Weekly Review — August 29, 2000, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

Data from the Galileo spacecraft yielded evidence that Europa, Jupiter’s second moon, may have salty liquid oceans beneath its icy shell, increasing the likelihood of finding life there. Austrian scientists discovered bacteria living among the clouds. The National Institutes of Health issued rules allowing researchers who receive federal funds to use human embryonic stem cells in their studies. Richard Hatch won the Survivor game show. Three men beat a Gypsy woman, a mother of eight, to death in Slovakia. Experts urged the United Nations to improve its peacekeeping department by adding an intelligence unit. Against the advice of senior Justice Department aides, Attorney General Janet Reno once again decided not to appoint an independent counsel to investigate Vice President Al Gore’s 1996 fund-raising activities. China was engaged in a $7 million American public relations campaign; the traveling exhibits and displays were partially paid for by corporations that do business in China. Tropical Storm Debby was threatening Cuba. Iraq said that it will not cooperate with a new set of arms inspectors. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader, was stuck in her car on the outskirts of Yangon, Myanmar, after the vehicle was blocked by two government trucks as she attempted to leave the city; in a previous such standoff, Aung San Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, remained in her car for thirteen days.

Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, who will be tried for mishandling nuclear secrets, made bail after FBI agents admitted making inaccurate statements in previous bail hearings. A Justice Department investigator said that former C.I.A. director John M. Deutch will probably be prosecuted for storing classified documents, including information about covert operations, on his unsecured home computer. Deutch’s security violations were discovered in 1995; Janet Reno initially had decided not to prosecute him. A fake press release caused the stock of Emulex, a fiber optics company, to drop from $103 to $45 in fifteen minutes; the stock recovered once the fraud was discovered. A man was arrested for starting a Brooklyn stable fire that killed twenty-one horses; police said he had been smoking marijuana. An American priest who lived in Kenya for thirty-six years had his head blown off with a shotgun. Argon was persuaded to bond with another element and thus is no longer inert. Britain will join an international criminal court that will have jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity; the United States still refuses to join the court, which fifteen countries have joined to date. A crowd of 4,500 spontaneously stood up, held hands, and recited the Lord’s Prayer before a high schoolfootball game in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, an action that was repeated at football games across the South. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani threatened to sue People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for using his likeness on billboards which say “Got Prostate Cancer? Drinking Milk Contributes to Prostate Cancer.” A new biography of former president Richard M. Nixon revealed that he medicated himself with Dilantin, a mood-altering drug, without a prescription; the book also charges that Nixon beat his wife. Smoking among teenagers continued to decline, as did violent crime. Governor George W. Bush promised to “end terriers.”

Texas executed another inmate. Thomas Lavery, the father of several spelling-bee champions, was indicted for abusing his children when they failed to win spelling contests. An Arizona jail’s Webcam, which provides a live video feed of prisoners, was receiving millions of hits. A new poll found that 9 out of 10 teenagers favor gun control. Scientists and farmers in China discovered that simply planting several varieties of rice together doubles the crop’s yield and eliminates rice blast, a fungus that destroys millions of tons of rice each year. A study in Iowa found that a variety of genetically modified corn that produces its own insecticide kills monarch butterfly caterpillars. British officials ordered the arrest of Johnny Adair, a Northern Irish Protestant paramilitary killer who was released from Maze prison last September as part of the Good Friday peace accord. Badia Spices recalled 22,000 bottles of paprika that may be contaminated with salmonella. Mitsubishi Motors admitted to covering up defects in automobiles manufactured since 1977; the company has recalled over 600,000 vehicles. The Anglican Church of Canada will require regular sexual-abuse registry checks for all its ministers; Ernst & Young has said that sexual-abuse lawsuits brought by Canadian Indians will probably bankrupt the church. Publishers Clearing House will pay $18 million to 24 states in a settlement over its deceptive sweepstakes practices; Time, Inc.settled a similar lawsuit over its “Guaranteed and Bonded” sweepstakes. Czech President Vaclav Havel said that multinational corporations “should listen more to the voices of the people.” A woman was boiled to death in a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park. The creator of the Lucky Charms breakfast cereal died, as did the inventors of the modern potato chip and the lava lamp.

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Nobody in academia had ever witnessed or even heard of a performance like this before. In just a few years, in the early 1950s, a University of Pennsylvania graduate student — a student, in his twenties — had taken over an entire field of study, linguistics, and stood it on its head and hardened it from a spongy so-called “social science” into a real science, a hard science, and put his name on it: Noam Chomsky.

At the time, Chomsky was still finishing his doctoral dissertation for Penn, where he had completed his graduate-school course work. But at bedtime and in his heart of hearts he was living in Boston as a junior member of Harvard’s Society of Fellows, and creating a Harvard-level name for himself.

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