Weekly Review — September 2, 2008, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Tempest, December 1878]

One million people fled New Orleans to avoid Hurricane Gustav, which landed in Louisiana as a weakened category-2 hurricane and caused relatively little damage. Mississippi officials ordered people still living in the FEMA trailers erected after Hurricane Katrina to evacuate, and John McCain canceled opening-day ceremonies for the Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota. “This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans,” said McCain. “Not as Republicans.”GuardianIOL.co.zaNew York TimesUSA TodayYahoo!McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 44, as his running mate. Palin, an evangelical Christian, supports the death penalty, believes that the “jury’s still out” on global warming, opposes abortion, and is mother to five children: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and five-month-old Trig, who has Down syndrome. Rumors arose that Bristol, 17, was the actual mother of Trig; in response, Palin announced that Bristol was actually five months pregnant with the child of a man named “Levi” and would soon marry him.Telegraph.co.ukWashington TimesWashington PostIndependent1.2 million people were left homeless by monsoon floods in the Indian state of Bihar.BBC

Foreclosure rates were rising in the Dallas-Fort Worth region. “We’ve got a housing issue, [but] evidently not in Dallas,” said President George W. Bush to a recent gathering of Houston G.O.P. donors, “because Laura’s over there trying to buy a house today… I said: ‘Honey, weâ??ve been on government pay now for 14 years. Go slow!'”FWBusinessPressNew York TimesCitibank, facing huge losses, asked its bankers to stop making color photocopies and to start printing internal presentations on both sides of the page,New York Timesand hip-hop mogul P. Diddy announced that the rising price of fuel had forced him to give up private-jet travel. “Can you believe this, I’m actually flying commercial!” he said. “Gas prices are too motherfuckin’ high. I want to give a shout-out to all my Saudi Arabian brothers and sisters and all my brothers and sisters from all the countries that have oil. If y’all could please send me some oil for my jet, I would truly appreciate it.”E!OnlineJapanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda resigned,New York Timesand Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin saved a television crew from attack by shooting an escaped Siberian tiger with a tranquilizer gun.YahooPutin also announced a ban on poultry imports from 19 U.S. companies, explaining that their chicken failed to meet sanitary standards and that the ban had nothing to do with ongoing political tensions over Georgia.NovostiA pregnant woman sued JacksonvilleJaguars receiver Dennis Northcutt, claiming he arranged for his cousin to beat her up in an attempt to harm her unborn child,Sports Illustratedand the attorney for a nearly half-ton Texas woman said she could not have beaten her toddler nephew to death because her obesity limits her movement.CNNAn Ohioan named China Arnold was convicted of microwaving her one-month-old baby, Paris Talley, to death.BBC

A United Nations investigation of last week’s coalition airstrikes in Afghanistan found that the United States had killed 90 civilians, including 60 sleeping children,New York Timesand Nigerian religious leader Mohammadu Bello Abubakar, who is 84, accepted an Islamic decree that would force him to divorce 82, or 95 percent, of his 86 wives.BBCAn Australian plastic surgeon who received oral sex from a patient before providing her with a nose job was fighting to keep his medical license. “Knowing her nose better than anyone else,” said Dr. Martyn Mendelsohn, “I was in a unique position to take care of the problem.”News.com.auA man concerned that he had injected air into his veins while shooting cocaine tried to amputate his own arm with a butter knife, and then a butcher knife, at a Denny’s Restaurant in California,.CBSand European officials warned that Botox injections could have dangerous side effects, including death.BreitbartNearly half a million people in developing nations were manufacturing virtual weapons and mounts to sell to players of online video games such as World of Warcraft,BBCand the Pentagon launched a program that aims to create an artificial brain within the next decade.WiredNASA confirmed that laptops in space had been infected with the virus Gammima.AG,BBCand Australianscientists determined that sponges have the genes necessary to express nerves.LiveScienceScientists studying the Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction, which annihilated much of life on Earth 251 million years ago, attributed the die-off to floods of reeking Siberian lava, which released carbon dioxide and created a greenhouse effect, thereby starving oceans of oxygen and poisoning the atmosphere. “In the late Permian,” said geoscientist Lee Kump, “Earth itself was the villain. But today we’ve stepped in as the villain.”McClatchyDC.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.

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.

El Río de los Remedios, or the River of Remedies, runs through the city of Ecatepec, a densely populated satellite of Mexico City. Confined mostly to concrete channels, the river serves as the main drainage line for the vast monochrome barrios that surround the capital. That day, I was standing on a stretch of the canal just north of Ecatepec, with a twenty-three-year-old photographer named Reyna Leynez. Reyna was the one who’d told me about the place and what it represents. This ruined river, this open sewer, is said to be one of the largest mass graves in Mexico.

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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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