Weekly Review — July 5, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

A kinkajou, 1886.

Christine Lagarde, the finance minister of France, was appointed managing director of the International Monetary Fund, making her the first woman to hold the position. “While I was being questioned for three hours by 24 men,” Lagarde said on French television, “I thought, â??Itâ??s good that things are changing a little.â??”New York TimesAssociated Press via Washington PostThe bail conditions imposed on former I.M.F. managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn were relaxed after prosecutors disclosed that the hotel maid who accused him of rape had lied to them about her personal history, and had previously made a false claim of rape. An anonymous source close to thedefense said the woman is a prostitute.GuardianNew York TimesCounty of New York District Attorney’s Office, via Globe and MailNew York PostTexas legislators approved a bill that would make the state the largest to defund Planned Parenthood, while two Wisconsin government agencies opened probes into allegations by state Supreme Court justice Ann Walsh Bradley that fellow Supreme Court justice David Prosser had put her in a chokehold. PoliticoMilwaukee Journal SentinelAn Ohio grandmother was arrested after spraying her grandson in the face with a high-powered hose because heâ??d eaten too much bacon, and a drunken Ohio mother lactating in Illinois was charged with assault after striking her husband, locking herself in her car, and spraying deputies with breast milk. “This is a prime example,” said Delaware County sheriff Walter L. Davis, “of how alcohol can make individuals do things they would not normally do.”Philly.comReuters

In the Netherlands, MPs passed a law banning the slaughter of unstunned animals. Although the head of the Dutch Party for the Animals said the bill wasn’t targeted at religious minorities, Chief Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs told parliament, “One of the first measures taken during the Occupation [by Nazi Germany] was the closing of kosher abattoirs.”BBC NewsAs San Franciscan bureaucrats sought to ban the sale of live animals not intended for eating, the United States plotted to kill East Coast barred owls in order to save West Coast spotted owls, and the United Nations lauded the death of rinderpest â?? the second disease, after smallpox, it has eradicated.Los Angeles TimesYahoo! NewsNew York TimesOntario beekeepers got $244,000 to create a superbee. CBC NewsThe U.S. waged a drone war in Somalia. New York TimesProtests in Greece, Egypt, Syria, and Bahrain were met with violence from government forces, and 21 people were killed during a suicide assault on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul. Among the dead were the nine attackers, one of whom provided cell phone updates of the siege to the Taliban, which claimed 50 of its targets had died. Associated PressAl Jazeera EnglishAl Jazeera EnglishAssociated PressAssociated Press

It was reported that lightning had killed 15 people in Uganda and three in Rwanda, disrupted flights at London’s Gatwick Airport, and been blamed for a North Korean loss at the Women’s World Cup. Associated PressallAfrica.comBBC NewsYahoo! SportsJapanese sumo wrestlers were ordered not to play golf so that they would be nervous when fighting, while mice in the Lake District found refuge in tennis balls from Wimbledon. Yahoo! NewsGuardianAn Illinois judge permitted a nine-year-old boy to attend religious services with his mother over the objections of the father, who worried it would hurt his sonâ??s chances of becoming a scientist. Chicago TribuneAn American mathematician and a Belgian physicist exposed the secrets of Tibetan ritual singing bowls, and reporters probed researchers about the auto-frottage of a tiny water boatman, which makes the loudest animal sound relative to body size. Said Dr. James Windmill of the noise, which occurs when the bug rubs its penis against its abdomen: “We really don’t know how they make such a loud sound using such a small area.”BBC NewsBBC Nature NewsJournalists proclaimed that Yingluck Shinawatra, sister of disgraced exâ??prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, would be the first female prime minister of Thailand, and investigated a preschool in Sweden where gender distinctions are frowned upon.Bangkok PostAssociated Press via Yahoo! News

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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.

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A gay penguin couple in China’s Polar Land zoo were ostracized by other penguins and then placed in a separate enclosure after they made repeated attempts to steal the eggs of straight penguin couples and replace them with stones.

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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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