Weekly Review — December 4, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

More than 80 French police officers were injured in clashes with youths firing shotguns in the Paris banlieues.77 Police Officers Hurt in Paris RiotsSarkozy flies back to tackle ‘urban warfare’ in ParisVoters in Venezuela narrowly defeated a referendum on changing their constitution to abolish presidential term limits and vastly increase President Hugo Chavez’s executive powers.Venezuela Votes on Whether to Give Chávez More PowerVenezuela Hands Narrow Defeat to Chávez PlanPresident Pervez Musharraf quit his role as chief of Pakistan’s army.Emotional Musharraf quits as Pakistan army chiefSenator Hillary Clinton praised her campaign staff for “their extraordinary courage and coolness under some very difficult pressures and dangerous situations,” after a man wearing a fake bomb made from road flares took several Clinton staffers hostage in New Hampshire. The hostage-taker, Leeland Eisenberg, had seen an ad spot in which a New Hampshire man said Clinton had helped him get health insurance. “He kept expressing he wanted to get help,” Eisenberg’s stepson explained. “He wasn’t able to get it because he didn’t have insurance, he didn’t have money.”Hostage Situation at Clinton Office in N.H.Family Calls Hostage-Taking an ‘Act of Desperation’The Department of Homeland Security was asking firefighters to look for signs of suspicious activity while putting out fires,Dept of Homeland Security wants Firefighters to look for terrorists while in the line of dutyand Pentagon officials announced that 5,000 U.S. troops would withdraw from Iraq next month.U.S. to reduce Iraq troop levels by 5,000Farmers in Afghanistan were growing fewer poppies and more pot,Afghans turn from growing poppies to potand the child stars of the movie “The Kite Runner” were sent from Kabul to a luxury hotel in the United Arab Emirates after threats were made to their safety. “The best possible outcome,” said a consultant to Paramount, “would be in 20 years to see a ‘Where Are They Now’ piece on VH1.”??Kite Runner?? Boys Are Sent to United Arab EmiratesKhaled Hosseini, the author of the novel on which the film is based and a resident of California, implored the United States not to abandon Afghanistan. Without U.S. support, he wrote, “Afghanistan is doomed.”‘Kite Runner’ author urges US to hang on in Afghanistan

In Khartoum, thousands of Sudanese protesters armed with clubs and knives called for the execution of Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam after she permitted her students to name their class teddy bear “Muhammad”; Gibbons, pardoned by the president of Sudan, was released from jail and fled to England.Thousands in Sudan Call for British Teddy Bear Teacher’s ExecutionA San Diego man was arrested for attempting to purchase black-bear gallbladders,Arrest in bear parts sting and fears of a bear market forced Bear Stearns to lay off 4 percent of its staff.Bear Stearns Announces New Round of Job CutsNorth of the Arctic Circle, the remote and entirely lightless town of Narvik, Norway, was further depressed by its loss of a $64 million investment in the American subprime-mortgage market. U.S. Credit Crisis Adds to Gloom in NorwayFears about the American economy had reportedly slowed sales of recreational vehicles, with the exception of the “biggest, baddest” models, which get seven miles to the gallon, cost up to $1.7 million, and include such amenities as Italian marble floors and a lock with an electronic palm reader.Housing Crisis? Try Mobile McMansionsA 3.3 pound truffle sold for $330,000 at an auction held simultaneously in Macau, London, and Florence. The winning bidder, Macau casino owner Stanley Ho, outbid the British artist Damien Hirst and Sheikh Bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi.Giant truffle sets record priceFood banks across the United States, facing critical shortages, were forced to distribute emergency rations intended for disaster relief,U.S. food banks, in a squeeze, tighten beltsand researchers reported that sophisticated neurological scans reveal anorexic brains to show high levels of activity in the caudate, the region of the brain concerned with outcome and planning.Anorexia visible with brain scans

In Angola, an outbreak of acute neurological syndrome was attributed to high levels of sodium bromide, an industrial chemical, in kitchen salt. Bromide Believed Behind Cacuaco Epidemic A physician and amateur historian from Palo Alto contended that Abraham Lincoln suffered from the rare genetic disease MEN 2B, which he believes was responsible for Lincoln’s great height, lumpy lips, and the early deaths of three of his four sons.Is Lincoln Earliest Recorded Case of Rare Disease?Evel Knievel died,Evel Knievel Dies at 69Rodney King bicycled home after being shot in the face,Rodney King Wounded in Shootingand Susan Bateman, a martial-arts instructor in Virginia, was arrested for kicking an 11-year-old student in the gut more than 200 times as the class counted. Bateman issued a challenge during class to see how many kicks her students could sustain; the boy suffered internal injuries and a broken rib.Martial arts teacher arrested for kicking student 200 timesRome’s traffic and parking chief was fired after he parked his red Alfa Romeo in a no-parking zone and displayed a handicapped permit belonging to an 86-year-old woman.Parking chief fired for illegal parkingA Chilean prostitute auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for a disabled children’s charity, saying that she wanted “to contribute with my work to a purpose that touches me deeply,”Prostitute auctions 27 hours of sex for charityand serial flasher Michael Carney of Fleetham Grove, England, pleaded unsuccessfully that because his penis was “so much smaller than average,” he could not have committed his crimes.Flasher’s ‘inadequacy’ plea failsAstronomers discovered a one-billion-light-year-wide pocket full of nothing in the sky.The Ice-Cream Scoop Taken Out of the Universe

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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.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

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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.

Amount Arizona’s Red Feather Lodge offered to pay to reopen the Grand Canyon during the 2013 government shutdown:

$25,000

A Brazilian cat gave birth to a dog.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

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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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