Weekly Review — November 16, 2017, 3:39 pm

Weekly Review

Pros and cons

Roy Moore, a 70-year-old lawyer and Republican candidate for the US Senate who once accidentally stabbed himself with a murder weapon while prosecuting a case in an Alabama courtroom, was accused of having sexually assaulted two women, Leigh Corfman and Beverly Young Nelson, while he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties and they were 14 and 16 years old, respectively.[1][2][3][4] Moore denied knowing Nelson, and Nelson showed reporters a copy of her high-school yearbook, which Moore had purportedly signed.[5] Moore said he did not “generally” date teenage girls, and it was reported that in the 1970s Moore had been banned from his local mall and YMCA for bothering teenage girls.[6][7] Moore’s wife published a letter of support signed by more than 50 pastors, and four of those pastors said they either had never seen the letter or had seen it before Moore was accused of sexual assault and asked to have their names removed.[8] A senator from Indiana said Moore’s “grossly reprehensible behavior disqualifies him from service,” a Pennsylvania state representative voted to place video gambling machines in truck stops and then resigned his seat in advance of being sentenced by a judge for his participation in an illegal gambling ring, a former mayor in New Jersey wept as he was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to have city employees renovate a wholesale liquor-distribution facility owned by his nephew and daughter, a judge in New Jersey declared a mistrial in the case of a US senator who was charged with accepting private-jet flights and $750,000 in campaign contributions from a Florida eye doctor in exchange for helping the doctor secure visas for three of his girlfriends, a state representative in Florida resigned her office and pleaded guilty to perjury for lying about the district in which she lived on her voter-registration form, the budget chairman of Florida’s state senate was accused of groping and sexually harassing six capitol employees, a former state representative in Florida was ordered to forfeit the $63,000 in campaign contributions he was convicted of using to pay for his wedding and meals at McDonald’s, a Florida judge delayed the sentencing of a US congresswoman convicted of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from her supporters to a fake charity in Virginia, a US representative from Virginia said she knew of a congressman who had exposed his penis to a female aide when the aide delivered work materials to his house, a 53-year-old former US congressman from New York reported to a federal prison in Massachusetts to begin serving a 21-month sentence for messaging photos of his penis to a 15-year-old girl, a state senator in Minnesota was accused of sending a photograph of a penis to women on Snapchat, a US senator from Minnesota was accused of forcibly kissing a woman and groping her breasts while she was sleeping, a US representative from California said she was aware of a sitting Republican and a sitting Democrat who had committed sexual misconduct while in office, former US president George H. W. Bush was accused of groping the buttocks of a 16-year-old girl during a photo shoot, and current US president Donald Trump, who when he was 46 years old was filmed saying of a 10-year-old girl with whom he was riding on an escalator that he would be “dating her in ten years,” nominated for a federal judgeship a 36-year-old lawyer and horror novelist who has never tried a case, and who spent a year working at a paranormal-activity research group helping people who are haunted by ghosts.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

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In the early Eighties, Andy King, the coach of the Seawolves, a swim club in Danville, California, instructed Debra Denithorne, aged twelve, to do doubles — to practice in the morning and the afternoon. King told Denithorne’s parents that he saw in her the potential to receive a college scholarship, and even to compete in the Olympics. Tall swimmers have an advantage in the water, and by the time Denithorne turned thirteen, she was five foot eight. She dropped soccer and a religious group to spend more time at the pool.

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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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