Weekly Review — October 19, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Twisted Creature, 1875]

United States military personnel who worked at Camp Delta, the largest prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, revealed that many prisoners there were tortured by being forced to endure strobe lights and cold temperatures and extremely loud recordings of Limp Bizkit.New York TimesMembers of an Army Reserve unit in Baghdad refused to deliver a fuel shipment because they said that it was a “suicide mission.”New York TimesA study found that Gulf War Syndrome was caused by toxic chemicals.New York TimesThe U.S. was bombing Falluja again, and twoNew York Timessuicide bombers penetrated the Green Zone in Baghdad and killed five people.Washington TimesThe State Department classified Unification and Jihad, a group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as a terrorist organization and froze its assets.CNNPrime Minister Iyad Allawi was working to dismantle an independent commission designed to keep former Baathists out of power as part of his effort to bring former Baathists into the government.New York TimesMohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was concerned that entire buildings from Iraq’s former nuclear facilities have been dismantled and removed and no one knows where they were taken.BBCTwenty-eight American soldiers were under investigation for the apparent murder of two detainees at a base in Afghanistan.CNNPoland said that it will begin reducing its forces in Iraq next year.New York TimesIsrael pulled back from its latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, and theNew York TimesUniversity of Haifa began offering a master’s degree in disaster management.Jerusalem PostPresident Bush sent Ramadan greetings to Muslims in America and around the globe.Washington TimesSaddam Hussein underwent a hernia operation.Agence France-PresseDoc Holliday got a new tombstone.New York Times

Officials in Oregon and Nevada were investigating claims that Republicans destroyed Democratic voter-registration forms.New York TimesA senator from Kentucky apologized for saying that his Democratic opponent looks like one of Saddam Hussein’s sons.Associated PressA senate candidate in Oklahoma warned of “rampant” lesbianism in the schools.Associated PressPeople in Detroit were debating the wisdom of creating an “Africa Town” district, where the city would give special loans to black businessmen.New York TimesThe FCC fined Fox television $1.2 million for a broadcast of “Married by America” in April 2003 that featured strippers covered in whipped cream.Washington PostBill O’Reilly, the Fox News pundit, was accused of sexually harassing one of his female producers.Washington PostAn Australian doctor claimed that one of his patients had a sleep disorder that caused her to sneak out of her house at night and have sex with strangers.Associated PressA quadriplegic man succeeded in checking email and playing computer games via a microchip embedded in his brain.Nature.comThe Helsinki Zoo decided not to kill its 14 baboons, which it had planned to do to make room for snow monkeys, after a public outcry.Agence France-PresseA tractor-trailer accident spilled hundreds of live chickens onto the New Jersey Turnpike.New York TimesKarl Rove testified before a grand jury investigating the exposure of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA officer, andAssociated PressNew York attorney general Eliot Spitzer was going after corruption in the insurance industry.GuardianThe federal government reached its $7.4 trillion debt ceiling and was forced to delay contributions to pension plans.Washington PostA Dutch princess notified her husband in a newspaper advertisement that she wants a divorce.Agence France-Presse

The Justice Department opened an investigation into the Chiron Corporation, which was supposed to provide about half the American flu vaccine supply until the British government shut down the operation because of problems with bacterial contamination.New York TimesDisabled, elderly, and sick people were lining up for hours hoping to get a flu shot; one woman in California died after she collapsed from exhaustion and hit her head.Associated PressScientists announced a relatively successful trial of a new malaria vaccine.ForbesThe FDA ordered all antidepressants to carry a “black box” warning that the drugs might cause children and adolescents to have suicidal thoughts.Associated PressScientists successfully cultivated square salt-loving bacteria called Walsby’s square archaeon.Nature.comSwedish scientists found that using a mobile phone for ten years doubles the risk of developing a tumor on the acoustic nerve.Nature.comA giant virus was discovered that is as big as a small bacterium and may be an entirely new form of life.TelegraphCarbon dioxide levels were rising faster than ever.TelegraphThe British Food Standards Agency warned that lobsters, cockles, and scallops taken from the waters northwest of England are contaminated with plutonium and will exceed United Nations limits scheduled to take effect next year.New ScientistPolice in Burlington, Ontario, were searching for someone who glued shards of glass to playground equipment.CBC NewsThe British government was preparing to legalize casino gambling.Associated PressAn analysis of government data showed that the net worth of the median white household is 11 times greater than that of Hispanics and 14 times greater than blacks’.New York TimesThe European Patent Office revoked the patent previously granted to Monsanto on the Indian Nap Hal variety of wheat. It was proved by Greenpeace that the variety was bred by Indian farmers; Monsanto claimed to have invented it via genetic engineering.SifyThe Global Amphibian Assessment announced that 1,856 of the 5,743 known amphibian species are at risk of extinction; nine species are known to have died out since 1980, and 113 have not been seen in recent years; forty-three percent are in decline.BBCIsraeli police were searching for 1,000 baby crocodiles.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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