Weekly Review — May 15, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Caught in the Web, 1860]

Caught in the Web, 1860.

British prime minister Tony Blair announced that he will resign next month after ten years in power. Much speculation ensued about what the 54-year-old Blair would do next, and it was thought that he might establish a foundation to fight poverty in Africa. “[Blair] was the worst thing that ever happened to Africa,” said Bright Matonga, the deputy information minister of Zimbabwe. “We hope that the children of Iraq and Afghanistan he is killing everyday will haunt him for the rest of his life.”Daily MailThe AustralianGuardian A majority in Iraq’s parliament backed a bill drafted by allies of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which would require a timetable for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.WPVice President Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to Baghdad, where he met with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and other leaders. “I do believe that there is a greater sense of urgency now than I’d seen previously,” the Vice President told reporters. Protesters in Karbala burned him in effigy.NYTReuters via AlertnetWorld Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, who arranged a promotion for his companion, Shaha Ali Riza, in 2005, was found by a committee of directors to have had a conflict of interest, and his top communications aide quit. According to Bank officials, “devastating” documents showed that Wolfowitz had known at the time that the promotion might be seen as unethical. Some European countries allegedly threatened to reduce contributions to the Bank if Wolfowitz did not step down. NYTIHTNYTFormer United States attorney Todd P. Graves claimed that he had been forced to resign for refusing to pursue a politically motivated voter-fraud lawsuit, and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales continued to defend the Department’s firing of eight other U.S. attorneys. Asked how he knew that the President or the Vice President was not involved in the decision, Gonzales replied, “I just know they would not do that.” Kansas City StarSF ChronicleNYTIn Afghanistan,NATO leaders were concerned about news reports that they had killed almost 90 civilians in the past two weeks, and residents of the town of Herat claimed that as many as 80 civilians were killed on Tuesday.USA TodayNYTThe corpse of Mullah Dadullah, a one-legged Taliban commander, was displayed for reporters. According to the New York Times, he was wearing “an ordinary shoe.” NYT

Reverend Al Sharpton promised that Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney would be defeated by “those that really believe in God,” and it was revealed that Romney’s wife, Ann, donated $150 to Planned Parenthood in 1994.CNNABCGuantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan was charged with being a driver and bodyguard for Osama bin Laden,AP via Yahooand the trial of Rafiq Sabir, a physician charged with conspiring to provide medical care to Al Qaeda, began. Evidence presented in the case included a recording of jazz bassist and martial-arts expert Tarik Shah, a good friend of Sabir’s, teaching an FBI informant how to rip out a throat. “It fills their lungs with blood,” he explained. NYTSergeant Sanick Dela Cruz testified in a pre-trial hearing related to the November 2005 killing of 24 civilians in Haditha,Iraq. “I know it was a bad thing what I’ve done,” he said about his role in the killings, which were in retribution for the death of another Marine, “but I done it because I was angry T.J. was dead, and I pissed on one Iraqi’s head.” Reuters via AlertnetAt Sotheby’s in New York, a late Cezanne watercolor of a green melon sold for $25 million.BBC

Four ethnic Albanians, a Jordanian, and a Turk were arrested for plotting to invade Fort Dix, New Jersey,NJ Star-Ledgerand more than 1,000 rusty, unexploded munitions had been found on the Jersey Shore, left there as a result of a beach-reclamation project. NJ Star-LedgerFormer New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was spotted wearing a World Series ring that may have been an illegal gift from the Yankees.Village VoiceThe Milwaukee Brewers were giving away two free tickets to any fan who had his prostate examined,MLB.comBill Clinton wrote the clues for a New York Times crossword (“Team,” read 5 across, “with Southern exposure”),NYTand researchers at Johns Hopkins University linked throat cancer to oral sex. BBCGovernment soldiers in Mogadishu were confiscating and burning women’s veils,BBCand in Richmond, Virginia, a painting of Britney Spears was covered up at the request of Barack Obama’s campaign. Richmond Times-DispatchLos Angeles was burning,LA Timesand Democratic presidential contender Mike Gravel was speaking passionately in defense of gay marriage. “Love between a woman and a woman is beautiful,” he said. “Love between a man and a man is beautiful, too. What this world needs is a lot more love.” WMUR via Rawstory.comThe Senate passed a bill that would lift a 1975 ban on the sale of baby turtles, but would require safety pamphlets warning children about the risks.US NewsThe makers of OxyContin admitted that they had misled consumers about the risks of addiction, WPand the Pope traveled to Brazil, where he canonized a nineteenth-century friar who healed people by giving them written prayers in pill form.AP via YahooNASA unveiled a new telescope that will help scientists “see the very birth of the universe,” BBCand astronomers continued to observe the death of a star 150 times more massive than the sun. “Of all exploding stars ever observed,” said one astronomer, “this was the king.”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.”

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Last fall, a court filing in the Eastern District of Virginia inadvertently suggested that the Justice Department had indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and other outlets reported soon after that Assange had likely been secretly indicted for conspiring with his sources to publish classified government material and hacked documents belonging to the Democratic National Committee, among other things.

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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.

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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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