TONGZI COUNTY, CHINA Flooding affects nearly 120 million people
EAST GLACIER, MONT. Wildfire grows to 16,000 acres (6,475 ha)
JAKARTA Iraqi soccer team in stunning Asian Cup victory
SEONGNAM, SOUTH KOREA Mourning a second hostage killed by Taliban
BOUAKE, IVORY COAST Weapons set on fire mark end of civil war
NEW YORK CITY Rupert Murdoch wins bid for Dow Jones & Co.
If oil prices are going up ...
Crude-oil prices are reaching record highs, though not for reasons of supply and demand or geopolitical risk, says Lynn Westfall of Tesoro Corp. Higher prices reflect the ebb and flow of money in financial markets. As stock and bond markets slide, hedge-fund managers pump money into commodities like oil. [This article contains a chart. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]
... why are gas prices going down?
Gasoline prices are reacting to different forces. As the summer season slows, consumption worries are no longer inflating prices. Refinery utilization, which was hampered by having a few key refineries offline back when gas prices spiked in May, is back to normal, though gas inventories are still a bit low. [This article contains a chart. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]
BOTTOM LINE Oil and gasoline prices move together in the long term but in the short term aren't always in lockstep. The disequilibrium won't last, since there's no profit in making cheap gas from expensive oil. Safest bet? Either oil falls, or gas rises.
Gas Down, Oil Up
Summer gasoline prices have been milder than feared
But prices for crude have soared to record high levels
May 20: $64.94
June 11: $65.97
July 9: $72.19
July 31: $78.21
DEFINITION id-i-o-path-ic sei-zure n. an unexplained electrical charge inside the brain that sets off seizure activity (idiopathic means "of unknown cause")
CONTEXT Chief Justice John Roberts was briefly hospitalized after a seizure caused him to fall out of a boat and onto a dock at his summer home in Maine. So far, all tests are normal, and the Justice, who has always had a clean bill of health--aside from a similar incident in 1993--has only minor scrapes.
USAGE While Roberts has not received an official diagnosis, a patient with two or more unexplainable seizures is often categorized as an epileptic. He could need medication, and his driver's license may be temporarily restricted, as it was 14 years ago.
Killer Badgers Hit the Net
The latest terror to strike Iraq? Rumors of giant flesh-eating badgers in Basra. Locals even say the British army planted them. While the Brits have publicly denied the story, a new cell-phone video of the body of one of the clawed creatures has been fueling the rumor on the Internet.
THE BOTTOM LINE Deadly badgers join a host of other unlikely rumors--including Iranian claims that Westerners planted squirrels equipped with surveillance technology--and underlines the state of fear clouding the region.
Pharmacists vs. Plan B
A recent Washington State law ensures that women will have quick access to Plan B emergency contraception at drugstores, but a group of pharmacists slapped the state with a federal lawsuit on July 25. The state law allows druggists who have personal issues with Plan B to ask co-workers to fill the order, though the drug must be available in the same visit. But some store owners argue that the law still violates their moral objections.
WHAT TO THINK State legislators do not expect the case to gain much legal ground, but this is just one of several ongoing legal challenges to Plan B around the country.
Children's-Lit Girls Gone Wild
Barbara Park's series about impish first-grader Junie B. Jones has caught some criticism from parents for the heroine's lazy syntax and defiant antics (she once played a head-butting game), but controversy over high-energy female protagonists is nothing new in the world of children's literature. Here are a few young ladies who have been winning over children while bucking the grownups in the past 50 years:
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING Pippi's life alone in a mansion with a monkey might have been questionable to parents, but the beloved redhead has been the doyen of this group since her 1945 debut.
RAMONA QUIMBY She hit bookshelves 37 years before Junie. Ramona drew some raised eyebrows for calling a school friend "Yard Ape" while also misreciting the national anthem.
THE PAPER BAG PRINCESS Elizabeth's sin? Not only does she wear a paper bag instead of a dress, but she also rescued the prince from a dragon--and then ditched him.
JUNIE B. JONES She loves the word stupid, and her grammar isn't stellar, but her unique brand of chaos has helped sell more than 43 million copies since the 27-volume book series debuted in 1992.