Weekly Review — June 19, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian unity government and declared a state of emergency after masked Hamas gunmen seized control of the Gaza Strip. Hamas looters broke into former Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat’s home and stole military outfits, photographs of his daughter, and his Nobel Peace Prize. “I see Iraq here,” a bystander in Gaza said. “There is no mercy. We are afraid. See how ferocious this fight was? There is no future for us.”New York TimesThe Jerusalem PostNew York TimesIsrael and the United States tacitly agreed on a policy to treat the West Bank and Gaza as separate entities.New York TimesTwo reports–one by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the other by the Pentagon–concluded that despite the increased U.S. military presence in Iraq, and despite a drop in violence in Baghdad and Anbar province, the overall level of violence has not decreased but instead has become more evenly distributed throughout the country.Washington PostWashington PostA suicide bomber drove his truck through the gates of the unprotected police station in Alam, killing at least 12 people and injuring sixty. “This is the first bombing in Alam,” said a policeman who lost his left arm. “That’s why people did not expect an explosion.” Washington PostThe sacred Shiite mosque in Samarra was bombed again, raising concerns of a massive wave of sectarian violence like the one that occurred when it was bombed a year ago. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on Iraqis to “exercise self-restraint,” whereupon two Sunni mosques were razed. Washington PostNews Feed ResearcherThe Taliban fired rockets at Afghan President Hamid Karzai as he gave a speech to some elders. Karzai paused to quiet the audience after the rockets landed a few hundred yards away, then finished his speech. Washington PostJudge Robert Bork, an advocate for tort reform, was suing the Yale Club of New York City for $1 million after he slipped and fell while mounting a dais, injuring his leg and head.ACSBlog

A federal appeals court ruled that President George W. Bush cannot indefinitely imprison U.S. residents on suspicion alone, and ordered that the government either charge Ali Saleh Kahla al-Marri in a civilian court or release him. Al-Marri, a university student, was arrested in December 2001 and declared an enemy combatant. “The President,” the panel said, “cannot eliminate constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen.”Washington PostAn internal FBI audit revealed that during its domestic surveillance efforts, the bureau potentially violated the law or agency rules more than 1,000 times, with 90 percent of the FBI’s national security investigations since 2002 still remaining unaudited. Washington PostSenate Democrats pushed for a “vote of no confidence” in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, but were blocked by Republicans who reminded them that the U.S. government does not engage in no-confidence votes. “To paraphrase Shakespeare,” Senator Orrin Hatch said, “whether this debate amounts to sound and fury, it signifies nothing.”Washington PostWashington PostPresident Bush became the first sitting president to visit Albania, where Prime Minister Sali Berisha welcomed him as “the greatest and most distinguished guest we have ever had in all times.” “Bush is eager for affection,” wrote Fidel Castro in an editorial published in the Cuban newspaper Granma entitled “The Tyrant visits Tirana.”Washington PostWashington Post“Today’s media,” British Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “hunts in packs. In these modes it is like a feral beast just tearing people and reputations to bits.” Washington PostRudolph Giuliani announced that as president he would follow a 12-step program to better the country, which will include an end to illegal immigration, a decrease in abortion, and a legal system with “strict constructionist” judges.Washington Post“The one fact I’ve learned–I can’t get out of my mind,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said to an audience at the Center for American Progress, “is that Rudy Giuliani’s been married more times than Mitt Romney’s been hunting.” Sign On San Diego

Mr. Wizard died,LA Timesand researchers revealed that Otzi the Iceman, a 5,000-year-old frozen hunter who was found in the Italian Alps in 1991, was killed by injuries suffered from an arrow to his left collarbone.Washington PostScientists speculated that the woolly mammoth, which died off more than 10,000 years ago, as well as the saber-toothed cat, the mastodon, and the giant ground sloth, were exterminated by a comet that exploded over Canada with a force equivalent to more than a million nuclear weapons.Washington PostAfter a two-day chase, astronauts aboard the space ship Atlantis finally caught up with the orbiting international space station, where they floated into the station’s Destiny laboratory and gave each resident a hug.Washington PostMedical examiners announced that a 17-year-old U.S. track star who died in April overdosed on muscle-rub; New Scientista 13-year-old British boy ended his ten-year vow of silence, which began when his mother forced him to have his tonsils removed, with the words “thank you”;Daily Mailand a 15-year-old Florida girl who has suffered for months from chronic hiccups ran away from home. Washington PostSony apologized to the Church of England after a gun-filled computer game set in a British cathedral prompted the church to accuse the company of “virtual desecration,”Washington Postand piles of human feces were found in the Senate. “There was,” said a staffer, “so much of it.”The Raw Story

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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.

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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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