Weekly Review — April 10, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

In Iraq, the sixth suicide chlorine attack in two months killed 20 people in the Anbar province, New York Timesthe resurgent Mahdi army clashed with U.S. soldiers in Sadr City,Washington PostAmerican fighter jets bombed Shiite militiamen in Diwaniya,New York Timesand in Baghdad, a U.S. congressional delegation outfitted with bulletproof vests, flanked by 100 soldiers in armored Humvees, and watched over by attack helicopters, visited a local bazaar to demonstrate the success of the current security plan. It was, said Representative Mike Pence (R., Ind.), just like an “outdoor market in Indiana in the summertime.”New York TimesVice President Dick Cheney attacked the “self-appointed strategists” in Congress who were hampering the Bush Administration’s efforts to prolong the war in Iraq,.CNN.comand Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed that the U.S. military was violating its “dwell time” policy, which guarantees soldiers a year between combat postings.Los Angeles TimesNorth Korea ordered its diplomats to send all but one child home as collateral against defection,BBC Newsand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad released 15 abducted Britishmarines.Los Angeles TimesItaly banned reality programming on public television,BBC NewsThailand blocked access to YouTube,New York Timesand at the CNN Center in Atlanta, a woman died after being shot in the face by her estranged boyfriend.CNN.comLapsed AlbanianCommunists were rediscovering God,Washington PostFidel Castro called American biofuel policy an “internationalization of genocide,”BBC Newsand the market price for children in India slipped below that of buffalo.Reuters

The Food and Drug Administration proposed new labeling rules that would allow irradiated foods to be categorized merely as “pasteurized,”Washington Postand the Supreme Court forbade the Environmental Protection Agency to shirk its responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases.New York TimesResearchers used infrared and atomic-emission spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, electron microscopy, pollen analysis, and the leading “noses” in the perfume industry to determine that a rib bone unearthed at the site where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake actually belonged to an Egyptian mummy.New York Times and XinhuaIn Beardstown, Illinois, federal agents arrested 62 undocumented immigrants in a pork plant,Reutersand in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Hillary Clinton accused President George W. Bush of “vetoing the will of the American people.”New York TimesFrench archaeologists were using dung-eating mites to study ancient Incan relics,New York TimesBritishscientists were “baffled” by the discovery of five-footed frogs,Breitbart.comand Dr. Zahi Hawass of Egypt dismissed the Exodus story of the Jews as a “myth.”New York Times

Dr. John Billings, creator of the “Billings Method” of natural birth control and father of nine, died,New York Timesand Durex, a contraceptive company located in Knutsford, England, began assembling a “massive” panel of volunteer testers for its condom and lubricant products.BBC NewsA Chicago woman filed suit against her dance partner for “negligent dancing,”CNN.comand the estate of deceased actor James Doohan, who was best known for his performance as the space mechanic “Scotty” on Star Trek, paid $495 to have his ashes rocketed into orbit.Playfuls.comSinger/songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, author of such hits as “Georgia on a Fast Train” and “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)” was sought by police in Texas after he shot a “drunk, aggressive stranger.”CNN.comThe North Carolina Senate expressed “profound contrition” for the state’s slave history.Washington PostA 13-year-old girl in Brooklyn, New York, was brought up on criminal mischief charges after being caught writing the word “okay” on her school desk,WCBS-tvand an elementary school principal in Toronto admitted to pelting an unruly student with feces. Toronto StarPolish burglars knocked over a sex shop in Austria, then used vibrators, prophylactics, and a vacuum cleaner to elude the police in a high-speed car chase.Metro UKXXXChurch.com, an online ministry, staged a “Porn and Pancakes” event for evangelicals in Morton, Illinois.CNN.comGaytanamo: Hardcore, a film set in the “sexiest secret military prison ever,” was being sold at a discount on the Internet.Dark Alley.com via nerve.comIn Miami, the Department of Corrections was housing registered sex offenders under a bridge.CNN.comHerding dogs were being used to control the spiraling goose population in New York’s Central Park,New York Timesand a South African farmer received a 20-year sentence for killing a man he mistakenly believed to be a baboon.BBC NewsThe Walt Disney Company announced that it will begin offering “Fairy Tale” weddings to homosexuals.Reuters

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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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