Weekly Review — May 23, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry announced that on average one person per hour was being killed in Basra.The Register-GuardIn Baghdad, 19 people were killed in attacks, including four U.S. soldiers, and a tae kwon do team was kidnapped.BBC NewsGayIraqis were fleeing the country to avoid being killed by militias.Times OnlineAmerican troops were using lasers to “dazzle” Iraqi drivers who do not stop at checkpoints; if used properly, said a Pentagon spokesman, the laser light will not blind its target.Local6.comThe Nepal House of Representatives declared the King of Nepal to be powerless,The Washington Timesand King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia asked newspapers to refrain from publishing pictures of women.AP via MyWay.comPlague was found at a campground in Utah.FindlawA 4.3-million-square-foot mall opened in the Philippines,AP via Yahoo! Newsand thousands of people protested against affirmative action in New Delhi.MediaCorp NewsFidel Castro denied that he had a fortune worth $900 million. “Why would I want money,” he asked, “especially now that I’m going to be 80 years old?” His doctor said that Castro was in excellent health and could live another 60 years.The IndependentBreitbart.comIn Louth, England, a group of youths kicked a pet rabbit to death.LouthTodayWhite House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that he would prefer not to hug a tar baby.The White House

While acknowledging that Khaled al-Masri “deserves a remedy” for allegedly being tortured by the CIA, a federal judge dismissed al-Masri’s case because allowing it to proceed would expose government secrets.The Washington PostThere was a riot at Guantánamo Bay.The Toronto StarA study found that only one in four United States teenagers knows the names of all four broadcast TV networks,Advertising Ageand another study found that one out of every 136 Americans was incarcerated.The ScotsmanA kennel was ordered closed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after a cockapoo was found with yeast in both of its ears.Lancaster OnlineAt least 18 people fell ill in Dallas after eating tainted muffins.UPIA man with no legs climbed to the summit of Mt. Everest,The Independentand the mayor of Scottsdale, Arizona, was offended by a new restaurant called the Pink Taco.Local6.comIn Santa Ana, California, a homeless man was arrested after he told five boys he would cast them in a television commercial, then licked their feet.CBS NewsA camel ran amok on the Trans-Israeli Highway,YNetNews.comand a rogue elephant was on the loose in Rwanda.IOL.co.zaIn Alaska an elephant named Maggie was refusing to use her $100,000treadmill.Seattle Post-IntelligencerThe Hershey Company opened a new health center to study the benefits of cocoa,The Gourmet Retailerand Ray Nagin was re-elected mayor of New Orleans.The New York TimesA BritishUgandan team of scientists said that the glaciers of the Rwenzori Mountains in East Africa, which the Greek geographer Ptolemy called “the mountains of the moon,” could melt within the next two decades.BBC News

Scottish scientist Klaus Zuberbuhler found that Nigerian putty-nosed male monkeys say “pyow” to warn of leopards and “hack” to warn of eagles. “Pyow,” said a monkey. “Hack hack pyow hack hack.”MSNBCA patent was filed for a Pentagon-fundedcontrollable launcher for propelling a payload” that can shoot SWAT teams onto the roofs of tall buildings.The RegisterA Honduran teenager who stole an anti-immigration protest sign in New York was facing deportation,Breitbart.comand the Senate passed a bill that would make English the national language.The SenateIt was revealed that in 2004 a group of Republican lawmakers wrote letters to the IRS calling for a probe of the NAACP.Guardian UnlimitedFox News commentator Bill O’Reilly warned that “many far-left thinkers believe the white power structure that controls America is bad.”Media MattersIran, despite reports to the contrary, was not making non-Muslims wear badges.The National PostAbout 2,000 gallons of Sunny D concentrate leaked into a river in England, killing fish and turning the water bright yellow.Daily MailA South Africanice cream company sprayed a ton of ammonia gas into the atmosphere, sending 100 schoolchildren to the hospital; afterwards, the company held an assembly for some of the children and gave them free ice cream. “They’ve been reading words like ‘toxic’ and ‘poisonous’ and obviously got quite a fright,” said an engineer. “We want to enlighten them about how ammonia can be used constructively.”Iol.co.zaFinnish horror rock group Lordi (whose most recent album is “The Arockalypse”) won the Eurovision Song Contest,BBC Newsand President George W. Bush promised to uphold “the tradition of the melting pot.”The White HouseScientists in Germany said that apes can plan ahead.AP via Breitbart.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.”

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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