Weekly Review — June 6, 2017, 8:07 am

Weekly Review

Trump leaves the Paris climate agreement, a man kills two people on a train in Oregon, and a conservative radio host calls for a more violent Christianity

U.S. president Donald Trump, whose golf course in Ireland once requested permission from local authorities to build a wall to protect against sea-level rise, pulled out of the Paris climate agreement; defended the decision by saying he was elected not by Paris but by Pittsburgh, a city he lost in 2016; and proclaimed June to be National Ocean Month.[1][2][3][4] White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Trump was the “best messenger” for his administration, and a poll found that 61 percent of Americans think Trump hurts his administration when he speaks.[5][6] Trump asked his Twitter followers to figure out the “true meaning” of a word he invented as part of a sentence fragment he tweeted the previous night, Trump’s communications director resigned, four candidates asked to fill the job opening told the White House they did not want to be considered, and other potential candidates equated the job to “career suicide” and “a horrific bungee-jumping accident.”[7][8][9][10] One White House official issued a statement saying that Trump had a “magnetic personality” and “exuded positive energy,” and another White House official told a reporter that Trump had become “glum,” gained weight, trusted no one, and “now lives within himself.”[11][12] Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who is currently a person of interest in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for allegedly attempting to establish a secret communication channel between the Trump Administration and the Kremlin, was reported to have met in December with Sergey Gorkov, a former FSB classmate of Russian president Vladimir Putin, who later appointed Gorkov as head of the state-owned VneshEconomBank, which was sanctioned by the United States and later the European Union in 2014.[13][14] The White House said the meeting between Gorkov and Kushner covered diplomatic issues, and Gorkov said it was a business meeting.[15][16] Trump tweeted a news story claiming that anonymous sources say Kushner did not attempt to set up communications with Russia, and Trump also tweeted that it is “very possible” stories citing anonymous sources are “made up.”[17] A Republican congressman from Nebraska refused to say whether people were “entitled to eat,” Veteran’s Affairs secretary David Shulkin said the aim of reducing the number of homeless veterans to zero was not “the right goal,” and a Gallup poll found that more than half of those living in military communities in the United State now disapprove of Trump, who once compared his efforts to avoid sexually transmitted diseases to those of “a soldier going over to Vietnam.”[18][19][20][21] Three men in London drove a van into a crowd, exited the vehicle, and attacked patrons of a nearby market, killing seven people; and Trump tweeted in response to the attack that it was time to “get down to business” and then went golfing for the 23rd time since he took office.[22][23] A Democrat in Iowa withdrew from a race for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives because she had received death threats, and a Republican state representative in Texas threatened to shoot his Democratic colleague.[24][25] A G.O.P. county chair in Oregon recommended that Republicans employ private militias, and a former Trump campaign official was sentenced to seven years in prison for organizing an armed militia to aid in a standoff against the U.S. government.[26][27] A conservative radio host called for “a more violent Christianity,” a noose was found at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, a white man in California shouted racial slurs at a black man and then attacked him with a machete, a white man shouting racial slurs ran over two members of the Quinalt tribe with a monster truck, and a white man riding a Portland train drank sangria while shouting racist slurs at a woman wearing hijab, then stabbed to death two people who attempted to intervene. “I’m sorry the world is so cruel,” said a bystander to one of the dying men.[28][29][30][31][32]

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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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