Weekly Review — October 7, 2003, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The Bush Administration rejected calls for an independent counsel in the matter of Valerie Plame, whose identity as an undercover CIA operative was revealed by at least one senior White House official, possibly Karl Rove, in retribution for her husband’s skeptical remarks about the president’s case against Iraq.New York TimesRove, the president’s political adviser, denied being the source of the leak, though he was reportedly fired from George H.W. Bush’s 1992 reelection campaign for leaking damaging information about a rival to Bob Novak, the very columnist who exposed Plame in July.TalkingpointsMemo.comPlame and Rove, it was reported, attend the same Episcopal church.New York TimesPresident Bush created a new “Iraq Stabilization Group.”New York TimesA new poll found that most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.New York TimesAmerican officials said that there are 650,000 tons of ammunition lying around Iraq, much of it unsecured. General John Abizaid told Congress that “there is more ammunition in Iraq than any place I’ve ever been in my life, and it is all not securable.” Pentagon officials had previously claimed that “all known Iraqi munitions sites are being secured by coalition forces.”New York TimesDavid Kay, the head of the CIA team searching for traces of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, issued his status report; Kay admitted that no unconventional weapons had been found but did point to a single vial of botulinum toxin, which an Iraqi scientist had stored in his refrigerator since 1993, as evidence of evil intent. President Bush cited the vial and said that the report justified the invasion.Washington Post, International Herald TribuneIt was noticed that Joe M. Allbaugh, President Bush’s former campaign manager and until recently the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has set up a consulting firm to help clients exploit the occupation of Iraq. According to the company’s website, “New Bridge Strategies, LLC is a unique company that was created specifically with the aim of assisting clients to evaluate and take advantage of business opportunities in the Middle East following the conclusion of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.” The company describes the “opportunities” in Iraq as “unprecedented” in nature and in scope.New Bridge StrategiesAllbaugh was apparently exasperated by the attention being paid his new company: “Because my friend is president of the United States,” he said, “I’m supposed to check out of life?”New York Times

A two-year-old Iraqi girl was shot dead in her home by American forces after a roadside bomb went off next to a military convoy. “If we determine there were deaths and/or injuries to innocent civilians as a result of U.S. forces responding to an attack,” said Major Anthony Aguto, “we will compensate the family with three years of standard Iraqi salary.” The grandfather of the dead girl said they didn’t want the money: “I submit my complaint only to God.”New York TimesIslamic Jihad took responsibility for a suicide attack in Haifa, Israel, that killed at least 19 people, including several children.Washington PostThree generations of the Zer-Aviv family, including four-year-old Liran and one-year-old Noya, their parents, and their grandmother, were killed.New York TimesThe bomber was a woman from Jenin, a law student, whose brother and cousin were killed by Israeli troops last June.Washington PostIsrael bombed Syria in retaliation for the attack.Washington PostAlmost 3 million people in Britain watched an illusionist play Russian roulette live on television,Guardianand Robin Cook, the former foreign minister and leader of the Commons, who resigned to protest Britain’s participation in the conquest of Iraq, claimed that Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted privately to him two weeks before the invasion that Saddam Hussein had no weapons that posed a “real and present danger.”BBCPresident Jacques Chirac of France gave Laura Bush a kiss.Washington PostPolice shot and killed a 900-pound moose that wandered into downtown Portland, Maine.New York TimesNewly released files suggested that the Mexican government used at least 360 snipers in a massacre of protesters on October 2, 1968.New York TimesEcuador launched a new punctuality campaign.ReutersGarbage was piling up in Chicago,New York Timesa rapper named C-Murder was found guilty of murder,Launchand Prime Minister Jean Chretien of Canada said that he was thinking of trying marijuana: “Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand.”Reuters

The U.S. economy managed to create 57,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported, the first such gain since January, although the increase did not keep pace with population growth, and the percentage of adults with jobs fell to its lowest point in 10 years.New York TimesArnold Schwarzenegger apologized after 15 women came forward and accused him of sexually abusing them.SlateSchwarzenegger was also trying to explain comments he made years ago about his admiration for Adolf Hitler: “I admired Hitler for instance because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education, up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for his way of getting to the people and so on.”New York TimesSchool officials in Paris, Texas, apologized after the high school band played “Deutschland uber alles,” with the Nazi flag flying, on the evening of Rosh Hashana.New York TimesRoy Horn, of Siegfried and Roy, was mauled by a rare white Bengal tiger during a Las Vegas performance and dragged offstage.San Francisco ChronicleNew York police officers discovered a 350-pound Bengal tiger in an apartment in Harlem; the police were called by a downstairs neighbor after “large amounts of urine” poured through the ceiling. A four-foot-long caiman was also removed from the apartment.New York TimesA new study found that large predators such as polar bears strongly dislike being caged in zoos.New York TimesA pitbull named Murder attacked a young boy in Newark, New Jersey, and nearly chewed off his foot.New York PostSix thousand three hundred New Jersians applied for permits for the state’s big upcoming bearhunt.New York TimesA Russian electricity company was threatening to kidnap people’s pets as a way to force delinquent customers to pay their bills.BBCA team of Swedish scientists concluded that the world’s remaining oil and gas supplies have been exaggerated by up to 80 percent and said that production levels will probably peak in 2010.CNNA new study estimated that 160,000 people die as a result of global warming every year; President Vladimir Putin suggested that global warming could be good for Russians because they “would spend less money on fur coats and other warm things.”ReutersKing Mohammed VI of Morocco sent 20 camels to Peru as a gift.Agence France-PresseLaura Bush told the Russians that American children’s books teach children to be good Americans and that her children used to enjoy acting out “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss.ReutersMargaret Thatcher was said to be losing her mind.Sunday Mirror

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Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

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A man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition, as if every thing were titular and ephemeral but he.

I rose long before dawn, too thrilled to sleep, and set off to find my tribe. North from Greenville in the dark, past towns with names like Sans Souci and Travelers Rest, over the border into North Carolina, through land so choked by kudzu that the overgrown trees in the dark looked like great creatures petrified in mid-flight. The weirdness of this scene would, by the end of the weekend, show itself to be appropriate: my trip would be all about romanticism, and romanticism is a human collision with place that results, as Baudelaire put it, “neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in a way of feeling.” My rental car’s engine whined as it climbed the mountains. Day was just breaking when I nosed down a hill to Orchard Lake Campground, where tents were still being erected in the dimness.

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Harold Jamieson, once chief engineer of New York City’s sanitation department, enjoyed retirement. He knew from his small circle of friends that some didn’t, so he considered himself lucky. He had an acre of garden in Queens that he shared with several like-minded horticulturists, he had discovered Netflix, and he was making inroads in the books he’d always meant to read. He still missed his wife—a victim of breast cancer five years previous—but aside from that persistent ache, his life was quite full. Before rising every morning, he reminded himself to enjoy the day. At sixty-eight, he liked to think he had a fair amount of road left, but there was no denying it had begun to narrow.

The best part of those days—assuming it wasn’t raining, snowing, or too cold—was the nine-block walk to Central Park after breakfast. Although he carried a cell phone and used an electronic tablet (had grown dependent on it, in fact), he still preferred the print version of the Times. In the park, he would settle on his favorite bench and spend an hour with it, reading the sections back to front, telling himself he was progressing from the sublime to the ridiculous.

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1. In 2014, Deepti Gurdasani, a genetic epidemiologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute in England, coauthored a paper in Nature on human genetic variation in Africa, from which this image is taken. A recent study had found that DNA from people of European descent made up 96 percent of genetic samples worldwide, reflecting the historical tendency among scientists and doctors to view the male, European body as a global archetype. “There wasn’t very much data available from Africa at all,” Gurdasani told me. To help rectify the imbalance, her research team collected samples from eighteen African ethnolinguistic groups across the continent—such as the Kalenjin of Uganda and the Oromo of Ethiopia—most of whom had not previously been included in genomic research. They analyzed the data using an admixture algorithm, which visualizes the statistical genetic differences among groups by representing them as color clusters. The top chart shows genetic differences among the sampled African populations, in increasing degrees of granularity from top to bottom, and the bottom chart shows how they compare with ethnic groups in the rest of the world. The areas where the colors mix and overlap imply that groups commingled. The Yoruba, for instance, show remarkable homogeneity—their column is almost entirely green and purple—while the Kalenjin seem to have associated with many populations across the continent.

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Ten yards was the nearest we could get to the river. Any closer and the smell was too much to bear. The water was a milky gray color, as if mixed with ashes, and the passage of floating trash was ceaseless. Plastic bags and bottles, coffee lids, yogurt cups, flip-flops, and sodden stuffed animals drifted past, coated in yellow scum. Amid the old tires and mattresses dumped on the riverbank, mounds of rank green weeds gave refuge to birds and grasshoppers, which didn’t seem bothered by the fecal stench.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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