Weekly Review — December 21, 2010, 12:00 am

Weekly Review

[Image: A Christian martyr, 1855]
A Christian martyr.

Despite criticism from both parties, Congress voted in favor of $858 billion in tax breaks, extending Bush-era tax cuts for the super-rich.Wall Street JournalSenate Democrats failed to bring to a vote a $1.1 trillion spending bill needed to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. “A number of Republican senators told me they’d like to see this pass,” explained Senate majority leader Harry Reid, “but they can’t support it.”CNNA Virginia judge voided the provision in Obama’s health-care law requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, insisting that forcing people to have insurance “would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.”New York TimesCongress voted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. “Today’s a very sad day. The commandant of the United States Marine Corps says when your life hangs on the line, you don’t want anything distracting,” said Arizona senator John McCain in his closing argument prior to the Senate vote. “You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You’ve got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs.” Soon after the vote, Senator Reid tweeted to Lady Gaga, “We did it! DADT is a thing of the past.”PoliticoWashington PostNew York TimesFormer president Jimmy Carter said the United States was ready for a gay president. “I don’t know about the next election,” he clarified, “but in the near future.”BigThinkThe White House approved development in the field of “synthetic biology,” which would allow scientists to manipulate the DNA of organisms in order to create new forms of life. Agence France-PresseJon Bon Jovi was appointed to the White House Council for Community Solutions, and scientists identified the embalmed head of King Henri IV of France. PoliticoBBC

Cuba launched its own version of Wikipedia, which will disseminate knowledge “from a decolonizer point of view.” According to the site’s entry on the United States, it is the “empire of our time, which has historically taken by force territory and natural resources from other nations, to put at the service of its businesses and monopolies.” BBCIt was revealed that Army Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks, has been held in solitary confinement in a military prison for seven months without criminal charges. The Berkeley City Council decided to table a vote on whether Manning should be called a hero.SalonRaw StoryRepresentative-elect Allen West (R., Fl.) denied calling for censorship of the press when he wrote on his Facebook page that the U.S. government “should be censoring the American news agencies which enabled” WikiLeaks to put classified documents “in the public domain.” “The confusion comes from the word censor,” explained West, “when I meant censure.” Raw StoryA University of Maryland study found that those who watched significant amounts of Fox News were more likely to believe widely discredited information.Raw Story

Captain Beefheart died, as did Richard Holbrooke, the former special U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, during heart surgery. “You’ve got to stop this war in Afghanistan,” Holbrooke reportedly told a Pakistani surgeon as he was being sedated. The GuardianCNNThe widow of Bernie Madoff investor Jeffry Picower agreed to turn over $7.2 billion from her husband’s estate to the victims of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.Christian Science MonitorScientists found that African elephants who raid farmers’ crops are stressed out. BBCA man in Las Vegas stole $1.5 million in casino chips from the Bellagio; a bidder in Los Angeles paid $90,000 for the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald; and a 21-year-old Oklahoma City man admitted to posing as an autistic child while having babysitters change his diaper and feed him formula from a bottle.http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2010/1215/Bellagio-robbery-results-in-1.5M-in-chips-stolen-by-armed-banditBBCNews OKFormer TV chef Juan-Carlos Cruz, “the Calorie Commander,” was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempting to hire two homeless men to kill his wife. APScientists at the University of Iowa were studying a woman who could not feel fear, and therefore had no ability to detect danger. “It’s quite remarkable that she’s still alive,” said one scientist.BBCThieves in Birmingham, Alabama, set the city’s 40-foot Christmas tree ablaze while attempting to steal copper from the tree’s lighting wires; hundreds of Christmas presents collected for low-income families in Oklahoma were ruined when a skunk sprayed them; and a group of drunken revelers dressed as Santa Clauses were ejected from Tiananmen Square. “I think people sort of liked getting kicked out,” one reveler revealed. “I think it added a bit of edginess to what otherwise would just have been a pub crawl.”ReutersKOCORaw Story

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He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
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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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With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
Still from The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story © FX Networks

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