Weekly Review — February 17, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The House and Senate reached agreement on a $789 billion economic-stimulus plan, which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law despite a lack of support from Republicans.New York Times“When Roosevelt did this,” said Representative Steve Austria (R., Ohio), “he put our country into a Great Depression. That’s just history.”Dispatch PoliticsThe Columbus DispatchAbraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin both turned 200.Washington PostAnglican hymns were sung at Darwin’s tomb in Westminster Abbey. A poll showed that 43 percent of Britons believe in creationism.Associated PressIn a speech at the Capitol, President Obama called Lincoln a “singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible–and who in so many ways made America’s story possible.”CNNStocks fell sharply after Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, whom Obama called “the chief economic spokesman for my administration,” announced his plans for further bailouts of the financial sector.New York Times“Even if Kant, Plato and Aristotle were resurrected together with the late brilliant economist John Kenneth Galbraight [sic],” wrote Fidel Castro, “they would neither be capable of solving the more frequent and deeper antagonistic contradictions of the system.”PoliticoFederal agents ordered a brewery in Brooklyn to stop making their “Hop Obama” ale. “I??m upset,” said one local bar owner. “They were actually trying to support him??while making a good beer.”The Brooklyn PaperSenator Judd Gregg withdrew as a nominee for commerce secretary, making him the third of Obama’s cabinet nominees to withdraw before being confirmed;Washington PostMissouri State Representative Bryan Stevenson apologized for calling a proposed abortion bill “the greatest power-grab by the federal government since the War of Northern Aggression”;Kansas City Starand Senator Roland Burris admitted that Robert Blagojevich, brother of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, had asked him for a donation, in contradiction to his testimony during Blagojevich’s impeachment hearings.Washington PostA Continental Airlines flight en route to Buffalo from Newark, New Jersey, crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York, killing 50 people, among them Beverly Eckert, who was traveling to Buffalo to celebrate the birthday of her late husband, who died in the World Trade Center attacks.New York TimesNew York Times

Finance officials and central bankers from the G-7 nations met in Rome to discuss plans to revive the world economy.BloombergA report revealed that Japan’s economy recently registered its worst decline in three decades.MarketWatchTwo missile strikes by American drones in Pakistan killed more than 60 people, leading some to suggest that Bush Administration policies in the area may remain unchanged under Obama.New York TimesFrench and British authorities acknowledged that nuclear submarines from the two countries collided earlier this month.Washington PostAn Iridium communications satellite crashed into a non-operational Russian satellite in the first major collision between two man-made objects in space,Spaceflight Nowa van in New York dragged a pedestrian almost 20 miles through the streets of Queens and Brooklyn before the van’s driver noticed the body near Coney Island,Fox Newsand 41-year-old Christine Newton-John pleaded guilty to reckless homicide after prosecutors produced video footage of her forcing her 71-year-old husband to swim around in their pool until he died of a heart attack. When the couple met, Newton-John was John Vallandingham, but after sex reassignment surgery she changed her name in honor of singer Olivia Newton-John. “The whole case,” said the local police chief, “is very sinister.” Associated Press

Australian police charged a man with starting a blaze that killed 21 people, which was in turn one of a series of wildfires that killed up to 200 people and destroyed thousands of homes; the man was also charged with possession of child pornography.BBC NewsPennsylvania judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan pleaded guilty to fraud after taking $2.6 million in kickbacks from two private detention centers in exchange for sending teenagers there. One high school student with no previous record was sentenced to three months of juvenile detention for creating a MySpace page making fun of her assistant principal.New York TimesVenezuelans passed a referendum lifting presidential term limits, which cleared the way for Hugo Chavez to run for re-election in 2013. “This was a victory imposed by the abuse of state power,” said the leader of a local election-monitoring group. “I am a soldier of the people,” said Chavez. “I will obey the people??s mandate.”New York Times“I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” singer Molly Bee died at the age of 69,MSNBCand elevator-music pioneer Muzak declared bankruptcy.Charlotte Business JournalYankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez admitted to using steroids,San Francisco ExaminerAstros shortstop Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to lying under oath about steroid use among his teammates,ESPNa ten-year-old Sussex spaniel named Stump became the oldest best-in-show winner in the history of the Westminster Kennel Club dog show,Washington Postand swimmer Michael Phelps apologized to the Chinese for taking bong hits at a frat party. “The past few days have been tough for me,” Phelps said in a video provided to Asian news sources by automaker Mazda, which sponsors him. “But I have received support and encouragement online from so many Chinese friends.”New York Times

Share
Single Page

More from Christopher Beha:

From the May 2017 issue

Head-Scratcher

Can neuroscience finally explain consciousness?

From the March 2017 issue

New Books

From the May 2016 issue

Metaphysics In a Teacup

Annie Dillard gets pickled

Get access to 167 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

Modern Despots

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Before the Deluge

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Notes to Self

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Within Reach

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Pushing the Limit·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Minds of Others·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
Article
Within Reach·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Before the Deluge·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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
Article
Monumental Error·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

Illustration by Steve Brodner

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

$40,000

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

Trump tweeted that he had created “jobs, jobs, jobs” since becoming president, and it was reported that Trump plans to bolster job creation by loosening regulations on the global sale of US-made artillery, warships, fighter jets, and drones.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Report — From the June 2013 issue

How to Make Your Own AR-15

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"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."

Subscribe Today