Weekly Review — February 21, 2012, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

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

A prison fire in Honduras killed 359 people, making it the deadliest such fire on record. An inmate was reported to have started the fire after phoning the state governor’s office and saying he was going to burn down the prison, then lighting his bedding on fire. The facility officially housed 857 prisoners, more than double its intended capacity, and was being supervised by 12 guards, who prevented firefighters from entering while the fire spread. “The guards first thought they had a prison break,” said the director of Honduras’s prison system, “so they followed the law saying no one could enter to prevent unnecessary deaths.” The U.S. military’s Joint Task Force Bravo, which was stationed near the prison, sent masks, flashlights, and glow sticks.Boston.comUSA TodayWikipediaAPAPForty-four people died in a prison riot in Mexico, Islamist gunmen freed 119 people from a jail in Nigeria, and three people were killed in Manila during a failed attempt by Islamist guerrillas to free an imprisoned comrade.NY TimesAFP via Yahoo! NewsAP via NPRIsrael’s ambassador to Thailand accused Iran of involvement in bombing attempts against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok, New Delhi, and Tbilisi.NY TimesChristian Science MonitorSean Stone, son of filmmaker Oliver Stone, converted to Islam in Tehran, and in Buenos Aires actor Sean Penn criticized the United Kingdom for its “colonialist” rule over the Falkland Islands.Tehran TimesGuardianResidents of Nogent-sur-Marne, France, challenged their town’s decision to depict the face of Italian-born first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on a bronze statue of a worker rather than that of a male mason, and Icelandic musicians protested the State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland’s ban on Motörhead-brand shiraz, named after the English heavy metal band. “It is a violation of human rights,” said SĂłlstafir lead singer AĂ°albjörn Tryggvason, “to not be able to buy yourself red wine.”AFP via TelegraphAPReykjavĂ­k GrapevineReykjavĂ­k Grapevine

 

Dave Mustaine, lead singer of the heavy metal band Megadeth, announced, then denied, his endorsement of G.O.P. presidential candidate Rick Santorum, and Santorum’s main financial backer, billionaire investor Foster Friess, apologized for comments he made about contraception. “Back in my days they used Bayer aspirin,” said Friess. “The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly.”Music RadarCNN via Raw StoryReutersThree House Democrats walked out of a committee hearing on contraception, in protest of a witness panel consisting entirely of male religious leaders.Atlantic WireThe Virginia House of Delegates passed a “personhood” bill conferring the rights of a human being upon an embryo at the moment of fertilization, the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.AP via CBS NewsWashington PostAFP via Raw StoryTwo F-16s intercepted a Cessna carrying 40 pounds of marijuana over Los Angeles after it entered the airspace of Marine One, which was transporting President Barack Obama on a fundraising trip.AFP via Raw StorySix weeks after signing the Shark Conservation Act into law, Obama ate lunch at one of the few California restaurants still serving shark-fin soup. The president “ordered a lot of dim sum takeout,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney. “No soup.”San Francisco ChronicleAFPAn ESPN employee was fired after posting the headline “Chink in the Armor” for an article about the end of a New York Knicks winning streak led by Taiwanese-American point guard Jeremy Lin.ESPNDeadspinGame theorists in Switzerland determined that prejudice is a sound, if error-prone, strategy for short-term interactions in high-migration populations, and Canadian doctors found that the babies of South and East Asian immigrants are often incorrectly deemed underweight.PLoSoneCBC.caThe Chile Pepper Institute at New Mexico State University declared the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion, which burned through the latex gloves of the researchers assigned to pick it, to be the hottest pepper on earth. “There will be a run on seeds and plants,” predicted grower Jim Duffy. “Like Cabbage Patch dolls right before Christmas.”AP via NOLA.com

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter died at 57 of brain cancer, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anthony Shadid died at 43 following an asthma attack while reporting in Syria, and adventurer John Fairfax, who lived as a trapper in the Argentine jungle as a teenager and as a pirate-ship captain in his twenties, and who crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a rowboat, died at 74.NY TimesNY TimesNY TimesA man reportedly suffered a heart attack while eating a Triple Bypass burger at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.Fox 5 VegasLas Vegas Review-JournalA Scottish musician was bitten in the testicle by a venomous tiger snake while urinating in a Tasmanian garden.Sun (U.K.)Calcutta prepared to be painted blue.BBCGerman academics voted “shitstorm” the most useful English loanword in the German language, a BBC weatherman forecasted “bucket loads of cunt” for central and eastern England, and a British Airways flight attendant was arrested for writing “The bomb on board will explode at 16.00 GMT unless our demands are met” on a bathroom door during a flight from Tokyo to London.Global PostDaily MailTelegraphJournalists documented the rise of rabbit-petting cafĂ©s in Tokyo and the spread of decaf “babyccino” coffees from Australia to Brooklyn. “My child has been going to cafĂ©s since he was a newborn,” said one Brooklyn mother. Babyccinos, said the Australian inventor of the instant babyccino, “interrupt workflow, create milk wastage, and can be served at a dangerous temperature to a vulnerable consumer.”Japan TimesBrooklyn Paper

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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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