Weekly Review — February 17, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

Republican operatives were looking high and low for anyone who could remember serving in the National Guard with President George W. Bush between May 1972 and May 1973; one group of Vietnam veterans was offering a $1,000 reward for proof that the president met his military obligations.New York TimesWhite House officials tried unsuccessfully to wriggle out of a promise Bush made on national television to release his entire military file, though they continued to insist that the president has nothing to hide.Washington Post, USA TodayA dental chart from 1973 suggested that the future president had been neglecting his teeth; anotherNew York Timesdocument revealed that Bush suffered from a hemorrhoid when he applied to the National Guard.New York TimesA former Texas National Guard officer charged that in 1997 he overheard a superior and a Bush adviser discussing ways to “cleanse” Bush’s file to remove embarrassing information. The officer said he later saw papers with Bush’s name on them in a garbage can.USA Today, New York TimesOne hundred twenty-five people died in various attacks in Iraq.New York TimesDefense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that he did not recall British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s prewar claim that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes. “I don’t remember the statement being made, to be perfectly honest.” The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, didn’t remember it either.Sydney Morning HeraldA new poll found that most Americans believe that President Bush lied or knowingly exaggerated evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The poll also showed Senator John Kerry beating the president by nine percentage points.Washington PostBill O’Reilly of Fox News apologized on national television for his uncritical support of the Bush Administration’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “I was wrong,” he said. “I am not pleased about it at all and I think all Americans should be concerned about this.”San Diego Union-TribuneThe chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers said that the outsourcing of American jobs to other countries is “a good thing” that is “probably a plus for the economy in the long run.”New York TimesFour Nigerians were charged with stealing a 13-year-old boy’s eyes to use in an invisibility potion.The AgeAn elderly Florida man robbed a bank to pay for his wife’s medical bills.Ananova

Attorney General John Ashcroft defended issuing subpoenas for abortion records and said that the records were necessary to find out whether doctors who have sued to overturn the ban on so-called partial-birth abortions are telling the truth when they say they have performed the procedure out of medical necessity.New York TimesSouth Africa’s health minister, who has repeatedly expressed doubts that HIV causes AIDS, said that a diet with lots of garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice would help fight the disease.New York TimesPeople in Jakarta were watching out for the kolor ijo, or green underpants monster, that has been attacking people and raping women.News.com.auThree pharmacists were fired in Denton, Texas, for refusing to fill a prescription for emergency contraception.New York TimesChinese officials cancelled the opening of the Vagina Monologues in Shanghai.New York TimesPolice chiefs from around the country were trying to defeat a Senate bill that would give gunmakers and dealers immunity from lawsuits.New York TimesSupreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia defended his duck-hunting trip with Dick Cheney and said he did not plan to recuse himself from a case involving the Vice President’s shadowy energy task force.Associated PressFrench prosecutors were investigating $11.4 million in bank transfers to accounts controlled by Yasir Arafat’s wife, and theNew York Timesfamily of Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia was accused of supplying concrete for Israel’s West Bank Wall.TelegraphU.S. officials said that the president might support Israel’s new plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip and that some of the inhabitants of the prison camps in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, might never get out.New York TimesFlorida’s state department decreed that touch-screen votes need not be included in manual recounts of elections, and aAssociated Pressgrand-jury investigation was under way in Texas into a political action committee controlled by House speaker Tom DeLay.New York TimesIn Finland, a sausage heir was fined $216,000 for speeding.Reuters

South Korean scientists created 30 human clone embryos and harvested embryonic stem cells from one of them; the stem cells were then injected into mice, where they formed cartilage, muscle, bone, and other tissues.New ScientistAn FDA advisory panel recommended widespread testing for mad cow disease, saying that absent such testing there is no way to assess the risk of transmission from meat, drugs, vaccines, cosmetics, or dietary supplements.New York TimesThe United States Department of Agriculture concluded its investigation into the mad cow outbreak.New York TimesBird flu continued to spread in Asia; some Thai fighting cocks were found to be infected, and a clouded leopard died of the disease in a zoo near Bangkok.ReutersSeveral farms in Delaware and Maryland were under quarantine because of a bird-flu outbreak, and aAssociated Pressdifferent strain of the virus showed up in Pennsylvania.ForbesPluto was crushed to death by a parade float near Splash Mountain in Disneyworld.News4Jax.comThe British Medical Association reported that smoking increases the risk of impotence, infertility, cervical cancer, miscarriage, stillbirth, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, placental complications, and cleft palate.New ScientistThe U.S. infant-mortality rate was up, and aNew York Timestwo-headed baby died after doctors removed its “parasitic head.”New ScientistScientists created a new kind of mouse by moving mitochondrial DNA from one species into another, and fatUniversity of Rochester Medical Centerrats lost weight after they were given a gene-therapy shot.New ScientistSouth Korea cracked down on lewd candy and cakes, and itAgence France-Pressewas discovered that people are quite good at avoiding feelings of regret.American Psychological Society

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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.”

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Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

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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.

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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.

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