What in the World?


Here’s your weekly dose of world news!

World Cup

If you’ve been following the action in South Africa over the past month or so, you’ll know that Spain claimed victory over the Netherlands in the final match on Sunday. The game — a rather exciting one with a flurry of yellow cards — went into half an hour of overtime, with the winning goal scored by Spain in the last two minutes to avoid having the tournament decided by penalty shots. What a game!

With the World Cup fever over, I’m curious as to what uses people will now put their vuvuzela horns to. Any creative suggestions?


AP Photo of Paul the octopus

Going along with World Cup, an eight-legged creature from Germany is basking in his own celebrity thanks to some spot-on World Cup predictions. Paul the octopus — now being called the Octopus Oracle — correctly predicted to outcome eight games (every match his native Germany played in, along with the final). While Spain is now singing the seer sucker praises, Germans threatened him with death (literally, an octopus got death threats) after he predicted Germany’s loss to Spain in a semi-final game. After that particular prediction, various Twitter feeds were filled with calamari recipes. Poor Paul. But now he’s riding high, with a replica of the World Cup trophy adorning his tank.

And how did he make his predictions? Handlers placed a mussel into two containers, each one bearing the flag of a team playing in an upcoming match. Paul would “choose” his winner by opening up a container, climbing halfway inside, and eating the mussel. Unscientific? Probably. But he did get it right eight times…

In France, president Nicolas Sarkozy is in hot water over allegations that he illegally financed his 2007 election campaign. A scandal like this is never good for any political leader, but it comes at an especially bad time for Sarkozy, whose government is already struggling to push through unpopular cost-cutting reforms.

On Monday, Switzerland declared acclaimed director Roman Polanski a free man. Polanski has been on house arrest in the Swiss Alps for months, and has been fighting extradition attempts by the U.S. since 1978, when he was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old girl. He fled the country before his sentencing date, and has been a fugitive ever since. Because of Switzerland’s decision not to send Polanski back to the U.S., he will now be free to leave his alpine villa, and maybe even to direct again. But he probably shouldn’t come back to the U.S. for any movie premieres … I imagine there are a lot of angry attorneys out in L.A.

Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica, Bosnia. In 1995, Serbs killed more than 8,000 Muslims in the town of Srebrenica, and then tried to cover their tracks. Bosnian Serbs still deny that the incident was genocide. Regardless, thousands died, and the massacre is considered the worst atrocity in European history since World War II.

AP photo of "Vuvuzelas for BP" protest

If you read further on, you’ll discover that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues. People around the world are beyond fed up, and people have begun staging protests in London, where the oil giant is headquartered. On Tuesday, protesters dumped dark molasses around a statue in the British Museum (which is sponsored by BP), and also staged a demonstration outside BP headquarters in central London. Members of the group “Vuvuzelas for BP” gathered outside headquarters dressed in “BP Blows” T-shirts and armed with vuvuzela horns. You can imagine what their protest consisted of. I guess there’s at least one creative way to use your vuvuzela!

The U.S.

I’m an Ohioan, so I am supposed to care the LeBron James last week announced that he’s leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. I don’t really care, however, because I don’t really like basketball. But apparently everyone else cares. Especially Cleveland. They care a lot, and are not happy to lose “The King.”

The “Barefoot Bandit” – a 19-year-old Washington man who has been on the run (mostly without shoes) for the past two years, stealing a number of small planes, boats, and cars – has finally been caught. He was apprehended in the Bahamas on Sunday after a high-speed boat chase complete with gunfire that sounds worthy of a feature film. The Bandit has quite a social media following, so it will be interesting to see how this case plays out. I mean, if some barefooted kid with no pilot’s training stole my plane and flew it 1,000 miles, I’m not sure if I’d be more angry or impressed.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continues. I’m tired of writing about it. BP is now in the process of installing a new, tighter-fitting cap on the gushing pipe, with the hopes that it will allow them to collect all of the oil spilling out of the sea floor each day. Once the cap is in place, though, it will be a few days before BP will know whether the new cap can handle the deepsea pressure. They aren’t making any promises.

Last week in Philadelphia, a Ride the Ducks boat cruising up the Delaware River was slammed into by a barge, collapsing the duck boat and causing it to sink. Two tourists died. The Coast Guard is still trying to figure out who’s at fault.


Two bombings killed 74 people in Uganda on Sunday. The separate attacks were carried out by Somalia’s most dangerous al-Qaida-linked militia, al-Shabab, on groups of people watching the World Cup final. This is bad news for East Africa, since it marks the first time al-Shabab has operated outside of Somalia. I’m sure it put a damper on World Cup festivities, too, which is sad, because Africa was really getting a boost from a renewed sense of unity throughout the continent.

Just for Fun

On Sunday, 111 nude people piled into a pool at a nudist resort in the San Francisco Bay area in attempts to break the Guinness World Record for skinny dipping. No clue what the original record was, or if they broke it, but felt the urge to share anyway.

(And now I realize that my “Just for Fun” sections for the past two weeks have focused on people in varying stages of nakedness… hmm. Is this some sort of sign that I should be worried about?)


As I continue this What in the World? segment, I’d love some input. Do you like the balance of hard news and silly things that I include? Would you like to see more or less of either? Are there parts of the world you think I should pay more attention to? Let me know!


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