Weekly Review — March 25, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

As the war in Iraq stretched beyond its fifth year the U.S. death toll rose to 4,000, and a national conference intended to reconcile sectarian groups was boycotted by Sunnis.BBC NewsAssociated PressMSNBCSenator John McCain visited Jordan and told reporters that it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran.” Senator Joe Lieberman was seen whispering into McCain’s ear, after which McCain apologized. “The Iranians are training extremists,” he explained. “Not Al Qaeda.” Later, in Jerusalem, a fistfight among photographers, soldiers, police officers, and tourists erupted at McCain’s Western Wall photo shoot, resulting in damage to several pairs of sunglasses.Washington PostNew York TimesIn response to fury over a handful of remarks made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright over the course of his 36 years as a pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, Senator Barack Obama delivered a nuanced and serious speech about race in America. “I think it’s an obligation of any opponent to use this issue,” said Congressman Peter King (R.-NY), “to make Reverend Wright a centerpiece of the campaign.”Washington PostNewsdayThe National Archives released more than 11,000 pages of Senator Hillary Clinton’s daily schedules as first lady, providing proof that she once read If You Give a Moose a Muffin out loud to a group of children.Washington PostScientists concluded that destroying information by throwing it into a black hole was not effective, because the information could leak from the hole at 1,000 bits per second, the same speed as a dial-up Internet connection.Scientific American

The Dalai Lama said that he would resign as the spiritual leader of Tibet if violence in the area escalated. Washington PostFrancisco Duque III, the Philippine Secretary of Health, encouraged Roman Catholic worshippers who planned on flaying the skin off their backs or crucifying themselves on Easter to get a tetanus shot first and to use clean whips and nails. Daily TelegraphMikhail Gorbachev admitted that he is a Christian,The Telegraphand Michael Stipe, lead singer of R.E.M., announced that he is gay. “I thought it was pretty obvious,” said Stipe, who has been explaining that he is not heterosexual for nearly a decade.US WeeklyPlaygirl invited former New York governor Eliot Spitzer to pose nude in its pages; Spitzer’s replacement, David Paterson, became the first black governor of New York and promptly admitted that he had in the past frequented a New York City Days Inn hotel to have sex with “a woman other than my wife.”PlaygirlNew York Daily NewsTheodore Pederson, once an aide to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, said that for three years he, McGreevey, and Dina Matos (who would later marry McGreevey) would have dinner and drinks at T.G.I. Friday’s and follow that with sex as a threesome. “Friday night specials,” Pederson said, “developed into Saturday mornings.”The Star-LedgerResearchers found that a diet that includes lots of folate will keep sperm healthy.BBC News

The cubicle turned 40, Viagra turned 10, and Hotel Luxor, the oldest whorehouse in Germany’s red light district, announced that it would close for lack of business.TimeYahoo NewsAssociated PressMarvin Richardson, an organic strawberry farmer in Idaho who is challenging Senator Larry Craig for his Senate seat, had his name legally changed to Pro-Life. CBS NewsAn 81-year-old Australian committed suicide by building a robot that shot him four times in the head,Fox Newsand ABBA’s former drummer Ola Brunkert accidentally cut his neck on a piece of shattered glass at his Mallorca home, walked outside, collapsed in his garden, and died. Associated PressHorst Rippert, an 88-year-old former German fighter pilot, told the biographer of Antoine de Saint-Exupery that one of the 28 planes that Rippert gunned down during World War II was piloted by The Little Prince author. “If I had known,” Rippert said, “I wouldn’t have fired.” The ScotsmanPresident George W. Bush spoke with soldiers in Afghanistan. “I’m a little envious,” he said via a remote video link. “It must be exciting for you??in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger.”ReutersAn elderly German woman filed a lawsuit against a hospital in Bavaria after she checked in for a leg operation and was instead given a new anus.Fox NewsA study concluded that 95 percent of all Native Americans in North, Central, and South America descended from six “founding mothers” who lived 20,000 years ago;E Newsresearchers discovered a hidden ocean underneath the crust of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon;Scientific Americanand a NASA probe revealed that Mars may be covered in table salt.BBC NewsIt was reported that Petra, the German black swan who fell in love with a swan-shaped paddleboat two years ago, has moved on to a new relationship with a live white swan. The two are now building a nest together.Cnews

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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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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Amount American Airlines saved in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class:

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A daddy longlegs preserved in amber 99 million years ago was found to have an erection.

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