Weekly Review — May 26, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

Democrats in Congress denied President Barack Obama the $80 million he sought to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and move its prisoners to maximum-security prisons in the United States. “We don’t want them around,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said of the prisoners. Obama, speaking in the rotunda at the National Archives where the Constitution is kept, insisted that he would move the prisoners despite resistance from Congress and put forth a new policy of “prolonged detention,” whereby terrorism suspects can be held indefinitely without trial. Vice President Joe Biden said that the White House had been evaluating Guantanamo prisoners with a “fine tooth comb.” “It’s like opening Pandora’s Box,” he said. “We don’t know what’s inside.”Fox NewsNew York TimesNewsweekThe Republican National Committee released an ad comparing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with Pussy Galore from the James Bond film Goldfinger,CBS NewsPoliticoand Secretary of State Hillary Clinton circulated a memo indicating that the State Department will start offering equal benefits and protections to the same-sex partners of diplomats.New York TimesAfter a Republican-written energy bill failed in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, committee chairman Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) and Edward Markey (D., Mass.) drafted 946 pages of compromise legislation that proposes to reduce CO2 emissions to 17 percent of their 2005 level by 2050; House Democrats hired a speed reader in case Republicans force the bill to be read aloud.Wall Street JournalHouston ChronicleWall Street JournalIn Sandy, Utah, 11-year-old Fin Keheler set a new world record by putting 43 snails on his face for ten seconds,Associated Pressand in Artesia, New Mexico, former president George W. Bush told high-school students that his life was “returning back to normal.”MSNBC

Police in western Germany arrested a 26-year-old man suspected of being the “rabbit ripper,” responsible for the deaths of 58 rabbits (31 of which were found without heads) since January 2008; when arrested the man was carrying two boxes of guinea pigs.Australia Herald SunHorst Koehler, of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, was re-elected as president of Germany,.The Telegraphand German officials announced that a Romanian teen who auctioned her virginity on the Internet to help fund her education in Mannheim will be taxed at a rate of 50 percent, with the possibility of an additional 19 percent value-added tax.Daily MailA commission investigating child abuse in Ireland’s church-run state orphanages, reformatories, and schools released a 2,600-page report that documents physical, emotional, and “endemic” sexual abuse of thousands of children over a 60-year period; the forms of abuse include “punching, flogging, assault and bodily attacks, hitting with the hand, kicking, ear pulling, hair pulling, head shaving, beating on the soles of the feet, burning, scalding, stabbing, severe beatings with or without clothes…[and beatings] while hanging from hooks on the wall.”New York TimesIn Britain MP Peter Viggers admitted that he had attempted to seek state reimbursement of $2,600 spent at his country estate for a duck hut. “I am ashamed and humiliated, and I apologize,” said Viggers, who sought $47,660 for gardening expenses over three years. “As has been reported, my claim for the duck house was rightly ‘not allowed’ by the Fees Office. I paid for it myself, and in fact it was never liked by the ducks.”New York TimesDaniel Carasso, the 103-year-old Catalan who popularized yogurt, died, as did Edwin Shneidman, a 91-year-old authority on suicide, and Wayne Allwine, the actor who voiced Mickey Mouse for 32 years.New York TimesNew York TimesAssociated PressBelgium’s bodybuilding championship was canceled when anti-doping officials appeared unannounced and all twenty competitors grabbed their belongings and ran away.ESPN

Iran tested medium-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe or Israel,.The Telegraphand North Korea announced that it had successfully conducted a second nuclear test.New York TimesA Japanese company introduced toilet paper printed with novellas by Koji Suzuki, the author of the “Ring” series, intended to provide “a horror experience in the toilet.”Associated PressThe former president of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. “Don’t be too sad,” wrote Roh, who was accused of corruption, in a note to his wife and two children. “Don’t be sorry. Don’t blame anyone. Accept it as fate.”New York TimesAfter a Chinese government investigation determined that Love Land, the country’s first sex-themed park, “had an evil influence on society,” the park was shut down, leading to the immediate demolition of a giant pair of women’s legs wearing a red thong. The GuardianTraffic on Haizhu Bridge in the Chinese city of Guangzhou was stopped while a man named Chen Fuchao, who had amassed debts of $293,000 in a failed construction project, decided whether or not to jump. After five hours, a man named Lai Jiansheng broke through a police cordon, greeted Chen, and shoved him off the bridge onto an emergency air cushion. “Jumpers like Chen,” explained Lai, “are very selfish.”BBC

Share
Single Page

More from Moira Weigel:

Weekly Review March 24, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2018

The Bodies in The Forest

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Minds of Others

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

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.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

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
Post
CamperForce·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

After losing their savings in the stock market crash of 2008, seniors Barb and Chuck find seasonal employment at Amazon fulfillment centers.

Cost of a baby-stroller cleaning, with wheel detailing, at Tot Squad in New York City:

$119.99

Australian biologists trained monitor lizards not to eat cane toads.

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