Weekly Review — August 24, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Senator Pat Roberts, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, proposed eliminating the CIA, removing the National Security Agency from the Pentagon’s control, and creating three new spy agencies governed by a national intelligence director.New York TimesThe American Civil Liberties Union warned that the federal government has been using corporations to carry out surveillance of citizens because private firms are not subject to many privacy and civil-liberties laws.WiredSenator Ted Kennedy confirmed that he had been placed on the federal “no-fly” list designed to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.ReutersOil prices rose above $49.Agence France-PresseThe U.S. Army announced that it will withhold 15 percent of the fees billed by the Halliburton Company but almost immediately decided to “withhold” the decision pending further review.New York TimesPresident Bush was concerned about the “Soviet dinar,” andAgence France-PressePresident Silvio Berlusconi of Italy underwent a hair transplant.TelegraphGerman men were being admonished to pee sitting down by a gadget called the WC ghost; when the device detects a lifted toilet seat, it says, in German: “Hey, stand peeing (“Stehpinkeln”) is not allowed here and will be punished with fines, so if you don’t want any trouble, you’d best sit down.” It was reported that the term for a man who pees sitting down, “Sitzpinkler,” is a synonym for “wimp.”Telegraph

A bioethicist writing in The Lancet called for an investigation into the role of doctors and nurses in the torture program that was exposed at Abu Ghraib; he cited evidence that doctors or medics covered up the abuse by falsifying death certificates and actively participated by reviving unconscious prisoners.Associated PressTwenty-seven inmates of the county jail in Clearwater, Florida, who were released so that they could flee Hurricane Charley were still at large; 256 inmates were let out of jail but most returned in four days as instructed.WTSP TampaThere was a prison uprising in Olmito, Texas.Associated PressMoktada al-Sadr refused to disarm the Mahdi Army,Washington Postbombs went off at United Nations voter registration offices in Afghanistan, andAssociated PressKathmandu was being blockaded by Maoist rebels.Associated PressAn audit by international observers confirmed that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez fairly won the referendum on his rule.ReutersA 57-year-old partially deaf Texan veteran with skin cancer was called up to report for active duty.The MonitorThe Sierra Club released a report denouncing the Bush Administration for lying about the risks posed by the smoke and dust in lower Manhattan after 9/11; the EPA was aware of the risks, from asbestos, concrete dust, glass fibers, and other substances, by September 27 but continued to claim that the air was safe.NewsdayJohn Kerry’s war record continued to excite controversy.Washington PostPresident Bush said that he opposes “legacy” admissions to colleges and universities, andAssociated Pressan Australian drunk ate a cup of maggots, a pint of anchovies, drank a pint of mouthwash, and chewed off a mouse’s tail in a pub competition.BBCPeople were still starving in North Korea.BBC

A British scientist warned that a gigantic section of La Palma island in the Canaries is poised to fall into the ocean, an event that would trigger “mega-tsunamis” 50 to 100 meters high that will crash into Africa’s west coast, the Caribbean, and the eastern United States.GuardianTwenty people were stuck on a roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park after a power outage; eight people were stuck upside down.CBS 2 New YorkDemographers said that Japan’s population could decline 20 percent by 2050.CNNA 105-pound woman in Kennebunk, Maine, ate 38 lobsters (9.76 pounds of meat) in 12 minutes and won the World Lobster Eating Contest.Associated PressA new survey found that about 10 percent of the world’s food crops are irrigated with sewage.New ScientistChildren living next to gas stations, a French study found, are four times more likely to develop leukemia.New ScientistKorean researchers found that leukemia deaths are 70 percent higher among people who live near AM radio broadcasting towers.WiredA new report concluded that deaths from brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and motor neurone disease have tripled in the last 20 years.GuardianEdvard Munch’s The Scream was stolen by armed robbers from a crowded museum in Oslo, Norway.ReutersThe European Environment Agency said that winters on the continent could disappear by 2080.ReutersScience labs were experiencing a monkey shortage.New ScientistHippos were dying in Uganda.Agence France-Presse

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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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