Weekly Review — May 10, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Lost Souls in Hell, 1875]

A papyrologist at Oxford University announced that new techniques in spectral imaging, which make it possible to decipher previously illegible ink on papyrus fragments, have yielded parts of a lost tragedy by Sophocles, a novel by Lucian, and an epic poem by Archilochos; researchers also applied the technique to third- and fourth-century manuscripts of the Revelation of Saint John and discovered that the number of the beast, contrary to popular belief, is 616, the area code of Grand Rapids, Michigan.National PostA Washington woman found a snake with legs,Tri-City Heraldlocusts plagued Bangladesh,NZHeraldand Zimbabwe was at risk of famine.ABC News OnlineMore than 100,000 Americans were working at home answering customer-service phone calls.Seattle Post-IntelligencerIn Iraq, two F/A-18 Hornet jets collided in mid-air,The Washington Posta suicide bomber killed sixty people at a police-recruitment center,BBC Newsand at least forty-seven people were killed in bombings and gun attacks.BBC NewsFourteen bodies, clad in white robes, were found in shallow graves,BBC Newsand Saddam Hussein’s nephew was arrested.BBC NewsPresident George W. Bush announced the capture of a “major facilitator and chief planner for the Al Qaeda network.” The captured man turned out to be a mid-level Al Qaeda operative named Abu Faraj al-Libbi. “He used to make the coffee and do the photocopying,” said a former associate.Times OnlineNevadaSenator Harry Reid said Bush was a loser,The Washington Postwhile VirginiaRepresentative Jim Moran described Bush as someone who does not read books, who surrounds himself with sycophants, and who has his ass kissed by Dick Cheney.The Raw Story

A second case of polio was reported in Indonesia,BBC Newsand an outbreak of meningitis in India killed fifteen.BBC NewsIn Peru a bus fell nearly 1,000 feet into a ravine, killing forty.BBC NewsA Providence, Rhode Island, man attacked a goose and stomped its goslings to death,TurnTo10.comand two swans were stabbed to death in the Bronx.NY1.comVietnam decided to vaccinate 600,000 birds for avian flu.New ScientistTurkey banned four porn channels from its satellite TV network,ReutersTexas lawmakers were trying to stop sexy cheerleading,Reutersand Norway declared striptease an art form.ReutersA study showed that babies have favorite colors, and they like brown the least. “Brown might mean dirt,” said a researcher.BBC NewsIBM announced that it would fire up to 13,000 employees in Europe and the United States.Ployer.comIt was the 60th anniversary of VE Day. The German ambassador to London called on Britain to change its attitude towards Germany. “They continue to see us as Nazis,” he said, “as if they have to refight the battles every evening.”The IndependentAround three thousand neo-Nazis rallied in Berlin.Knight-RidderPresident Bush attended a display of Soviet pageantry in Russia.New York Timesimes.comAn online casino bought the pope’s old Volkswagen for $244,800,Reutersand in Chicago a vandal painted the words “big lie” over a stain on a roadside wall that many people believe is an apparition of the Virgin Mary; onlookers wept as a road crew covered the stain with brown paint.Reuters

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it had wasted a great deal of money and needed much more.Boston.comU.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that most of the allegations of abuse by detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay do not meet his definition of torture.MYSA.com/APThe United States was sending prisoners to Uzbekistan so that they could be tortured more fully. In Uzbekistan the most common torture techniques are beating and asphyxiation with a gas mask; however, victims can also have their genitals shocked, their toenails plucked out, and they can be boiled to death.The Seattle TimesIt was revealed that soon after September 11, 2001, the CIA sent a team of agents to Afghanistan with orders to “capture Bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box.”BBC NewsSpain gave 700,000 illegal immigrants amnesty,ISNand Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the former president of Togo, was named president of Togo. Eighteen thousand five hundred people have fled Togo as a result of election violence.ReutersA secret British memo from July 2002, summarizing a meeting between Tony Blair and his security advisors, was made public. The memo implied that President Bush had already made up his mind to go to war in Iraq, despite his claims to the contrary, and that intelligence and facts about Iraq would be “fixed around the policy.”Common DreamsEighty-eight members of Congress signed a letter, written by Representative John Conyers of Michigan, calling for an inquiry into the memo. “This should not,” wrote Conyers, “be allowed to fall down the memory hole during wall-to-wall coverage of the Michael Jackson trial and a runaway bride.”The Raw StoryIt was revealed that the runaway bride had once shoplifted.Boston HeraldTwo grenades went off outside the British consulate in New York City, damaging a flower planter,Bloombergand Tony Blair won another term as Prime Minister.ReutersEngland’s Prince Harry entered the Army.BBC NewsThe Mayor of Spokane, Washington, an opponent of gay rights, was accused of being a pedophile; he insisted that he cruised the Internet only for men of legal age.Seattle Post-IntelligencerAve Maria University, a Catholic college founded by the retired CEO of Domino’s Pizza, graduated its first class and gave an honorary degree to L. Paul Bremer, who told the assembled graduates that Muslim extremists were against the separation of church and state. Netscape NewsA Baptist church in North Carolina booted out nine of its members for being Democrats,The News & Observerand a seventeen-year-old woman was thrown out of her village in India after her stomach swelled up; villagers believed she was carrying the “devil’s child,” but the swelling turned out to be a 33-pound tumor the size of five fetuses.News24.comThe Kansas state school board began four days of hearings on how to teach the origin of life; all of the witnesses in the hearing were opposed to teaching evolution.BBC NewsTwelve new moons were discovered orbiting Saturn.BBC NewsIn Victoria, British Columbia, a man was barred from a civic meeting because he was dressed as a giant piece of feces named “Mr. Floatie,”Canada.comand in San Francisco, twelve penguins died of chlamydia.APThe FDA announced that men who have had gay sex in the last five years will not be eligible to donate sperm anonymously,CNNand a college student in New Jersey unearthed an 1888 interview with Walt Whitman in which Whitman gave advice to young men pursuing a career in literature. “First, don’t write poetry,” he said. “Second ditto; third ditto.”ABC News

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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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At Ivanwald, men learn to be leaders by loving their leaders. “They’re so busy loving us,” a brother once explained to me, “but who’s loving them?” We were. The brothers each paid $400 per month for room and board, but we were also the caretakers of The Cedars, cleaning its gutters, mowing its lawns, whacking weeds and blowing leaves and sanding. And we were called to serve on Tuesday mornings, when The Cedars hosted a regular prayer breakfast typically presided over by Ed Meese, the former attorney general. Each week the breakfast brought together a rotating group of ambassadors, businessmen, and American politicians. Three of Ivanwald’s brothers also attended, wearing crisp shirts starched just for the occasion; one would sit at the table while the other two poured coffee. 

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