Weekly Review — April 20, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

President George W. Bush held a prime-time press conference and refused several times to apologize or accept responsibility for his government’s failure to prevent the September 11 attacks; theNew York Timespresident defended his decision to conquer Iraq and said that the Iraqis were “deceptive at hiding things. We knew they were hiding things. A country that hides things is a country that is afraid of getting caught. And that was part of our calculation.”New York TimesBush also said that “freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.”New York TimesA Pentecostal minister in Virginia was killed by a rattlesnake he was handling on Easter as a test of faith.New York TimesBob Woodward reported in a new book that Colin Powell warned President Bush that if he invaded Iraq he would have to face the “you break it, you own it” rule. “You’re going to be the proud owner of 25 million people,” Powell told the president in the summer of 2002. “You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.” Powell also let it be known that Dick Cheney was the “powerful, steamrolling force” behind the decision to invade.New York TimesIraqi militants continued to kidnap foreigners, though some hostages were released.New York Times Al Jazeera broadcast a videotape showing an American soldier who was captured west of Baghdad. “I came to Iraq to liberate it,” said Pfc. Keith M. Maupin. “But I didn’t want to come here because I wanted to be with my son.”New York TimesRussia said that 605 people were kidnapped in Chechnya last year, and 253 were kidnapped in nearby regions.New York TimesThe Spanish government said that the bombers in Madrid sold hash and ecstasy and drank holy water from Mecca, andNew York Timesthe new Socialist prime minister ordered the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq.Washington PostPresident Hugo Chávez of Venezuela expressed his support for the Iraqi insurgency.New York TimesA Democratic club in south Florida took out a newspaper ad saying that Donald Rumsfeld should be “put up against a wall” and shot.Associated PressThree crewmen died on a South Korean freighter after inhaling rotten squid gas.Mainichi Shimbun

George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, told the 9/11 commission that he received a briefing in August 2001 entitled “IslamicExtremist Learns to Fly” but failed to act on the information.New York TimesThe North American Aerospace Defense Command admitted that in April 2001 it rejected a training scenario in which foreign terrorists were to hijack a commercial airplane and try to crash it into the Pentagon; the scenario was considered unrealistic.Navy TimesThe 9/11 commission concluded that the harsh immigration policies put in place after September 11 were useless.New York TimesIn Kansas City a man went on a crime spree and shot two women for wearing blue.Associated PressThe U.S. porn industry was shut down after a performer tested positive for HIV.New York TimesOfficials in Northern Ireland apparently refused to let a woman with Down’s syndrome register to vote because of a rule barring “idiots and lunatics” from voting.ScotsmanScientists concluded that young female chimps are smarter than young males.New ScientistIt was reported that President Bush does not even read his “President’s Daily Briefs,” which are apparently quite short, but has them orally summarized for him.GuardianSerbia’s constitutional court suspended a law that gave financial benefits to Slobodan Milosevic and other Serb war criminals;Associated PressSlobodan Milosevic submitted a list of 1,631 witnesses that he plans to call in his defense at The Hague.ReutersPresident Bush saved $35,000 on his 2003 taxes as a result of his tax cuts.New York TimesIn Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s corruption trial resumed; three months ago the Constitutional Court ruled that the law that was passed to protect Berlusconi from bribery charges was unconstitutional.New York Times Twenty-one poor Indian women died in a stampede to collect free saris.Times of India

President Bush announced his support for Ariel Sharon’s plan to withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and his approval, “in light of new realities on the ground,” for the idea that Israel will never withdraw from its larger settlements in the West Bank.New York TimesIsrael assassinated Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who succeeded Sheikh Ahmed Yassin as the leader of Hamas in Gaza after he was killed by an Israeli missile last month;Washington Postthe Bush Administration “strongly urged” Israel to show “maximum restraint.”New York TimesThe Federal Election Commission was debating whether to regulate the political speech of many nonprofit organizations.New York TimesBartholomew, the Eastern Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, accepted the pope’s apology for the sacking of his city by crusaders in the 13th century.Associated PressSupreme Court justice Antonin Scalia apologized to two reporters whose recordings of a recent speech were erased by a federal marshal; Scalia had lamented in the speech that people just don’t revere the Constitution the way they used to.New York TimesA chickenfarmer in Alaskainjected eggs with dye to produce orange, red, green, purple, pink, and blue chicks. Colored ducklings were also available.BBCChildren in Flint, Michigan, found two loaded pistols during an Easter egg hunt,Flint JournalIrish farmers were outfitting their newborn lambs with blue overcoats, and aBBCpiranha was found in a petting-zoo aquarium in Berlin.ABC.net.auScientists using a new technique called microlensing found a planet in the constellation Sagittarius.New ScientistResearchers at Harvard University found that drinking alcohol can double a man’s chances of getting gout.Associated PressThe FDA admitted that it refused to permit its lead expert on the subject to testify publicly that antidepressant drugs cause children to become suicidal.New York TimesMattel and Tek Nek Toys International recalled thousands of Batman cars and trucks after dozens of children were hurt playing with them; one child died.New York TimesThe Department of Health and Human Services held a hearing on the recent decision by Abbott Laboratories to quintuple the price of its essential AIDS drug Norvir, which used to cost about $1,500 a year but now costs $7,800.New York TimesA man in Ocala, Florida, was in trouble after his fiancée caught him raping her rottweiler dog.Ocala Star BannerZanzibar outlawed homosexuality.BBC

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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.

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.

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