Globe at a Glance – August 1-7
by S. Z. Wolff
The U.S. House of Representatives approved an 11th-hour deal to raise the U.S. borrowing limit, averting a potentially catastrophic U.S. debt default. Just one day before the deadline, the 269-161 passage by the Republican-controlled House paved the way for a $2.1 trillion deficit-cutting plan, and gave the Federal Government an additional 2.4 trillion dollars worth of borrowing power.
Visitors to San Angelo State Park in West Texas witnessed a biblical phenomenon when the OC Fisher Reservoir Lake turned blood-red. A drought left the lake almost entirely dry, and the remaining water is stagnant, full of dead fish — and a deep, opaque red. The color has some Evangelical Christian locals suggesting that it is an early sign of the “End of Times,” but Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries officials say the red coloration is the result of Chromatiaceae bacteria, which thrive in oxygen-deprived water.
On trial nearly six months after he was forced from power Former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak, pleaded not guilty in a tremulous voice, saying that he did not order the killing of protesters during the recent uprising, which toppled his regime. His plea marks the start of an epic trial that could further rock Egypt’s turbulent transition to democracy. The opening of the ousted president’s trial transfixed Egyptians across the country as they watched the man, who had once terrirized them, on a hospital gurney inside a metal cage installed in a makeshift courtroom. It was also a moment that exposed the deep divisions among Egyptians on whether or not to try the autocrat of almost 30 years and publicly charge him for decades of crime and corruption against his people.
A Swedish man was arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen. Richard Handl said he was only doing it as a hobby. The self-described nuclear scientist had the radioactive elements radium, americium and uranium in his apartment in southern Sweden when police showed up and arrested him on charges of unauthorized possession of nuclear material. The 31-year-old said he had tried for months to set up a nuclear reactor at home and kept a blog about his experiments, describing how he created a small meltdown on his stove. Only later did he realize it might not be legal and sent a question to Sweden’s Radiation Authority, which answered by sending the police.
Stocks plunged sharply, with the Dow down more than 500 points, in its worst one-day drop since December 2008. All three major averages tumbled into negative territory for the year as investors were rattled over an intensifying global economic slowdown and ahead of the widely-followed monthly unemployment report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 512.76 points, or 4.31 percent.
Levi Aron, the man who allegedly kidnapped and later killed 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky was deemed fit to stand trial after pleading not guilty during his arraignment. Appearing in shackles and an orange jumpsuit, Levi Aron said nothing during his court appearance in Brooklyn, where he was charged with kidnapping and murdering Leiby after the lost child asked for directions. Aron’s defense team is reportedly considering an insanity plea.
In an attempt to clean up its democratic credentials, in advance of parliamentary polls later this year, Egypt’s largest political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, held its first open internal election since the ouster of Former President Hosni Mubarak. After decades of operating underground due to an official ban, the Brotherhood’s public vote is also part of a concerted push by the Islamist group to dispel its reputation as a secretive and closed group. The Muslim Brotherhood appears poised to win big at the November polls, largely because of its well-organized political machine and social outreach programs.
Standard & Poor’s rating agency announced that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dealing a symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply-worded critique of the American political system. Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. Government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached earlier in the week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings”fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time, and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.
More than 300,000 Israelis hit the streets nationwide in the largest social protests in the State of Israel’s history, as public anger over the skyrocketing cost of living reached unprecedented heights. At least 250,000 people gathered in Downtown Tel Aviv for a huge rally against the Government, paralyzing traffic in large parts of the city. Meanwhile, at least 30,000 people gathered in Jerusalem for a major rally at the capital’s Paris Square. Protests were also held as far north as Kiryat Shomna, where thousands blocked a junction in town, and in Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, where at least 2,000 protestors were on hand.
Three months after killing Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan and cementing their place in military legend, the U.S. Navy SEALs suffered a devastating loss when nearly two dozen of the elite troops were among 30 Americans who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. It was the largest number of American troops killed in a single day since the onset of the war. U.S. officials said the helicopter appeared to have been felled by enemy fire, and the Taliban quickly claimed responsibility. Seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter were killed, as well. No member of the Bin Laden raid team was among the dead,
An entire police force resigned in a Northern Mexican town after a series of attacks that killed the police chief and five officers over the last three months. The officers’ resignation left the 13,000 people of Ascension in Chihuahua State, which has become one of the most dangerous regions in the world since the Mexican Government declared war on the drug cartels in 2006, without local police services. In the meantime, State and Federal police have moved in to take over police work.
A peaceful protest against the killing of a 29-year-old man in Tottenham, North London degenerated into a rampage, with rioters torching a double-decker bus, destroying patrol cars and turning a shopping mall into a blazing inferno. The violence has left parts of North London looking like a war zone, and at least two people have been stabbed. As this week’s Algemeiner goes to print, London Police have still not managed to quell the snowballing violence, which has begun to spread to other parts of London. There is chatter that Prime Minister David Cameron – who returned early from vacation to deal with the crisis – may call in the military to bring the situation under control.