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 | Detroit GM Comes Speeding Back After racing through bankruptcy in 40 days, a slimmed-down General Motors emerged from Chapter 11 focused on just four brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. The Federal Government, which has committed $50 billion to the company, took a majority stake and installed a new chairman. The restructurings of GM and Chrysler were considered coups for President Obama’s auto task force, whose head, Steven Rattner, said he will step down.

DEC. 19, 2008 The government announces GM will receive $13.4 billion in federal bailout funds

MARCH 29, 2009 Fritz Henderson takes over as CEO after longtime chief Rick Wagoner’s ouster

MAY 15 GM declares plans to close 1,200 U.S. dealerships

JUNE 1 The company files for bankruptcy

JULY 5 A federal judge allows GM to sell the Cadillac brand and other assets to a new company owned primarily by the U.S. government

JULY 10 GM emerges from bankruptcy. Former AT&T head Edward Whitacre takes over as chairman

2 | Iran Crackdown Continues On July 14, government officials hanged 13 members of a rebel Sunni group blamed for a series of attacks across the country, including the May 28 bombing of a Shi’ite mosque that killed 25 people. Even in a country that ranks second only to China in the number of people executed each year, such mass hangings are rare, and observers have suggested that the timing–they coincided with the announcement of a sweeping new set of restrictions on the domestic press–was meant to quell persistent unrest over the contested June 12 presidential election.

3 | New York City Let the Good Times Roll! The recession has been kind to Goldman Sachs. After reporting $23.2 billion in net revenues at 2009’s halfway mark–a 31% jump from June 2008–the investment-banking giant is on track to dole out some of the largest bonuses in its 140-year history. In June, Goldman paid back the $10 billion in TARP funds it accepted, and analysts say the move underscores Wall Street’s willingness, after its nuclear winter, to embrace risk once again.

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Annual company profits

Average employee compensation



4 | Mexico The Hits Keep On Coming In what one columnist called the country’s own “Tet offensive,” suspected drug-cartel members shot up police stations across the country and tortured and killed 12 federal agents in an apparent reprisal for the arrest of a narcotics kingpin. The antidrug effort, which President Felipe Calderón has championed since taking office in December 2006, has claimed thousands of lives.

5 | Washington Speculators Face Fresh Scrutiny Federal regulators are weighing whether to impose restrictions on energy speculators, whom some have blamed for triggering the wild fluctuations in crude-oil prices over the past year. From its peak of $145 in July 2008, the price of a barrel of crude plummeted to about $35 in January before rebounding to almost $70 this summer. Some analysts deny that futures-trading has driven the swings, noting that commodity-price volatility is a normal by-product of difficult economic times.

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Price of crude oil (monthly average)


6 | Iraq CHRISTIANS UNDER FIRE A spate of church bombings targeting Iraq’s Christian minority killed at least four and wounded dozens on July 12. Both Pope Benedict XVI and Iraq’s Sunni Muslim Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi quickly condemned the attacks, which are thought to have been carried out by Islamic extremists in an attempt to drive Christians out of the strife-torn, largely Muslim nation. Iraq’s Christian population has dwindled from 800,000 in 2003 to about 500,000.

7 | Italy Agricultural Assistance At their annual summit, held this year in the earthquake-ravaged town of L’Aquila, the G-8 nations announced a $20 billion “food-security initiative” to benefit the world’s developing countries, where soaring prices of staple goods have left nearly 1 billion people hungry. The program, which marks a shift from providing food aid to promoting sustainable farming, would primarily fund supplies such as seeds and fertilizers.

8 | Japan End of an Era? After 50 years of nearly uninterrupted rule, the curtain may be falling on Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Following a humbling defeat in a Tokyo municipal vote, Prime Minister Taro Aso called for Aug. 30 elections. Polls make the LDP an underdog to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. Aso, whose approval ratings hover around 20%, has been urged to step down.

9 | China Let’s Make a Deal On July 15, a week after detaining four Rio Tinto employees for “stealing state secrets,” Beijing expanded its corruption investigation of the Australian mining giant by accusing the company of bribing nearly all of China’s major steelmakers to gain access to industry data. The broadening scandal comes amid stalled negotiations over setting iron-ore prices, which Rio Tinto, the world’s second largest iron exporter, had been scheduled to lead.

10 | Washington Narrowing the Achievement Gap A new Department of Education report contains heartening news for Southern states, which have made progress in closing the long-standing performance gulf between white and black students. Federal testing data show that though they still lag behind white students’ results, scores among black pupils have risen more quickly since the early 1990s in states such as Florida and Arkansas than they have in many Northern areas. The largest achievement gaps in the nation are now in places like Illinois and Connecticut rather than in Southern states still struggling to erase the stain of segregation. The report does not address why widespread racial disparities persist.

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Achievement gaps, in points

Grade 4 math

38 Wisconsin


22 Mississippi

Grade 8 reading

30 Connecticut


15 West Virginia


* | What They’re Writing in France: Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong foundation has partnered with Nike to create the Tour de France’s first “Chalkbot”–a tractor-like device that spray-paints messages of support along the 2,200-mile cycling route. The water-soluble tidings, submitted by fans via text and Twitter, will be “geo-tagged” using GPS and photographed for those who sent them in.

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