Weekly Review — April 25, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Saluting the Town, March 1854]

Under the presumed influence of White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, who collects photographs of President George W. Bush’s hands, Karl Rove was relieved of his position as presidential policy adviser in order that he might focus his energies on the November midterm elections, and White House press secretary Scott McClellan resigned. “One of these days,” the President said of McClellan, “he and I are going to be rocking in chairs in Texas and talking about the good old days.”USA TodayForbes.comBBC NewsIn Iraq, three U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb and at least 27 Iraqis were killed in other violence. President Bush phoned the newly elected Iraqi prime minister-designate Jawad al-Maliki, parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, and president Jalal Talabani to urge them to form a coalition government. “They have awesome responsibilities,” said the President, “to their people.”The New York TimesNews.com.auVia audiotape, Osama bin Laden called on his followers to travel to Sudan and fight against the U.N. forces in Darfur.The New York TimesChinese President Hu Jintao visited with President Bush in Washington, D.C. A Falun Gong protester interrupted the welcoming ceremony; President Bush apologized to Hu, and also called on Hu to appreciate the value of the yuan.AP via Yahoo! NewsBBC NewsBritishdoctors criticized China for harvesting organs for transplant from thousands of executed prisoners.BBC NewsIn Florida, a beehive with 15,000 bees was removed from a tree,Local6.comand a man was arrested for keeping his mother at home for months after she died so that he could keep cashing her Social Security checks.Local6.comPawn-shop owners in Texas noted that more people were pawning their belongings in order to buy gas.CBS11TV.comThe New YorkStock Exchange was considering a merger with the London Stock Exchange.Reuters UK

Representative Alan B. Mollohan (D., W.Va.), whose real estate holdings and other assets reportedly rose in value from $562,000 to at least $6.3 million between 2000 and 2004, temporarily stepped down from the Houseethics committee after being accused of misusing funds.The Washington PostSinger Mary J. Blige said that she had found God. “My God is a God who wants me to have things,” she said. “He wants me to bling.”MSNBCA member of MiniKiss, a KISS tribute band made up of dwarves, denied that he had tried to sneak past security at a Las Vegas concert of Tiny Kiss, a KISS tribute band made up of three little people and a 350-pound woman.The Los Angeles TimesAn Oakland, California, carpenter named Percy Honnibal was in trouble for carpentering naked.CNN.comIn Toluca, Mexico, a priest admitted to strangling and dismembering his pregnant lover after Easter mass,MSNBCand in Acapulco, Mexico, the heads of a police chief and a police officer were found in front of a government building. A sign next to the heads read: “So that you learn respect.”AZCentral.comAn elderly Miami man was in trouble for going door-to-door offering free breast exams,MSNBCand a woman in El Salvador was in trouble for allegedly attempting to smuggle a live grenade and marijuana into a prison via a container stuffed into her vagina.NewsNet5.comIn the Netherlands authorities fined an advertiser for placing advertisements on sheep blankets. “If we start with sheep,” said Bert Kuiper, the mayor of Skarsterlan, “then next it’s the cows and horses.”The New York Times

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said that almost 100,000 people were working for the U.S. intelligence services,Capitol Hill Blueand the recently-completed “campaign plan for the global war on terrorism” was approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The new plan calls for “special mission units” to be engaged in continuous warfare around the world; such groups will be permitted to invade a country without the approval of the country’s U.S. ambassador.The Washington PostThe National Counterterrorism Center announced that there had been over 10,000 terrorist incidents worldwide in 2005 but noted that, because the study methodology had changed, this should not be seen as an increase over the 3,192 terrorist incidents of 2004. “Technically,” said a State Department spokesman, “you could say that there might be a larger number of incidents from one year to another, but itâ??s comparing apples and oranges.”MSNBCIt was reported that firms performing contract work for KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary that provides basic services to the U.S. military in Iraq, were violating human trafficking laws and confiscating the passports of their employees.San Jose Mercury NewsThe CIA fired Mary McCarthy, a senior analyst, for leaking information about the CIA’s network of secret prisons in Eastern Europe to a reporter from the Washington Post.CNN.comGreenpeace estimated that over the last 20 years 93,000 people have died from the fallout from the Chernobylnuclear disaster,Democracy Now!and over 20 years after a gas leak at the Bhopal chemical plant killed thousands of people, India agreed to fund a cleanup of the site.Democracy Now!Scientists reported that ichthyoallyeinotoxic fishes–such as mullet, goatfish, tangs, damsels, and rabbitfish–could produce LSD-like hallucinations in those who ate them.Practical FishkeepinggIn England a man drowned after diving into the river Ouse to rescue his girlfriend’s shoes,Mail & Guardian Onlineand Belgianresearchers found that men lose their decision-making skills when exposed to an attractive woman.BBC NewsIn Hawaii a new law was passed that allows a mother to take home her placenta, or “iewe,” and bury it under a tree,SFGate.comand Malaysian wildlife officials denied reports that they had captured a baby Bigfoot.All Headline NewsBrazil was planning to open a uranium-enrichment center,AP via STLToday.coma woman in Los Angeles was hospitalized for bubonic plague,Times Onlineand researchers discovered that the buried lakes of Antarctica are connected to one another by secret rivers.BBC

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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.

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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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