Weekly Review — November 30, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Humbug, December 1853]

North Korea bombarded the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong with 180 artillery shells, killing two marines and two civilians in one of the largest skirmishes on the Korean peninsula since the end of the Korean War. New York TimesThe U.S.-led war in Afghanistan turned older than the Soviet Unionâ??s 3,339-day campaign in the country. A new Defense Department assessment of the war cited “modest gains” in security and governance but listed a number of ongoing challenges. “In no way, shape or form is anyone guaranteeing success,” a Pentagon official said. Peace talks between the Afghan government, the Taliban, and NATO forces proved to be futile when a key participant thought to be a leading member of the Taliban was revealed to be a Pakistani shopkeeper. “Itâ??s not him,” said a Western diplomat involved in the talks. “And we gave him a lot of money.”APWashington PostNew York TimesNew York TimesA 19-year-old Somali-born U.S. citizen was arrested for trying to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Oregon, and the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to drop its color-coded terror-alert system. The Oregonian (Oregon Live)AP (via Time)Rey Decerega, the Director of Programs for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, elbowed President Barack Obama in the lip during a post-Thanksgiving basketball game, causing the president to receive twelve stitches. “I enjoyed playing basketball with him,” said Decerega.New York TimesTalking Points MemoNew York Times

Wikileaks released more than 250,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, which revealed that U.S. officials have been tasked with spying on U.N. leadership and that Arab leaders are pushing for an attack on Iran. The GuardianExiled members of Iraq’s Baath party are hoping to use Wikileaks to sue the U.S. government.The NationalIreland agreed to a $90 billion bailout package from the IMF and the EU to rescue the nation’s floundering banking sector; a British pensioner lost his life savings, about $125,000, when he drove away with the money in a bag on the roof of his car; and a 21-year-old woman in Madison, Wisconsin, was arrested by police after she threatened to shoot fellow Black Friday shoppers who refused to let her move to the front of the line at a Toys-R-Us.Washington PostDaily MailWisconsin State JournalHundreds of Americans, nicknamed the “Amazon Gypsies,” arrived in Cambellsville, Kentucky, in RVs and campers to fill holiday orders at an Amazon warehouse offering temporary $10-an-hour jobs. “We are among the economic refugees,” said one temporary worker, named April McFail. “We are lucky to earn enough to get our laundry done and eat macaroni and cheese.”USA Today

Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen, star of “The Naked Gun” and “Airplane!,” died at the age of 84.PeopleAmericans largely opted out of a “National Opt-Out Day” protest against invasive airport security measures. A woman stripped naked on a flight from Chicago to New York. Washington PostNBCSarah Palin released a new book, and her daughter Bristol finished last in the final round of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.” CBSNew York PostA gonorrhea outbreak in Alaska continued to trouble state officials.Alaska Daily NewsThree teenagers were rescued after drifting for 50 days in the Pacific Ocean and surviving on coconuts, rainwater, and a seagull.APSinger Willie Nelson was arrested in Texas for marijuana possession, and authorities discovered 20 tons of marijuana inside a 2,200-foot-long tunnel (equipped with a rail system and ventilation) running from a Tijuana kitchen to two San Diego warehouses. CMTAP (via MSNBC)Oxygen was found on one of Saturn’s moons, and it was revealed that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is studying a rare breed of flying Asian snakes.The GuardianWashington PostEnglish physicist Sir Roger Penrose found evidence to suggest that there has been a cycle of Big Bangs and that our universe (or aeon) is neither the first nor the last. “This aeon is one of a succession of such things,” said Penrose, “where the remote future of the previous aeons somehow becomes the Big Bang of our aeon.”BBC

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I sat in a taxi with Emma and her son, Stak, all three bodies muscled into the rear seat, and the boy checked the driver’s I.D. and immediately began to speak to the man in an unrecognizable language.

I conferred quietly with Emma, who said he was studying Pashto, privately, in his spare time. Afghani, she said, to enlighten me further.

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