Weekly Review — January 18, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

President Barack Obama, speaking at a memorial service in Arizona for the six killed during Jared Loughner’s shooting spree, urged Americans to be better people. “I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it,” Obama said, referring to 9-year-old victim Christina Taylor Green. “All of usâ??we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our childrenâ??s expectations.” The president then choked up, pausing for 51 seconds. “I had her heart in my hand,” said Dr. Randall Friese, the surgeon who operated on Christina. “We filled it with blood. It still didnâ??t want to beat. So, it was over. Weâ??re finished.” Sales of Glock semi-automatic pistols, the model of handgun used by Loughner, surged. Four Arizona Republicans resigned from public office, fearing violence from Tea Party activists, and Clear Channel removed a Tucson billboard that described Rush Limbaugh as a “straight shooter.” Gabrielle Giffords opened her eye for the first time since the shooting, and the Safeway where the shooting took place reopened.Washington PostNew York TimesNew York TimesBloombergRaw StoryRaw StoryNew York TimesNew York Times

Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was forced out of office and replaced by his ally Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, but within 24 hours the interim government had also been ousted amid violent protests that left dozens dead.New York TimesFloods and mudslides in southeast Brazil killed more than 250 people. “I walked on something soft,” said one survivor, “and saw it was the body of a woman covered in mud. She had her arm over her face like she was trying to protect herself.”The Sydney Morning HeraldAn 11-page paper outlining the U.S. government’s strategy to prevent leaks was leaked.TechspotSecretary of State Hillary Clinton, stopping in Yemen during a Middle East trip meant to placate Arab leaders upset by the release of diplomatic memos, told aides she needed a tour jacket like those worn by roadies, that would have a “big picture of the world and would say The Apology Tour on it.”The IndependentPhoenix Jones, or “The Real Life Superhero,” a man who wears a costume and tries to prevent crime in Seattle, had his nose broken when he tried to come between two men “swearing at each other and, like, about to fight,” and a California family was killed by a downed power line; Steven Vego was electrocuted when he stepped on the wire, followed by his wife, who was trying to save him, followed by their son, who was trying to save his parents. Talking Points MemoABC NewsA British man discovered after shaving his head that 19 years ago his hair-transplant doctor branded his scalp with the word “wanker,” and doctors amputated the right leg of Zsa Zsa Gabor.The SunAssociated Press

Wikipedia turned ten.The Economic TimesAstronomers discovered Cosmos-Aztec3, a fast-growing galaxy cluster that is further away and in an earlier stage of development than any previously known galaxy cluster. “We’re seeing the seeds of a galaxy metropolis,” said astronomer Peter Capak, “a city of galaxies that will eventually grow into a large city like London.”BBCResearchers found that people are more likely to remember details about their first kiss than about losing their virginity, and scientists who watched hours and hours of hermaphroditic worm sex learned that sex shapes sperm. “In the lab they mate like crazy,” said lead scientist Lukas Schärer. “Once, we saw a pair mate 40 times in an hour.”Daily MailNatureA former New York State inmate was seeking compensation for negligence after a rat crawled out of his mattress and bit his penis.Orange NewsA Taiwanese man lost a suit against his neighbors for training their mynah bird to call him “a clueless, big-mouthed idiot” every time the bird saw him; the Cambridge University Union announced plans to invite porn stars to participate in an organized debate; and the “grande dame” of audiobooks, Flo Gibson, died at 86, halfway through the taping of her 1,134th title, Les MisĂ©rables.Orange NewsOrange NewsNew York TimesPima County Community College released “Meat Head,” a poem written last spring by Jared Loughner for his poetry class: “Awaking on the first day of school/ Pain of a morning hang over/ Attending a weight lifting class for college credit/ Attempting to exercise since freshman year of high school/ Crawling out of bed and walking to the shower/ Warm water hitting my back/ Eureka.”CNN

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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.

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.

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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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