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Buying Daughters, Banning Big Gulps, and Hunting Moose With Thomas Jefferson

The week’s most interesting Slate stories.

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Want to give birth to a baby girl? For the right price, you can have one.

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Embassy Row: Romney’s condemnation of U.S. diplomats over the Mohammed movie is a betrayal of free speech,” by William Saletan. Mitt Romney, in his misinterpretation of events in Cairo, condemned the U.S. Embassy there as an apologist for Islamic violence. Saletan subverts Romney’s statements to present the presidential hopeful himself as a threat to our cherished American values.

Mitt Speaks Up: Will it be foreign policy issues that finally reveal the type of president Romney would be?” by John Dickerson. Almost everyone agrees that Mitt Romney botched his response to this week’s embassy attacks. But how much do they say about his leadership style? John Dickerson analyzes the Romney campaign’s finger-pointing and retractions and what they might suggest about a Romney presidency.

How To Buy a Daughter: Choosing the sex of your baby has become a multimillion-dollar industry,” by Jasmeet Sidhu. Challenging the conventional wisdom that couples prefer sons, American parents-to-be are using prenatal sex selection technology to have baby girls. But is this procedure, still illegal in many countries worldwide, a form of high-tech eugenics or a harmless expression of parental preference?

 “I Ain’t Sayin’ He’s a Gold Digger: What happens when the wife earns more? A survey of Slate readers,” by Hanna Rosin. Rosin released her new book The End of Men this week, which discusses, in part, the rise of “breadwinner wives” who earn more than her husband. In an exclusive survey, Slate readers respond to Rosin’s thesis, revealing that a Lady Chatterley’s Lover-type relationship doesn’t always have to end in despair.

Don’t Ban Big Gulps: Tax them instead. A new study shows that even small price differences can nudge us toward healthier beverage consumption,” by Ray Fisman. New York City’s oversize-soda ban has gotten the OK (loopholes and all), but that doesn’t change the fact that it probably won’t work. Fisman argues that a soft drink tax would be much for effective at reducing soda consumption while simultaneously raising revenue. But would it appease the Drink-Free-or-Die crowd?

Let’s Get You a License: How Democratic operatives are working to ensure that likely Obama voters in Pennsylvania have proper ID by November,” by Sasha Issenberg. While Pennsylvania’s Republican-sponsored voter ID law faces yet another court battle, Democrats are already preparing for the worst, shuttling those voters most likely to be disenfranchised to the DMV. Issenberg explores the brave new world of GOTV in the age of voter ID laws.

 “Thomas Jefferson Defends America With a Moose: Europeans said America was “degenerate.” Jefferson was obsessed with proving them wrong,” by Lee Alan Dugatkin. In 1749 Count George-Louis Leclerc Buffon suggested that North America’s cold, wet, and swampy climate gave rise to degenerate species. Thomas Jefferson responded with a 7-foot-tall moose delivered to the Frenchman’s doorstep. Not until Bullwinkle rose the fame had a moose so valiantly defended this nation’s honor.

“Women’s Mouths Are Getting Bigger, and Bigger, and Bigger: Welcome to the apoca-lips,” by Simon Doonan. Doonan asks how and when the “trout pout” came into fashion and which lip-smacking celebrities got us here. 

Reading, Writing, and Rabble-Rousing: Does unionization make for better teachers?” by Brian Palmer. Examining metrics from school drop-out rates to standardized test scores, Brian Palmer looks into unionization, teacher performance, and the perennial Bushism “Is our children learning?”

The Mouse Trap: The dangers of using one lab animal to study every disease,” by Daniel Engber. How closely related are the diseases of mice and men? In this prize-winning 2011 series, reprinted on Slate this week, Engber burrows into the practice of animal lab testing, suggesting that scientists’ reliance on mice is hindering breakthroughs for medical research. The article just won the 2012 Communication Award for the online category, conferred by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine.