Weekly Review — October 3, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

A Dutch archaeologist claimed to have identified a papyrus containing the signature of Cleopatra; the document, which dates from 33 B.C., was written by a secretary, except for one word, “genestho,” Greek for “make it so.”Saddam Hussein sent senior spies to Serbia to help Slobodan Milosevic, who lost last week’s presidential election and was facing daily protests demanding that he leave office; Milosevic’s wife, Mira, was said to favor fleeing the country.A New York jury ordered Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb war criminal, to pay $4.5 million in damages for presiding over a policy of rape, torture, and genocide in Bosnia.Quebecois terrorists known as the French Language Self-Defense Brigade claimed responsibility for bombing a church in Montreal.British prime minister Tony Blair attended a Labor party conference; “Let’s Work Together,” by Canned Heat, was the theme song.Hippies threw cobble stones and Molotov cocktails at police in Prague.Political violence continued in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, Indonesia, and elsewhere.The defense ministers of North and South Korea met and decided to fix a railroad.The Los Angeles transit strike continued; some 500,000 mostly poor commuters were still stranded.A Greek ferryboat crew was arrested and charged with manslaughter after the boat hit a marked and illuminated reef off Paros and sank, killing at least 90; the crew had put the boat on autopilot so they could watch a soccer match.The U.S. Census Bureau announced that Americans were wealthier than they used to be, though only about as wealthy as they were ten years ago.President Bill Clinton attended his 140th fundraiser of the year; he told the crowd: “I believe in raising money.”

Members of a Coney Island gang called the Cream Team (which stands for Cash Rules Everything Around Me) were arrested on charges of kidnapping, assault, robbery, drugs, and attempted murder.The driver who ran over horror writer Stephen King was found dead in his mobile home.Scientists at Monsanto were working on genetically modified lawn grasses that will come in bright new colors, require less water, and glow in the dark.The world’s oldest mummy, who was found in the Alps nine years ago, was thawed out for scientific tests.The U.S. Office of Human Research Protections said that scientists who experiment on humans should be given instruction in ethics.Paul Miller, the U.S. equal opportunities commissioner, wrote an article calling for legal protection for the genetically challenged; civil rights activists have documented over 200 cases of genetic discrimination by employers.A law that would ban the practice has been blocked by the insurance lobby.Canadianpolice discovered organs in a warehouse that were taken from two dead children by Dick van Velzen, a pathologist who previously removed and kept the organs of 850 children without permission in Britain; last year authorities discovered that Dr. van Velzen’s previous employer in Liverpool had a huge stockpile of children’s organs, including a collection of 2,080 hearts.

RU-486, the abortion pill, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Governor George W. Bush said it was the wrong decision.The Supreme Court refused to hear the Microsoft antitrust appeal and sent the case back to a lower court.An Italiantelevision station broadcast selections from childpornography videos after investigators, in an Internet sting operation, arrested eight Italian perverts.Scientists claimed to have found a gene (called V1RL1) that might have something or other to do with pheromones, molecules secreted by humans and rodents, among other mammals, to stimulate sex and violence.A man named Ronald Edward Gay shot up a gay bar, killing one man and injuring six others, because he was tired of being teased for having the name “Gay,” which two of his three sons had renounced.A crazed Roman Catholic priest drove a car into an abortion clinic and proceeded to hack at the walls with an ax; he stopped after the owner of the building twice fired warning shots with his 12-gauge shotgun.Senator Joseph Lieberman’s mom was reportedly sending journalists care packages that included Tylenol, lip balm, tissues, apples, Manishewitz bagel chips, and a note asking them to be nice to her boy.The Virgin Mary appeared in a dirty window in Perth Amboy, New Jersey; people came from miles around to pray.Jess Gutirrez Rebollo, the former head of Mexico’s National Institute to Combat Drugs, was sentenced to 71 years in prison on drug and weapons charges.Rain fell in north Texas.Floods in Calcutta left hundreds dead and 55,000 homeless; a woman died after a bag of rice dropped from a passing helicopter landed on her head.

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Progress is impossible without change,” George Bernard Shaw wrote in 1944, “and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” But progress through persuasion has never seemed harder to achieve. Political segregation has made many Americans inaccessible, even unimaginable, to those on the other side of the partisan divide. On the rare occasions when we do come face-to-face, it is not clear what we could say to change each other’s minds or reach a worthwhile compromise. Psychological research has shown that humans often fail to process facts that conflict with our preexisting worldviews. The stakes are simply too high: our self-worth and identity are entangled with our beliefs — and with those who share them. The weakness of logic as a tool of persuasion, combined with the urgency of the political moment, can be paralyzing.

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On a balmy day last spring, Connor Chase sat on a red couch in the waiting room of a medical clinic in Columbus, Ohio, and watched the traffic on the street. His bleached-blond hair fell into his eyes as he scrolled through his phone to distract himself. Waiting to see Mimi Rivard, a nurse practitioner, was making Chase nervous: it would be the first time he would tell a medical professional that he was transgender.

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In the summer of 2016, when Congress installed a financial control board to address Puerto Rico’s crippling debt, I traveled to San Juan, the capital. The island owed some $120 billion, and Wall Street was demanding action. On the news, President Obama announced his appointments to the Junta de Supervisión y Administración Financiera. “The task ahead for Puerto Rico is not an easy one,” he said. “But I am confident Puerto Rico is up to the challenge of stabilizing the fiscal situation, restoring growth, and building a better future for all Puerto Ricans.” Among locals, however, the control board was widely viewed as a transparent effort to satisfy mainland creditors — just the latest tool of colonialist plundering that went back generations.

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In 1899, the art critic Layton Crippen complained in the New York Times that private donors and committees had been permitted to run amok, erecting all across the city a large number of “painfully ugly monuments.” The very worst statues had been dumped in Central Park. “The sculptures go as far toward spoiling the Park as it is possible to spoil it,” he wrote. Even worse, he lamented, no organization had “power of removal” to correct the damage that was being done.

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