Weekly Review — August 22, 2006, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Hezbollah declared victory in its 34-day war with Israel. “I guess,” said President George W. Bush, “I would have done the same thing if I were them.” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged that Israel would “do better” in what Defense Minister Amir Peretz referred to as “the next round.” An official said killing Hezbollah leader Sheikh Nasrallah was a top priority.The Daily Telegraph (Australia)Dan Halutz, chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, was under fire for selling all of his stocks in the hours before the war began.The Wall Street JournalThe New York TimesThe Daily Telegraph (UK)The New York TimesBreitbart.comIsraeli troops detained a Hamas legislator in the West Bank and engaged Hezbollah guerillas in a shootout near Boudai, Lebanon.The Wall Street JournalIn South Africa, Shlomo Goldwasser, father of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah on July 12, urged the world to defeat his son’s captors. “If Israel won’t finish the job, you will find them here,” he said. “They will kidnap your sons.”Independent Online, South AfricaPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that it was willing to work with Hezbollah to aid suffering Lebanese animals. CNSNews.comSyrian President Bashar Assad called those who doubted Hezbollah “half men,” an Arab newspaper called Assad a rose that failed to bloom, Jerusalem Postand VirginiaSenator George Allen called an Indian-American man with a mullet a “macaca.”Washington Post

Snipers killed 20 pilgrims at a Shiite festival in Baghdad; a government employee noted that it was an improvement over last year, when nearly a thousand died in stampedes. The New York TimesSenatorBarack Obama called the Iraq war “dumb.” Harrisburg Daily RegisterRussia sent text messages to Chechen rebels telling them to stop fighting,St. Petersburg Timesand Rwanda announced plans to end the death penalty for genocidiers.BBCThe Sri Lankan air force bombed an orphanage and killed dozens of schoolgirls, and the Tamil Tigers failed to kill the High Commissioner of Pakistan with an exploding rickshaw.GuardianIran was launching missiles at Kurds and cracking down on “decadent” satellite dishes. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed the country would continue to pursue its nuclear program “forcefully,” and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the United States “should be disarmed.” Middle East TimesShimon Peres had dinner with ConnecticutDemocratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont, The New York TimesThe Penninsula (Qatar)The New York Timesand Republicans were, in general, neglecting their party’s candidate in favor of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, who said that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign. The New York TimesPacifist ex-NaziGünther Grass got to keep his Nobel Prize, The New York TimesThe Australianand Pluto retained its status as a planet. The New York TimesAn epidemic of bird flu among geese in northern China was driving up the price of badminton shuttlecocks,CNNand two wild swans in Lake Erie contracted a low-grade strain of the virus.Yahoo! NewsColombia began exporting its big-butt queen ants (Hormiga culona), which taste like juicy popcorn when toasted.The Penninsula (Qatar)An empty submarine suspected of cocaine smuggling was found floating off the coast of Spain,BBCVenezuelans were spending their oil money on Scotch whiskey, The New York Timesand American guitars were dominating Japan. MSNFive Uighurs found life in Albania “better than Guantánamo” but longed to move to Toronto.The New York Times

In Thailand, a preoperative transsexual named John M. Karr claimed to have been present for JonBenet Ramsey’s 1996 death, which he called “an accident.” The New York TimesBenedict XVI complained that being pope is “really tiring” and emphasized that “seeing the funny side of life” is crucial to his ministry. Yahoo! NewsIt was reported that U.S. military recruiting violations rose in 2005, as did the number of troops discharged for homosexuality.Washington PostHouston’s rising crime rate was blamed on refugees from New Orleans, which has been gripped by a baby boom.The New York TimesBreitbart.comOfficials in Canton, Ohio, decided that a 13 percent pregnancy rate among its high schools’ females justified moving beyond an abstinence-only approach to sex education, LA TimesLocal6.comand a secretly pregnant 21-year-old in Florida went into labor, sneaked out of her parents’ house, crashed her car into a canal, then delivered standing up in the wreckage. She named the baby Myracle.Palm Beach PostDoctors in India speculated that the birth of a one-eyed girl might be attributable to her mother’s exposure to Cyclopamine, a cancer drug derived from wild corn lily that causes cyclopia in sheep.Wired NewsSouth Korean DNA tests on tissues obtained during a 2003 hysterectomy indicated that a Frenchwoman was the mother of two rotting infant corpses found in a freezer at her home in Seoul, but she and her husband denied any relationship to the dead babies.Digital ChosunilboIn Germany a man was struck on the back of the neck by projectile human feces, then robbed of $9,554 by three people who offered to clean him off.ReutersSir Mick Jagger lost his voice, The Daily Maila Chicago ice-cream-truck driver was shot dead behind the wheel,Local6.comand a tree in Texas was mysteriously spouting water from its bark.San Antonio Express-News

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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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