Weekly Review — March 28, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker, 1875]

Thirty beheaded corpses were found in Baquba, Iraq, and 10 more bodies were found in Baghdad, where the homicide rate had reached 33 per day. Shiites were abducting Sunnis in bright daylight on crowded streets. “If the Americans leave,” said one Sunni man (whose brother had recently been executed after being tortured with power tools), “we are finished. We may be finished already.”The New York TimesThe New York TimesIn Miqdadiya, near Baquba, militants attacked a prison, killed 20 people, and freed 30 prisoners.BBC NewsA doctor in Baghdad admitted to killing 35 policemen and soldiers who were being treated at his hospital.The Washington PostAmerican and Iraqi forces said they had killed 17 Shiite militiamen at a mosque in Baghdad; Iraqi television showed corpses in a prayer room.The New York TimesPresident George W. Bush denied that Iraq was in the midst of a civil war, although when asked about the possibility of a full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq he said: “That will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.”BBC NewsOmar Pimentel, the mayor of the violence-plagued town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, resigned nine months after being elected; his predecessor had been shot dead hours after being sworn in. “Something inside a man,” said Pimentel, “tells him when he should come and when he should go.”The New York TimesBoth Democrat and Republican strategists agreed that if midterm elections were held now, the Democrats would gain control of the House of Representatives.TimeIt was revealed that prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraqi foreign minister Naji Sabri had, for a fee, provided the United States with detailed assessments of Iraq’s military capabilities. Sabri’s assessments of Iraq’s nuclear and biological weapons capabilities proved, in hindsight, to be far more reliable than the CIA estimates used to justify the invasion; the CIA had no comment on why the data was ignored.MSNBC via CommondreamsU.S. Sergeant Michael J. Smith was found guilty of using a dog to terrorize prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. He was also found guilty of indecency for directing his dog to lick peanut butter from the genitals of a fellow male soldier and from the breasts of a fellow female soldier.The Kansas City StarA poodlerapist in Phoenix, Arizona, remained at large.KOLD

President Bush attended a naturalization ceremony in Washington, D.C. “Our Constitution,” he said, “does not limit citizenship by background or birth.”The White HouseThe Supreme Court voted to refuse Puerto Ricans the right to vote in U.S. Presidential elections,BBC Newsand a half-million people protested in Los Angeles against changes to U.S. immigration law.The Los Angeles TimesIn Spain the Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent ceasefire.BBC NewsThe United Nations celebrated World Water Day by noting that 40 percent of the world’s population lacked basic sanitation,ABC News Onlineand it was reported that the World Bank’s plan to privatize water supplies in impoverished nations had largely failed. Of the $25 billion invested in clean water, only 1 percent had reached sub-Saharan Africa, and much of the money had gone to providing clean water to the wealthy.The GuardianColgate announced that it would buy Tom’s of Maine for about $100 million.The Boston GlobeThe World Health Organization reported that 103 humans had died from bird flu since late 2003, mostly in Vietnam and Indonesia.BBC NewsAt least 127 people drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Cameroon.BBC NewsIt emerged that the Bush Administration had quietly issued a “signing statement” on the Patriot Act; the statement indicates that the President intends to ignore oversight requirements built into the act, such as the requirement that the President inform Congress of how the FBI was using its new spying powers.Boston.comThe President also approved H.J. Res. 47, increasing the public debt from $8.184 trillion to $8.965 trillion.The White HouseEighty-seven percent of the world’s opium was made from poppies grown in Afghanistan,St. Louis Todaythe world health community was close to eradicating Guinea worm,The New York Timesand scientists in Wisconsin announced that they could convert cheese waste into ethanol.Wisconsin Ag ConnectionA tortoise named Adwaita died in India from complications brought on by a cracked shell; he was between 150 and 250 years old.BBC NewsCecilia Fire Thunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, vowed to use tribal land to provide abortions to South Dakotans, despite the state’s near-total ban on the procedure. “I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land,” said Fire Thunder.Indianz.comSt. Louis talk show host Dave Lenihan, discussing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a potential NFL commissioner, said: “She loves football. She’s African-American, which would kind of be a big coon.” He repeated: “A big coon.” Lenihan apologized, said that he meant to say “coup,” and was fired.FOX NewsA group of U.S. senators visited China to push for an increased valuation of the yuan; without such a change the Senate plans to vote for tariffs on Chinese imports. “We would like to get an idea from our Chinese hosts,” said Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), “what the future is going to be like.”BBC NewsChina announced a new 5 percent tax on disposable chopsticks.ABC News Online

Stanislaw Lem died.ReutersAmerican researchers found that whale songs have a hierarchical structure, but there is no evidence that whales can discuss distinct or abstract objects.New ScientistIt was revealed that Barbara Bush donated an unspecified amount of money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund with instructions that the money be given to Ignite Learning, an educational software company owned by her son Neil.The Houston ChronicleA ruptured British Petroleum oil pipeline in Alaska had leaked over 240,000 gallons of oil, much of it into the Arctic Ocean.The Independent via CommondreamsKurdish author Kamal Karim was sentenced to 18 months in jail for accusing Kurdish leaders of corruption,The New York Timesand a Los Angeles judge ordered David Hasselhoff to stay at least 100 yards from his estranged wife, Pamela Bach.AP via Yahoo! NewsJapanese researchers analyzing water trapped in minerals discovered that the microbes that generate methane existed about 3.49 billion years ago.Science News OnlineAn Arkansasscience teacher was ordered not to tell his students the actual age of stones.Arkansas TimesA poll found that Americans trust atheists even less than Muslims, recent immigrants, and lesbians,UMN Newsand a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, found that confident, self-reliant children tend to grow up to be liberals, while whiny, annoying children tend to grow up to be conservatives.The StarTresa Waggoner, an elementary school music teacher in Bennett, Colorado, was suspended from her job after local parents complained that she was a lesbian devil worshiper; the parents drew this conclusion after learning that Waggoner showed her classes a videotape of the opera Faust performed with sock puppets.The Los Angeles TimesIn San Francisco over 25,000 teenagers gathered at AT&T Park for an evangelical Christian rally. “The devil’s a pimp,” said one 18-year-old attendee. “Don’t be his ho.”SFGate.com

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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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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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