Weekly Review — February 7, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

In Iraq a car bomb killed 16 people and wounded 90, 14 bodies were found stacked in a hole, 5 U.S. troops were killed, and Saddam Hussein was boycotting his own trial.CNN.comProfessor Philippe Sands of University College, London, said he had seen a secret memo that details a January 2003 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush. According to Sands’ account of the memo, Blair offered Bush full British support for an invasion of Iraq regardless of whether U.N. inspectors found evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Bush also told Blair that he was thinking of having U-2 reconnaissance planes painted with U.N. colors and then flown over Iraq in order to provoke Saddam Hussein into firing upon the planes.The GuardianThe IAEA voted to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council because of Iran’s nuclear program; Venezuela, Cuba, and Syria voted against the measure. Prior to the vote, Egypt proposed to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, but that proposal was rejected by the United States because it would interfere with Israel’s weapons program.BBC NewsFormer Marine Platoon Sergeant Jim Massey said that the United States was funneling depleted uranium to Iraq through Ireland.UTVPresident Bush gave the State of the Union address and asked Congress to pass laws outlawing human/animal hybrids.The White HouseDuring the address activist Cindy Sheehan was handcuffed and thrown out of the House chamber for wearing a T-shirt that read “2245 Dead: How Many More?” and Beverly Young, the wife of Representative Bill Young (R., Fla.), was told to leave because she was wearing a T-shirt that read “Support the Troops: Defending Our Freedom.” Young later held up his wife’s shirt on the House floor and said, “shame, shame.”ABC NewsBush also announced during his speech that America is “addicted to oil” and vowed to replace “more than 75 percent of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025.” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said that this promise was not meant to be taken literally. “This,” he said, “was purely an example.”The White HouseKnight RidderExxonMobil announced that it had a $36.1 billion profit in 2005, more than any company in any year ever, then announced that its profits were actually moderate. Royal Dutch Shell also reported record profits.The Seattle TimesBBC NewsU.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld compared Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Adolf Hitler because both Chavez and Hitler were elected legally and then “consolidated power.” He also pointed out that Chavez has “a lot of oil money.”MSNBCTelesur, the Latin AmericanTV network backed by the Venezuelan government, announced that it would collaborate with the Middle Eastern TV network Al Jazeera.BBC News

The Bush Administration submitted a $2.77 trillion budget to Congress calling for a 7 percent increase in Pentagon spending and a $36 billion cut to the growth of Medicare spending. The Administration is expected to ask for an additional $120 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The New York TimesVladimir Putin said that Russia has missiles that zigzag.CNN.comItalian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi performed a love ballad on Rome radio. “You are chocolate and coffee,” he sang. “The samba that you have within you comes to me as I come to you.”The ScotsmanA study found that the mineral content of meat and milk has dropped over the last 60 years due to intensive farming. The average rump steak, for instance, has only 45 percent as much iron as it did in 1940.The Guardian via Common Dreams.A librarian in Newton, Massachusetts, was being criticized for asking FBI agents to produce a warrant before they impounded library computers. “Getting a warrant,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, “is very time-consuming.”The Boston GlobeIn Detroit the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. The Department of Homeland Security monitored the event using holograms. CNET News.comBefore the game, Detroit presented Steelers running back Jerome “The Bus” Bettis with a key to the city; he is the first person to receive the key since it was given to Saddam Hussein.JournalNow.comNew York City police officers were suing the New York Police Department for videotaping them during a rally. “That’s Big Brother watching you,” said an officer.The New York TimesThe Boston Globe was in trouble for accidentally delivering bundles of newspapers wrapped with 215,000 credit-card numbers.ReutersCoretta Scott King,MSNBCBetty Friedan,The Washington Postand “Grandpa” Al Lewis died.Newsday.comAbout 1,300 people drowned when an Egyptianferry, the al-Salam Boccaccio ’98, sank in the Red Sea,BBC Newsand the number of people who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence in South Darfur reached 70,000.AllAfrica.com

Israel bombed Lebanon.ReutersThe war in Iraq was costing the United States $100,000 a minute,The Hartford CourantSamuel Alito was confirmed as a Supreme Court justice,CNN.comand John Kerry was blogging.The Boston GlobeTwenty-three people, 12 of them convicted Al Qaeda terrorists, escaped via a tunnel from a prison in Yemen. One of the escapees, Jamal Ahmed Badawi, had been sentenced to death for organizing the October 2000 attack on the destroyer U.S.S. Cole.CNN.comGenetic tests found that 30 percent of African Americans have white male ancestors.USA TodayA man ate 173 chicken wings in Philadelphia,AP via Yahoo! Newsa former postal worker shot and killed six people at a mail-processing center in Goleta, California,CNN.comand Russia was facing a vodka shortage.CNN.comRepresentative John Boehner (R., Ohio), who belongs to a male-only golf club, whose political-action committee took money from Jack Abramoff but did not return it after Abramoff was indicted, and who in 1995 handed out checks from tobacco-company lobbyists on the House floor, was elected via instant runoff voting to replace Tom DeLay as House Majority Leader. The Republican Party, said Boehner, “must act swiftly to restore the trust between Congress and the American people.” Boehner also said that he had “a very open relationship with lobbyists in town.” “We are,” said Representative Michael Oxley (R., Ohio), “somewhat tilting at windmills.” The New York TimesBloomberg.comThe Nation via Yahoo! NewsSign On San DiegoDonald Rumsfeld gave a speech to the National Press Club and said that “counter-surveillance” of U.S. civilians is a “perfectly understandable thing.” “In short,” he explained, “it’s no big deal.” During the speech, Rumsfeld was heckled by activist Heather Hurwitz. “You are torturing people,” yelled Hurwitz. “You are a war criminal.” “Well,” said Rumsfeld, “we’ll count her as undecided.”News.com.auDemocracy NowRiots erupted over newspaper cartoons, printed first in Denmark and subsequently throughout Europe, that caricatured the prophet Muhammad. Demonstrators rallied in Syria, where they attacked the Danish and Norwegian embassies, and in Lebanon, where they set the Danish embassy on fire. “They should have respected our religion,” said a Lebanese protester. Iran recalled its ambassador from Denmark, and protesters outside the United Nations in New York City chanted, “shame, shame.”BBC NewsNewsdayThe Joint Chiefs of Staff complained to the Washington Post about a cartoon that showed Donald Rumsfeld telling an armless and legless soldier: “I am listing your condition as battle-hardened.” “Using the likeness of a service member who has lost his arms and legs in war as the central theme of a cartoon,” wrote the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “is beyond tasteless.”The WashingtonianAt least 7,600 U.S. soldiers had been severely wounded serving in Iraq. “I can drink beer out of my leg,” said Matthew Braddock, a 25-year-old National Guardsman who lost his left foot and nine inches of his left leg to a mine in northern Iraq. “How many people can do that?”Time

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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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