Weekly Review — April 12, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

An angry-looking, monkey-like creature showing its teeth.

A kinkajou, 1886.

Less than an hour and a half before a budget-negotiation stalemate would have necessitated the first U.S. government shutdown since 1995, Democrats and Republicans worked out a compromise. The stopgap agreement, which will fund government operations until Thursday, April 14, proposes a $38-billion reduction in annual spending, the largest ever budget cut, achieved by slashing mainly health and education allocations, including public housing, as well as Pell grants for low-income college students. The military, however, would receive $5 billion more than it did last year.NYTProtesters had planned a demonstration during which they would deposit trash outside the home of John Boehner, but cancelled it in the wake of the budget deal.WPNPRWSJWLTXFox NewsAmid word that he will announce his candidacy for president, Donald Trump continued to search for Barack Obamaâ??s birth certificate by sending a team of investigators to Hawaii. “I donâ??t like to talk about this issue too much,” Trump said on CNN, “because I really would rather talk about China.”Fox NewsResearchers concluded that liberals have larger anterior cingulate cortices than conservatives, indicating a greater ability to deal with conflicting information; that conservatives have larger amygdalae, indicating a greater ability to recognize threats; and that members of Congress spend 27 percent of their time taunting one another.CNNScience DailyWP

Muammar Qaddafi agreed to a peace plan, proposed by the African Union, that calls for a cease-fire and the disbursal of humanitarian aid, but Libyan rebels rejected it. “From the first day,” said rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil, “the demand of our people has been the ouster of Qaddafi and the fall of his regime.”BloombergSeventy-five-year-old Hayastan Shakarian, who is accused of disabling Internet service in Armenia and Georgia by accidentally cutting through a fiber-optic cable while searching for scrap metal, pleaded innocent. “I have no idea what the Internet is,” she said.SMHAFPScientists discovered what they claimed to be the first known gay caveman; others said he was neither gay nor a caveman.Daily MailScientists also hypothesized that feathered dinosaurs had lice and determined that yawns are contagious among chimpanzees.Discovery NewsBBCIn Sweden, an anteater at a zoo broke into the flamingo compound and murdered ten flamingoes, and the country’s National Board for Consumer Disputes fined the organizers of a Hawaiian colon-cleanse course after insufficient toilets forced one participant to empty her bowels outside, with spectators. “The vast majority would prefer,” wrote the Board in its decision, “the possibility to defecate in private.”The LocalThe LocalAn F/A-18 fighter jet crashed into a field in central California, and a Royal Navy serviceman shot two people onboard the HMS Astute, a nuclear submarine.ABCGuardianThe Obama Administration announced its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed before a military commission rather than in a civilian court, and New York representative Peter King, who last month led hearings on the radicalization of American Muslims, received a severed pig’s foot in the mail.NYTNYDN

Oceanographers mapped the course of the “island of debris” that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Ships, houses, cars, and human remains are expected to wash up on Hawaiian shores within a year, and on Californian shores within three years.CNNAfter sixty-six days at sea, Anthony Smith, an 85-year-old sailor, completed with three friends a voyage across the Atlantic in a raft. Smith was able to pay for the raft after a van accident broke his hip and he received compensation. “Some people say it was mad,” he said of his journey. “What else do you do when you get on in years?”Daily MailMSNBCA Mesquite, Texas, police officer caused outrage after repeatedly administering pepper spray to a baby squirrel that had been following students around a middle school, and a teenager was arrested after trying to smuggle five pounds of marijuana from Mexico into the United States hidden in the seat of a wheelchair.FoxKTLAKristen LaBrie, whose nine-year-old son died of leukemia in 2009, stood trial on the charge of attempted murder for withholding from him at least five months of chemotherapy medications. “I didn’t actually see the cancer make him very sick,” she told the prosecutor. “What I saw make him very sick was the two weeks they blasted him with chemotherapy.”Cw56A fifth grader with no hands won a penmanship award in the National Handwriting Contest.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.

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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