Weekly Review — July 6, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: The Wire Master and his puppets, 1875]

The wire master and his puppets, 1875.

In a furtive ceremony held two days ahead of schedule in order to pre-empt violence, the United States transferred “sovereignty” to Iraq. About 140,000 American troops remained in the country, with no mechanism in place between the two countries to govern the troops, and 150 Americans stayed on in Iraqi ministries as advisers.New York TimesOf the 2,300 construction projects promised by coalition forces, fewer than 140 were underway at the time of the transfer of power.New York TimesOutgoing proconsul L. Paul Bremer warned that Iraq’s path to democracy would be messy, and noted, “It wasn’t very pretty around here either between 1776 and 1787.”SalonIn response to a note from Condoleezza Rice announcing Iraq’s new status, President Bush wrote: “Let Freedom Reign!”New York TimesThree days later, insurgents fired rockets from a bus and a pickup truck that hit two central Baghdad hotels, and a mortar attack on a military base near the city’s airport wounded eleven U.S. soldiers.ReutersCourt proceedings began at “Camp Victory,” the American base near Baghdad, against Saddam Hussein, who identified himself as the current president of Iraq, and eleven members of his administration. “You know that this is all a theater by Bush, to help him win his election,” Hussein observed. He was read criminal charges covering thirty years, including the 1988 gassing of Kurds in Halabja, which he recalled hearing about “on the radio.” The U.S. said that Hussein had not provided any useful information while in custody, though he explained that he had his army invade Kuwait in 1990 to keep them busy.New York TimesObserving that “a state of war is not a blank check for the president,” the Supreme Court ruled that both foreign prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay and so-called enemy combatants held in the United States can use the American legal system to challenge their detention.New York TimesFour American soldiers were charged with fatally pushing an Iraqi off a bridge in January for breaking a curfew.New York TimesScientists found that the sneakiest primates have the biggest brains.New ScientistPresident Bush’s approval rating fell to its lowest point, 42 percent.New York Times

In Afghanistan, Taliban fighters killed fourteen unarmed men for registering to vote.New York TimesPresident Hamid Karzai begged NATO to send security troops to the country, and to “please hurry” in advance of September elections, but his request was rejected.New York TimesMore than 2,100 Florida residents were found to be wrongly included on a list of ineligible voters.Miami HeraldNine members of the House of Representatives asked the United Nations to monitor the November elections, andAgence France Pressetwo conservative groups were caught illegally promoting Ralph Nader’s presidential candidacy in Oregon.CNNThe Bush-Cheney campaign asked church-going volunteers to provide church membership directories to state campaign committees, raising questions about whether the directive violates the separation between church and state.ReutersA Mexican farmer upset about not getting his party’s nomination to run for the state legislature put on a crown of thorns and nailed himself to a wooden cross outside the state’s electoral office.Local6news.comWhile in Turkey for the NATO summit, President Bush met with religious leaders and thanked them “for being so faithful to the Almighty God.”New York TimesThe pope expressed outrage over the sacking of Constantinople by Christian crusaders in 1204.BBCThe FDA approved the use of blood-sucking leeches for medicinal purposes.ReutersLonely people were buying robotic fireflies.Wireless Flash

Hillary Clinton promised that if John Kerry wins the election, Bush’s tax cuts will be eliminated: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”Associated PressThe Supreme Court ruled that a federal law designed to shield children from Internet porn cannot be enforced, because it likely violates the First Amendment.Associated PressAmerican military officers were worrying that promotional cans of Coca-Cola including cell phones and global positioning chips could be used to eavesdrop on classified meetings.YahooThe Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn and transmitted the first pictures of the icy rings circling the planet, andNew York Timesthe Hubble Space Telescope discovered a hundred new planets orbiting stars in the Milky Way.BBCChiquita was busy engineering bananas that taste like different fruits.BBCThe French government reported that the number of cows infected with mad cow disease in the past thirteen years is 300 times higher than previously suspected, with nearly 50,000 infected animals entering the food chain because the epidemic had gone undetected.TelegraphA 132-pound Japanese man ate 53 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes. “I think he has proven, once again, that he is one of the finest athletes of any sport in the world,” concluded a spokesman.WNBC.comA dead woman was suing the late Dr. Robert Atkins for giving her inadequate cancer-treatment advice.New York Daily NewsLittle boys in Utah were selling lemonade for $250 a glass to offset a potential $14 million judgment against the Boy Scouts for starting a wildfire.Associated PressExperts warned that witches’ broom disease and frosty pod disease could devastate chocolate supplies in coming years, andNews.scotsman.comfemale rice farmers in Nepal were plowing their fields in the nude to please the rain god.Associated PressColin Powell sang and danced to “YMCA” for foreign ministers at a conference on Asian-Pacific security.Associated PressA Hindu ascetic was busy rolling his way 800 miles from India to Pakistan to promote world peace.Los Angeles Times

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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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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.

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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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