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June 27, 2011 4:53 pm

Globe at a Glance – June 20-26

avatar by S. Z. Wolff

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June 20

A girl of nine was kidnapped on her way to school in Peshawar, Pakistan, by terrorists who tried to use her as a human bomb. The militants forced her to wear a remote-controlled suicide jacket, but she escaped her captors as they prepared to send her towards a paramilitary checkpoint. The suicide jacket contained nearly 20lbs of explosives and seemed designed to be set off remotely.

Oregon’s biggest city sent eight-million gallons of treated drinking water down the drain because a 21-year-old man was caught on a security camera urinating into a city reservoir. Portland officials defended the decision, saying they didn’t want to send city residents water laced, however infinitesimally, with urine.

A 19-year-old man planted a bomb at a police station north of Chicago, Illinois —and then called in a tip about the device to the police asking for a reward. The man faces federal charges of attempted bombing of public safety officials. The improvised device contained explosives from fireworks, as well as nails and glass, and was fuse-activated.

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June 21

An armed North Carolina man held up a bank, handing the teller a ransom note demanding that she hand over the total sum of one dollar; then, he calmly sat in the corner of the bank waiting for the police to arrive and arrest him. Unemployed and without health insurance, the man said he had himself arrested in order to receive prison medical treatment. Since being in the jail he has attained his goal: he has been seen by nurses and an appointment with a doctor is booked.

June 22

At JFK International Airport in New York City, a Lufthansa jet carrying 286 passengers came dangerously close to colliding with another jet, operated by EgyptAir, carrying over 350 passengers. The EgyptAir pilot apparently did not follow air traffic control instructions to hold short of its taxiway and veered into the path of the other plane. The Lufthansa flight had been cleared for take-off moments before the EgyptAir plane veered into its path, and the pilots had to slam on the brakes to avoid a crash. The incident is being investigated by the FAA.

President Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Republican Whip, at the conclusion of a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room. Photo: Pete Souza.

June 23

U.S. Congressional Republicans announced that they would pursue a constitutional amendment barring the Federal Government from spending money it didn’t already collect. The measure would put an end to the ever-increasing federal budget deficit – which now stands at over $14 trillion dollars – but would require large, painful, and likely unpopular, spending cuts. “I have no doubt that my Republican colleagues will overwhelmingly support this common sense measure”said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The measure has little chance passing the Democrat-controlled Senate, and even less obtaining President Obama’s signature.

New York State lawmakers agreed to allow a man to tightrope walk above the 180-feet-high Niagara Falls. The daring 2,200 foot walk would be the first directly above the Falls, as all previous ones had been done downstream. Stunts are usually illegal at the Falls, but supporters say this will boost tourism and add to the site’s’ storied history. The tightrope walker will still need permission from Canadian officials if he is to end his walk on the other side of the border.

June 24

Challenging presidential power, a defiant Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to deny President Barack Obama the authority to wage war against Libya. But in a subsequent vote on a bill seeking to actually cut off funds for the operation – the Republicans fell short. The bill to cut off funds failed, in part, because several Republicans feared that even a vote for limited authorization for a NATO support mission amounted to support for the war effort. Supporters of the military operation reminded lawmakers of Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi’s role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, saying he had “American blood on his hands.”

A Russian woman died at her own funeral. Fagilyu Mukhametzyanov, 49, was mistakenly declared deceased by doctors, but she later woke up – in a coffin surrounded by sobbing relatives. She started screaming after realizing she was about to be buried alive, and subsequently suffered a heart attack. Mukhametzyanov, a resident of Kazan, was rushed back to the hospital where she was declared dead- this time for real.

The Brazilian Government confirmed the existence of about 200 unidentified tribal people in the Amazon rainforest who had never been in contact with European civilization. Satellite pictures revealed this community living in three clearings in the Javari Valley in the western Amazon near the border with Peru. Brazil follows a policy not to contact these people, instead monitoring their land so that they can live without any risk. The community lives in four straw-roofed huts, and grows crops such as peanuts, bananas and corn.

June 25

New York became the sixth — and by far the most populous — state to legalize same-gendermarriage since Massachusetts did so in 2004. The outcome — a product of intensive lobbying by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo — will have nationwide repercussions. Supporters hope that the New York law will help convince judges and politicians across the country, including a hesitant President Barack Obama, that support of same-gender marriage is now a mainstream viewpoint and a winning political stance. Opponents emphasize that whenever the issue has been put to a popular vote – it has been soundly rejected. They vowed to seek defeat of the New York Republicans who helped the marriage bill pass.

Hugo Chavez was reported to be in critical condition by a Florida newspaper, as he extended his stay in a Cuban hospital. The Venezuelan president, who was last heard from two weeks earlier, was said to have been treated, in Cuba, for a pelvic abscess, but Chavez’s silence has led to speculation that the Socialist leader is actually suffering from prostate cancer. Intelligence officials could not confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer, but Chavez’s family did “urgently” travel to Cuba in recent days. Possibly to stave off rumors of bad health, Chavez’s personal Twitter account went active for the first time in 20 days. “I’m here with you during the hard battles every day! Until victory always! We are winning! And we shall win!” he tweeted in Spanish.

June 26

Two American troops were killed in northern Iraq, bringing to 4,465 the total number of U.S. soldiers who have died there so far. Eleven troops have died this month in combat-related situations – the highest number since May 2009, when American forces were still operating freely in Iraqi cities. Meanwhile, a suicide bomber in a wheelchair blew himself up at the entrance to a police station north of the capital, Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 18. It was not clear whether the bomber was really handicapped or using the wheelchair as a way to deflect attention from security personnel.

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