, many of them swept up for no apparent reason, and now in shackles. “He understood the notion that Islam prohibits the killing of innocents,” this important story reports. But in an e-mail to friends, Shahzad wrote, “Can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?” Nothing will be resolved by viewing the problem through a Western lens. The story is far more complex than the cartoon version of the Muslim world that many news organizations present.
2, Las Vegas, “is trying to recover by building what it does not need,” The Times writes of a new housing boom in areas where the housing crash was loudest. Here, 9,517 new homes sit empty, another 5,800 were repossessed in the first three months of the year. Contractors suggest that homes are now more affordable after the crash, and they’re stepping into that market. Yet, “Simply put, the country already has too many houses,” The Times writes. Is this any way to run an economic recovery?
3, Confusion reins in the nomination of Elena Kagan to replace Justice John Paul Stephens in the Supreme Court. Worries are emerging among the left that she’s not as liberal a pick as they’d like. In particular, the contentious Citizens United case in January, allowing corporations unlimited ability to contribute to political causes, is free speech; Kagan seems to side with the conservative viewpoint. Or maybe not. In the examples quoted in this story, no position seems definitive. Sometimes her academic words are at odds with her most-recent work as solicitor general. As Loyola Law School election specialist Richard L.Hansen notes, “her statements in court “were on behalf of her client and might not represent her own thinking, which might in any event have changed in the intervening 14 years.” Perhaps only Barack Obama, who we know does his homework, knows what he has here.
4, Health insurance companies are working fervently to undo Obama’s health care initiative. Consumer groups, The Times reports, “worry that their legislative victories could be undone or undercut by the rules being written by the federal government and the states.” The story notes that “One provision bars insurers from carrying out an ‘unreasonable premium increase’ unless they first submit justifications to federal and state officials. Congress did not say what is unreasonable, leaving that task to rule-writers.”
5, Bud Mahurin, U.S. fighter pilot ace, has died at age 91 in Newport Beach, Calif. Mahurin was credited with shooting down 20.75 enemy airplanes in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II (the three-quarters reflects shared kills with other pilots).He also shot down three MIG-15s during the Korean War before he himself was downed by anti-aircraft fire, was captured and tortured, and releasd at the war’s end. “You seldom think of aerial combat – getting shot at – as fun,” he said in 2003, “but it’s a lot of fun if you’re doing the shooting.”
6, Also in the obits, K. Dun Gifford, a healthy-eating advocate who said “We need to teach people that food is glorious and you don’t need to eat a lot to be satisfied,” and Richard LaMotta, inventor of the Chipwich Ice Cream Sandwich, died within two days of each other.
7, The hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons is a man at peace: a Vegan who meditates, does yoga, rides his bike, drinks green juice and tweets his prayers.
8, The Green Hornet is due to be released in January, starring Seth Rogan. The role of Black Beauty, the Green Hornet’s legendary vehicle, is being played by 29 customized vintage Chrysler Imperials.
9, Sunday Business has gotten ahold of Ben Bernanke’s 1975 high-school yearbook photo. The now-bald future Federal Reserve chairman sports long hair and a mustache. Nor sure what that means for the future of the economy, though….
10, Feel good about that new Arizona anti-immigration law? “Blacks and Latinos were nine times as likely as whites to be stopped and frisked by the New York City police in 2009,” The Times writes in Week in Review, “but, once stopped, were no more likely to be arrested.” The most-common reason for stopping people was “furtive movements.”
11, Arts & Leisure features Holland Cotter’s love letter to Emily Dickinson. But perhaps not the Dickinson most of us are casually acquainted.”At her most extreme,” he writes, “she was a terrorist:”
Had I a mighty gun
I think I’d shoot the human race
12, In the magazine, an issue otherwise dedicated to money, suggests a recipe for Yucatan Shrimp by the Florida crime novelist Randy Wayne White, who owns a restaurant near Sanibel Island. “You will note that the shrimp are unpeeled,
writes Sam Sifton. “The communal act of peeling and eating the cooked shrimp, White says, leads to a sharing of the spirit of Sanibel itself….” Besides, most chefs will tell you that the shell adds to the flavor.
13, The Book Review examines Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory. That might be all you need to know about the famous, “Man Who Never Was,” a scheme in which the British planted fake invasion documents on a corpse, leading the Germans to believe an invasion was coming to Greece, rather than Sicily. “The operation succeeded beyond wildest expectations,” writes reviewer Jennet Conant, “fooling the German high command into changing its Mediterranean defense strategy and and allowing Allied forces to conquer Sicily with limited casualties.” It all comes off like a spy novel, perhaps because much of it was concocted by Ian Fleming – who would later go on to write the James Bond novels. Fleming himself discovered the idea in an old detective novel. Regimes rise and fall on familiarity of pop culture.