Weekly Review — June 17, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Israelis and Palestinians were doing their best to slaughter one another in a vigorous exchange of revenge attacks; Israel’s defense minister ordered security forces to “use everything they have” to destroy Hamas; Hamas responded in kind and released a statement calling on “all military cells to act immediately and act like an earthquake to blow up the Zionist entity and tear it to pieces.”GuardianAriel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, ridiculed Palestinian leaders as “crybabies” and said that Abu Mazen, the new prime minister, was “a chick without feathers.”Independent, GuardianIraqi civilians continued to die in what Lt. Gen. David McKiernan called “a cycle of action, reaction and counter-action”; among those who were killed by mistake was a family of shepherds and a family that was trying to put out fires in their wheat field that were set by American flares.GuardianThe American soldiers looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were running out of places to look. “It doesn’t appear there are any more targets at this time,” said Lt. Col. Keith Harrington. “We’re hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future.”Washington PostPresident Bush was still “absolutely convinced” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.New York TimesFrank Luntz, the Republican pollster, said that it doesn’t matter whether WMD are found, “because the rationale for the war changed. Americans like a good picture. And one photograph of an Iraqichild kissing a U.S. soldier is more powerful than two months of debate on the floor of Congress.”Washington PostCBS News sent an interview request to Pfc. Jessica Lynch, the American P.O.W. whose dramatic rescue in Iraq turned out to be largely simulated, that included “ideas” from CBS Entertainment, MTV, and Simon & Schuster; some news critics found the combination of news and entertainment offers “troubling.”New York TimesEgypt banned the new Matrix movie.CBCPresident Bush was photographed falling off a Segway scooter in his parents’ driveway.Reuters

The U.N.Security Council voted to extend by one year the exemption for American peacekeepers who commit war crimes.Associated PressDonald Rumsfeld threatened to move NATO’s headquarters out of Brussels because of Belgium’s law that permits lawsuits for war crimes committed anywhere in the world.Daily TelegraphAn Iraqi shepherd filed a $200 million lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld for the deaths of 17 family members and 200 sheep.Agence France-PresseIn Pennsylvania, a fifth-grade boy killed himself in a school bathroom after several friends refused to go along with his plans to attack the school with three rifles, two shotguns, and two pistols.Associated PressBritish scientists were developing “smart” airline seats that will detect potential terrorists by measuring airline passengers’ anxiety levels.New ScientistPeople named “David Nelson” were still having a hard time traveling by air because the name appears on the federal antiterrorism “no-fly” list.Associated PressA bomb was found on an Italian airliner.New York TimesPolice in Saudi Arabia said they had prevented a terrorist attack when they raided a booby-trapped apartment in Mecca; five militants and two police officers died in the shootout.NewsdayAn Egyptian woman drowned herself shortly after giving birth to her second daughter because her husband, who has fathered daughters with three different wives, threatened to kill her if she gave him another daughter.Associated PressA Coca-Cola employee was reportedly fired for drinking Pepsi on the job.Reuters

New genetic research on the AIDS virus suggested that its viral parent was produced by the mixing of two monkey viruses that infected chimpanzees about a million years ago.The chimps probably caught the viruses from eating the flesh of monkeys; humans, many scientists believe, first contracted HIV from eating chimps.New ScientistScientists said they had discovered some 160,000-year-old human skulls in Ethiopia.Science DailyConAgra Foods Poultry recalled 129,000 pounds of chicken because it contains glass.Associated PressMaine’s legislature passed a bill guaranteeing universal health coverage to all state residents.New York TimesEvolutionary theorists suggested that early humans lost their hair in order to fight parasites.New ScientistMonkeypox victims were being quarantined and pet prairie dogs were banned, as was the importation of African rodents.Associated PressAn Australian company was planning to harvest tissue from aborted fetuses to be exported for experiments.Daily TelegraphGregory Peck died.Daily TelegraphNASA sent a spaceship to Mars.New ScientistBritain’s honorary astronomer royal estimated the odds of an apocalypse to be 50 percent, up from 20 percent 100 years ago.ReutersA genetically modifiedfish that glows in the dark went on sale in Taiwan.ObserverAsthma patients descended on Hyderabad, India, in order to swallow live fish that were stuffed with an herbal paste.ABC.net.auCannibalism was on the rise in North Korea.Daily Telegraph

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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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A gay penguin couple in China’s Polar Land zoo were ostracized by other penguins and then placed in a separate enclosure after they made repeated attempts to steal the eggs of straight penguin couples and replace them with stones.

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