Weekly Review — June 3, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in response to complaints that weapons of mass destruction still have not been found in Iraq, speculated that Iraq might have destroyed its illegal weapons before the war began.New York TimesPaul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, admitted that the administration’s focus on Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction was simply politically convenient.”For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction,” he said, “because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Wolfowitz pointed with pride to the “huge prize” that resulted from the invasion, an alternative to Saudi Arabia as a base for American forces.Independent.co.uk A senior British official claimed that his government had “transformed” an intelligence report on Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction to make it “sexier.” “The classic example,” he said, “was the statement that weapons of mass destruction were ready for use within 45 minutes.”BBC Prime Minister Tony Blair denied fabricating the report but Labour MPs were threatening to report him to the Speaker of the Commons for misleading parliament.”No weapons means no threat,” said one MP.”Without WMD, the case for war falls apart.” “I believe the prime minister lied to us and lied to us and lied to us,” said another.”The whole war was built upon falsehood and I think the long-term damage will be to democracy in Britain.”Independent.co.uk “The time has come when the British government needs to concede that we did not go to war because Saddam was a threat to our national interests,” said Robin Cook, the former British foreign secretary who resigned over the Iraq war.”We went to war for reasons of U.S. foreign policy and Republican domestic politics.”Independent.co.uk Neoconservatives both in and out of the Bush Administration were pressing for a policy of “regime change” in Iran, and theInter Press Service, Yahoo NewsDefense Department was said to be in favor of a massive covert operation to overthrow the Iranian government.ReutersIran announced the arrest of several suspected Al Qaeda members; the White House said that the arrests were “insufficient,”Reuters and President George W. Bush did not quite deny reports of a possible American attack on Iran: “We’ve had all kinds of reports that we’re going to use force in Syria and now some are, I guess, saying force in Iran, force here and force there.This is pure speculation.We used force in Iraq after a long, long period of diplomacy.”UPI The Pentagon discovered 200 vials of anthrax and other bacteria among 2,000 tons of hazardous waste on an Army base about 50 miles from Washington, D.C.Times of LondonPresident Bush told Polish journalists that “we found the weapons of mass destruction,”Charleston Post and Courier and Lt. Gen. James Conway, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, said that American forces have looked very hard for weapons of mass destruction but that “they’re simply not there.”UPI

President Bush went on a tour of Europe and visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz, where he wrote “never forget” in the guest book; a few hours later he made a speech at a castle and used the occasion to congratulate himself for invading Iraq,New York Times where it was estimated that 10,000 cluster bombs were lying around unexploded.Observer.co.uk Fifty thousand people marched to protest the G8 summit in Evian, France, but were kept 30 miles away from the town.Independent.co.ukBush gave Vladimir Putin a big hug and invited him to a sleepover at Camp David; Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder received perfunctory handshakes.Daily Telegraph The president was photographed holding hands with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.New York Times Some Afghan civilians were found to have “astonishing” levels of uranium in their urine.BBC Eric Robert Rudolph, the Christianterrorist, was arrested in North Carolina after a five-year manhunt.Associated Press Maj. Gen. Geoffery Miller, the commander of Camp Delta, the Guantnamo Bay concentration camp for suspected terrorists, announced plans to build a death row and an execution chamber at the camp.Courier Mail (Australia) The Supreme Court ruled that police can question suspects who are in great pain without reading them their rights; Justice John Paul Stevens called the interrogation at issue in the case “the functional equivalent of an attempt to obtain an involuntary confession from a prisoner by torturous methods.”Undernews Philadelphia’s city council voted to condemn the USA Patriot Act.Washington Post President Bush was made an honorary Yale Whiffenpoof.”We are poor little lambs who have lost our way,” he said.”Baa, baa, baa.”New York Times

President Bush signed a bill permitting a record-breaking $984 billion increase in the amount the government is allowed to borrow, raising the limit to an historic $7.4 trillion; the next day Bush signed his new tax cut, which could save Dick Cheney$100,000 a year.New York Times It was discovered that families earning between $10,500 and $26,625 a year will not receive the new increase in the child tax credit.New York TimesSchoolchildren in Akron, Ohio, will be fingerprinted so that they can be identified in school lunch lines.Beacon Journal A baby was found crawling down the middle of a busy street in Orem, Utah, at 3 a.m.Salt Lake Tribune In South Africa a baby was born after developing inside her mother’s liver instead of in the womb.BBC Sherpa Lhakpa Gelu climbed Mt.Everest in 10 hours 56 minutes.Telegraph A Virginia woman crashed into Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s car but failed to injure him.New York Times An 83-year-old man in Queens, New York, accidentally ran down and killed his 82-year-old wife while parking his car.New York TimesGreat Britain sent a spaceship to Mars.Daily TelegraphPresident Bush told the new owner of the Anaheim Angels that “it’s pretty quick how things happen in America.You buy the team, now you’re at the White House.”Los Angeles Times China cracked down on spitting, and the Communist Party Central Committee’s Spiritual Civilization Office issued a “Directive on Launching Activities to Transform Vile Habits.”New York Times Hungry tigers and lions in Chinese zoos were trying to eat one another.Associated Press Scientists in Idaho cloned a mule.Associated PressBob Hope turned 100.New York Times A lawmaker in Nebraska proposed declaring war on Iowa.Associated Press King Mswati of Swaziland blamed the world’s ills on women who wear pants.Australian Broadcasting Corp. A new study found that handsome men have the fastest sperm.New Scientist

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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 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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