Weekly Review — June 25, 2012, 9:12 pm

Weekly Review

americanmastiff350 Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was declared the winner of the election to succeed ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, thereby becoming the country’s first democratically elected leader. Tens of thousands of Egyptians celebrated the announcement in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where they had assembled to protest recent decrees by the country’s high court and Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that dissolved parliament, implemented martial law, and stripped the presidency of most of its powers. “The onus now is on the new president to unite the nation,” said a military source, “and to rebuild the country economically and politically.” Protesters vowed to continue occupying the square until parliament was reinstated, and analysts expressed skepticism that Morsi, who earned the nickname “spare tire” during the campaign, would be able to govern effectively. “Meet Egypt’s next non-president,” said one scholar.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] Egyptian media reported that Mubarak was comatose, on life support, clinically dead, and much improved.[8][9] In Pakistan, the chief justice of the supreme court fired the prime minister and dismantled the country’s cabinet.[10][11] In Paraguay, Congress fast-tracked impeachment proceedings against President Fernando Lugo and voted to remove him from office.[12] In Greece, it was announced that newly elected prime minister Antonis Samaras and his incoming finance minister would miss an upcoming European Union summit because of eye surgery and hospitalization for fainting, respectively.[13] Greece was defeated by Germany in the quarterfinals of the Euro 2012 soccer championship. “Without Angie,” chanted Germany’s fans, referring to German chancellor Angela Merkel, “you wouldn’t be here.”[14]

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted on 45 of 48 counts related to his sexual abuse of ten boys. After the jury was sequestered, Sandusky’s youngest son revealed that he had also been sexually abused by his father.[15][16] North Carolina’s state legislature aborted plans to compensate victims of the state’s forced-sterilization program. “If you start compensating people who have been victimized by past history,” explained a state senator, “I don’t know where that would end.”[17] An online weapons dealer who sold a handgun and other equipment used in three U.S. mass shootings since 2007 was found to have ceased operations; the Florida police chief who failed to arrest George Zimmerman for the shooting of Trayvon Martin was fired; and Ron Barber, the former congressional aide who almost died in the shooting that wounded Gabrielle Giffords, assumed her seat in the House of Representatives.[18][19][20] A House panel voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for failing to divulge documents related to Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-trafficking investigation during which federal agents lost track of more than 2,000 weapons that were eventually obtained by drug cartels.[21] The Mexican government accidentally arrested a used-car-dealership employee it had misidentified as the son of the country’s top fugitive drug lord, and a New Mexico district judge ruled legal Southwest Companions, a prostitution website run by a retired Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor and a former president of the University of New Mexico.[22][23] The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5–4 to reverse a Montana Supreme Court decision preventing the Citizens United decision from being applied to state campaign-finance laws, and struck down several key provisions of a controversial Arizona immigration law while sustaining a requirement that law-enforcement officials review the immigration status of anyone they suspect of being in the country illegally. “I would have preferred,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of the Arizona decision, “to see the Supreme Court give more latitude to the states, not less.”[24][25][26]

Romney turned down an invitation to speak at a convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, and a Politico reporter was suspended for saying Romney is comfortable only around white people.[27][28] The Vatican hired a Fox News correspondent as a media adviser.[29] A Wisconsin woman attacked her husband for having copies of The Onion newspaper in his car, and a Massachusetts cyclist was attacked by a man wielding sausage links.[30][31] Some 20 Zimbabwean legislators were circumcised in the country’s parliament building, and President Robert Mugabe’s motorcade, known in Zimbabwe as “Bob and the Wailers,” was involved in its third fatal crash of the past two weeks, smashing into a commuter bus and killing at least one person. “It was a minor crash& we regret death of few who died,” tweeted a spokesman for Mugabe’s political party.[32][33][34] An online campaign to create a vacation fund for a Rochester, New York, school-bus monitor who was seen being verbally abused by teenage boys in a widely circulated cell-phone video raised about $600,000, while a thank-you campaign for the man who organized the fund raised $4,000.[35][36] A Michigan lawmaker who was barred from speaking on the floor of the state legislature after she used the word “vagina” during debate performed The Vagina Monologues on the statehouse steps, and a Chinese TV news program apologized for reporting the discovery of a rare double-headed mushroom known as taisui lingzhi after the object was revealed to have been an artificial vagina and anus. “Our reporter is still very young and unwise to the ways of the world,” read the show’s apology. Confusion was found to be beneficial to learning.[37][38][39]

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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.

Yet we know that people do change their minds. We are constantly molded by our environment and our culture, by the events of the world, by the gossip we hear and the books we read. In the essays that follow, seven writers explore the ways that persuasion operates in our lives, from the intimate to the far-reaching. Some consider the ethics and mechanics of persuasion itself — in religion, politics, and foreign policy — and others turn their attention to the channels through which it acts, such as music, protest, and technology. How, they ask, can we persuade others to join our cause or see things the way we do? And when it comes to our own openness to change, how do we decide when to compromise and when to resist?

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.

By the time he arrived at the Equitas Health clinic, Chase was eighteen, and had long since come to dread doctors and hospitals. As a child, he’d had asthma, migraines, two surgeries for a tumor that had caused deafness in one ear, and gangrene from an infected bug bite. Doctors had always assumed he was a girl. After puberty, Chase said, he avoided looking in the mirror because his chest and hips “didn’t feel like my body.” He liked it when strangers saw him as male, but his voice was high-pitched, so he rarely spoke in public. Then, when Chase was fourteen, he watched a video on YouTube in which a twentysomething trans man described taking testosterone to lower his voice and appear more masculine. Suddenly, Chase had an explanation for how he felt — and what he wanted.

Illustration by Taylor Callery
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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.

Chance that a Silicon Valley technology company started since 1995 was founded by Indian or Chinese immigrants:

1 in 3

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.

Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read.

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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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