Weekly Review — December 6, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

The first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February brought to the polls an unprecedented 62 percent of registered voters, many of whom had never voted before. “I donâ??t know any of the parties or who Iâ??m voting for,” said a Christian woman in the southern city of Assiut. “The first names I see, I guess.” The hard-line Nour party, which seeks to impose strict Sharia law, won 24 percent of the vote, while the Muslim Brotherhood, which claims it will apply Islamic law “in a fair way,” led with 37 percent. “We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood,” said first-time voter Iris Nawar. “But we lived for 30 years under Mubarak; we will live with them, too.”APAPAPAPProtesters attacked the British Embassy and residential compound in Tehran after Britain imposed new sanctions on Iran, prompting Britain to expel Iranian diplomats and recall its ambassador, Dominick Chilcott. “The dog,” said Chilcott, “has been left behind.” A representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated the rioters, noting that they had targeted the “epicenter of sedition.”APBBCAnti-American rallies were staged throughout Pakistan after a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and demonstrators marched outside the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where the United States and Canada were stalling efforts to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. “Itâ??s a conspiracy against the poor,” said the Council of Europeâ??s rapporteur on climate change.APBBCAPIn Germany, the driest November on record caused a major drop in the Rhine, revealing a two-ton World War II “blockbuster” bomb with a badly eroded fuse; the city of Koblenz prepared evacuation plans for 45,000 people but waited until Sunday to implement them, so as not to interrupt Christmas shopping. “People in Koblenz are used to bomb findings,” said a fire-brigade spokesman.Daily MailCNN

Following multiple accusations of marital infidelity, Herman Cain dropped out of the G.O.P. presidential race, saying his reputation was under attack by a conspiracy of “elites” and political reporters. Cain closed his withdrawal speech by quoting at length the theme song from “PokĂ©mon: The First Movie”: “Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. Itâ??s never easy when thereâ??s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. Thereâ??s a mission just for you and me.”Mother JonesRaw StoryFox News decried liberal bias in the film “The Muppets,” which features an oil-drilling villain named “Tex Richman,” and the ACLU charged that Appleâ??s virtual iPhone assistant, Siri, was promoting a conservative agenda. “Siri can point you to Viagra but not the Pill, or help you find an escort but not an abortion clinic,” said a post on the organizationâ??s blog.Washington PostABC NewsOR-7, a popular Oregon wolf wanted for cattle killing, continued his 730-mile trek in search of a mate.Daily MailThe worldâ??s first college of applied sexuality opened in Austria.Daily MailOscar Wildeâ??s tomb reopened with an anti-kissing barrier.GuardianAnn Marie Kennedy, a resident of Effin in Limerick County, Ireland, complained that Facebook was blocking her from listing her hometown on her profile. She wanted to show her pride in her parish, she said, along with “so many Effin people around the world.”BBCA woman from Bumpass, Virginia, was arrested for smashing a salt bottle over her dateâ??s head while he slept.NewsleaderAn inquest confirmed that reggae singer Smiley Culture stabbed himself through the heart.BBC

The trial of three women accused of raping men began in Zimbabwe, where police believe a syndicate of female rapists may be collecting semen for use in rituals to bring business success. “You must exercise caution,” said a man named Witness. “I wonâ??t get a lift in private cars, especially if there are women inside.”BBCSaudi academic Kamal Subhi presented a report to his countryâ??s legislative council warning that allowing women to drive would encourage prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and divorce, and would lead to the “end of virginity” in the nation.BBCA woman filed suit against a clinic in St. Louis, alleging that she had sought help for anorexia but instead been given psychotropic drugs, hypnotized, and convinced she had 20 different personalities and had been raped while belonging to a baby-eating satanic cult.AP via Fox NewsSex crimes against illegal immigrants were found to have been ignored in El Mirage, Arizona, and Mozambique denied that it had imported flesh-eating bananas.APAFP via Courier MailNuon Chea, on trial in Phnom Penh for his role as second in command of Cambodiaâ??s Khmer Rouge, blamed Vietnam for the 1.7 million deaths attributed to the regime. “I donâ??t want the next generation to misunderstand history,” said Chea. “I donâ??t want them to believe the Khmer Rouge are bad people…. Nothing is true about that.”AP

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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.

Illustration by Steve Brodner
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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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