Weekly Review — May 25, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]

Israel continued to demolish Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip as part of “Operation Rainbow”; a tank and a helicopter gunship opened fire on protesters in Rafah and killed at least 10 people, including several children; military officials expressed “deep sorrow over the loss of civilian lives” and said that only warning shots had been fired.New York TimesAmerican forces attacked what survivors said was a wedding party in Iraq, near the Syrian border, and killed at least 43 people, including 12 women and 14 children; U.S. military officials said they had attacked a safehouse for foreign fighters and that there was no evidence of a wedding; confronted with video footage that strongly supported survivors’ claims, an official said: “There may have been some kind of celebration. Bad people have celebrations, too.”Associated Press, New York TimesIsrael’s justice minister, Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor who lost his father and grandmother to the Nazis, denounced the Sharon government’s latest round of home demolitions in the Gaza Strip and said: “When I saw a picture on the TV of an old woman on all fours in the ruins of her home looking under some floor tiles for her medicines â?? I did think, ‘What would I say if it were my grandmother?'” The comment was criticized for its implied comparison of the Israeli army to the Nazis. “We look like monsters in the eyes of the world,” Lapid said. “This makes me sick.”New York TimesEvidence continued to emerge that the United States has systematically used torture on prisoners in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in its secret detention centers around the world; oneNew York Timesformer Iraqi prisoner described being sodomized with a nightstick; another said he saw a prison interpreter raping an Iraqi boy as a female soldier took pictures.New York TimesSecretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld banned digital cameras and camera phones from U.S. military bases in Iraq.Australian Broadcasting CompanyA military lawyer testified that he was told that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez was present at some of the torture sessions at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, andWashington PostIraqi torture victims were beginning to file lawsuits against the U.S. seeking damages.New York TimesGeneral Anthony Zinni, the former commander of all U.S. troops in the Middle East, said that the invasion of Iraq was “the wrong war at the wrong time with the wrong strategy.”CBS NewsHalliburton, it was reported, has been getting paid for hauling empty trucks across the Iraqi desert.Knight Ridder NewspapersThe Pentagon finally decided to stop paying Ahmad Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress $335,000 per month; a few days laterNew York TimesU.S. forces raided Chalabi’s offices in Baghdad, smashed furniture and photographs and carried away documents and computers.New York TimesOil prices were still near $40 a barrel, and OPEC rejected a Saudi Arabian proposal to increase oil production.New York TimesWorkers found a rocket launcher near a train station in Atlanta, Georgia.New York TimesA New York jeweler was shot in the head as he walked down Sixth Avenue in Manhattan; Candace Bergen was at the scene and said, “This is the first time I’ve seen brain matter.”New York TimesPresident Bush fell off his mountain bike.Washington Post

German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was slapped in the face at a campaign rally, andAssociated PressPrime Minister Tony Blair of Britain was pelted in the back with condoms filled with purple flour as he was speaking in front of Parliament during a question-and-answer session.BBCManmohan Singh was sworn in as India’s first non-Hindu prime minister.New York TimesA land mine blew up a bus in Kashmir; Hizbul Mujahedeen, a terrorist group based in Pakistan, took credit for the attack.ReutersPakistan was readmitted to full Commonwealth membership, less than five years after General Pervez Musharraf took power in a coup.IndependentColombian rebels blew up a disco, and aAssociated Pressbomb blew up outside a McDonald’s in Istanbul.New York TimesIn Paris, the roof of a new terminal at Charles de Gaulle International Airport collapsed and killed several people.New York TimesThe U.S. Homeland Security department was preparing to award a $15 billion contract for a massive electronic-surveillance and data-mining system to track foreign visitors to the United States, and transitNew York Timespolice in Boston confirmed that they will begin stopping passengers on the Boston T for identity checks as part of a new national rail security plan.Boston GlobeThe General Accounting Office concluded in a report that the Bush Administration violated federal law when it produced simulated news spots for local news stations on the new Medicare law; the GAO said that the spots were “covert propaganda.”ScotsmanGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California filed suit against a toy company that makes a bobblehead doll in his image; the company also makes dolls of other political figures, as well as celebrities such as Jesus Christ and Anna Nicole Smith.New York TimesColorado outlawed lawsuits against fast-food companies by fat people.New York Times

Scientists discovered prions in the muscle of a sheep infected with scrapie; experts were very quick to say that this does not necessarily pose any danger to humans who eat lamb, even though scrapie prions are believed to have caused mad cow disease. A prion expert at the National Institutes of Health predicted that “within the next year, somebody will make a big splash by finding it in the muscles of cattle and the beef industry will go crazy.”New York TimesBritish investigators who studied samples of human biopsies estimated that almost 4,000 Britons could have mad cow disease prions in their tonsils.New ScientistThe Humane Society complained that racingdogs in Florida were being given cocaine, andAssociated PressBritish intelligence agents in World War II at one point planned to train pigeons to carry bombs or biological weapons. “Pigeon research,” said one memo, “will not stand still; if we do not experiment, other powers will.”BBCTexas executed a schizophrenic man.New York TimesIt was noticed that members of the Bush Administration have been going around the country taking credit for programs even as the president cuts or eliminates them from his budget.New York TimesA club in Barcelona was offering to implant a radio frequency ID chip in VIP members’ arms so that they don’t have to wait in line to get in or use money to pay for drinks.New ScientistFrench ecologists discovered that the metal bands used to tag penguins hamper swimming and breeding and surviving.New ScientistThe EPA approved an air-pollution rule on formaldehyde emissions based on a cancer risk model created by the Chemical Industry Institute of Toxicology; the new standard is 10,000 times weaker than the EPA’s previous regulation for such emissions.Los Angeles TimesResearchers at the Mayo Clinic found new evidence for the existence of nanobacteria.New ScientistAstronomers were looking for shadows of the Big Bang, andNew ScientistNASA astrophysicists said that measurements of X rays from 26 galaxy clusters confirmed that dark energy, a kind of mysterious repulsive gravity, dominates the universe.New ScientistAmerican researchers found that giving aspirin and other pain relievers to infant rats adversely affects their libido later in life, and theNew ScientistFood and Drug Administration banned homosexuals from being sperm donors.New York TimesGraveyards were filling up in South Africa.Reuters

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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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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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