Weekly Review — August 25, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: Babylonian lion, 1875]

Barack Obama claimed that the same groups that attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, were “plotting to do so again,” that the eight-year conquest and occupation of Afghanistan were a “necessity,” and that free-spending congressional legislators were conspiring with the military-industrial complex to weaken national security with “exotic” defense projects.NY Times and Yahoo NewsThe White House shut down an email tip box intended to receive reports of “fishy” claims about Obama’s health-care reform effort.Politico via DrudgeAfghanistan’s Interior Ministry was trying to determine whether it was terrorists, robbers, or thieves that attacked a bank in Kabul, and international forces in Ghazni province mistakenly killed four Afghan policemen. Both Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory in Afghanistan’s presidential election.BBC NewsNY TimesIsraeli housing officials denied that a construction freeze was in effect in the West Bank,NY Timesand a senior U.S. State Department official said that the government was considering Muammar Qaddafi’s request to pitch a large Bedouin tent in New York City’s Central Park.Newsweek and Turkish WeeklyEgyptian President Hosni Mubarak said that Barack Obama‘s speech last June in Cairo “removed all doubts about the United States in the Muslim world.”NY TimesAngry Turks took to the streets of Ankara to protest a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants,BBC NewsVenezuelan president Hugo Chavez was prosecuting “media crimes,”CNNand Robert Novak, the Prince of Darkness, died.AP In Malaysia a thirty-two-year-old female fashion model was convicted of drinking beer in public and was sentenced to be caned,CNNIsrael’s foreign minister accused Sweden of blood libel,BBC Newsand predatory bee-eating hornets were terrorizing the French.Telegraph via DrudgeA majority of New Zealanders think children should be smacked.BBC News

President Obama announced that the “cash for clunkers” program would be shut down, a victim of its own success,NY Timesand members of his administration expressed surprise that liberal Democrats had made the health-care debate their “Waterloo.”Washington PostAn unidentified man brought an assault weapon to an Arizona speech by the president.CNN via DrudgeDr. Delos Cosgrove, chief executive of the Cleveland Clinic, called for fat people to be banned from medical work. “Why is [that] unfair?” Delos asked. “Has anyone ever shown the law of conservation of matter doesn’t apply?”NY TimesBritish parents were exposing their children to “eye sun danger,”BBC Newsand researchers in Washington, D.C., continued in their quest to cure cellulite.CNNA metastudy by several U. S. universities applied the Tightwad-Spendthrift scale to romantic relationships and determined that cheap and profligate people can love each other.NY TimesCapuchin monkeys prefer human beings who act like monkeys.Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Representative Barney Frank (D., Mass.) refused to speak to a woman at a town hall meeting because she reminded him of a dining-room table.Myfox BostonShaved eyebrows were now trendy, as, among the men of New York City, were potbellies, also known as Kramdens.Elliotwave.comNY TimesBernie Madoff has a small penis.NY Daily NewsOenological investigators concluded that five Italian vintners had passed off unauthorized grapes as authentic brunello di Montalcino of the 2003 to 2007 vintages.NY TimesAmerican housewives were getting drunk in greater numbers. “The boredom, the stress,” said one woman. “I just decided one day I’d start sipping on wine at four when Oprah came on.”NY TimesU.S. officials admitted that the CIA had outsourced the assassination of top Al Qaeda operatives during the Iraq War,NY Timesand David Copperfield denied charges that he sexually assaulted a 22-year old model who was his guest on his private island in the Bahamas.BBC NewsElderly American athletes were under suspicion of using performance-enhancing drugs. Frank Levine, who in June set the national record in the 400-meter dash for men ages 95 to 99, confirmed that he regularly used Viagra. “I need it,” he said.NY TimesSouth African teenager Caster Semenya, who is undergoing gender verification to prove that she is a woman, won a gold medal in the 800-meter at the World Track and Field Championships in Berlin,SFGate.comand Hindu transvestites in India were worshipping Krishna while dressed as Radha, the female consort of the svayam bhagavan, or Supreme Being. “I can’t put it into words properly,” said V. K. Saxena, a 72-year-old retired railway worker in New Delhi, “but I feel more holy dressed as a woman.”Scanner

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The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

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