Weekly Review — November 27, 2007, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A grasshopper driving a chariot, 1875]

Teams of biologists in Japan and Wisconsin discovered new methods for transforming human skin cells into “induced pluripotent stem cells.” Both techniques employ a retrovirus to inject the cells with four “master regulator” genes that reprogram the cells’ function. The Wisconsin team, directed by James A. Thompson, who pioneered the harvesting of embryonic stem cells, culled its skin cells from foreskins. The Japanese team conducted their preliminary research on mice, with a cancer gene among the regulators, and created in the process a mischief of clone mice, 20 percent of which developed cancer. President George W. Bush was said to be “very pleased” that the innovation might render the use of embryonic stem cells obsolete, but critics said it was too soon to tell whether the synthesized stem cells would prove as versatile as those from embryos.New York TimesSeattle TimesNew York TimesAn American nuclear scientist projected that the number of deaths caused by depleted uranium in ammunition fired on Iraq would exceed those caused by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The environment is now completely radioactive,” said Leuren Moret. “The genetic future of the Iraqi people, for the most part, is destroyed.”uruknetIan Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister who promised 1,000 years of white rule in Africa, died, and authorities in Zimbabwe were arresting satirists.EconomistL.A. TimesAustralian voters elected the Labor Party’s Kevin Rudd prime minister, replacing conservative John Howard, a Bush ally who failed to retain his own seat in Parliament. Rudd, who has been videotaped eating his own earwax, said he would push for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, leaving the United States the lone holdout.TimeYouTubeAFPFourteen thousand refugees fled wildfires in Malibu, California,.New York Timesand the British government admitted that it had lost computer disks containing the personal information of more than one third of its citizens.New York Times

Exiled prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned to Pakistan. “I have come,” he said, “to save this country.” New York TimesThere was a power vacuum in Lebanon after the Parliament failed to elect a new president, New York Timesand in Annapolis, Maryland, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice convened a meeting of Middle Eastern leaders, excluding Iran and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. “We must not view Annapolis as a failure,” Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said before the summit started. “Nothing good will come out of it,” said Riham Abu Khater, a 17-year-old Gazan woman attending a protest march. “Good will only come from the language of fighting, and from force.” Hamas pledged to pack more explosives in its homemade rockets, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, “Participation in this summit is an indication of the lack of intelligence of some so-called politicians.”Daily StarHaaretzHaaretzJerusalem PostThe Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality in Uganda protested a summit of British Commonwealth leaders in Kampala. “I asked President Museveni to get us an island on Lake Victoria and we take these homosexuals and they die out there,” said Sheikh Ramathan Shaban Mubajje of an earlier meeting he had with Uganda’s head of state. “If they die there, then we shall have no more homosexuals in the country.”365Gay

Former White House spokesman Scott McClellan released an excerpt of his forthcoming memoir. The passage states that he “unknowingly” lied when he denied that White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby participated in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. McClellan vaguely confesses that “Rove, Libby, the vice president [Dick Cheney], the president’s chief of staff [Andrew Card], and the President himself” were “involved” in his relaying “false information,” but he stops short of saying that Bush and Cheney knew they were telling him to lie. SlateAl Gore visited the White House,.ABCand amateur investigators in Russia found the charred bones of two teenage children of Tsar Nicholas II murdered along with their father, mother, and three siblings by Bolshevik agents in 1918, dispelling the rumor that a Romanov prince or princess had escaped execution. New York TimesAbraham Bolden, a former Secret Service agent, told reporters that a plot by Cuban exiles to kill President John F. Kennedy in Chicago was uncovered three weeks before his assassination in Dallas. The would-be assailants, who had allegedly rented a motel room overlooking Kennedy’s motorcade route and were said to possess automatic rifles with telescopic sights, were never caught, and the investigation, Bolden claimed, was covered up.TelegraphKennedy’s 86-year-old sister Eunice was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness,CNNand UNAIDS, the United Nations agency that fights AIDS, lowered its estimate of the number of people infected with the disease worldwide, from 39.5 million to 33.2 million. New York TimesArmin Meiwes, a convicted German cannibal, was elected leader of his prison’s Green Party chapter and announced that he had become a vegetarian.ScotsmanCiting Schrodinger’s cat, cosmologists speculated that humans’ observation of dark matter, beginning in 1998, might bring about the premature destruction of the universe.Telegraph

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“You’re being reborn,” the voice says. “Exiting the womb of your mother. Coming into the earth as a small baby. Everything is new.” It is a Saturday morning in mid-March, and right now I’m lying on a yoga mat in a lodge in Ohio, surrounded by fifty other men who’ve come to the Midwest for a weekend of manhood-confirming adventures. The voice in question belongs to Aaron Blaine, a facilitator for Evryman, the men’s group orchestrating this three-day retreat. All around me, men are shedding tears as Blaine leads us on a guided meditation, a kind of archetypal montage of Norman Rockwell boyhood. “You’re starting to figure things out,” he says, in somniferous baritone. “Snow, for the first time. Sunshine. Start to notice the smells, the tastes, the confusion. The fear. And you’re growing. You’re about ten years old. The world’s huge and scary.”

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The WASP story is personal for me. I arrived at Yale in 1971 from a thoroughly mediocre suburb in New Jersey, the second-generation hybrid of Irish and Italian stock riding the postwar boom. Those sockless people in Top-Siders, whose ancestors’ names and portraits adorned the walls, were entirely new to me. I made friends with some, but I was not free of a corrosive envy of their habitus of ease and entitlement.

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how high? that high

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