Weekly Review — September 22, 2009, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

After months of negotiation by the bipartisan “gang of six” in the Senate, Senator Max Baucus unveiled his $776-billion health-care reform bill, which is supported by none of the gang’s three Republican members and received a lukewarm response from Democrats. Baucus’s plan, which includes member-run insurance co-operatives but no public option, would mandate that all Americans buy insurance and would provide subsidies for those who can’t afford it. The subsidies would be paid for in part by an excise tax on so-called “Cadillac” insurance plans, including those provided to firefighters, coal miners, and many other union workers. “That’s not really a smart idea,” said Democratic Senator Jay Rockefeller. The bill will now be taken up by the Senate Finance Committee, whose members have already drafted at least 564 amendments.Washington PostMinnesota Star TribuneThe NoteNewserOne year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the recession is “very likely over.” He added that many people will continue to “find that their job security and their employment status is not what they wish it was.”New York TimesA North Carolina man had surgery to remove a plastic spoon that had been in his lung for two years. “There was an object down there, and it had writing on it,” the man said. “It spelled out ‘Wendy’s’ on one side and ‘hamburgers’ on the other.”CNN

A quarter of the votes in Afghanistan’s presidential elections were under review for fraud, including hundreds of thousands from polling stations where every vote went to incumbent Hamid Karzai; General Stanley McChrystal, America’s top commander there, said that without additional troops the war “will likely result in failure,” adding that Afghans have “little reason to support their government.” President Barack Obama said that sending more troops would put the cart before the horse.The New York TimesThe New York TimesAn Australian quadriplegic who had won a landmark “right to die” court decision exercised that right,New York Timesand France announced plans to factor happiness into calculations of its gross national product.Financial TimesSultan Kosen of Turkey was named the world’s tallest man. “The first thing I want to do is have a car that I can fit in,” said Kosen, who is 8’1″. “But more than that I want to get married.”BBC NewsOne-time child music prodigy Helen Goddard, now a music teacher in London and known as “jazz lady,” was sent to jail for having sex with a 15-year-old female student who she claimed had pressured her into the relationship.BBC NewsActor and dirty dancer Patrick Swayze, folk singer Mary Travers, shopping mall pioneer Melvin Simon, and Irving Kristol, the “godfather of neo-conservatism,” died,Entertainment WeeklyNew York TimesReutersForbesand South Africa’s sports minister threatened to start “a third world war” if hermaphrodite runner Caster Semenya was barred from competition. Later, the president of Athletics South Africa admitted that the organization had administered earlier gender tests on Semenya and that the team’s doctor had recommended that she withdraw from races.The IndependentThe Guardian

FBI raids in Denver and New York led to the arrest of three men alleged to have links to Al Qaeda and to have been planning terrorist attacks on targets in New York City.CBS NewsA college student in Baltimore killed a burglar in his off-campus home with a samurai sword,Daily Newsa Wichita couple were robbed at knifepoint while attempting to have sex in a dumpster,The Wichita Eagleand a man in Wisconsin was arrested after planning to slash the face of the woman he loved and torch her Toyota in order to “be there for her.”The Milwaukee Wisonsin Journal SentinelIt was revealed via Twitter that President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass” and that a coyote ran off with Jessica Simpson’s maltipoo.Yahoo NewsCNNBased on a single fossil smuggled out of China, paleontologists announced the discovery of the Raptorex, a roughly human-sized version of the Tyrannosaurus rex.Washington PostResearchers determined that watermelon may help men get erections,BBC Newsand John Edwards was said to be contemplating a public admission that he did in fact father a child with his mistress, whom he allegedly promised a rooftop wedding in New York City, with a performance by the Dave Matthews Band.The New York Times

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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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