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Human Race

Human Race

Issue: "Save the unions," Oct. 24, 2009

DIED: Conservative columnist William Safire, 79, died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 27. A college dropout who first worked in public relations, Safire helped organize the 1959 Nixon-Khrushchev "kitchen debates." He became a Nixon speechwriter and then a columnist for The New York Times, winning a 1978 Pulitzer Prize for his commentary and the Con­gressional Medal of Freedom in 2006. Known for his vigorous wit, he also became an arbiter of prose style in his "On Language" columns.

BORN: A woman implanted with the wrong frozen embryo gave birth to a baby boy on Sept. 24 and returned the boy to his biological parents, Paul and Shannon Morell. They called Carolyn Savage a "guardian angel," saying they were at first afraid that Savage would abort the baby or sue for custody when the fertility clinic discovered the mistake. Savage said she never considered it: "This was someone else's child. . . . We didn't know if they didn't have children or if this was their last chance for a child."

ALOFT: Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who rescued 155 people last January when his plane landed in the Hudson River, climbed back into the cockpit for the first time on Oct. 1. This flight was smoother than his last. First Officer Jeff Skiles told New York Daily News, "Sully was perfect. . . . To me, he's Orville and Wilbur Wright and Charles Lindbergh all wrapped up in one."

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RESCUED: When Horia Cretan heard screams from a nearby burning building Sept. 30 in the Bronx, he climbed the fire escape and helped a man escape before plunging in to save a toddler, wrapping the child in a curtain and performing CPR. The next day he proposed to his girlfriend on Good Morning America, promising her, "There's never going to be a dull moment."

ARRESTED: Academy Award-winning Hollywood director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland for having unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. He could be extradited to the United States. Over 100 Hollywood celebs signed a petition demanding his immediate release, saying his arrest in a neutral country "opens the way for actions of which no one can know the effects." That prompted outrage even from the left. The Nation's Katha Pollit: "The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. . . . In this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown and of sports fans who automatically support their favorite athletes when they're accused of beating their wives and raping hotel workers."

TANGOED: Dancing with the Stars introduced former House Majority Leader Tom "The Hammer" DeLay as "arguably the highest-ranking star we've ever had." DeLay joined the show's ninth season and shows improvement, despite an injured foot and nearly dropping his partner on her head during the tango. DeLay told Politico that members of Congress have contacted him: "They all think I'm crazy."

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