Weekly Review — September 20, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

At least 167 Baghdad residents were killed in 14 separate bombings, with 570 wounded. The next day 40 people were killed with car bombs and guns. Twenty-one more were killed the next day, 52 more the day after that, and 7 the day after that. At least 30 more people were killed the following day.The IndependentSenator Robert Byrd called on the Bush Administration to withdraw from Iraq. “We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq,” he said, “when our own people are so much in need.”Democracy Now!It was reported that $1 billion had been stolen from Iraq’s defense ministry, and $500 to $600 million had been stolen from the electricity, transport, interior, and other ministries.The IndependentSeventy-two percent of African Americans polled said that George W. Bush does not care about them,Democracy Now!and Texasexecuted Frances Newton.CBS NewsAt least 128 prisoners at Guantnamo Bay were on hunger strike; 18 of them had been hospitalized and were being force-fed. “We’re going to take care of everyone,” said a prison spokesman.LA TimesChicago was considering a proposal to ban foie gras. “Our culture,” explained an alderman, “does not condone the torture of innocent and defenseless creatures.”The New York TimesChuck E. Cheese restaurants were showing Defense Department footage. “We support what our troops are doing over there,” said a Chuck E. Cheese representative. “Helping kids.”New YorkMassachusetts Governor Mitt Romney suggested wiretapping mosques.Democracy Now!Newly declassified portions of the 9/11 Commission Report revealed that the FAA had warned in 1998 that Al Qaeda operatives could “seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark,” although the FAA thought this was “unlikely.”The Smoking GunAfghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in over three decades; about 6 million people went to the polls to elect 249 people to the Wolesi Jirga.Muslim American SocietyThe Lord’s Resistance Army of Uganda crossed the White Nile River into southern Sudan and attacked the city of Juba;BBC NewsNorth Korea announced that it would halt its nuclear programs in exchange for oil, energy aid, and diplomatic recognition;Reutersand Delta and Northwest both filed for bankruptcy.Forbes

A summit of world leaders met at the United Nations in New York City.Democracy Now!At the summit, President George W. Bush was photographed writing a note to Condoleezza Rice. “I think I MAY NEED A BATHroom break?” read the note.ReutersThe U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy gave $100,000 to Sumate, a Venezuelan group that opposes President Hugo Chavez. “If the imperialist government of the White House dares to invade Venezuela,” said Chavez during an interview, “the war of a hundred years will be unleashed in South America.”Democracy Now!Democracy Now!Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was under criticism for saying that rape victimhood was “a money-making concern”; “A lot of people,” he explained, “say if you want to go abroad and get a visa for Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped.”BBC News Musharraf also shook hands with Ariel Sharon.BBC NewsSupreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. was questioned by members of the Senate and managed to avoid direct answers to many of the questions posed to him. He did reveal, however, that “Dr. Zhivago” and “North by Northwest” were his favorite films. Antiabortion groups felt that Roberts was doing just fine.KPAXThe Washington PostA federal judge in California ruled that requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional. “Undoubtedly,” read the court’s decision, “the pledge contains a religious phrase.”CNN.comThe Dutch government announced that it would track every citizen from birth in an electronic database.APEighty-seven journalists were arrested for protesting against Nepalese restrictions on the media,CTV.caand the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that it was “evil” to force menstruating women to live in cow sheds.BBC News

The Vatican was investigating all 229 Roman Catholic seminaries in the United States for evidence of homosexuality,The Washington Postand Pope Benedict XVI spoke to an exorcists’ convention, encouraging the audience to “carry on their important work.”IOL.co.zaThe confirmed death toll from Hurricane Katrina rose to 883, with 663 of those in Louisiana. About $9.8 billion had been spent so far on the relief effort, and it was estimated that up to $200 billion remained to be spent. President Bush promised to rebuild the communities that had been destroyed by the hurricane. “To the extent that the federal government didn’t fully do its job right,” he said, “I take responsibility.”KPLCTimeDemocracy Now!A poll showed that only 35 percent of Americans approved of the President’s handling of the Katrina crisis.Rasmussen ReportsKarl Rove was named to head the relief effort in New Orleans.Washington PostMany uninsured evacuees from New Orleans were receiving medical care for the first time in years. NOLA.comA 73-year-old New Orleans woman was being held on $50,000 bail for allegedly looting sausages.Democracy Now!In Spokane, Washington, a man was in trouble for breaking into another man’s house and smearing the man’s naked, sleeping body with chocolate frosting, then opening a dog pen in the hope that a dog would eat the frosting.KXLY.comA broken light bulb at a school gym in Tennessee caused severe sunburns and swollen eyes in 18 people.SunHerald.comIn Alaska a 20-foot-long treadmill was installed at a zoo to help an elephant named Maggie lose a few hundred pounds,Reutersand two plague-infected mice were missing in New Jersey.MSNBCJudith Miller was still in jail.Editor & Publisher

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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.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

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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.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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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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