Weekly Review — May 3, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

In Iraq at least one hundred Iraqis and eleven U.S. troops were killed in a span of four days. More than twenty car bombs were detonated, and in one case, a suicide bomber drove a car bomb into a Kurdish funeral tent, killing at least twenty-five people. Los Angeles TimesAccording to General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the strength of the Iraqi militant movement has not diminished during the past year.The GuardianArab newspapers reported that Donald Rumsfeld had a secret visit with Saddam Hussein and offered to free him if Hussein called for a ceasefire in Iraq. Hussein apparently refused.Al JazeeraDoctors in Belgium treated a fifteen-year-old Iraqi girl for leg wounds caused by a cluster bomb, then sent the bill to the U.S. embassy.ReutersThe bodies of around 1,500 Kurds, identified by their distinctive clothing, were found in a mass grave near the Iraqi town of Samawa,BBC Newsand the National Assembly of Iraq approved its first democratically elected, Shiite-dominated government.CBC.caA Colorado high school student decided to test Army recruitment policies by telling a recruiter that he had dropped out of high school and was addicted to marijuana. The recruiter told the student how to get a fake diploma over the Internet and instructed him to take a detoxification formula so that he could pass the Army’s drug test.CBS 4 ColoradoThe Army was planning to change its rules to exempt good athletes from active duty so they can serve in professional sports leagues,Record Onlineand Lynndie England’s lawyer said that England would plead guilty to charges against her in the Abu Ghraib case.ABC News OnlineSyria announced that it would renew diplomatic relations with Iraq.BBC NewsUnited States veterans commemorated the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon by laying a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.,BBC Newswhile in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, veterans held a parade and costumed dancers acted out the crashing of U.S. warplanes.BBC NewsKenya’s parliament passed a motion calling for the castration of rapists. “The Bible,” announced the Kenyan health minister, “says that if any part of the body causes you to sin, it should be removed.” BBC NewsIn South Africa, two men were convicted of feeding a coworker to lions,BBC Newsand Israeli settlers were accused of spreading rat poison over the fields of Palestinianfarmers.BBC NewsIn Bangladesh, the number of people throwing acid on women was down from previous years,BBC Newsand Norway sent a woman to jail for raping a man.Reuters

More than half of the people in the United States were breathing bad air.American Lung AssociationA Rhode Island man was arrested after he offered an undercover policewomanT-bone steaks in exchange for sex,APand the Girl Scouts were suing people who didn’t pay for their cookies.APThe state court of Florida blocked a thirteen-year-old girl from having an abortion. “Why can’t I make my own decision?” the girl asked a judge. “I don’t know,” the judge answered.BBC NewsSun-Sentinel.comAn ivory-billed woodpecker, thought extinct for over fifty years, was spotted in Arkansas. “It is kind of like finding Elvis,” said a representative of the Audubon Society.BBC NewsA flock of fifty sheep with partially human organs was grazing outside of Las Vegas.APPresident George W. Bush was sent to the underground bunker at the White House and Dick Cheney was escorted to a secure location after a very scary cloud turned up on government radar.Washington PostBush also gave his fourth prime-time news conference and took a firm stance against North Korea. “Perhaps Kim Jong Il has got the capacity to launch a weapon,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to shoot it down?” North Korea then fired a missile into the Sea of Japan.New York TimesVOALaura Bush told jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. She accused her husband of attempting to milk a male horse and compared her mother-in-law to a Mafia don. “I am a desperate housewife,” she said.BBC News

There was an outbreak of polio in Yemen,BBC Newsand surveys found that at least one third of the wives in Kyrgyzstan had been abducted and forced to marry against their will. “I told him I didn’t want to date anyone,” said one woman, “so he decided to kidnap me the next day.”New York TimesA middle school in Boulder, Colorado, banned hugging, suggesting that students high-five instead,9News.comand a high school in Pennsylvania prohibited students from carrying any kind of bag aside from lunch bags, which will be inspected.WNEP16The Clovis, New Mexico, police locked down a middle school, closed off several streets, and placed officers on rooftops before discovering that what they thought was a weapon carried by a student was actually a thirty-inch burrito.APEgypt was planning to cut down on noise pollution in Cairo by stopping individual calls to prayer from the city’s four thousand mosques; instead, the call to prayer will be centralized.BBC NewsThe Austrian housewares chain Baumax renamed their tool shed from “Mauthausen,” which was the name of a Nazi concentration camp, to “Linde,” which means “linden tree.”New York TimesBerkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett’s investment company, lost about $310 million by betting against the dollar,Bloomberg.comand the Museum of Foreign Debt opened in Argentina. The museum includes a doll-sized play kitchen to represent the financial “recipes” of the International Monetary Fund. “Look,” said the museum’s designer. “We open the freezer and the oven and there is no food.”ReutersIn Managua, protesters hit the son of Nicaragua’s president in the head with a rock.New York TimesA mob in India lynched and beheaded two women for witchcraft,The Courier-Mailand a state representative in Alabama put forward a bill that would prohibit school libraries from purchasing books by gay authors. The measure died when not enough state legislators showed up to vote.CBS Evening NewsVenezuela opened a new branch of its state oil company in Cuba,Reutersan Australiancemetery received permission to bury people upright and without coffins,BBC Newsand in Peru, authorities saved four thousand frogs from being put into blenders and made into cocktails.CNN

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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.

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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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