Weekly Review — June 24, 2014, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

Joy, agony, and racism at the 2014 World Cup; ISIL on the march in Iraq; and crowd-surfing to Handel’s Messiah

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

Early Lessons in Self-government (March 1876)

At the 2014 World Cup, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Netherlands clinched berths in the knockout round, while Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Croatia, England, and defending champion Spain were eliminated. “España fue el Titanic,” (“Spain Was the Titanic”) read a headline in El País.[1][2] Germany’s Miroslav Klose tied Ronaldo’s record for most goals scored in World Cup play, two German fans wore blackface and a Polish neo-Nazi ran on the pitch during a match between Germany and Ghana, the Netherlands fielded a team without a player whose surname begins with “Van” for the first time since 1996, and Brazilian customs officials said they had confiscated 86 pounds of dulce de leche from the Uruguayan squad.[3][4][5][6] In Ghana, authorities purchased 50 megawatts of power from Côte d’Ivoire to prevent blackouts during the team’s opening match, and in the Nigerian city of Damaturu, a suicide bomber killed at least 21 people as they watched Brazil play Mexico.[7][8] Sunni militants affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS) captured Iraqi border crossings with Jordan and Syria and at least four towns in Anbar Province, laid siege to the government oil refinery outside the city of Baiji, and went door-to-door in Baiji to find wives.[9][10] Iraqi prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced a crackdown on officials he considers traitors, tens of thousands of Shia men and women showed up at volunteer centers in response to a June 13 call by cleric Ali al-Sistani to defend the country, and thousands of Shia militiamen affiliated with cleric Moqtada al-Sadr marched through Iraqi cities. “ISIL is not as strong as a finger against us,” said a militant in Baghdad, where Shia paraded with dynamite taped to their torsos.[11][12] Analysts monitoring jihadist internet forums suggested that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had surpassed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri as head of the global jihad in the minds of many fighters. “[Al Qaeda] was formed as a base for the Islamic State,” said an ISIL militant, “and now we have it.”[13]

It was reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had commissioned prototypes in 2006 of Osama bin Laden action figures, intended for Pakistani children, whose faces would dissolve in heat to reveal bin Laden as a demon, and that U.S. special forces had entered Libya on June 15 and captured Ahmed Abu Khattala, a suspected leader of the 2012 attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi. “We should have some quality time with this guy,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.). “I’d bring him to Guantánamo,” said Senator John McCain (R., Ariz.). “Oh for God’s sake,” said Senator Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).[14][15][16] United Nations representatives said that the number of refugees from violence worldwide had reached more than 51 million, and that nearly half of Syria’s 22 million people were in urgent need of aid.[17][18] Stephanie L. Kwolek, the inventor of Kevlar, died at 90, and advertising writer Julian Koenig, who created such slogans as “Think Small” and “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” died at 93. “I don’t think anybody can go proudly into the next world with a career built on deception,” he said in 2009, “no matter how well they do it.”[19][20] Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) was voted House Majority Leader, Josh Earnest succeeded Jay Carney as White House press secretary, and drones were banned at American national parks.[21][22][23] Hillary Clinton gave a copy of her memoir to a Republican National Committee squirrel mascot, and Barack Obama tickled the chin of a robotic giraffe named Russell. “I love fiction!” tweeted the squirrel. “Heheheh,” said the giraffe.[24][25]

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Diners were found to believe that salads taste better when arranged to look like Wassily Kandinsky’s Painting Number 201, and a portrait of an unidentified man wearing three rings was revealed to have been painted beneath Pablo Picasso’s The Blue Room.[26][27] Scientists posited that a “magic island” spotted by Cassini on the Saturnian moon Titan is an iceberg. “ ‘Magic Island’ is a colloquial term,” said astronomer Jason Hofgartner. “We don’t actually think it’s an island.”[28] Theoretical chemist and Royal Society fellow David Glowacki was ejected from a performance in Bristol of Handel’s Messiah for attempting to crowd-surf. “David was investigating the nature of the rules,” said the artistic director.[29] In Germany, firefighters freed an American student from a giant vagina statue, and a team of 728 rescuers freed a German physicist who had spent 11 and a half days trapped in the country’s deepest cave.[30][31] A man was arrested for stealing bras in the Italian town of Bra, a 99-year-old Sardinian woman graduated from middle school, and police seized thousands of wheels of toxic cheese in Parma.[32][33][34] A Chicago court affirmed that Sherlock Holmes and Watson have entered the public domain, and a 12-year-old Ohio boy trespassing inside an abandoned house discovered a mummified corpse hanging from a belt.[35][36] A scent message redolent of Paris was transmitted from the city’s Le Laboratoire to the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Thailand’s National Office of Buddhism launched a hotline for complaints about unruly monks; and software developer Yo released a smartphone app whose only function is to say “Yo.” “Yo,” said Yo’s CEO, “means everything.”[37][38][39]


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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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