Weekly Review — May 3, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Osama bin Laden was reported to have been killed during a joint mission by U.S. Navy SEALs and CIA agents in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Crowds gathered to celebrate in front of the White House, and at Times Square and the World Trade Center site in New York. “I donâ??t know if it will make us safer,” said one reveler, “but it definitely sends a message.” “If this means there is one less death in the future, then Iâ??m glad for that,” said Harry Waizer, who was in the centerâ??s north tower on 9/11, “but I just canâ??t find it in me to be glad one more person is dead, even if it is Osama bin Laden.”New York TimesNew York TimesLibya’s government claimed that Muammar Qaddafi survived a NATO airstrike for the second time in seven days. The Russian foreign ministry criticized the strike, which reportedly killed Qaddafiâ??s son and three grandchildren, claiming it “aroused serious doubts about coalition membersâ?? statement that the strikes in Libya do not have the goal of physically annihilating Mr. Qaddafi.” The day of the attack, Qaddafi had appeared on national television vowing to stay in Libya. “Qaddafi doesnâ??t have the power, he doesnâ??t have the position to leave,” he said, referring to himself. “With my rifle, I will fight for my country.” New York TimesLibyans continued to flee the country, many of them crossing the border into Tunisia, where an estimated 30,000 refugees have settled in the past month.New York TimesNew York TimesIn Yemen, tens of thousands took to the streets in protest after President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a deal that would see him step down in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and in Tajikistan, firefighters complained of anonymous prank calls coming from Afghanistan.New York TimesRadio Free Europe

Storms and tornadoes struck Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, killing at least 340 people, leveling towns, and leaving thousands homeless. Wall Street JournalThe Large Hadron Collider was rumored to have revealed the long-sought “God particle,” which gives mass to all other particles, and the Allen Telescope Array, which has been scanning for messages from other planets since 2007, was shut down for budgetary reasons. Daily MailSan Jose Mercury NewsThree billion viewers watched Prince William marry Catherine Middleton. New York TimesAn Australian television channel was forced to cancel a satirical program about the ceremony after being told wedding footage could not be used for “comedy purposes.” BBCProtesters in London were arrested for planning a zombie wedding (billed as a “right royal orgy”) to coincide with the official festivities, and more than twenty Glaswegians were detained after a street party celebrating the wedding led to what authorities called “completely unacceptable levels of drunkenness.”GuardianBBCA pub singer on the Isle of Wight was arrested for “racially aggravated harassment” after performing the Seventies classic “Kung Fu Fighting.”Telegraph

More than a million people attended the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome, including President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and a French nun who was reportedly cured of Parkinson’s by the former popeâ??s posthumous intercessions. As part of the ceremony, which brings John Paul II one step closer to sainthood, the Vatican displayed a vial of his blood.New York TimesFormer New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey, who resigned in 2004 after admitting he had cheated on his wife with another man, was turned down for the Episcopal priesthood. “It was not [for] being gay,” explained an anonymous source inside the church, “but for being a jackass.” New York PostPat Robertson argued that progressives support abortions because they make straight women equal to lesbians, and Representative Allen West (R., Fla.) told a gathering of conservative women they need to let “women know, on the other side, these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women who have been neutering American men . . . that we are not going to have our men become subservient.”Raw StoryRaw StoryLawmakers in Texas introduced legislation that would rescind the right of transgendered people to marry, and Pakistan introduced a third gender category on its national identity cards.Huffington PostBBCPresident Obama responded to accusations that he was not born in the United States by releasing his long-form birth certificate, issued by Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. “I am really proud. I am really honored,” said potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump of the release. “I feel I’ve accomplished something really, really important that no one else was able to do.”The HillLawyers for prisoners held in Guantanamo were told they could not look at the detainee-related documents released by WikiLeaks because the papers remained classified. “We simply want to ensure that any information released by WikiLeaks is handled properly,” said a Justice Department spokesman.New York TimesSmallville, Kansas, native Superman indicated that he may renounce his U.S. citizenship, saying, “I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of US policy.”The IndependentBBC

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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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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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