Weekly Review — May 17, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

The Fakir and the Prestidigitateur, 1893

The United States was investigating claims that someone flushed a copy of the Koran down a Guantánamo Bay toilet. In Afghanistan, news of the flushing led to riots, where hundreds chanted “death to America” and at least fifteen people died.BBC NewsNewsweek, which published the original report of the Koran desecration, retracted the story but pointed out that similar behavior has been widely reported.BBC NewsConnecticut held its first execution in forty-five years,Reutersand a Holocaust memorial opened in Berlin. Some people were upset that it only commemorated the deaths of Jews.ReutersThe White House and Capitol Building were evacuated for a few minutes when a small Cessna airplane got lost and strayed into restricted airspace,BBC Newsand Tom Ridge admitted that when he was head of the Department of Homeland Security he let other administration officials bully him into raising the terrorist attack threat level based on only flimsy evidence.USA TodayIt was uncertain whether Boston could host a convention for minority journalists in 2008 because the city has a law requiring that all Native Americans who enter the city be arrested.Boston GlobePope Benedict XVI called for Pope John Paul II to be beatified; investigators are now looking for a miracle.BBC NewsBurma claimed that “a world famous organization of a certain superpower nation” had trained the rebels who recently bombed shopping centers in Rangoon. The organization is apparently based in Washington, D.C.BBC NewsZapatista spokesman Subcomandante Marcos challenged Italy’s Inter Milan soccer team to a match against a team of Zapatista soldiers,BBC Newsand Mexican President Vicente Fox called on the United States to reconsider its immigration policies. “There is no doubt,” he said, “that Mexicans, filled with dignity, willingness and ability to work are doing jobs that not even blacks want to do there in the United States.”Reuters

The state economy and culture senator of Bremen, Germany, resigned under criticism for pouring wine on a homeless man’s head,Reutersand Charlotte Spadaro, the former mayor of Beverly Hills, California, was in trouble for keeping 135 dogs and 30 cats in her home, and for filling a rental van with a ton of dead animals and leaving it out on the street.SFGate.comAnother earthquake struck Sumatra,EarthTimes.organd more than one hundred people died when a ferry sank off the shores of southern Bangladesh.BBC NewsCondoleezza Rice visited Iraq, where things are not getting better. “Iraq is emerging from a long national nightmare of tyranny,” she said.BBC NewsEleven corpses, four beheaded, were found south of Baghdad in Iskandariya, ten soldiers were found dead in Ramadi,BBC Newsand at least seventy-one people died in suicide bombings in Tikrit, Hawija, and Baghdad.BBC NewsThe Senate approved $82 billion in emergency funding for the war,Washington Postand passed legislation supporting a standardized national driver’s license.Wired NewsThere was unrest in Uzbekistan.BBC NewsMali sentenced eleven men to jail for refusing to let their children be vaccinated for polio; in Nigeria, several states have banned the vaccine because they believe it will make their daughters sterile.BBC NewsThe polio outbreak in Yemen was getting worse,Reutersas was the mumps epidemic in the United Kingdom.BBC NewsBritish doctors implanted five devices into a stroke victim’s unusable arm to help it work again,BBC Newsand a study found that women who abuse alcohol are more likely to suffer brain damage than men.BBC NewsChildren in the western world were hitting puberty earlier, often at age seven; researchers suggested that this was due to indifferent fathers, childhood obesity, exposure to pesticides, or watching too much television.BBC NewsIt was revealed that Michael Jackson used chimpanzees to dust his house, clean his windows, and brush his toilets.This is LondonThe U.S. Army decided to allow soldiers to enlist for only fifteen months of active duty, followed by two years of service in the National Guard or Army Reserve.BBC NewsIn Brazil, a man and his parents were murdered when the man lost a real-life role-playing murder game.AP NewsIsrael and Lebanon shelled each other,BBC Newsand researchers in Japan developed a fuel cell that runs on blood.IOL.co.za

The grand opening of a new post office at a United States air base in South Korea was postponed, and a nearby shopping mall evacuated, when a mail-scanning device mistook a package of sauerkraut for a dangerous chemical.Stars and StripesAustralian researchers were working to clone the extinct Tasmanian tiger,IOL.co.zaand researchers in Tokyo used smoothed particle hydrodynamics to prove that stones skip farthest when they strike the surface of water at a twenty-degree angle. CBCWal-Mart apologized for running an advertisement that equated current Arizona zoning ordinances with the Nazi regime. Using a photo of a 1933 book burning in Berlin, the ad read: “Should we let government tell us what we can read? Of course not . . . So why should we allow local government to limit where we shop?”Washington PostScientists found that sexually well-endowed fish are slower swimmers, and thus more likely to be eaten (but girl fish find them attractive even so),MSNBCand three Michigan judges decided that a cable show featuring a man’s joke-telling penis was more about indecent exposure than free speech.ABC News OnlineResearchers at Cornell University developed a robot that can build copies of itself from spare parts,BBC Newsand British archaeologists dug up a two-thousand-year-old shoe. It was either a size nine or ten, they said.BBC NewsTwo tiger cubs died in Burma, despite being breastfed by a woman. The cubs will be stuffed.SIFY.comThe governor of Idaho was bouncing checks,AP Newsa man was suing a hospital in Orlando, Florida, for injecting him with green and red sparkling glitter instead of Demerol,Sydney Morning Heraldand in Utah, a high school teacher brought his class to see the dissection of a live dog. “I thought,” he said, “that it would be just really a good experience.”Local6.com

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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.

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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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