Weekly Review — December 21, 2004, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]
A Christian martyr.

Time Magazine named President George W. Bush “Person of the Year” and praised him for “reframing reality to match his design.”CBS NewsTommy Franks, George Tenet, and Paul Bremer III were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor,New York Timesand Donald Rumsfeld announced that from now on he would personally sign condolence letters sent to the families of soldiers killed in action, instead of using a machine.CNNFox News hired Zell Miller.New York TimesUnited States military officials couldn’t explain the failure of the most recent missile shield test, but maintained that it was “a very good training exercise.”GuardianSenator John McCain said he had no confidence in Donald Rumsfeld.New York TimesScientists discovered a new monkey species,New York Timesand Muamar Qaddafi said President Bush couldn’t have won the election without him.New York TimesThe supreme court of Kansas declared that the state’s death penalty is unconstitutional but then issued a stay of its own ruling.Associated PressRepresentative Billy Tauzin, an author of the House Medicare Drug Law, announced that he will become a lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.New York TimesThe Securities and Exchange Commission accused Fannie Mae of cheating on its taxes.New York TimesPfizer admitted that Celebrex doubled the risk of heart attack in certain patients, but declined to take it off the market, Reutersand a survey found that one fifth of all FDA scientists had been pressured to recommend approval of a new drug.New York TimesThe DEA told the University of Massachusetts it couldn’t grow marijuana on campus.New York TimesThe Trust For America’s Health reported that two thirds of U.S. states were not adequately prepared for a bioterrorist attack,Pjstar.comand the National Guard was offering a $15,000 enlistment bonus.New York TimesPresident Bush made privatizing social security a major priority for his second term, and his daughter Jenna considered becoming a schoolteacher.New York TimesScientists announced that 70.6 percent of husbands are obese.New York Times

The Iraqi Special Tribune opened hearings into the crimes of prominent former Baath government officials, most notably Hassan Al-Majeed, aka “Chemical Ali.” Evidence against him included a tape on which he boasted that if any Kurd defied him, he would “blow him away, cut him open like a cucumber,” and bury him with a bulldozer.The TelegraphThe election season began in Iraq with 73 parties participating,Reutersand car bombs killed more than 60 people in Najaf and Karbala.New York TimesFourteen U.S. Marines were convicted of abusing Iraqi prisoners, including one soldier who used an electronic device to make a detainee “dance.”New York TimesThe United States Army decided to drive less and fly more.New York TimesThe United Nations reported that there had been widespread smuggling of oil out of Iraq under the Coalition Provisional Authority,New York Timesthe British House of Lords said the indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects violates EU human rights laws,Bloombergand Osama bin Laden urged Muslims to attack oil facilities in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.TurkishPress.comSaddam Hussein met with his lawyer.ReutersMahmoud Abbas called for an end to political violence,Reutersand Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called Yasir Arafat’s death “an opportunity we should not miss,”Haaretz Internationalwhile Palestinian militants insisted that “the blessed Intifada will continue” and an Israeli raid in Gaza left 11 dead.United Press International The Pentagon announced it wanted to spend more time spying.New York TimesThe Tenth International Convention on Climate Change ended with a resolution for all parties to meet again soon,Associated Pressand General Motors sued a Chinese automaker for cloning the Chevrolet Spark.The Wall Street JournalRussian border guards discovered an underground “vodka pipeline” used to smuggle alcohol into Estonia,New York Timesand an Australian man nearly died after his “jug helmet,” a beer-drinking device made from a hose and a power drill, malfunctioned.The West AustralianWorkmen discovered that U.N. headquarters in Geneva were bugged.New York Times

The prime minister of Spain accused his predecessor of erasing all computer files related to last year’s Madrid terrorist bombing. “Not a single trace of any files was left behind,” said one official, “zero, nothing.”New York TimesAugusto Pinochet had another stroke.Associated PressA Washington State man received a three-year prison sentence for attempting to circumcise his eight-year-old son, The Columbianand a Minnesota company was building a power plant that will be fueled primarily by turkey droppings.ReutersThe Australian government warned its citizens to avoid major hotels in Indonesia.USA TodayRussia forced the Yukos oil conglomerate to auction off its largest subsidiary to a little-known company with suspected government ties in a sale that was widely interpreted as a way to punish Yukos’s politically outspoken founder, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is currently in jail.New York TimesA virtual island on the planet Calypso sold for $26,500,The New Scientistand the United States forgave $4.1 billion in Iraqi debt.Boston GlobeCongressman John Conyers Jr. said he would ask the FBI to investigate “inappropriate and likely illegal election tampering” in Ohio during the presidential election,New York Timesand Gillette unveiled its newest product, a vibrating razor for women called “The Venus Vibrance.”USA TodayA general from the African Union called the situation in Sudan a “bomb that could explode at any moment,” as a deadline to end hostilities there was ignored.New York TimesScientists estimated that ten percent of all bird species will become extinct by the end of the century, and enrollment was down at London’s premier Santa school.Stanford UniversityNew York Times Twelve million honeybees died in a Las Vegas freeway accident.Associated Press

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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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