Weekly Review — October 15, 2013, 8:00 am

Weekly Review

“Little boys” negotiate the U.S. government shutdown and debt ceiling, Bashar al-Assad wants his Nobel Peace Prize, and the Vatican tells the world about Lesus

Babylonian LionWith the U.S. government shutdown in its second week, members of Congress and White House representatives worked to negotiate an agreement to raise the country’s $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, which it is set to surpass sometime after October 17, triggering a default on its debt obligations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) reportedly offered Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) a deal that would fund the government until December, while Speaker of the House John Boehner gathered Republican lawmakers to eat Chinese food and smoke cigarettes. “The speaker is very upbeat,” said John Kline (R., Minn.). Senate Republicans indicated that any compromise on the debt ceiling must incorporate the Vitter amendment to the Affordable Care Act, which would prohibit congressional staff and administrators from receiving government-subsidized health insurance, and James Lankford (R., Okla.) proposed a bill that would, in the event that Congress again failed to pass an appropriations bill by October 1, fund the government while reducing the total expenditure by one percent every 90 days. The FDA confirmed that it had suspended routine inspections of the nation’s food, and a shortage of federal funding led several states to discontinue food benefits to poor women and children. “A bunch of little boys arguing that they want their way,” said a North Carolina mother of four.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The Swedish Academy awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature to Canadian author Alice Munro and the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “If you just remove the jury, I have won it,” said Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager shot by Taliban gunmen in 2012 for her advocacy of girls’ education. “That prize should have been given to me,” said Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.[7][8][9]

Six aid workers from the International Red Cross and one from the Syrian Red Crescent were kidnapped in northern Syria, and a Human Rights Watch report revealed that Syrian antigovernment forces were systematically targeting civilians.[10][11] The day before ballots in Azerbaijan’s presidential election were cast, the country’s Central Election Commission announced that incumbent Iham Aliyev had won with 72.76 percent of the vote.[12][13] The Vatican recalled 6,000 medals recounting a story about Lesus.[14] A Chinese man diagnosed with an arterial embolism who claimed he had lost three teeth biting on a piece of wood while amputating his leg with a hacksaw and a fruit knife because he couldn’t afford hospital fees was reportedly offered free amputation services for his other leg, which had also developed an embolism.[15] A Swedish skeleton collector was acquitted of disturbing the peace of the dead, and Norwegian officials were accelerating the decomposition of buried and plastic-wrapped corpses by injecting them with a lime-based solution. “I’m interested in necrophilia, but I’m not sexually interested in necrophilia,” said the Swedish defendant. “One has to assume they don’t feel any of it,” said a Norwegian widow.[16][17] Australian career criminal Mark “Chopper” Read died at 58. “I haven’t killed that many people,” Read once told reporters. “Probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it.”[18][19]

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In France, four Seventh Day Adventists were arrested for kidnapping a 19-year-old woman, crucifying her, and starving her, in order to exorcise evil spirits, and in Brooklyn, where a resident sought damages for shrapnel injuries sustained when his toilet bowl exploded, two rabbis were arrested for facilitating the kidnapping and torture of Jewish husbands reluctant to provide their wives with “gets” (permission to divorce). “I guarantee you that if you’re in the van, you’d give a get to your wife,” one of the rabbis told undercover FBI agents. “You probably love your wife, but you’d give a get when they finish you.”[20][21][22] Amazon removed the self-published e-books Taking My Drunk Daughter and Taking My Stepdaughter’s Virginity from its U.K. website.[23][24] Robert Leatherman of Clackamas, Oregon, was arrested for masturbating in the parking lot of the Beaverton City Library; an Edison, New Jersey, police officer was suspended for returning to the scene of an emergency call in order to proposition the woman who had dialed 911; and a New York City judge told a former television-company intern whose supervisor had squeezed her buttocks and propositioned her in a hotel room that she couldn’t file a sexual-harassment lawsuit because she hadn’t been a paid employee.[25][26][27] An 11-year-old boy from Colville, Washington, was convicted of conspiring to murder one of his classmates. “She was really annoying,” he said.[28] At a homecoming dance in Fort Dodge, Iowa, one teenage boy stabbed another in the back.[29]


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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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