Weekly Review — April 7, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

A 6.3 earthquake in the Abruzzo region of Italy damaged buildings in 26 towns, destroyed numerous historic monuments, left tens of thousands of people homeless, and killed at least 92 people, including an 82-year-old nun who died of shock. Seismologist Giampaolo Giuliani, who for weeks had warned of the earthquake, demanded an apology from the Italian government, which had forced him to remove his predictions from the Internet. “Every time there is an earthquake there are people who claim to have predicted it,” said Enzo Boschi, the chairman of Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology. “It is not possible to predict earthquakes.”New York TimesNew York TimesPresident Barack Obama traveled to Europe with his wife, Michelle, for the G-20 summit and the sixtieth anniversary of NATO, and met a number of foreign leaders for the first time, including Queen Elizabeth II (who, the press noted, actually touched the First Lady), Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and Chinese President Hu Jintao. When Hu and French President Nicolas Sarkozy quarreled and refused to sign the summit’s communique, Obama resolved their argument. “I’d suggest,” said one senior official, “we’d still be in there had he not done this.”Washington PostEWABCNATO leaders promised Obama only 5,000 more troops for Afghanistan. “No one will say this publicly,” said one European diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity, “but the true fact is that we are all talking about our exit strategy from Afghanistan. We are getting out.”New York TimesNew York TimesJournalists hoping to speak with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the NATO gathering were accidentally directed by the White House to call a phone-sex line.Fox NewsA piglet in China was born with three eyes and two noses.Ananova

Jiverly Wong, a 41-year Vietnamese immigrant who had recently been laid off from a Shop-Vac factory in Binghamton, New York, barricaded himself inside the town’s American Civic Association with two handguns and killed thirteen people (most of them immigrants attending English classes) and himself. “He was going to take the police on–or at least try to stop us from stopping him,” said police chief Joseph Zikuski. “He must have been a coward.”New York TimesNorth Korea defied United Nations resolutions and launched a rocket over the Pacific Ocean, prompting President Obama to call for a world without nuclear weapons. “I’m not naive,” he said. “But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can.'”BBCPoliticoThe U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that 663,000 jobs were lost in March, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.5 percent,New York Timesand a study found that workers who are allowed to surf the Internet are more productive. University of MelbourneHome prices were 19 percent lower in January than a year ago, and the Obamas declined the $100,000 allowance allotted to each president to redecorate the private quarters of the White House, opting instead to finance the redecoration on their own. “It is politically astute in terms of symbolism,” said Carl Anthony, historian of the National First Ladies’ Library. “It is also really thoughtful when people are losing their actual houses.”New York TimesWashington PostA British soccer player was given a yellow card for passing gas during the opposing team’s penalty shot,The Guardianand a St. Petersburg statue of Vladimir Lenin was bombed, leaving a crater in its rear.BBC

Same-sex marriage was legalized in Sweden, and in Iowa, where the state’s supreme court declared that a 1998 ruling limiting marriage to opposite-sex partnerships was unconstitutional. “We are blessed,” said lesbian Kate Ventrum, “to live in Iowa.”ReutersNew York TimesResearchers found that people with sisters are happier than people with brothers.BBCBBCPeople in 109 cities celebrated World Pillow Fight Day,ctvbc.ctv.caThe News & Observerand in honor of Genital Integrity Awareness Week, 50 “intactivists” demonstrated against circumcision in front of the White House, where a group of eighth-graders on a class field trip got mixed up in their rally. “It’s gonna be their favorite souvenir,” the children’s teacher said. “They got a picture that says ‘penis’ on it.”Washington PostThe star of a popular Swedish TV show for children was hospitalized after he chopped off the tip of his finger on air,UPIand a deckhand aboard the chartered boat Gale Force died in front of 20 Los Angeles elementary school children when he choked on the bait fish he had stuck in his mouth in order to make the visiting kids laugh.Washington PostTwo British boys, aged 10 and 11, were arrested for nearly killing two other boys, beating them with a brick, slashing them with a knife, and burning them with cigarettes.BBCPhotographer Helen Levitt, famous for her photos of children playing in the streets of New York, died. “Children used to be outside,” she once said. “Now the streets are empty.”New York Times

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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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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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