Weekly Review — October 4, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

A Christian martyr.

Two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed by a CIA drone in Yemen. Awlaki, a cleric whose speeches purportedly inspired young Muslim radicals, had been added to the CIAâ??s list of terrorist targets in early 2010. According to the U.S. government, Awlaki, who has never been tried or convicted of a crime in the United States, directed several failed terrorist plots. Khan, who edited a jihadi magazine, was never an official U.S. target. “Make no mistake,” said President Barack Obama, “this is further proof that Al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world.”The HillNew York Times“They criticized us for â??overreactingâ?? to the events of 9/11,” said former vice president Dick Cheney. “Now they clearly had moved in the direction of taking robust action. . . . I think the president owes everybody an apology, frankly.”The HillEarlier in the week, Calgarians chanted “Donâ??t harbor war criminals” outside a hotel where Cheney was scheduled to speak.CTV NewsAntigovernment protests continued in Yemen, and at least eleven protesters were killed in Syria.Washington PostIn Manchester, 20,000 marched in protest of British austerity plans; in Lisbon, tens of thousands rallied against Portuguese austerity measures; in Athens, protesters blocked the entrance to Greeceâ??s finance ministry in an effort to stall talks on civil-service wage cuts; and in New York City, more than 700 protesters were arrested during demonstrations against Wall Street greed.The GuardianReutersReutersWall Street JournalWashington PostA survey found that 85 percent of American adults believe they can make a difference.Christian Science Monitor

Newly released documents revealed that the FBIâ??s terror watchlist includes people who have been acquitted of terrorist acts, and the bureau arrested Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old Northeastern University graduate, for plotting to attack the Pentagon and Capitol building with three model planes, one of which he had purchased using money given to him by an undercover agent.Sydney Morning HeraldWashington PostKing Abdullah declared that Saudi women, who require permission from a male guardian in order to travel, work, marry, be admitted to hospitals, or live independently, could be granted the right to vote and run in elections. Saudi officials set a trial date for Najalaa Harriri, who is accused of violating the countryâ??s ban on women driving, and an Italian court overturned the murder convictions of American college student Amanda Knox and her co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, and ordered them freed after nearly four years in prison.BusinessweekNew York TimesRaymond Davis, a CIA contractor who shot two men in Lahore, Pakistan, and was released after the U.S. government paid the menâ??s families more than $2 million, was arrested south of Denver for fighting over a parking space at an Einstein Bagel.MSNBCIn Alabama, an inmate sued a correctional facility for the right to read the book “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” which prison officials had deemed a “security threat,” and postal workers were stealing more mail than last year.New York TimesHouston Chronicle

A toilet exploded in a federal building in Washington, injuring at least one employee, and House Republicans introduced legislation to get rid of the dollar bill, while Senate Republicans introduced legislation to save it. “At a time when the government needs to be looking to save every dollar,” said the head of the Dollar Coin Alliance, “we canâ??t continue to play the same Washington game of serving narrow special interests with half-measure legislation.”Washington PostThe HillCongress voted to continue funding the federal government for the next six weeks.Christian Science MonitorD.C. police issued a press release in response to tweets by the satiric newspaper “The Onion” that claimed members of the 112th Congress had taken a class of schoolchildren hostage. “Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal,” the release said.New York TimesScientists found that Twitter users expressed the most happiness between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sundays, but conceded that their analysis software wasnâ??t sophisticated enough to detect sarcasm.New York TimesFacebook launched a political action committee; a study found that at least 200,000 Britons have been scammed by someone they met through a dating website; and more than half of all U.S. teenagers reported having been bullied online.New York TimesBBCCNNIn England, 46-year-old Mark Bradford tracked down and choked a 13-year-old who had killed him in the video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops.” “Iâ??d been playing the whole day and he was baiting me and baiting me and just would not shut up,” said Bradford. “Iâ??ve seen him since and apologized. Weâ??ve played online too. Heâ??s actually a decent kid.”IGN

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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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