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The WSJ’s lead paragraph is self-explanatory. “Voters in Missouri overwhelmingly opposed requiring people to buy health insurance, in a largely symbolic slap at the Obama administration’s health overhaul.”

Some state attorneys general have challenged the insurance mandate as unconstitutional. Defenders of the law say the mandate falls within Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce and levy taxes.

The Missouri vote is likely to have little immediate practical effect because the mandate doesn’t take effect until 2014. If federal courts uphold the federal law as constitutional, it would take precedence over any state law that contradicts it.

Missouri is sometimes described as a “bellweather state”. Wikipedia says “Missouri mirrors the demographic, economic and political makeup of the nation with a mix of urban and rural culture. It has long been considered a political bellwether state.” But it didn’t predict Barack Obama.

With the exceptions of 1956 and 2008, Missouri’s results in U.S. presidential elections have accurately predicted the next President of the United States in every election since 1904.

So the meaning of the Missouri result will be disputed. The LA Times believes the significance of the rejection is limited. “Think of Proposition C not so much as a referendum on the entire health care bill, but one specific part.” The New York Times added “The referendum, known as Proposition C, was seen as a first look at efforts by conservatives to gather and rally their forces over the issue. In the end, though, the referendum seemed to draw relatively little attention in the state”. The amount of time the story spends above the fold is usually a good measure of how significant the news industry regards an event.

But their narrative setting ability has been taking some lumps lately. AFP reported four days ago that a tycoon has offered to buy Newsweek magazine for one dollar.  “It said Harman’s bid calls for keeping on 250 Newsweek employees and paying the Post Co. one dollar in exchange for taking on Newsweek’s considerable financial liabilities.” The Straits Times reported the deal has gone through. The headline say: “Newsweek ‘sold for US$1′”

Audio equipment magnate Sidney Harman (photo) has agreed to buy loss-making Newsweek from the Washington Post Co in a deal announced on Monday. …

Founded in 1933, Newsweek chalked up losses of nearly US$30 million (S$40.5 million) last year and another US$11 million in the first quarter of this year.

The Washington Post Co, which bought Newsweek almost 50 years ago, had been looking for a buyer since May.

The LA Times, for it’s part, wonders why Harman paid so much for it. Accounts suggested that he didn’t buy it to make money.

“I’m not here to make money,” he told them, according to a Newsweek published account. “I’m here to make joy.” …

“There is nothing in his background that seems to suggest that he has some magical answer to this, or knows of some business model that nobody else knows of,” Weiner said. “I guess for the moment that he’s willing to take on a lot of debt, which he most certainly will do. But while we all know he’s wealthy, we don’t really even have an idea of how deep his pockets are.”


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