Weekly Review — February 26, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Storks, 1864]

Kosovo, in a move supported by the United States and strongly opposed by Russia, declared its independence from Serbia. NATO sealed Kosovo’s northern border, and Serbians looted designer clothes, shoes, and chocolates, and set fire to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.ReutersTurkey began a ground invasion into Iraq targeting the PKK, despite protests that the invasion was “a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty,” and Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered a six-month extension of his Mahdi militia’s unilateral cease-fire, which has led to a 60 percent decrease in violence across Iraq.BBCnews.comLA TimesBenazir Bhutto’s party received the most votes in the Pakistani parliamentary election. Calls were made for President Pervez Musharraf to step down after his party performed poorly, and opposition leaders who had been under house arrest since Musharraf declared emergency military rule last November found that their phones had suddenly started working again.New York TimesIn Cuba,Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother Raul through an election in which Raul was the only candidate. “I distrust the seemingly easy path of apologetics,” wrote Castro in his resignation letter, “or its antithesis the self-flagellation.”New York TimesPresident Bush, whose approval rating was at an all-time low of 19 percent, was in Africa, where he said that the United States “is not seeking African bases” when asked about AFRICOM, a U.S. military command program for Africa, and danced with Liberian President and AFRICOM supporter Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. “The president seemed keen to impress the crowd,” said one onlooker, “with his David Brent-style gyrations.”American Research GroupBBCnews.comBelfast TelegraphWomen in Ivory Coast were using creams and injections to enlarge their buttocks in reaction to the craze for the big-bottom dance, or Bobaraba.BBCnews.com

Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis was made public. “Further integration and/or assimilation into a white cultural and social structure,” she wrote, “will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.” Politico.comThe New York Times published an article insinuating that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist a decade ago,New York Timesand Congressman Rick Renzi (R., Ariz.), one of McCain’s campaign managers, was indicted for conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, insurance fraud, and extortion, but mostly for using his office to promote a swap of federal land to collect on a debt owed by a former associate.AP via Yahoo NewsThe League of Conservation Voters said that McCain had the worst environmental record of all 535 members of Congress for 2007 and had missed more crucial votes than members who died in the middle of their terms.The TrailTexas surpassed California to become the top producer of wind power, and oil men were cashing in on the boom. “We’re number one in wind in the United States,” said Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson, “and that will never change.”NY TimesRalph Nader, who is older than John McCain, announced his fifth run for the presidency.Meet the Press

The whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org was removed from the Internet after a Swiss bank obtained an injunction against California Web hosting company Dynadot,BBCnews.comand the Pakistani government caused a global crash of YouTube when it attempted to block the site from its country. “Users are quite upset,” said the convener of the Association of Pakistan Internet Service Providers. “They’re screaming at ISPs which can’t do anything.”BBCnews.comJapan launched an experimental satellite that would provide Internet access speeds of 1.2 gigabytes per second,CNN.comand the United States claimed to have successfully shot down a disabled and toxic spy satellite; China and Russia said the action was actually an excuse to test anti-satellite missile systems.BBCnews.comScientists revealed that the sun will vaporize the earth if we cannot figure out how to change our orbit within 7.6 billion years.Scientific BloggingResearchers were at a loss to explain why suicide rates recently rose sharply for Americans aged 45-54, and it was revealed that the man who killed five Northern Illinois University students and himself had stopped taking Prozac shortly before his death because it “made him feel like a zombie and lazy.”NY TimesNY TimesAccording to a recent U.S. study, men can pass down sperm damage caused by alcohol, cigarettes, and other environmental toxins for up to four generations.BBCnews.comA Moroccan man was sentenced to three years in prison for creating a joke Facebook profile under the name of Prince Moulay Rachid, who is second in line for the country’s throne,BBCnews.comand Robert Somma, a federal bankruptcy judge appointed by President Bush in 2004, resigned from his position after police found that he had crashed his Mercedes into another car while drunk and wearing a dress, fishnet stockings, and heels, and carrying a purse. “He’s a highly respected member of the bar,” said a fellow judge, “and remains so.”BostonHerald.comA man in Swansea, U.K., died from eating too much fairycake.BBCnews.com

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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.

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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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