UNVEILED. The AIRBUS A380, the world's biggest passenger plane, at a VIP-packed gala in its hangar; in Toulouse, France. The result of a 10-year, $12 billion program linking construction plants in Britain, France, Germany and Spain, the A380 surpasses in size the U.S.-made Boeing 747, which has dominated the skies for 25 years. Airlines have already ordered more than 140 of the aircraft, which can carry up to 840 passengers on two decks. The first commercial flights are expected in spring 2006.
COURT-MARTIALED. LANCE CORPORAL MARK COOLEY, 25; CORPORAL DANIEL KENYON, 33; and LANCE CORPORAL DARREN LARKIN, 30, British soldiers suspected of mistreating Iraqi prisoners in 2003 while setting up a food depot in southern Iraq; at a British base in Osnabrück, Germany. Much like the U.S. abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, the case came to light through disturbing photos of Iraqi detainees being beaten and humiliated. Prime Minister Tony Blair denounced the images as "shocking and appalling," but staunchly defended the work of the 65,000 British troops who have served in Iraq. The accused soldiers, who maintain they were following orders to round up looters and "work them hard," face nine charges, including disgraceful conduct.
INQUIRY CONCLUDED. Into the 2002 TRAIN FIRE in Gujarat, India that killed 59 Hindu pilgrims and triggered the retaliatory slaughter of 2,000 Muslims in three days of mob violence; by an investigative panel in New Delhi. Retired Judge Umesh Chandra Banerjee's committee said the blaze, blamed on Muslim assailants by Hindu nationalist officials, was probably caused by someone cooking or smoking inside the coaches. Although forensic evidence seems to support the panel's conclusions, many observers have called the findings politically motivated.
EXTRADITED. HOLGER PFAHLS, 62, former German Deputy Defense Minister accused of corruption and tax evasion, to Augsburg, Germany; in Paris. Ending five years on the run, Pfahls was returned to Germany after French police captured him in Paris last July. He is accused of accepting $2.59 million in bribes from an arms dealer and funneling the money to the then-ruling Christian Democratic Party. Pfahls, who fought extradition unsuccessfully in the French courts, is believed to have lived in Hong Kong, Jakarta, Madrid and Montreal since the issue of an international arrest warrant for him in 1999.
DIED. CHARLIE BELL, 44, former chief executive of McDonald's; of colorectal cancer; in Sydney, Australia. Bell, who stepped down in November to fight his illness, spent just seven months on the job after replacing James Cantalupo, who died suddenly of an apparent heart attack last April. Cantalupo and Bell had been the primary architects of the company's recent revitalization.
DIED. VIRGINIA MAYO, 84, Hollywood actress of the '40s and '50s who inspired the Sultan of Morocco to write her a fan letter calling her "tangible proof of the existence of God"; in Thousand Oaks, California. She started out as a chorus member in musicals and played opposite stars ranging from Bob Hope (The Princess and the Pirate) to James Cagney (White Heat). Her looks overshadowed her acting, but she won critical acclaim as Dana Andrews' cheating wife in William Wyler's Oscar-winning World War II drama, The Best Years of Our Lives.
DIED. RUTH WARRICK, 88, who made her film acting debut in Citizen Kane but went on to greater fame with a 35-year run in ABC's soap opera All My Children; in New York City. After playing Orson Welles' icy first wife in Kane, she had a middling film career before finding her métier as All My Children's overbearing socialite Phoebe Tyler Wallingford, who once barred a chauffeur from her library because he was wearing jeans. "You say 'Phoebe,'" she remarked, "and 50 million people know what you mean."
CLOSED. The BANGKOK METRO, for a week of safety tests and driver retraining, following a crash at the Thailand Cultural Center station that injured more than 130 people; in Bangkok. The accident, which came six months after the $2.75 billion subway system opened, occurred during morning rush hour when an empty train smashed into a train crowded with 700 passengers. Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra defended the system as the world's "most advanced and sophisticated."
$57 million Cost of U.S. President George W. Bush's four-day Inauguration celebration
$17 million The estimated amount spent on security for the event
58% Percentage of 22,000 people in a 21-country poll who think Bush's reelection has made the world more dangerous
56% Percentage of Americans in the poll who think Bush's win has made the world safer
58,000 Number of new road signs erected across Ireland, following a government decision to post speed limits in kilometers instead of miles
$242,000 Amount Beijing will spend in 2005 on etiquette manuals for migrant workers as part of a three-year "civility campaign" leading up to the 2008 Olympics
59% Percentage of their flesh that celebrities expose at gala events, according to a survey by London's Odeon Leicester Square cinema, in a trend toward increasingly skimpy red-carpet couture
Two Americans went on trial in Shanghai last week charged with "conducting business illegally" after allegedly selling some 180,000 pirated DVDs over eBay and a Russian website. Arrested following the first joint Sino-American investigation on DVD piracy, they face up to 15 years in prison for running an "audio and video products" business without a proper license. The defendants argue that the law doesn't apply because they sold all their goods overseas. And as for the dodgy discs: "I bought the DVDs from licensed stores," said one, "so I took it for granted that they were legal copies."