Weekly Review — April 15, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Twenty U.S. soldiers were killed last week fighting across Iraq, and 1,300 Iraqi officers and soldiers were fired for poor performance. The Bush Administration said it was optimistic that many more refugees from the estimated 4.4 million people who had fled Iraq or had been “internally displaced” would be allowed into the United States. Since the war began the United States has accepted only 5,000 Iraqi refugees. Sweden has taken 34,000.ReutersIHTHillary Clinton and John McCain accused Barack Obama of elitism after Obama commented on the bitterness of working-class people in a speech at an expensive San Francisco fund-raiser. “They cling to guns,” said Obama, “or religion, or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”AFPNBC11BBC NewsZombie TimesBob Dylan won a Pulitzer Prize,The New York Timesand scientists identified a group of 8,000-year-old Norway spruce trees in western Sweden, believed to be the oldest on earth. The trees, which took root after the last Ice Age, stayed at a shrublike size for most of their lives. “The past few decades we have seen a much warmer climate, which has meant that they have popped up,” said tree expert Leif Kullman.Reuters

There were riots in Haiti, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Cameroon over increasing food costs. Some blamed the rising price of corn (up 31 percent from 2005) on the burgeoning biofuel industry, pointing out that to fill up an SUV with a tank of ethanol uses as much corn as can feed a person for a year. World Bank President Robert Zoellick called for more contributions to the $500 million World Food Program. “We have to put our money,” he said, “where our mouth is.”The AgeThe 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay, a tradition that began in 1936 as a celebration of Nazi ideology, traveled to Dar es Salaam, guarded by China’s 30-person paramilitary Sacred Flame Protection Unit; onlookers chanted “Tanzania is a peaceful country” as a police helicopter hovered overhead.The GuardianThe Washington PostTimes OnlineAll AfricaBBC NewsTwo Arizona chemists published a paper expressing concern over the uncontrolled use of odor-fighting socks, which may, when washed, pollute aquatic ecosystems with nanoparticle silver.Science DailyResearchers in Virginia found that due to pollution the scent of flowers, which could travel up to 4,000 feet during the nineteenth century, now travels not even a quarter of that distance.Live ScienceKiller bees attacked Mexican policemen after one officer shot up their hive,New York TimesEuropean scientists used lasers to stimulate electrical activity in thunderclouds,Scientific Bloggingand geneticists were reportedly impressed by a new cloning technique that, according to the chief scientific officer of U.S. firm Advanced Cell Technology, “can actually produce a child.”A poll by the science journal Nature found that 20 percent of its readers use brain-enhancing drugs.The Globe and Mail

In the Indian city of Bhubaneshwar, Biranchi Das, former coach of six-year-old marathon runner Budhia Singh, was shot dead after a dispute with a gangster over a small-time actress,NDTV.comand villagers in northern India began worshipping a newborn girl with two faces as the reincarnation of Durga, Hindu goddess of valor. “She drinks milk from her two mouths,” said a hospital director, “and opens and shuts all the four eyes at one time.”AP via BreitbartThe U.K. Privy Council approved reforms that allow Sark, a small island off the coast of Normandy, its own parliamentary government. “These moves are intended to be a step away from a feudalist system,” said the seneschal of Sark.The IndependentFrench and Canadianastronomers announced the discovery of the coldest brown-dwarf star on record, 40 light-years away,AP via Google Newsand Russia was considering sending monkeys to Mars.BBC NewsJohn Wheeler, a physicist who coined the term “black hole,” died at age 96. In his 1999 autobiography he explained what can be learned by studying black holes: “That space can be crumpled like a piece of paper,” he wrote, “into an infinitesimal dot.”New York Times

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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