The World

6 minute read
Harriet Barovick, Laura Fitzpatrick, M.J. Stephey, Randy James, Alex Altman, Claire Suddath, Alyssa Fetini, Meaghan Haire and Frances Romero

1 | Russia This Is Just A Test Russia has deployed 8,500 troops, 200 tanks and a number of artillery units to the Caucasus region near the Georgian border for a weeklong session of war games expected to be the biggest since its clash with Georgia last year. Russia admits that the exercises–which are scheduled to end on July 6, the day President Obama arrives for his first official visit to Moscow–are “quite major” but says they’re simply for practice. Tbilisi is worried they presage another attack similar to last summer’s skirmish over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Georgia has readied its armed forces in the event of another Russian invasion.

2 | New York City Madoff Loses His Shirt … and Cuff Links On June 29, a judge sentenced swindler Bernie Madoff to 150 years in prison for perpetrating a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Meanwhile, federal marshals prepared to seize assets from the disgraced financier and his wife to reimburse victims. While Ruth Madoff will get to keep $2.5 million in cash, the couple handed over everything from a $39,000 Steinway piano to a $25 pair of cuff links.

Madoff assets up for grabs

Real estate in New York and Florida $22 million

Everything in their homes $3.9 million

Ruth’s two mink coats $48,500

Jewelry $2.6 million

Art collection $2.5 million

Yachts value undisclosed

Municipal bonds and securities worth $46.7 million and $13.5 million in cash


3 | Washington A Ruling on Race In the most anticipated case on its docket, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a group of white and Hispanic firefighters who sued after their passing scores on a promotion exam were thrown out because black applicants performed poorly on the test. The workplace-discrimination case, Ricci v. DeStefano, had drawn intense scrutiny because Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor had come to the opposite conclusion while sitting on a federal appeals court. The narrow 5-4 ruling, issued on the final day of the term, found that officials in New Haven, Conn., relied too heavily on “raw racial results” in deciding to toss the test rather than on evidence that the exam was flawed. A dissent argued that the city reasonably feared a discrimination lawsuit and noted a history of bias in firefighting.

4 | Tehran Sore Winner Iran’s Guardian Council has officially confirmed the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, following a recount of some 10% of the ballots cast in the country’s disputed June 12 election. Tehran has warned that it won’t tolerate further protests; the harsh government crackdown has killed as many as 20 people and caused Iran’s worst unrest since the 1979 Islamic revolution. The formal results were met with skepticism abroad. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. has not decided whether to recognize Ahmadinejad’s victory, noting that the protests have underscored the theocracy’s “credibility gap” with its own people.

5 | Argentina A Setback for the First Couple María Belén Chapur isn’t the only Argentine woman having a rough week. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner suffered a major political blow when the ruling Peronist Party, led by her husband Néstor Kirchner, went down to defeat in midterm congressional elections. Néstor, a former President who rescued Argentina from the brink of economic ruin, resigned as party leader after the vote, which was seen as a referendum on the couple’s handling of farm strikes and the sagging economy.

6 | Minnesota AT LONG LAST, A WINNER Nearly eight months, 2.4 million votes, a recount, two appeals and $50 million in election spending is all it took to get Al Franken elected U.S. Senator from Minnesota. The longest race in the state’s history came to an end when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled unanimously for the former comedian, giving him the win by 312 votes. In the end, GOP incumbent Norm Coleman conceded gracefully, saying, “The future today is … Al Franken.” The belated victory gives Democrats a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes just as the Senate is expected to tackle the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor and health-care reform.

7 | Honduras Contested Coup After being spirited from the country in a June 28 coup that sparked protests both for and against his rule in Tegucigalpa, the capital, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya addressed the U.N. General Assembly to argue for his reinstatement. While coup leaders say Zelaya’s removal was lawful, the U.N., the Organization of American States and the White House are lobbying for his return and for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

8 | Sacramento A Race Against Time to Make Ends Meet In the hours before a July 1 deadline to pass budgets for the 2010 fiscal year, lawmakers in 10 states scrambled to make up for billion-dollar shortfalls by proposing everything from taxing cell-phone ringtones to closing state parks. While Mississippi, Indiana and Delaware made the cutoff, others did not. Ohio and Connecticut will keep the lights on without an official budget in place, while California, which faces a $24 billion deficit, announced plans to issue IOUs until representatives can resolve a legislative stalemate.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

Budget gaps: states that missed the deadline

Ariz. $3.2 billion

Calif. $24.3 billion

Conn. $8.8 billion

Ill. $11.6 billion

N.C. $4 billion

Ohio $3.2 billion

Pa. $3.2 billion


9 | Washington Relief on Student Loans In a rare piece of welcome news for students struggling to pay for college, the Federal Government is offering a loan-repayment plan that reduces monthly bills for graduates who take home thinner paychecks. The new policy is accompanied by an interest-rate reduction on new federal subsidized Stafford loans, which will drop from 6% to 3.4% by 2012. Students who work in public service can have the balance of their loans forgiven after 10 years.

Low-income students get smaller bills



[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

INCOME MONTHLY PAYMENT $20,000 $45 $25,000 $110 $30,000 $170 $35,000 $235 $40,000 does not qualify


10 | Washington Obama to Gays: I Haven’t Forgotten You Amid complaints of campaign promises left unfulfilled, President Obama invited hundreds of gay and lesbian leaders to the White House on June 29 to assure them that their concerns remain a priority. Activists have voiced frustration that Obama has not overturned the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy or done more to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. One participant said the event bought Obama more time, “but he’ll have to deliver.”

* | What They’re Quitting in Saudi Arabia: In the first antismoking drive of its kind, a Riyadh-based charity is giving prospective grooms who complete a seven-day smoking-cessation course the chance to win an all-expenses-paid wedding in an Aug. 6 drawing. The campaign’s slogan? “Kicking the habit is on you, and marriage is on us.”

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