1 | Brussels
After rounds of contentious negotiations, leaders of the European Union approved a nearly $1 trillion (750 billion euros) bailout package on May 9 to stabilize the weakest economies among the 16 countries that use the euro. The crisis, which began in Greece, whose government is struggling to pay its international debts, has steadily widened since earlier this year as analysts have become increasingly worried about the towering debt levels of several other European countries. Designed to stave off further erosion of the euro--which has lost nearly 12% against the dollar in 2010--the bailout was greeted with relief, as stock markets briefly rallied worldwide. But it is crucial that the weaker governments make lasting fiscal improvements now, or the bailout will prove a fleeting respite from deep and worsening economic disparities on the continent.
[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]
Highest government debt among E.U. countries, as a share of GDP
SOURCE: EUROSTAT, 2009 FIGURES
2 | Turkey
A Political Party Sex-Tape Scandal
Deniz Baykal, chairman of Turkey's secular opposition Republican People's Party, resigned on May 10 after a sex tape allegedly involving the married 71-year-old politician and a former aide circulated on the Internet. Baykal, an outspoken critic of the country's Islamic-rooted government, accused the ruling party of being behind the leak, a claim that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed as "just as ugly and worthless as the tape." Baykal's party will elect a new leader at the end of May.
3 | Russia
An Underground Disaster
On May 8, two explosions hit Russia's largest underground coal mine, located in Siberia's Kemerovo region. Sixty were killed, and more than 30 were trapped up to 1,600 ft. (488 m) below the surface--so deep that experts said a rescue was nearly impossible. While mine owner Raspadskaya Coal Co. was unable to determine the source of the blasts, the cause is presumed to be a buildup of methane gas. Despite newly installed ventilators, the extreme depth of the mine makes it susceptible to such flare-ups.
4 | Washington
First Lady Tackles Childhood Obesity
The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, led by Michelle Obama, released 70 recommendations May 11 on how the U.S. could reduce its obesity numbers from the current rate of 20% to 5% by 2030. Among the suggestions: voluntary reductions in restaurant-portion sizes; voluntary self-regulation by the soft-drink industry; increased BMI screening by pediatricians; updated federal nutritional standards; increased use of locally grown food in school-lunch programs; and snack companies' voluntary agreement to stop using cartoon characters to promote junk food.