Weekly Review — February 21, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called for the United States to increase its propaganda efforts in the Middle East,BBC Newsas riots over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad continued around the world. In Nigeria 16 people were killed in rioting and 11 churches were burned; in Libya at least 10 people were killed; and in Pakistan at least 5 people were killed. In Volgograd, Russia, officials closed the city newspaper after it published a cartoon that showed Muhammad, Jesus, Moses, and Buddha watching TV together. Fifteen thousand people protested the cartoons in London. “We have to speak up,” said a Muslim demonstrator, “to prevent something like the Holocaust from happening.”CNN.comThe New York TimesCNN.comThe Arab European League website published cartoons mocking the Holocaust. One showed Adolf Hitler in bed with Anne Frank; Hitler says: “put this in your diary, Anne.”UPINew photos of the torture at Abu Ghraibprison were released,ABC News Onlineand at least 19 people died in bombings across Iraq.ReutersThe U.S. Army was worried that Abu Ghraib was becoming, according to one commander, “a graduate-level training ground for the insurgency.”International Herald TribuneU.S. President George W. Bush said that Americans should not be discouraged by slow progress in Iraq. “We’ve seen democracy change the world in the past,” he said.BBC NewsThe United States and Israel were working together to destabilize the Hamas-led government of Palestine. “It’s not possible,” countered Hamas spokesman Farhat Asaad, “for the U.S. and the world to turn its back on an elected democracy.”The New York TimesIsrael froze its $50 million monthly tax payments to Palestine,The New York Timesand sheriffs from 10 different U.S. states visited Israel to learn more about homeland-security techniques.The Washington Post

The United Nations issued a report calling on the United States to either try the approximately 500 inmates at the Guantánamo Bayprison for their crimes or release them.BBC NewsAnother person died from birdflu in Iraq. The flu was also found in poultry in Germany, France, and Egypt, and 50,000 chickens died from the disease in India.Bloomberg NewsPeople’s Daily OnlineBBC NewsChina ViewIn Guinsaugon, Philippines, at least 1,371 people were buried in a mudslide. Imelda Marcos promised to visit the region soon.ReutersTwo Homeland Security guards in Bethesda, Maryland, were in trouble after they accused a man of using an Internet terminal in a public library to view pornography. An official said the guards had “overstepped their authority” and had subsequently been given other duties.The Washington PostThe Supreme Court of Italy, considering the case of a man who forced his 14-year-old stepdaughter to perform oral sex, ruled that molesting girls who have already had sexual experience is not as bad as molesting virgins. “The real problem,” commented Mussolini’s granddaughter, “is that there are no women in the supreme court.”CNN.comA study found that unattractive people commit more crimes,The Washington Post via the San Francisco Chronicleand Australiancane toads were out of control.BBC News

People were dying of thirst in southern Somalia; some were walking up to 45 miles to find water.BBC NewsIn Harare, Zimbabwe, twenty newborn babies and fetuses were being pulled from the sewers each week.CNN.comAuthor Margaret Atwood was planning to avoid book tours by signing books via remote-controlled robot.The IndependentA man in Texas was sentenced to 30 years in prison for raping his former girlfriend, then branding her,Chron.comand a woman in Minnesota was arrested for biting off part of another woman’s nose. Police obtained a search warrant to recover the nose, which was then reattached.TwinCities.comAn Illinois man was suing his ex-wife to keep her from having their 8-year-old son circumcised.The Chicago TribuneToxoplasma parasites, found in catfeces, were causing deadly brain disease in U.S. otters,BBC Newsand researchers in Australia found that tiger feces repel wild goats.CNN.comThe U.S. Army was using a computer game called “Tactical Iraqi” to teach Marines how to interpret Iraqis’ gestures; “Tactical Pashto” and “Tactical Levantine” are in development.BBC NewsScientists in Italy found that the effects of Ecstasy on rats were intensified when the rats were made to listen to loud music,BBC Newsand NASA researchers found that the ice from glaciers in Greenland was flowing into the sea at double the rate of 10 years ago.The New York TimesA British nurse was in trouble for slapping her co-workers with a frozentrout,BBC Newsand Texasattorney Harry Whittington apologized for the trouble he caused when he was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney.Chron.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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