Weekly Review — December 6, 2005, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

At the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, President George W. Bush gave a speech on the Iraq war. “As Iraqi forces grow more capable,” he said, “they’re increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists.”CNN.comOperation Steel Hammer, intended to end Al Qaeda operations in Hit, west of Baghdad, was launched with a force of 1,500 U.S. Marines, 500 U.S. Army soldiers, and 500 Iraqi soldiers.ABC NewsNineteen Iraqi soldiers were killed in an attack north of Baghdad,Turkish Press/AFPand ten U.S. Marines were killed by a roadside bomb in Fallujah.BBC NewsIn New York City, a defense contractor named David H. Brooks rented out two floors of the Rainbow Room for his daughter Elizabeth’s bat mitzvah. Tom Petty, Kenny G, and members of Aerosmith performed, as did 50 Cent. The total cost of the party was reported as $10 million. “Go shorty,” rapped 50 Cent, “it’s your bat mitzvah, we gonna party like it’s your bat mitzvah.”New York Daily NewsTwo women told a reporter that Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the CaliforniaCongressman who resigned after he was found to have accepted bribes from defense contractors, once changed into pajama bottoms and a turtleneck sweater and offered the women champagne by the light of a lava lamp.NewsweekKTLAThe House Ethics Committee had not opened a new case in the last 12 months. “I would say by the early part of January, we will be fully organized,” said Representative Alan Mollohan (D., W. Va.). “Or should be really close to that.”The Washington PostSenator John McCain said that he didn’t think “the ethics committees are working very well.”Bloomberg.comIn Tennessee a man was arrested for firing a gun at traffic while wearing only a pair of socks.AP

In North Carolina Kenneth Boyd became the 1,000th prisoner executed since the United States reintroduced the death penalty in 1976. “It’s a milestone we should all be ashamed of,” said Boyd’s lawyer.BBC NewsFacing criticism over the United States’ network of secret prisons in Europe, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pointed out that intelligence gathered from terrorism suspects has helped prevent attacks in not only the United States but Europe as well. Rice also asserted that the United States does not transport detainees from one country to another for the purpose of torture.APThe U.S. Transportation Safety Administration decided that screwdrivers under seven inches long and scissors with blades under four inches long will again be permitted on airplanes.ReutersRussia confirmed plans to sell $1 billion worth of surface-to-air missiles and other weapons hardware to Iran,The Sydney Morning Heraldand it was reported that Iraqi militants, before they carried out raids or suicide bombings, were taking a methamphetamine-based drug called “pinky” that made them feel superhuman.The Daily MirrorA U.S. federal judge determined that it is constitutional for the New York CityPolice to randomly search passengers’ bags on the subway,Reutersand a Jasper County, Georgia, eighth-grader was dismissed from school after he took down a video camera installed in the school’s boys’ bathroom; it turned out that the camera had been placed there by the school principal so that he could observe the boys.WMAZ.comA theological commission planned to ask Pope Benedict XVI to eliminate limboâ??where unbaptized infants are thought to go after deathâ??from the catechism,Reutersand an atheist student group at the University of Texas was handing out pornography to anyone who gave them a Bible as part of a “Smut for Smut” program. “We consider the Bible to be a very negative force in the history of the world,” said a student.XBiz [NSFW]In Fremont, California, Iron Crotch Grandmaster Tu Jin-Sheng pulled a rental truck several yards with his penis. “He’s very special,” said student Shawnee Wang.Tri-Valley HeraldAn Indiana man was found guilty of murder for shooting a 15-year-old boy who threw eggs at him.Local6.comPresident Bush was called for jury duty but asked to delay his service until he was out of office,BBC Newsand a Wausau, Wisconsin, hunter shot and killed a buck that lacked testicles.Wausau Daily HeraldIn Russia a pack of squirrels attacked and, according to an eyewitness, “literally gutted” a large dog that was barking at them. When humans approached the squirrels ran away, some carrying flesh.BBC News

The National Security Agency released papers related to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident; one previously secret history, written in 2001, argued that intelligence regarding the incident was “deliberately skewed” to cover up 90 percent of intercepted North Vietnamese communications, so that President Lyndon Johnson and Congress could be more easily pushed into the Vietnam War.SFGateIt was revealed that the U.S. Army was writing positive news stories about the Iraq war, and was then paying to have the articles translated into Arabic and published in Iraqi newspapers. Abdul Zahra Zaki, editor of the newspaper Al Mada, said that if he had known the storiesâ??with titles like “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism” and “More Money Goes to Iraq’s Development”â??were written by the Army he would have “charged much, much more.”LA TimesPresident Omar Bongo of Gabon won another term in office,Reutersand a South African court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional.APIn Phoenix, Arizona, a 14-year-old freshman at Barry Goldwater High School was arrested for raping a 75-year-old woman,AZCentral.comand in Manchester, New Hampshire, a man named Ronald MacDonald was arrested for stealing $133 from a safe at a Wendy’s restaurant.The Union leaderScientists in London were planning to insert nose cells into damaged human spines in the hope that the cells will stimulate the growth of nerve fibers,The Guardianand surgeons in France performed a partial face transplant, taking the nose and lips of a brain-dead donor and grafting them onto the face of a woman who had been severely disfigured by a dog.BBC NewsIn Gabon and Congo, scientists traced the origin of the Ebola virus to three different species of fruit bat; by stopping people from eating the bats, a scientist suggested, the spread of the virus could be slowed.LA TimesThere was a shortage of Santas in Perth, Australia; current Santas said that the risk of litigation was too great. “Once upon a time you’d walk through the mall saying â??Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmasâ??,” said Santa John Gomez, “but now you say nothing.”The Daily TelegraphIn Gavle, Sweden, vandals burned a huge straw Christmasgoat.BBC NewsThe White House put up nearly 600 feet of garland and erected an 18-and-a-half-foot fir tree decorated with tulips and azaleas in honor of this year’s Christmas theme, “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”The New York TimesAn Amtrak train struck a bald eagle in Fredericksburg, Virginia.Fredericksburg.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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