View Full Version : Harpers summary for the week of 8/17/09

08-18-2009, 11:46 AM
The Obama Administration abandoned its quest for a public, government-run health-care option for the uninsured. Protesters waved signs that read "Death to Obama" and depicted the president with an Adolph Hitler mustache at "town hall" meetings hosted by senators; at one such event, a conservative University of Colorado student challenged President Obama to an "Oxford-style" debate. Obama declined the invitation but did grant an hour-long interview on bullying and school lunches to an 11-year-old named Damon Weaver, ultimately agreeing to be Weaver's homeboy. Senator Arlen Specter arrived at his town hall meeting with extra security to guard him from irate Pennsylvanians, one of whom compared complicated reform proposals to "a Russian novel"; others said that Specter was inviting God's wrath and that the health-care plan was a step toward socialism. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, faced with a jeering crowd, threatened to use her "mom voice" to settle them down. "Irony," she said, "seems to be lost on people." Thousands of Californians lined up for as long as two days to receive free physical exams and dental care. The Federal Reserve said the slumping U.S. economy was "leveling out," while France and Germany (both of which enjoy some form of national health care) reported growth in the second quarter of 2009. Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of the Blackstone Group, whose salary last year was $702 million, was named the highest paid executive in America. U.S. income inequality was at an historic high.

New York's Westchester County agreed to desegregate its overwhelmingly white towns and build 750 units of affordable housing in areas where the population is less than 3 percent black or 7 percent Hispanic. Officials in Harrison, New York, said there was no room for such housing. The Venezuelan government planned to turn two golf courses into public parks and housing after President Hugo Chavez declared golf to be "bourgeois." Scottish gem dealer Campbell Bridges was murdered near his 1,500-acre mining concession in Kenya by dozens of men carrying spears and machetes. A mob in Gojra, Pakistan, killed six members of a Christian family after Christians in a nearby town were falsely accused of tearing up a Koran; a Muslim woman was banned from a French swimming pool for wearing a full-body "burkini"; and a British water park requested that male visitors not wear Speedos, which the management deemed "more suited to Spain than Staffordshire."

Mudslides and floods caused by Typhoon Morakot killed 500 people in Taiwan. International aid for the victims was delayed because countries did not want to offend China, which claims dominion over the island, and because Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou initially refused foreign aid (a situation he blamed on a "typing error"). Scientists said that East Asians misinterpret some emotions in Westerners because they typically focus on just the eyes instead of whole faces, which may explain why East Asian emoticons tend to have expressive eyes. In Afghanistan, where the Taliban threatened to chop off the fingers of anyone who votes in the upcoming elections, the government passed a law allowing men to starve wives who refuse sex. Les Paul died, and police in New Jersey admitted that they detained Bob Dylan last month when responding to a call about an eccentric-looking old man wandering alone in sweatpants in the rain. Tom DeLay was scheduled to appear on "Dancing with the Stars." A woman in France drowned her two children "to protect them from mafia threats," and a man in Australia was sentenced to six years in jail for pouring boiling oil on his roommate's head as a punishment for buying a whole chicken instead of a quarter chicken. A 13-year-old girl in Milwaukee stabbed her grandmother's boyfriend in the throat over spilled milk.

08-18-2009, 12:59 PM
Sounds like a good week ... :(