Weekly Review — November 27, 2012, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

In Tel Aviv, a bomb exploded on a city bus and an Israeli man carrying a knife, an ax, a pitchfork, and a red bag attacked a guard at the U.S. Embassy.[1][2] In Cairo, representatives of Israel and Hamas brokered a ceasefire agreement, ending eight days of conflict in Gaza that had resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and 162 Palestinians. “This is a point on the way to a great defeat,” said Khaled Meshal, the exiled chairman of Hamas. “Israel failed in all its objectives.”[3][4] At a meeting with U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who served as Israel’s proxy negotiator in Cairo, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would continue to take “whatever action is necessary” to protect his people. “This,” he said, “is something I don’t have to explain to Americans.”[5] Clinton praised Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, Hamas’s representative in the discussions, for his “responsibility and leadership”; the next day, Morsi issued a decree that expanded his presidential powers, allowing him to fire Egypt’s prosecutor-general and exempt himself from judicial review.[6][7][8][9] The Egyptian Judges’ Club threatened to strike, protesters in Alexandria set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, and thousands of demonstrators, some armed with stones and Molotov cocktails, gathered in Tahrir Square. “God willing we will remove Morsi,” said one man, “as we did Mubarak.”[10][11][12][13] Peace, one of two turkeys pardoned by President Obama last Thanksgiving, fell ill and was euthanized; Liberty continued to thrive.[14]

The Free Syrian Army captured a special-forces base near Aleppo, seizing five tanks, two armored vehicles, two rocket launchers, two artillery cannons, and a large stockpile of mortars and rifles. “There has never been a battle before,” said General Ahmad al-Faj, “with this much booty.”[15][16] Rebel soldiers also took control of a military airport outside Damascus. “Watch, people,” said a fighter in a video showing medics attending to a government soldier. “Watch Assad’s dogs! How we’re treating them with tenderness.”[17][18] At least 112 workers died in a factory fire in Bangladesh, and 14 workers were killed in a gas-leak explosion at a hot-pot restaurant in northern China.[19][20] Roman students protested cuts in education spending, royalists in Bangkok marched against the prime minister, who they claimed had ignored insults to the Thai monarchy, and Madrid’s trash collectors went on strike, prompting local residents to dump their garbage on the doorsteps of banks. “Make sure you check,” tweeted a protester, “that it’s not where someone sleeps.”[21][22][23][24] New York police were investigating the provenance of two corpses discovered in two parks in Queens by workers cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy, and South Pacific explorers bound for Sandy Island, which Google Maps identified as being midway between Australia and New Caledonia, found only ocean. “Time,” said Marlene Moses, chairwoman of the Alliance of Small Island States, “is clearly not on our side.”[25][26][27] Mexico and the United States reached a new deal to share water from the Colorado River, and Mexican president Felipe Calderón suggested removing “Estados Unidos” from his country’s official name.[28][29]

A man from Yonkers died clowning at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and spectators on Manhattan’s Upper West Side found shredded police-department documents amid the confetti. The parade’s organizers provided free transportation to residents of Rockaway Beach. “It’s nice for the city to treat us,” said one man, “when we have nothing.”[30][31][32] Black Friday began on Thursday.[33] “We’ll miss the actual being there with family,” said a Michigan woman who spent Thanksgiving camped outside a Best Buy, “but we’ll have the rest of the weekend for that.”[34] A milk-truck driver in Wisconsin ran over two cows; a deer in Whitehouse, Texas, chased two men into the bed of a pickup truck, then ate a pack of cigarettes; and scientists reported that apes have midlife crises.[35][36][37] An explosion in Springfield, Massachusetts, damaged 42 buildings, blowing out the windows of a tattoo parlor and flattening a Scores Gentlemen’s club, and a German woman was accused of trying to smother her boyfriend with her DD-cup breasts. “Treasure,” the man quoted his girlfriend as saying, “I wanted your death to be as pleasurable as possible.”[38][39]

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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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