Weekly Review — June 18, 2012, 5:40 pm

Weekly Review

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President Barack Obama announced that his administration would stop deporting illegal immigrants who entered the country before age 16 and are now under 30, have been continuous residents for at least five years, are military veterans or high school students or graduates, and do not pose a criminal or national-security risk. Obama cast the move as a response to the failure of Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which had been intended to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. “This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely,” said the president. “This short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one,” said Senator Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).[1][2][3] A Republican National Committee website designed to court Latino voters displayed a banner featuring stock photography of Asian children; Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.) called the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision “uninformed, arrogant, naïve”; and it was reported that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson had donated or pledged more than $71 million to Republican Super PACs and nonprofits.[4][5][6] Five weeks after JPMorgan Chase announced trading losses of at least $2 billion, CEO Jamie Dimon appeared before the Senate banking committee, where he criticized the Dodd–Frank Act and warned against the further tightening of financial regulations.[7] Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta was convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud. “He didn’t turn into a criminal in the seventh decade of an otherwise praiseworthy life,” said one of Gupta’s lawyers.[8] Rodney King, whose videotaped beating by Los Angeles police precipitated the 1992 L.A. riots, was found dead in a swimming pool at age 47.[9] An Arkansas veterinarian sought a home for 50 Cent, a goose who had been shot seven times with a pellet gun, and the entourages of musicians Drake and Chris Brown reportedly engaged in a bottle-throwing fight over Rihanna at a New York City club.[10][11] Male Cardiocondyla obscurior ants were observed chemically tagging newly pupated rivals for future attacks.[12] Male Nephilengys malabarensis spiders who castrated themselves while mating were found to become better fighters.[13][14]

The conservative New Democracy party won a plurality in a revote of parliamentary elections in Greece, earning enough seats to form a government with other pro-bailout parties and likely keep the country in the Eurozone.[15] Three days after an Egyptian high-court ruling invalidated parliamentary elections won by the Muslim Brotherhood in January, the party claimed that its candidate had been elected president of Egypt, and the country’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces declared that new parliamentary elections couldn’t be held until a new constitution had been drafted.[16][17][18] Saudi crown prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud died at 78, and at least 125 people were killed in bombings targeting Shiites in Iraq.[19][20][21] The United Nations issued a report claiming that the Syrian government had used children as human shields and tortured the children of suspected dissidents, and suspended its monitoring activities in Syria. “There has been an intensification of armed violence across Syria over the past 10 days,” explained General Robert Mood.[22][23] Burmese opposition leader and former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi accepted the Nobel Peace Prize awarded her in absentia in 1991. “Wherever suffering is ignored,” she said, “there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.”[24][25] A woman selected to run the @sweden Twitter feed tweeted jokes about how one recognizes Jews, posted a photo of strawberries “dripping with milk an urine,” and called her children “Monglorious.” “Marie Curie had vaginal fungus,” she wrote. “That was what the radium originally was for.”[26][27]

A British parliamentarian introduced a bill to help identify Internet trolls, and an English vicar apologized for allowing a band to sing and dance on graves during a celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee. “In their enthusiasm to entertain,” said Reverend Jolyon Trickey, “the music group strayed.”[28][29] Two American border-patrol agents were suspended after attending a Cirque du Soleil performance at which they allegedly engaged in fellatio, during which the male agent high-fived a young child and after which the female agent assaulted a woman who complained.[30][31] In Austria, wildlife cameras captured a politician having sex in a forest, and in Australia, a deputy coroner ruled that a dingo likely took the baby of Lindy Chamberlain from a bassinet and devoured her in 1980.[32][33][34] James Joyce fans read freely from Ulysses on the first Bloomsday since the novel’s copyright elapsed, while scholars fought lawsuits over the rights to certain Joyce works. “We are in the same position as a nation state that has long been ruled by a tsar or a shah or any dictator,” said one biographer. “Once the repression has been lifted, the factionalism that has been repressed is free to give expression to itself.”[35] HBO apologized for an episode of the show Game of Thrones that depicted George W. Bush’s severed head on a pike.[36] In Montana, where an outhouse labeled “Obama Presidential Library” and painted with trompe-l’oeil bullet holes was displayed outside the state G.O.P. convention, a writer reportedly shot himself to promote his memoir, Kindness in America.[37][38] A man in Oregon contracted plague while saving a mouse from a cat.[39][40]

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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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Illustration (detail) by Lincoln Agnew
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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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2

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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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