Weekly Review — September 1, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

An angry-looking, monkey-like creature showing its teeth.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D., Mass.) died of brain cancer at age 77 and was buried near his brothers John and Robert at Arlington National Cemetery. He served 46 years in the Senate, where he was an advocate for voting rights for minorities (and 18-year-olds), the rights of the disabled, the abolition of the draft, and–less successfully–health care reform. “The place won’t be the same without him,” said Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.). Rush Limbaugh said that Kennedy was “the lion of the Senate” and that “we were his prey.” “He left a woman to drown,” tweeted Fox News analyst Tammy Bruce, “and now he’s left us to drown.” “Hopefully,” said Eric Sanger, a director at the Sean Hannity Show, “this event will mark the end of this repugnant family.” Shortly before he died, Kennedy (who received his first communion from Pope Pius XII) sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI. “I know that I have been an imperfect human being,” he wrote, “but with the help of my faith, I have tried to right my path.” eNews Park ForestMedia MattersThe New York TimesCBS NewsPoliticoAPYahoo! NewsThe White House announced that the economy would shrink by 2.8 percent this year, and President Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve.The Washington PostOMB WatchFT.comA new, less-redacted version of a 2004 CIA report on interrogation methods was released. “I’m very proud of what we did,” said Dick Cheney of the torture program, which involved guns, shackles, mock executions, and drills. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr., against the supposed wishes of the White House, appointed a prosecutor to investigate the CIA’s practices,The Washington Postand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for those who protested his sham victory, including opposition leaders, to be vigorously prosecuted.Al Jazeera

Forty people died in a bombing in Afghanistan.Al JazeeraJets from Israel bombed an alleged tunnel in Gaza,BBC Newsand Scientologists were digging tunnels in southern California, which was still burning.The Valley ChronicleThe GuardianRomanians booed Madonna after she asked them to stop discriminating against Gypsies.CBS NewsWall Street JournalBBC NewsDominick Dunne died, as did 36-year-old DJ AM, whose passing was much tweeted. “Don’t know how i am gonna play 2night but i am for AM,” wrote Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. “My brother is gone. i love u and miss u.”New York TimesEdward Rondthaler, a proponent of spelling reform, died at age 104. “Foenetic speling,” he once wrote, “wil maek reeding and rieting neerly automatic for evrybody.”New York TimesA man who was sniffing gas from an aerosol can was tasered by Ohio police, at which he burst into flames,Mail Onlineand Oklahoma methamphetamine addicts discovered a new method–“shake-and-bake”–for making meth quickly in a soda bottle. “If there is any oxygen at all in the bottle, it has a propensity to make a giant fireball,” said a Missouri police sergeant. “You’re not dealing with rocket scientists here anyway.”St. Louis TodayIndia lost contact with the Chandrayaan-1 moon probe, and South Korea’s first satellite failed to reach orbit.Express IndiaCNN

British apocalypse scientists found that mixotrophs–organisms that derive energy from dead organic matter–can live for six months in total darkness.New ScientistThousands of people signed a petition asking the British government to issue an apology for how it treated gay mathematician Alan Turing, BBCand a Welsh man named Roland Mery, facing a two-year wait before he could have gender-reassignment surgery, chopped off his own penis. “Ring 999, Julie,” he yelled to his wife, “I’ve done it!”Wales OnlineSean Lynde, a graphic designer and a former roadie for the band Guster, was arrested in New York City for poisoning and beating to death his girlfriend’s four kittens, six months after someone posted a notice on Craigslist that read “KEEP CATS AWAY FROM THIS MAN.”The New York Daily NewsA deaf, blind, 16-year-old dog named Louie died after being left alone for hours in the hot car of Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond, Virginia, SPCA.AP via Yahoo! NewsParts of a baby were found in the sewage works of the English town of Hull,Mail Onlineand wealthy Ugandans were sacrificing children. “They say if you don’t take blood, the wealth will go,” explained an investigator.The ObserverThe U.S. Forest Service warned campers to look out for marijuana growers, who can be identified by “tortilla packaging, beer cans, Spam, tuna, Tecate beer cans,” and the sound of Spanish music. “When I go camping,” said an immigrant-rights activist, “I’ll be sure to play nothing but Bruce Springsteen.”APTwin monkeys in Oregon were born to two mothers by means of a new technique that will one day allow for a child to have three parents.Live ScienceIBM took a picture of a solitary molecule,BBC Newsand scientists at Caltech found that the amygdala regulates our sense of personal space.Science Daily

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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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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.

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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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