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View Full Version : Harpers summary for the week of 12/21/09



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12-23-2009, 09:08 AM
Senate Democrats succeeded in producing an "historic" health-care reform bill that will force millions of people to buy insurance and will tax existing benefits if they are too generous, but will not include a public option or force the pharmaceutical industry to lower its prices. Liberal Democrats were upset with Senator Joe Lieberman for playing bad cop in the Senate negotiation process, thus ensuring that both the public option and the Medicare "buy-in" options were scuttled. An amendment that would have allowed Americans to buy their medication abroad failed in the Senate, in large part because of resistance from the White House, and Republican senators tried to slow debate on health care by demanding a 700-page amendment be read out loud, thus delaying the passing of a bill that provides funding for U.S. troops. Neither President Obama nor the Senate leadership seemed particularly upset or surprised by the final bill, which Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, was planning to pass by Christmas Eve. Health insurer stocks closed on a 52-year high. "We WIN," emailed one insurance industry insider. "Administered by private insurance companies. No government funding. No government
insurance competitor." Scientists discovered that a species of bee mummifies its enemies alive, wrapping predators in resin, wax, and mud until they can no longer move, then lets them starve. Sean Diddy Combs said that he wished President Obama could be his father. "I'd want to be Sean Combs Obama," he said. "I hope he reads this interview and adopts me." A new species of warbler was discovered.

The UN climate summit in Copenhagen, described by one participant as "the most chaotic show on Earth," concluded and was almost immediately decried as a failure. Nobel Peace laureate Barack Obama ordered the bombing of suspected Al Qaeda camps in Yemen, killing 49 civilians, including 23 children. The United States was planning to purchase an empty super-maximum security prison in Illinois to house the Guantanamo detainees, and a group of Chinese martial-arts monkeys landed kung fu kicks, several punches, and a strike with a stick on the man who makes them perform at the mall. A day after German officials reached an agreement to pay $90 million to maintain Auschwitz, thieves stole the iron "arbeit macht frei" sign that hung over its gate, and several dozen hipsters attempted to stage a naked bike ride through a Brooklyn Hasidic neighborhood to protest the removal of a bike lane; after a snow storm forced them to wear clothes some of the hipsters pinned fake breasts to their clothes. A Canadian professor analyzed 23 episodes of "Thomas the Tank Engine" and found the show sexist. Croatian parents were complaining that the large-breasted fox in "Hedgehog House," a children's puppet show, is "too sexy," and that her dreams about a hedgehog's "sharp spines" had sexual connotations. Fifty sewing needles were found inside a two-year-old Brazilian. "We think it could have only been by penetration," said Dr. Luiz Cesar Soltoski, "because we found needles in the lung, the left leg and in different parts of the thorax."

Katie Spotz, a 22-year-old American, announced that she would soon attempt a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. Walt Disney's nephew Roy died, as did Oral Roberts and reformist Iranian cleric Grand Ayatollah Hoseyn Ali Montazeri. Chinese doctors were preparing to remove a 55-pound tumor from the back of Sun Fengqin, known as "Tortoise Woman," and staff at a British aquarium, worried about the flatulence of George the turtle after feeding him Brussels sprouts, lowered the water level in his tank so that escaping gas wouldn't trigger overflow sensors. A British law firm was selling divorce vouchers--good for one hour of legal advice--as a gift for the holidays; Italians were angry over a nativity displayed in a Verona courthouse that features a black Jesus; and Wisconsin police arrested a drunken Santa Claus after he interrupted two sisters playing in their front yard to say that he was looking for his reindeer. "I knew it wasn't the real Santa," said 9-year-old Katie, "because Santa doesn't drink alcohol." A Frenchman spent nearly $37,000 on a bottle of two-hundred-year-old Cognac, and the Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Am I still cool," asked Iggy Pop at the induction ceremony, "or is that over now?"