Weekly Review — December 6, 2011, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: All In My Eye, December 1853]

An American cattleman.

The first round of parliamentary elections in Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February brought to the polls an unprecedented 62 percent of registered voters, many of whom had never voted before. “I donâ??t know any of the parties or who Iâ??m voting for,” said a Christian woman in the southern city of Assiut. “The first names I see, I guess.” The hard-line Nour party, which seeks to impose strict Sharia law, won 24 percent of the vote, while the Muslim Brotherhood, which claims it will apply Islamic law “in a fair way,” led with 37 percent. “We are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood,” said first-time voter Iris Nawar. “But we lived for 30 years under Mubarak; we will live with them, too.”APAPAPAPProtesters attacked the British Embassy and residential compound in Tehran after Britain imposed new sanctions on Iran, prompting Britain to expel Iranian diplomats and recall its ambassador, Dominick Chilcott. “The dog,” said Chilcott, “has been left behind.” A representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulated the rioters, noting that they had targeted the “epicenter of sedition.”APBBCAnti-American rallies were staged throughout Pakistan after a NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, and demonstrators marched outside the UN climate summit in Durban, South Africa, where the United States and Canada were stalling efforts to extend the 1997 Kyoto Protocol limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. “Itâ??s a conspiracy against the poor,” said the Council of Europeâ??s rapporteur on climate change.APBBCAPIn Germany, the driest November on record caused a major drop in the Rhine, revealing a two-ton World War II “blockbuster” bomb with a badly eroded fuse; the city of Koblenz prepared evacuation plans for 45,000 people but waited until Sunday to implement them, so as not to interrupt Christmas shopping. “People in Koblenz are used to bomb findings,” said a fire-brigade spokesman.Daily MailCNN

Following multiple accusations of marital infidelity, Herman Cain dropped out of the G.O.P. presidential race, saying his reputation was under attack by a conspiracy of “elites” and political reporters. Cain closed his withdrawal speech by quoting at length the theme song from “PokĂ©mon: The First Movie”: “Life can be a challenge. Life can seem impossible. Itâ??s never easy when thereâ??s so much on the line. But you and I can make a difference. Thereâ??s a mission just for you and me.”Mother JonesRaw StoryFox News decried liberal bias in the film “The Muppets,” which features an oil-drilling villain named “Tex Richman,” and the ACLU charged that Appleâ??s virtual iPhone assistant, Siri, was promoting a conservative agenda. “Siri can point you to Viagra but not the Pill, or help you find an escort but not an abortion clinic,” said a post on the organizationâ??s blog.Washington PostABC NewsOR-7, a popular Oregon wolf wanted for cattle killing, continued his 730-mile trek in search of a mate.Daily MailThe worldâ??s first college of applied sexuality opened in Austria.Daily MailOscar Wildeâ??s tomb reopened with an anti-kissing barrier.GuardianAnn Marie Kennedy, a resident of Effin in Limerick County, Ireland, complained that Facebook was blocking her from listing her hometown on her profile. She wanted to show her pride in her parish, she said, along with “so many Effin people around the world.”BBCA woman from Bumpass, Virginia, was arrested for smashing a salt bottle over her dateâ??s head while he slept.NewsleaderAn inquest confirmed that reggae singer Smiley Culture stabbed himself through the heart.BBC

The trial of three women accused of raping men began in Zimbabwe, where police believe a syndicate of female rapists may be collecting semen for use in rituals to bring business success. “You must exercise caution,” said a man named Witness. “I wonâ??t get a lift in private cars, especially if there are women inside.”BBCSaudi academic Kamal Subhi presented a report to his countryâ??s legislative council warning that allowing women to drive would encourage prostitution, pornography, homosexuality, and divorce, and would lead to the “end of virginity” in the nation.BBCA woman filed suit against a clinic in St. Louis, alleging that she had sought help for anorexia but instead been given psychotropic drugs, hypnotized, and convinced she had 20 different personalities and had been raped while belonging to a baby-eating satanic cult.AP via Fox NewsSex crimes against illegal immigrants were found to have been ignored in El Mirage, Arizona, and Mozambique denied that it had imported flesh-eating bananas.APAFP via Courier MailNuon Chea, on trial in Phnom Penh for his role as second in command of Cambodiaâ??s Khmer Rouge, blamed Vietnam for the 1.7 million deaths attributed to the regime. “I donâ??t want the next generation to misunderstand history,” said Chea. “I donâ??t want them to believe the Khmer Rouge are bad people…. Nothing is true about that.”AP

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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.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

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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.

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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