Weekly Review — April 12, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Devil Spanker]

Eighteen people died when a U.S. helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed they shot down the helicopter; the United States blamed bad weather.BBC NewsChicago TribuneIraq’s parliament elected Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, as president; his Presidency Council then named Ibrahim Jaffari, a Shiite, as prime minister.BBC NewsSenior American defense officials noted several positive developments in Iraq: only thirty-six American soldiers, they said, died there this March; attacks on allied forces were down to thirty or forty a day; and by early 2006, only 105,000 American soldiers may be needed in the country.New York TimesTens of thousands of Iraqis held a nonviolent march in Baghdad to protest the American occupation,Reuterstens of thousands of Lebanese held a mass jog through Beirut to show national unity,APand thousands of Chinese rallied to protest Japanese history textbooks.The AustralianThe Bush Administration was working to gain access to records of international money transfers,New York Timesand transcripts of legal proceedings at Guantánamo Bay were released. “I don’t care about international law,” said the president of a military tribunal in one transcript. “I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned with international law.”APAt the pope’s funeral, Prince Charles shook Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s hand,The Guardianthen went home to England, where he married Camilla Parker Bowles.BBC NewsTony Blair called a general election for May 5, 2005.BBC NewsPrince Rainier III of Monaco died,New York Timesand Peter Jennings announced that he has lung cancer.New York Times

Scottish soccer fans booed during a moment of silence to honor the pope,APSaul Bellow died,APand National Library Week began.The Daily DemocratThe New York Public Library planned to auction off rare artworks to raise money,New York Timesand developers in England were about to start construction on Dickens World, a $113 million theme park that will offer an Ebenezer Scrooge ride and Dickens characters on ice.SEEDAA long-lost poem written by Tennessee Williams was discovered,Washington Universityand geneticists bred blue roses.Biology News NetTen million eight hundred thousand copies of the next Harry Potter book were being printed.Argus LeaderIn Florida, investigators traced an outbreak of E. coli to a petting zoo,KansasCity.comand the EPA decided to cancel a study of the effects of pesticides on infants.Salt Lake TribuneIt was revealed that Interior Department scientists studying the environmental effects of a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, had made things up and deleted findings they did not understand so that the development of the dump could go forward. “Science by peer pressure is dangerous but sometime it is necessary,” one scientist wrote in an email.New York TimesThe United Arab Emirates tested prototypes of robotic camel jockeys, which will replace child camel jockeys,Reutersa nine-foot-long eel with a head as big as a soccer ball was swimming loose in Australia,ABC News Onlineand millions??possibly billions??of butterflies were fluttering towards California.Biology News NetIt was announced that Cookie Monster would cut back on cookies.Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Republicans held a conference to discuss ways to reform the federal judiciary, which they say has “run amok.” Senator Tom Coburn’s chief of staff said that “mass impeachment” of judges might be necessary, and Tom DeLay, who is under investigation for illegal fundraising, gave a pre-recorded speech entitled “Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.”New York TimesDeLay was accused of paying his wife and daughter $500,000 from funds controlled by his political-action committee. He was also accused of taking lobbyist-funded trips to Russia, Saipan, and Scotland.ABC NewsNew York TimesBoth sides in Ivory Coast’s civil war signed a peace accord.Globe and MailScientists drilled 4,644 feet into the earth’s crust, nearly reaching the mantle,Kerala NextAndreaDworkin died,The Guardianand archaeologists in Germany uncovered a 7,200-year-old pornographic statue. The GuardianA study found that store clerks are more respectful to slender shoppers than to obese ones,APand scientists in Connecticut inseminated a whale.Live ScienceIn Indiana, someone threw a pie in William Kristol’s face. Someone else threw a pie at David Horowitz. Prior to the pie throwings, Pat Buchanan was doused with salad dressing.Palladium-ItemIsrael was planning to dump 10,000 tons of garbage a month into the West Bank,Haaretzand Israeli soldiers shot dead three Palestinian teenagers in Gaza.HaaretzA social-studies teacher in Georgia was in trouble for putting on blackface,WSBTV.coma Virginia judge sentenced a spammer to nine years in jail,APand a Georgia man died after police shot him with nonlethal beanbags.CNN.comMany conservative American pharmacists were refusing to dispense birth control,BBC Newsand tailors sewed the next pope’srobes.USA Today

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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.

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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