Weekly Review — October 9, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Burma’s junta claimed that peace and stability had been restored following its crackdown on mass pro-democracy protests in which at least 30 people, but likely far more, were killed. Up to 6,000 monks had been arrested, Internet service to the country was almost completely cut off, and the army was paying 20,000 kyat to the families of non-protesters who had been accidentally killed. “Myanmar people,” said a demoralized taxi driver, “have no blood in their veins.” VOABBC NewsBloombergBBC NewsThe AgeSylvester Stallone, filming the sequel to “Rambo” near the Burmese border, described the country as “a hellhole beyond your wildest dreams.”AP via MyWayThree thousand two hundred South African gold miners were rescued without injury after a power cable accident trapped them underground; the last group of miners emerged within 40 hours of the accident, dehydrated and exhausted, singing and stamping their feet.The Canadian PressBBCIt was reported that the U.S. Justice Department, despite calling torture “abhorrent” in 2004, had secretly endorsed brutal interrogation techniques on terror suspects,NYTand the Iraqi government launched an official investigation into the role of U.S. military contractor Blackwater in last month’s civilian shootings in Baghdad, calling the incident a deliberate crime and raising the number of people killed in the shootings from 11 to 17.RadioFreeEuropeIn Iowa,Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson continued to attest to the existence of WMDs in Iraq. “We can’t forget the fact that although at a particular point in time we never found any WMD down there, [Saddam Hussein] clearly had had WMD,” he said; Thompson ended his speech by asking for applause.MSNBCRepublican Senator Larry Craig was selected for induction into the Idaho Hall of Fame and announced that he would not resign from the Senate, despite being denied his request to withdraw his guilty plea of disorderly conduct resulting from a sex sting at an airport men’s room.CNNAP

A Nepalese eighth-grader who felt pity for policemen facing street demonstrations invented a crowd-controlling robot that can “charge at the mob with baton, use water canon, lob tear gas, and even shoot.”Nepal NewsCanadianresearchers found that lonely, bullied, or ostracized children have sex earlier than happier children,Canada.comand the mother of a bullied Jacksonville, Florida, boy brandished a gun at his bus stop, asking his fellow pupils, “Does anyone have something to say?”Local6In England, American gray squirrels were bullying diminutive, mild-mannered indigenous red squirrels.NYTA Thai restaurant in London was cordoned off by police after passersby mistook the smell of its extra-spicy homemade chili sauce for a chemical outbreak,Cape TimesSky Newsand a volcano erupted on the Red Sea island of al-Tair.BBCIvory Coast was fighting chronic lateness, known as “African time,” with a contest that offered a $60,000 villa as its grand prize. The winner, legal adviser Narcisse Aka, is known by his colleagues as “Mr. White Man’s Time” and said that his punctuality made him feel like “an extra-terrestrial.”ReutersStudies found that nearly two-thirds of HIV-positive patients in the United States are overweight or obese. “It would be very sad to survive HIV,” said an epidemiologist, “and die of something else that was preventable.”Local6

American pastors were luring teenage boys to church by installing large-screen game consoles equipped for group sessions of the video game “Halo.” Responding to concerns that the explicit and realistic violence in “Halo” is at odds with Christian values, Gregg Barbour, a youth minister in Colorado, stated, “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell.” “Teens are our ‘fish’,” he wrote in a letter to parents. “So weâ??ve become creative in baiting our hooks.”NYTBritish clergy were condemning the nomination of video game “Resistance: Fall of Man,” which features a fire-fight scene set in Manchester Cathedral, for an award. “For a global manufacturer to recreate one of our great cathedrals with photo-realistic quality,” said the Bishop of Manchester, “and encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief and highly irresponsible.” vnunet.comThe Middlebury Institute, a liberal advocacy group opposing the Iraq War, and the League of the South, which displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner, met in Tennessee to discuss their shared goal of secession from the Union. APA white family in Florida found three burning crosses in its back yard.Local6An autopsy could not reveal the identity of a baby found in a Big John’s Pickled Sausage jar and left in a Florida cane field,Miami Heraldand researcher Craig Venter announced that he has constructed a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals, creating the first artificial life form on Earth.Guardian

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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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"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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