Weekly Review — July 13, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Monkey Laocoon, 1875]

The Senate Intelligence Committee released a scathing report on the CIA’s unfounded, unjustified, and unreasonable claims about Iraq’s purported weapons of mass destruction; the report was oddly silent, however, about the Bush Administration’s well-documented and apparently successful campaign to intimidate the CIA into coming up with justifications for the President’s fraudulent case for the invasion.New York TimesSenator Trent Lott was outraged by the CIA’s “totally ridiculous, uncalled for, and counterproductive” redactions of the report and called for an independent commission to oversee the classification of government information.New York TimesJapan’s defense ministry said that it will issue its annual defense whitepaper as a “manga” comic book.ReutersIyad Allawi, the prime minister of Iraq’s new puppet government, signed a law giving him the power to declare martial law and ban seditious groups. Allawi hinted recently that national elections, which are scheduled for January 2005, might be delayed.New York TimesPresident Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was planning to delay parliamentary elections once again, and federalNew York Timesauthorities in the United States were discussing the possibility of postponing the November elections in the event of a terrorist attack.CNNTom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security, warned that Al Qaeda might be planning an attack to disrupt the November elections, but he said that he was aware of no specific threat or details about the alleged plan. The color-coded threat level remained unchanged, and many observers suspected the announcement was made to distract attention from Senator John Kerry and his new running mate, Senator John Edwards, whom President Bush accused of being too inexperienced.Associated Press, Nelson ReportThe Pentagon revealed that pay records of George W. Bush’s National Guard service during the Vietnam War, records that might be able to establish whether he met his military obligations, were accidentally destroyed.BBCA new study concluded that children of fat people are more likely to be fat.Forbes

The Pentagon announced the creation of military review panels to allow prisoners at Guantánamo Bay to challenge their detentions, though they will not be permitted to have lawyers present, nor will the hearings be public; critics said that the Pentagon’s plan falls short of the standard set by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the prisoners have a right to an independent hearing.GuardianConfused brown pelicans were crashing into streets in Arizona, because heat waves rising from the pavement look like water.New York TimesThe World Court declared that Israel’s West Bank wall is illegal because it effectively seizes Palestinian land, andAssociated PressIsrael’s public-security minister warned that Jewish extremists might try to assassinate Israeli leaders to prevent the planned withdrawal from Gaza.New York TimesSlobodan Milosevic wasn’t feeling well, andReutersKenneth Lay, the former chairman and CEO of Enron, was finally indicted.New York TimesThe British House of Lords voted to limit the right of parents to spank their children.New York TimesPrime Minister Tony Blair of Britain admitted that weapons of mass destruction might never be found in Iraq but continued to maintain that “we know” Saddam had such weapons: “I do not believe there was not a threat in relation to weapons of mass destruction.”New York TimesA federal appeals court ruled that the government’s standards for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste dump in Nevada are insufficient because they extend for only 10,000 years.New York TimesAlgerian police admitted that a June 21 explosion at a power plant was a terrorist attack by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.Agence France-PresseA Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed four policemen in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and anNew York TimesIsraeli soldier was killed by a bomb in Tel Aviv.ReutersAslan Maskhadov, the Chechen rebel leader, claimed to be able to fight the Russians for another twenty years if necessary, and he threatened to kill the next president of Chechnya. “Whoever occupies this puppet’s chair â?? his days are numbered.”New York TimesGovernor Jeb Bush was asked to list the angles on a three-four-five triangle, a question that appears on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, which high school students must pass to graduate. Bush replied: “I don’t know, 125, 90, and whatever remains of 180?”Associated Press

Federal health officials were thinking about banning the practice of feeding pork, chicken, and other animal parts to cattle; the pigs and chickens eat rendered cattle and thus could transmit mad cow disease prions. There was apparently no plan to stop feeding cattle huge quantities of cattle blood, an obvious vector for the disease, and cattle will continue to enjoy the feathers and excrement of 8.5 billion chickens.New York TimesThe mayor of Nyahururu, Kenya, ordered the slaughter of 500 pigs because they were mating with stray dogs.ReutersIreland was said to be short of priests, and theNew York TimesRoman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, filed for bankruptcy.OregonianIn Shreveport, Louisiana, police arrested a man in a wheelchair for shooting a man on crutches who apparently hit the accused over the head with a crutch.Shreveport TimesCondom supplies in much of the world were falling short, andNew ScientistBritain’s Environment Agency said that male fish were being changed to females by hormone-laden sewage dumped into rivers.New York TimesThe EPA announced that it will fine DuPont for failing to report significant test results relating to a chemical used in making Teflon that was found in drinking water near factories and in the fetus of a pregnant employee.New York TimesOne hundred fifty million pieces of toy jewelry were recalled because of high lead content.New York TimesPeat bogs around the world were releasing carbon dioxide, which is speeding up global warming, and avianNew Scientistflu reappeared in Thailand and China and Vietnam.Associated PressFour organ-transplant recipients died from rabies; all four received tissue from the same infected donor.New York TimesThe European Court of Human Rights declined to extend full human rights to fetuses, and theNew York TimesFrench parliament banned human cloning.ReutersPeople in Canberra, Australia, were warned to beware of mad starving kangaroos; at least one golden retriever has been drowned by a kangaroo, and a woman was attacked while out walking her poodle.Associated PressA sinkhole in Louisiana ate a giraffe and an ostrich.New York TimesScientists succeeded in reading the mind of a monkey.New Scientist

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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.

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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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