The Continuing Crisis
— After several contestants in the 2013 world swimming championships in Barcelona, Spain, remarked that the racers in lanes 5 to 8 seemed to swim faster than those in lanes 1 to 4, two researchers investigated further and concluded, in July, that there was a rogue current on the lane-8 side of the pool. In fact, most of the losers swam in lane 1, and the lane 8 swimmers produced a glut of medals, and, wrote the researchers, a current would be “the only cause that we can propose to explain these findings.”
— The New Normal: In America, TV pundits merely shout at each other, but twice recently in Middle East TV debates, discussants have roughhoused on the air. Journalist Shakir al-Johari was involved both times, on the Jordanian 7 Stars channel in May and on Dubai TV in July. In the first, the studio was wrecked, according to Al-Arabiya news service, and the latter incident was calmed only after al-Johari threw his chair at lawyer Saleh Khrais.
— From the Foreign Press: (1) After police issued a plea for help in July to identify the perpetrators of a porn movie filmed inside an Austrian church and in which actors’ faces were obscured, a serious fan of Austrian porn spoke up, naming the 24-year-old female lead. The nude breasts of the star, he said, were unmistakably those of “Babsi,” a popular actress, and she was subsequently charged with trespassing in the church. (2) Wilfred Mashaya told a magistrate in Harare, Zimbabwe, in June that he wanted to divorce his wife because, when they sleep together, “She would not even make any sexual sound” — which was, to him, unbearable. The magistrate took the case under advisement.
— Not Our Fault: In July, two of the four fertilizer manufacturers operating in the vicinity of the April 2013 massive explosion and fire in West, Texas, filed motions contesting the city’s lawsuit against them. According to the companies, it was actually the city’s ill-trained first responders and volunteer firefighters who caused many of the injuries.
-— A Matter of Scale: (1) Police in Cologne, Germany, wrote a bicycle-equipment infraction against Bogdan Ionescu in April because his bike had no right-side handlebar brake. But since Ionescu has no right arm, he fought the ticket, and in July received a police apology. (2) David Rainsford, 44, is contesting the fee charged for a routine eye exam by Specsavers in Cramlington, England. He wants a discount because he has no right eye. (However, Specsavers says Rainsford’s glass eye can pose risks for the good eye and that the area surrounding both eyes must be checked, as well.)
Leading Economic Indicators
— Despite all that has transpired in Ukraine this year, the country’s defense industry manufacturers continue to sell military gear to Russia (including “key parts for ship engines, advanced targeting technology for tanks and upkeep for Russia’s heaviest nuclear missiles,” according to an August Washington Post dispatch). The Ukrainian government may be hostile to Russia, but workers at companies such as Motor Sich fear loss of jobs in an already deep recession. Said a Motor Sich spokesman, “We have our own (political) party, the party of Motor Sich.”
— Dilemmas of the 1 Percent: In July, New York City approved construction of a 33-story condominium/apartment tower housing both luxury units (219, facing the Hudson River) and “affordable” units (55, facing the street) — with separate entrances so the beautiful people could avoid the more downscale. (The developer, Extell, said it deserves credit for carving out the “affordable” units because the luxury units are more profitable.)
— Considering height restrictions zoned into London’s super-prime real estate, the only practical way for owners to expand is to go underground (as deep as five stories’ worth of “basement”), which requires machines. However, by the time the excavation is finished, the machines are mired at the bottom of a huge pit with no easy way to bring the behemoths up. Consequently, on some jobs, reported the New Statesman in June, property owners have elected merely to leave the machines buried under what would be their sub-basement.
— The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species recently estimated that nearly 50,000 African elephants were killed for their tusks in the last two years, continuing the century-long drastic decline in wild pachyderms. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has thus proposed new rules to curb ivory imports into the United States, to discourage American buying. However, in July, the National Rifle Association warned that the FWS rules would be “disastrous” for America’s collectors of antique pearl-handled guns and urged members to fight the regulations (even though, as NRA advocates acknowledged, few gun owners would be affected).