Weekly Review — May 9, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

In Iraq car bombs killed 24 people,BBC Newsand a British helicopter was shot down over Basra, killing all five crew members.The GuardianIn Anbar, at a ceremony for new Iraqi soldiers, the graduates were told that they would be sent outside of their home province to serve, leading several soldiers to tear off their clothes in protest.The Washington PostIraqipoliceshot a 14-year-old boy named Ahmed Khalil in the head for being a gayprostitute.Gay.comIn Afghanistan the power of the Taliban was growing.The New York TimesAnalysts found that President George W. Bush had claimed exemption from 750 laws,The Boston Globeand Bush said that the best moment of his presidency was when he caught a seven-and-a-half-pound perch.ReutersThere was a marked increase in cases of fishlice.Practical FishkeepingIn England the Archbishop of York played African drums and led a conga line as he wore a hoodie,BBC Newsand in New York City, an Italian tourist was attacked and suffered a broken arm after he sat down on a motorcycle that was parked outside the local Hells Angels clubhouse.The New York PostA man in Brooklyn, angry because someone asked him to stop drinking, shot and killed a 3-year-old girl.The New York TimesThe cost of the memorial for the victims of the World Trade Center attacks was estimated at around $972 million, or about 26 percent of the original cost of the World Trade Center.The New York TimesDue to extreme inflation, toilet paper in Harare, Zimbabwe, cost $145,750 per roll (or U.S. $0.69).The New York Times

A plane flying from Armenia to Russia crashed into the Black Sea, killing 113 people.BBC NewsPresident Bush said he would like to see the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed,Reutersand CIA Director Porter Goss resigned, as did Goss appointee Kyle “Dusty” Foggo, the executive director of the CIA; Foggo is under investigation for his relationship to two defense contractors who allegedly bribed former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Pentagon officials.AP via Breitbart.comUPIABC NewsAfter being sentenced to life in prison for his role in planning the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Zacarias Moussaoui asked a judge to consider a “not guilty” plea instead. “I now see,” said Moussaoui, “that it is possible that I can receive a fair trial even with Americans as jurors.” The judge denied the request.BBC NewsIranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to President Bush seeking to improve relations between Iran and the United States; the White House denounced the letter but would not confirm whether the President had read it.BBC NewsA 1918 letter emerged that appears to show that the members of the YaleSkull and Bones society stole the skull of the Apache leader Geronimo from its grave, and may have used it in rituals.Yale Alumni MagazineA study found that white middle-aged Britons were, on average, healthier than white middle-aged Americans,The Guardianand Prince Henrik of Denmark, honorary president of the Danish Dachshund Club, told an interviewer that he enjoys eatingdogs.The New York Sun

Chinesescientists said that the glaciers of the Tibetan plateau were evaporating. “The melting glaciers,” said Dong Guangrong, “will ultimately trigger more droughts, expand desertification, and increase sand storms.” One such storm recently dumped over 300,000 tons of dust in Beijing; technicians cleaned away some of the dust by firing seven rocket shells filled with silver iodide into the air to produce four-tenths of an inch of rainfall.The IndependentChina ViewScientists in Korea revealed a new, attractive female robot that understands 400 words and can blink. “We are working,” said one roboticist, “on upgrading the android with the aim of making it move its legs by the end of this year.”The Korea TimesAn Australianpainter named Tim Patch unveiled a portrait of Prime Minister John Howard that he had painted with his penis,News.com.auand the head of the Iranian Physical Education Organization banned effeminate-looking athletes.Breitbart.comIn Hungary, it was widely reported, construction workers renovating a house discovered, and drank, a barrel of rum; when the barrel was empty they found that it contained a pickled human corpse (the story was later revealed as an urban legend).The AdvertiserIn Valparaiso, Indiana, a deaf man got into a fight with a man with two prosthetic legs; police later arrested the deaf man via a note.Breitbart.comScientists in Colorado said that the ozone layer was recovering,ReutersQatar announced $60 million in aid for New Orleans,The New York Timesand Kansas raised its minimum marriage age to 15.MSNBC

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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.

Photograph from Puerto Rico by Christopher Gregory
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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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After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

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$25,000

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"Gun owners have long been the hypochondriacs of American politics. Over the past twenty years, the gun-rights movement has won just about every battle it has fought; states have passed at least a hundred laws loosening gun restrictions since President Obama took office. Yet the National Rifle Association has continued to insist that government confiscation of privately owned firearms is nigh. The NRA’s alarmism helped maintain an active membership, but the strategy was risky: sooner or later, gun guys might have realized that they’d been had. Then came the shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, followed swiftly by the nightmare the NRA had been promising for decades: a dedicated push at every level of government for new gun laws. The gun-rights movement was now that most insufferable of species: a hypochondriac taken suddenly, seriously ill."

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