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7 | Tehran ELECTION SHOWDOWN With Iran's presidential election quickly approaching, competition among the four main contenders is heating up. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi (above) are the current front runners; they face off against Mohsen Rezai, former chief of the Revolutionary Guard, and respected cleric Mehdi Karoubi. On June 3, during a televised presidential debate, reformist candidate Moussavi came out with guns blazing, accusing Ahmadinejad of "undermining" Iran's dignity and criticizing his "mismanagement" of the country's faltering economy. Voting begins on June 12.
8 | South Africa Underground Tragedy The bodies of at least 61 illegal miners were discovered in an unused shaft owned by South Africa's Harmony Mining Co., the world's fifth largest gold producer. The incident, one of the worst in the nation's history, highlights the growing problem posed by unauthorized mining operations, which are exploiting thousands of miles of unpoliced tunnels amid high unemployment rates and spiking gold prices.
9 | Washington Putting the Emergency Back in Emergency Room According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, wait times in ERs across the nation are at worrying lengths. Largely because of overcrowding, patients can languish twice as long as recommended by medical associations; those in need of the fastest attention may wait nearly half an hour for care.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
Maximum Recommended Patient Wait Time
Actual Average Wait Time
28 min. IMMEDIATE NEEDS: < 1 min.
37 min. EMERGENT NEEDS: 1--14 min.
50 min. URGENT NEEDS: 15--60 min.
68 min. SEMI-URGENT: 1--2 hr.
76 min. NONURGENT: > 2--24 hr.
SOURCE: U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE
10 | Minnesota The Eternal Senate-Seat Battle More than 200 days after voters went to the polls, Minnesota has yet to seat its junior U.S. Senator. On June 1, the state's supreme court heard arguments on the intricacies of absentee-ballot rules, which the incumbent candidate, Republican Norm Coleman, contends were inconsistently applied and would therefore invalidate a lower-court ruling that Democrat Al Franken won the race by a margin of just 312 votes. The court is expected to rule on the issue within weeks. Franken's admission to the Senate would give Democrats a 60-vote majority, which would enable them to override Republican filibusters.
NORM COLEMAN Supports offshore drilling, gun rights and a gay-marriage ban. Hinted at a federal appeal if he loses in Minnesota's Supreme Court.
AL FRANKEN In favor of universal health care, renewable energy, fair trade and immigration reform. Was declared the victor by recount.
When the going gets tough, Latvians ... go blonde. Saddled with a troubled economy that is expected to shrink as much as 18% this year, the former Soviet nation enlisted the help of more than 500 towheaded beauties to lead a "Go Blonde" weekend on May 30-31. The feel-good extravaganza included sporting events, fashion shows and a parade through the capital, Riga, where rioting erupted in February over rising unemployment.