Will Brazil 2014 be the last time the football world cup matters? International football could be the purest of competitions, but the dominance of the global club brands, the bloated finals tournament and lack of surprise factor together with distaste for FIFA mean that it's increasingly becoming irrelevant. Jens Gluesing on Brazil's crumbling football dream (and more). Brazil gets military training to prepare for street protests at World Cup. Joshua Keating on potential geopolitical grudge matches of the 2014 World Cup. Adidas reveals the Brazuca, a World Cup soccer ball two and a half years in the making. Conz Preti and Marie Telling on everything you need to know about the most important part of the World Cup: Hot guys, yeah, hot guys. How many more must die for Qatar's World Cup? In hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Fifa is choosing to ignore the abuse of migrant workers. From Crazy Facts, the 2022 World Cup final is planned to take place in a city that doesn’t exist yet. Kanishk Tharoor on the next truly great World Cup. Anthropomorphized weirdos: Jon Terbush on all the World Cup mascots, ranked. Et tu, Etas Unis? Tyler Huggins on soccer and the American Dream. Major League Soccer is the only pro sports league in America where superstars can earn 140 times more than their teammates — how much longer will it be able to convince talented, internationally coveted young players like the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Kofi Opare to stay in the U.S. for $35,000 a year? Dmitry Dagaev and Konstantin Sonin on how game theory works for football tournaments.

Roger Magnusson (Sydney): Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Christopher Hitchens, and the Libertarian Critique of Bloomberg's Public Health Legacy. John Reynolds (NUI-Galway): Apartheid, International Law, and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. From LRB, Seymour Hersh on how Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. It is commonly agreed that we have many general and specific moral or religious duties to avoid sexual activity (no rape, no pedophilia, no adultery, no bestiality, etc.); it is less acknowledged and infrequently discussed that we might have moral or religious duties to engage in sexual activity — and that engaging in sexual activity in certain circumstances may be morally or religiously required as a duty commanded by a secular principle or benevolence or by "Love Thy Neighbor." Michael J. Lewis on philanthropic tyranny at the NYPL: The Central Library Plan's renovations to the New York Public Library will hurt both scholars and average users. Of the 7,776 languages in use in the greater offline world, less than five percent are in use online. Scott Barry Kaufman on the heritability of intelligence. Kathleen Geier writes in praise of viciousness: The case for negative reviews, plus links to twelve classic hatchet jobs. Janet Reitman on Snowden and Greenwald, the men who leaked the secrets: How two alienated, angry geeks broke the story of the year.

Robert Chesney (Texas): Postwar. John Hagan and Joshua Kaiser (Northwestern): A Separate Peace: Explaining War, Crime, Violence, and Security During and After the Surge in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s war and its consequences: Mark Danner reviews Known and Unknown: A Memoir by Donald Rumsfeld and By His Own Rules: The Ambitions, Successes, and Ultimate Failures of Donald Rumsfeld by Bradley Graham. Tom Gallagher reviews Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Talibanistan: Thomas Barfield on why America’s longest war has also been its Groundhog Day. Last spring, the remains of 10 missing Afghan villagers were dug up outside a U.S. Special Forces base — was it a war crime or just another episode in a very dirty war? One Marine officer concluded that the U.S. way of advising the Afghan National Army was hurting more than helping — so he came up with his own solution and changed the course of the conflict. Colin Wilhelm on writing the war: Distraught by his peers’ disengagement from a war still being waged, a shaken Afghanistan veteran helps fellow fighters put their war wounds into words. Penny Lewis on the myth of the hardhat hawk: In the popular imagination, opposition to the Vietnam War was driven largely by the privileged, while supposedly reactionary blue-collar workers supported the war effort — that memory is wrong. Phil Kukielski on how Grenada reshaped the US military: Three decades ago, a tiny war changed the armed services for good.