Weekly Review — June 6, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

In Iraq, a car bomb in Basra killed at least 33 people, CNNa mortar attack in southern Baghdad killed 9 people,Yahoo! Newsand 8 U.S. soldiers died.icasualties.orgPolice found 22 bodies with bullet wounds and signs of torture in Baghdad;Reutersnorthwest of the city, at an improvised checkpoint, 19 civilians were dragged from their cars and shot.Kuwait News AgencyTwenty-one Kurds and Shiites, many of them high school students, were ordered off a bus and executed in Ain Laila.Belleville News DemocratIn Baquba 7 policemen were killed,BBCand the heads of 8 Sunni men were found in Dole banana boxes.Indian ExpressReutersSix more policemen were killed in Mosul.Kuwait News AgencyA Baghdad pet market was bombed, killing 5 people and several doves.Guardian UnlimitedCanada.comIt was reported that a U.S. Marine had been traumatized by his experiences cleaning up and documenting the alleged massacre of civilians by other marines in Haditha. “He called me many times,” said the marine’s mother, “about carrying this little girl in his hands and her brains splattering on his boots.”Los Angeles TimesA U.S. soldier was sentenced to 90 days’ hard labor for threatening a prisoner at Abu Ghraib with a dog in 2003. “You can . . . end up losing the whole dang war,” said the prosecuting attorney, “basically for boneheaded decisions and misjudgments.”The Washington PostThe United States announced that it would join 5 other nations in demanding that Iran immediately suspend uranium-enrichment activities, although the country would in the future be allowed to develop some civilian nuclear technologies. Iran said it would refuse to engage in talks unless all conditions were dropped, and Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the United States could endanger its oil supply if it makes a “wrong move” toward Iran.The Washington PostAPThe Daily StarIran’s military was reported to have planned a campaign of decentralized guerilla warfare in the event of a U.S. invasion, The Washington Timesand oil rose to $73 a barrel.AP via Drudge ReportJohn Allen Muhammad, the Beltway Sniper, was sentenced to 6 consecutive life sentences.Baltimore Sun

It was determined that New Orleans was sinking faster than previously thought.BreitbartA potent drug cocktail killed at least 48 people in Detroit,Detroit Free Pressmonsoon storms killed more than 40 people in and around Bombay,Daily Timesand an earthquake in Iran killed one little girl.Daily TimesPresident George W. Bush named Goldman Sachs Group Chairman Henry Paulson Jr as the new Secretary of the Treasury,The Washington Postand an Ohio coin dealer named John Noe pleaded guilty to charges that he illegally funneled more than $45,000 to Bush’s reelection campaign.The Mercury NewsBritish police were patrolling seaports and airports in order to prevent football hooligans from attending the World Cup in Berlin, This is Londonand the European Court of Justice ruled that E.U. airlines are not required to provide passenger data to the United States.BBCCalifornia Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered 1,000 National Guard soldiers to the Mexican border.The Los Angeles TimesThe United States declared a moratorium on wind farms in Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.PhysOrg.comTed Nugent denied both poking his erect penis through a map of West Virginia and urinating on a nun.Belfast TelegraphIt was reported that Umberto Billo, a Venetian hotel porter, had slept with 8,000 women,New York Daily Newsand the worldwide rate of HIV infections stabilized for the first time in history.BreitbartMontenegro declared independence from Serbia,Chron.comand the first wild bear seen in Germany since 1835 continued to attack farm animals and elude capture. “For security purposes,” said Bavarian Environment Minister Werner Schnappauf, “the permission to open fire must be maintained.” Authorities said the brother of the bear had killed Swisssheep last summer.Fox NewsElizabeth Taylor denied reports that her health was failing,Breitbartand archaeologists in Romedug up a 3,000-year-old female skeleton.The New York Times

Researchers studying a shipwreck off Cape Cod discovered the remains of a nine-year-old pirate named John King,Los Angeles Timesa zoo in Vancouver was charged with cruelty to a hippo,The Calgary Sunand officials in south India said that they had captured an alcohol-abusing, homicidal rogue elephant named Master Killer.New KeralaThe PeninsulaIn Chinadoctors were trying to determine which left arm to remove from a three-armed baby.BBCIn New Jersey a 13-year-old girl was arrested for attempting to kill her 91-year-old neighbor;The Press of Atlantic Cityin Washington, D.C., a 13-year-old girl won the Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “Ursprache”;ABC Newsand in New York City a 13-year-old girl (who may be an exotic dancer) abducted a 3-year-old boy.7Online.comDutchpedophiles founded a political party that will push to lower the Netherlands’ age of consent from 16 to 12, and eventually to scrap it altogether. “A ban,” said a party co-founder, “just makes children curious.” ReutersBritishscientists powered a small fan by feeding chocolate to bacteria, New Scientist Techan Ohio man was awarded a patent for a cordless jump rope,local6.comand a Japaneseacoustics expert recreated the voice of the Mona Lisa. “My true identity,” said the virtual Mona Lisa, “is shrouded in mystery.”Yahoo! NewsPakistan banned The Da Vinci Code. “Degradation of any prophet,” said Minister of Culture Ghulam Jamal, “is tantamount to defamation of the rest.” Yahoo! NewsTwo people died when a plane owned by Pat Robertson crashed off the coast of Connecticut,Bloombergand a snake bit a woman at a Wal-Mart in Florida. “Thank goodness for sweat pants with elastic,” said the woman, “because he tried to climb up my britches’ leg.”WFTV.comA woman married a cobra in the Indian state of Orissa. “Though snakes cannot speak or understand,” said the bride, “we communicate in a peculiar way.”BreitbartA senior citizens’ community in Washington was overrun by marmots.Yakima Herald-RepublicA cave in Israel was found to contain a complete ecosystem that had been sealed off for millions of years, National GeographicgGeologists identified the impact site of a giant meteor that is suspected of having wiped out most life on earth a quarter-billion years ago, BBCand an international team of scientists announced that the North Pole was once an ice-free area with tropical temperatures. “Basically,” explained palaeoecologist Appy Sluijs, “it looks like the earth released a gigantic fart of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”BBCIt was declared that Batwoman will be a lesbian.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.

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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