Weekly Review — April 12, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker]

Eighteen people died when a U.S. helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed they shot down the helicopter; the United States blamed bad weather.BBC NewsChicago TribuneIraq’s parliament elected Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as president; his Presidency Council then named Ibrahim Jaffari, a Shiite, as prime minister.BBC NewsSenior American defense officials noted several positive developments in Iraq: only thirty-six American soldiers, they said, died there this March; attacks on allied forces were down to thirty or forty a day; and by early 2006, only 105,000 American soldiers may be needed in the country.New York TimesTens of thousands of Iraqis held a nonviolent march in Baghdad to protest the American occupation,Reuterstens of thousands of Lebanese held a mass jog through Beirut to show national unity,APand thousands of Chinese rallied to protest Japanese history textbooks.The AustralianThe Bush Administration was working to gain access to records of international money transfers,New York Timesand transcripts of legal proceedings at Guantánamo Bay were released. “I don’t care about international law,” said the president of a military tribunal in one transcript. “I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.”APAt the pope’s funeral, Prince Charles shook Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s hand,The Guardianthen went home to England, where he married Camilla Parker Bowles.BBC NewsTony Blair called a general election for May 5, 2005.BBC NewsPrince Rainier III of Monaco died,New York Timesand Peter Jennings announced that he has lung cancer.New York Times

Scottish soccer fans booed during a moment of silence to honor the pope,APSaul Bellow died,APand National Library Week began.The Daily DemocratThe New York Public Library planned to auction off rare artworks to raise money,New York Timesand developers in England were about to start construction on Dickens World, a $113 million theme park that will offer an Ebenezer Scrooge ride and Dickens characters on ice.SEEDAA long-lost poem written by Tennessee Williams was discovered,Washington Universityand geneticists bred blue roses.Biology News NetTen million eight hundred thousand copies of the next Harry Potter book were being printed.Argus LeaderIn Florida, investigators traced an outbreak of E. coli to a petting zoo,KansasCity.comand the EPA decided to cancel a study of the effects of pesticides on infants.Salt Lake TribuneIt was revealed that Interior Department scientists studying the environmental effects of a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, had made things up and deleted findings they did not understand so that the development of the dump could go forward. “Science by peer pressure is dangerous but sometime it is necessary,” one scientist wrote in an email.New York TimesThe United Arab Emirates tested prototypes of robotic camel jockeys, which will replace child camel jockeys,Reutersa nine-foot-long eel with a head as big as a soccer ball was swimming loose in Australia,ABC News Onlineand millions??possibly billions??of butterflies were fluttering towards California.Biology News NetIt was announced that Cookie Monster would cut back on cookies.Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Republicans held a conference to discuss ways to reform the federal judiciary, which they say has “run amok.” Senator Tom Coburn’s chief of staff said that “mass impeachment” of judges might be necessary, and Tom DeLay, who is under investigation for illegal fundraising, gave a pre-recorded speech entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.”New York TimesDeLay was accused of paying his wife and daughter $500,000 from funds controlled by his political-action committee. He was also accused of taking lobbyist-funded trips to Russia, Saipan, and Scotland.ABC NewsNew York TimesBoth sides in Ivory Coast’s civil war signed a peace accord.Globe and MailScientists drilled 4,644 feet into the earth’s crust, nearly reaching the mantle,Kerala NextAndreaDworkin died,The Guardianand archaeologists in Germany uncovered a 7,200-year-old pornographic statue. The GuardianA study found that store clerks are more respectful to slender shoppers than to obese ones,APand scientists in Connecticut inseminated a whale.Live ScienceIn Indiana, someone threw a pie in William Kristol’s face. Someone else threw a pie at David Horowitz. Prior to the pie throwings, Pat Buchanan was doused with salad dressing.Palladium-ItemIsrael was planning to dump 10,000 tons of garbage a month into the West Bank,Haaretzand Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinian teenagers in Gaza.HaaretzA social-studies teacher in Georgia was in trouble for putting on blackface,WSBTV.coma Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in jail,APand a Georgia man died after police shot him with nonlethal beanbags.CNN.comMany conservative American pharmacists were refusing to dispense birth control,BBC Newsand tailors sewed the next pope’srobes.USA Today

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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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