Weekly Review — July 27, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Twisted Creature, 1875]

The 9/11 commission released its report and catalogued the many failures of intelligence and law enforcement that permitted Al Qaeda to carry out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the commission concluded that “we are not safe.”New York TimesRepublicans were trying to blame it all on Bill Clinton.New York TimesFrench authorities evacuated the Eiffel Tower but failed to find a bomb.New York TimesLinda Ronstadt was booed off the stage at the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas after she dedicated “Desperado” to Michael Moore; the casino’s management removed Ronstadt from the building and refused to let her return to her hotel room.BBCA homeland-security officer was in big trouble for beating up a Chinese tourist.Associated PressPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals released a videotape of workers in a chicken factory stomping on live chickens and throwing them against a wall; the undercover investigator who documented the abuse said that he saw hundreds of cruel acts, including squeezing birds till they explode.New York TimesDemocrats said they were planning to be “positive” at their convention in Boston.NewsdayIraqi militants continued to abduct foreign workers and threatened to cut off their heads unless their employers leave Iraq. “We have warned all the countries, companies, businessmen, and truck drivers,” said one statement given to reporters, “that those who deal with American cowboy occupiers will be targeted by the fires of the mujahedeen.”New York TimesAn Egyptian diplomat was kidnapped.TelegraphSaudi authorities found the severed head of an American hostage.The AgeThe Dow Jones industrial average fell below 10,000.Washington Post

Europe and the United States both continued to threaten Sudan with economic sanctions unless it stops the genocide in Darfur, where government-sponsored Arab militias have been slaughtering and raping black farmers.ReutersA woman in South Africaaccidentally put a 100-year-old gold coin into a Cape Town parking meter.ReutersThe president of Malawi asked parliament to move out of its new building so that he could live there.ReutersCounty commissioners in Jefferson County, Texas, voted to change the name of Jap Road, which was reportedly named 100 years ago in honor of a Japanese rice farmer.ReutersThe Government Accountability Office said that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are running $12.3 billion over budget this year.New York TimesSamuel Berger, Bill Clinton’s national security adviser, was in trouble for removing classified documents from the National Security Archive.New York TimesGreat Britain announced that it will reduce the size of its armed forces by 15,000.New York TimesThe United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Israel obey the World Court’s ruling and remove the West Bank wall.New York TimesPresident Jacques Chirac told Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon that he was no longer welcome in France.Deutsche WelleA miner in Guinea found a 182-carat diamond.Associated PressRussian police broke up a summer camp for young thieves.New York Times

Janssen Pharmaceutica Products, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, warned doctors that it had “minimized potentially fatal risks, and made misleading claims” about Risperdal, an anti-schizophrenia drug; the drug can cause stroke, diabetes, and other fatal complications, the company said, and contrary to claims on the label it is not safer than similar drugs. It was reported that some boys who were given Risperdal in Florida, where it is used as a “chemical restraint” in state facilities, developed lactating breasts.Miami HeraldThe Bush Administration has decided that consumers should not be able to sue manufacturers of drugs that have been approved by the FDA.New York TimesA new study of the evidence suggested that Napoleon died from getting too many enemas.New ScientistFormer Mexican president Luis Echeverría was indicted for his role in the killings of student protesters in 1971; the next day a judge refused to issue an arrest warrant.New York TimesAn Italian city banned the practice of keeping goldfish in bowls.Agence France-PresseWest Nile encephalitis killed a man in California, andReutersofficials there were considering closing national forests to prevent fires.Associated PressAn alligator bit off a landscaper’s arm in Florida.CNNIt was reported that one of the first lesbian couples to get married in Canada filed for divorce within five days, though Canadian law does not yet recognize same-sex divorce.Globe and MailThe European Space Agency found that rogue waves more than 25 meters high are not uncommon and may have sunk more than 200 supertankers over the past 20 years.Sydney Morning HeraldThe International Whaling Commission released a report concluding that military sonar harms whales and is to blame for the increasing numbers of whale strandings.Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor found wide genetic variations among healthy people; many people lack large sequences of DNA; others have multiple copies.NewsdayResearchers found that monkeys with good mothers are less likely to be aggressive, even if they have a gene that codes for aggression.New ScientistScientists discovered that yawning is contagious among chimps.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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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.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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